Note: This review originally appeared on The Opinionated Gamers at:
Designers: Antoine Bauza, Bruno Cathala
Publisher: Repos Production
Players: 2 – 2
Ages: 10 and Up
Time: 30 Minutes
Times Played: > 4
7 Wonders Duel Pantheon is the first expansion for 7 Wonders Duel, winner of the 2016 2-player International Gamers Award. If you’re unfamiliar with 7 Wonders Duel, check out our review from last year, where I described Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala’s creation as “a tense, fast-paced, well-balanced two player game.”
Pantheon was released at Essen, generating considerable attention and coming in #4 on the final Geekbuzz list. In recent weeks, Pantheon has made its way into North American stores.
What’s new in this expansion? There are several small changes, such as new wonders and new cards, but these are primarily to integrate a big new gameplay element: Divinity Cards and the Pantheon Board. Divinities provide in-game bonuses and powers to their purchaser, similar to Wonders. In Age I, players choose which Divinities they will be able to invoke during Ages II and III.
In short, Pantheon adds a new layer of depth to 7 Wonders Duel. If you’re a fan of 7 Wonders Duel, Pantheon freshen it up and give you even more exciting decisions. I’ve enjoyed my plays so far.
Expansion Walkthrough: Divinities and the Pantheon Board
This review assumes familiarity with the base game. If you need a refresher, or if you haven’t played 7 Wonders Duel, check out our review from last year.
The Divinities (represented by Divinity Cards) are separated into five different mythologies: Greek (civilian), Phoenician (commercial), Mesopotamian (scientific), Egyptian (wonder), and Roman (military). Each mythology has a deck of three Divinity Cards.
Mythology tokens are placed on certain cards in the Round I pyramid shape from the base game. As these cards are uncovered (not taken, just uncovered), the player doing the uncovering takes the token. They then get to look at the top two Divinity Cards of the corresponding mythology stack, placing one of the cards face down on an open space on the Pantheon Board. The Pantheon Board sits above the board from the base game as shown below.
Choosing the space on which to place a Divinity Card is a choice in itself. Each space two printed costs, one for you and the other for your opponent. So you can place cards to make them cheaper for yourself and more expensive for your opponent, or vice versa. At the end of the round, the Gate (described below) will be the last of six cards placed on the Pantheon Board.
During Phase II, the Divinity Cards are revealed, and on your turn, in lieu of doing another action, you may activate a Divinity Card from the Pantheon Board by paying the cost in gold. These cards are roughly the same as wonders in their powers and abilities. For instance, one Divinity (Minerva, which has a special token) allows you to temporarily block movement of the Conflict Pawn. One Divinity gives you 12 gold. Another gives you 9 points.
If you activate the Gate, it allows you to flip the top Divinity Card from each Mythology deck and take one for free.
Starting in Age II, there are also Offering Tokens on three spaces in the pyramid from the base game. These are taken just like the mythology tokens: as these cards are uncovered (not taken, just uncovered), the player doing the uncovering takes the token. These reduce the cost (in gold) to activate a Divinity Card.
Three Grand Temple cards are also worked into Age III each game. These are worth 5, 12, or 21 victory points if you have 1, 2, or 3 of them at the end of the game, so they are highly prized.
In addition to the above changes, the game also comes with new Wonders and Progress Token. As I alluded to, these are primarily used to better incorporate the Divinity Cards and Pantheon Board into the game.
My thoughts on the expansion…
I love 7 Wonders Duel: in fact, I think it is one of the greatest 2-player games I’ve ever played. So it is no surprise that I love Pantheon.
The Divinities act almost like a second set of wonders, greatly adding to the tension of the game. The winner will often be the player who strategically places and then activates the Divinity before his opponent does.
I like how Bauza and Cathala integrated the Divinities into the game. By giving the Mythology and Offering Tokens to the player revealing certain cards, the designers have increased the strategy involved in working through the pyramid.
And the designers didn’t merely paste this expansion onto the base game: rather, they also worked them into the Progress Tokens and Wonders, making them a core — and seamless — part of gameplay.
The artwork is beautiful, and Miguel Coimbra shows his talent on the Divinity Cards. As always, Repos did a great job with the production value, with the symbology on the new cards being intuitive and function.
Is this a “must have” expansion? No, probably not. However, it does add some interesting elements to gameplay, and I highly recommend it. Pantheon does add complexity, so I’d only add this with experienced 7 Wonders Duel players. But if you’re a fan of the game, this will freshen it up and give you even more exciting decisions.