- Jason Barrett(JGBlargh)Canada
Seven Bridges is a roll’n’write, dice drafting game by Ron Halliday. It is based off of a math problem in 18th century Konigsberg. Don’t worry, you won’t have to dust off those high school textbooks to play this game. The city had seven bridges and it was challenged if one could cross all seven bridges exactly once, and complete a loop at the same time. Mathematician, Leonhald Euler proved the challenged was impossible. In doing so, he introduce Graph Theory and Togology. While this is interesting back story, luckily, you get to play the game as a tourist, attempting to visit landmarks while crossing the seven bridges of Konigsberg.
The game is played on a map that is based on maps of 18th century Konigsberg. Everything is straightened out, so streets are all squared off and everything fits within the maps gridlines. Originally, I didn’t care about it be based off an actual 18th century map, but after several plays I did find myself googling Bridges of Konigsberg and checking out maps of Konigsberg. The historical back story does add pull to the game.
The game can be played solo or upto 6 players. Each player will have their own copy of the map and the game will start by selecting a square to begin in. The streets on that square will be shaded in. During each turn, a player will roll six dice. The player that rolls the dice will draft a dice, and then each other player will draft a dice until all are selected. If playing with less than six players, some players will draft multiple dice. Upon drafting a die, you must place the corresponding shape onto your map, ensuring that it fits on our map, while connecting to your pre-existing shaded in streets. If you shade in a street that passes in front of a landmark, you may select a bonus. Bonuses are either an immediate use shape to shade in on your map, a future reroll of the dice pool, or the ability to use footpaths as well as the streets of Konigsberg.
The dice themselves correspond to seven different shapes. If playing with regular dice, instead of custom dice, you will need a method to differentiate between two sets of three dice. I used 2 sets of different coloured dice when playing. A one pip dice can either be worth upto 2 straight lines, or 3 straight lines. The other dice are give various shapes with the lowest numbers given you the most coverage. For example, a 4 is single line, but a 6 is half a line.
Rolling, drafting and shading continues until all player have each drafted a total of 30 dice. Then scoring commences.
You can get points in upto seven categories. To score in all seven categories, you must cross all seven bridges. You can only score the amount of categories equal to the number of bridges you cross. The scoring categories are as followed. By creating a loop on your map, you score the number of bridges crossed on that loop times the number of sides to your loop. For Landmarks and Bridges, there is a point scale. For each one you score, you will score more point per landmark/bridge. You can score a maximum of 45 for Landmarks and 50 for Bridges. You will score one point for each Building and each Tree you pass. The actual scoring of building and trees is a bit fiddly. You can easily score 40+ in buildings, which means counting each one individually. Upon doubling checking, I had often mis-scored buildings by one or two. There are some streets that exit the map. Each exit has a point value and you will score that value if you reach that exit. The bonus you select from reaching landmarks each have a score value assigned to them. You will add up those values at game end for a Drafting score. In the end, you should be able to score 200+ each game. The player with the highest score wins.
The designer provided me a Print and Play copy of Seven Bridges for review and feedback. The majority of my plays with Seven Bridges were solo. There is very little difference in gameplay between solo and multiplayer, although the victory conditions do differ.
In a solo game, you play against Leonhold Euler. When drafting dice, Euler, will always draft the lowest value dice. Such as, he will always draft a 1 pip dice, before a 2 pip, then a three pip, etc... After drafting a dice, Euler does not shade in squares. With this drafting mechanism, you can predict which dice Euler will select for himself and which dice he will leave for you. By using strategy, you can influence which dice Euler selects and plan for the entire round. In a multiplayer game, you cannot accurately predict the die each player will take and what will be leftover if you get another dice drafted that turn. At the lower player count, in particular solo, the drafting of dice becomes much more strategic. In solo mode, you can plan on taking a 5, then a 4 and then another 5, since you know Euler will draft the lower values, say a 1, 3, and 3. The solo mode reduces the luck factor compared to multiplayer.
The difference in scoring in solo mode is that Euler scores what you do not. There are 100 trees on the map, if you visit 20 trees, then Euler gets 80 points for the trees you did not visit. If you visit 5 out the 11 landmarks, then Euler will get the corresponding points for visiting 6 landmarks. While your scoring categories are still capped by the number of bridges you cross, Euler will score for all six of his scoring categories regardless of bridges cross. He does not score for making a loop, since he is not actually mapping out his drafted dice.
I found my first few games very one-sided as I was losing by very large margins, including one game where I lost by over 70 points. An early criticism I had of the game is that there are no set starting points. You select any one of the 100+ eligible squares to start on. The designer is working on identifying and listing suggested starting squares based on difficulty. If that is included in the finished product, it will make the game easier to pick up and play. After several plays I was able to identify a few easy and hard starting squares. This was also helpful when playing the game with my partner. I’d set her up on an easy square and handicap myself by starting on a hard square. This is a great way for a more experienced player to compete with a beginner.
The other reason I was losing badly was a faulty strategy. As I played more and took a closer look at the scoring, I was able to improve. I went from a point believing the game was not winnable in the solo mode to beating Euler almost every time, sometimes by very large margins. While I do find the game easily winnable, the puzzle aspect keeps me playing. With some experience under my belt, I have been able to identify some of the harder squares to start on, and scale difficulty to my liking. Whether I want to attempt a high score or squeeze out a victory from an underdog position.
I really enjoy that every dice drafted has a purpose. Each dice drafted is helping you reach a landmark, cross a bridge or achieve a goal. The decisions all feel meaningful and interesting. The landmark bonus of rerolls is a way to mitigate bad rolls and the decision when to use your limited rerolls adds another layer to the game. You can collect a maximum of three rerolls. Or that same bonus could be used to distribute all the remaining dice between players.
As the game moves on to the later stages, analysis paralysis can be an issue. You will have multiple directions you will want to shade in that choosing a dice or where to lay a shape can slow down the game. There are so many landmarks you’ll want to see and bridges you want to cross. You won’t be able to see and cross them all so each dice drafted needs to be well thought out. In solo mode, this is not much of an issue, but during the few two player games I played, it can become a slight frustration. Personally, I can be a bit impatient when playing with players who suffer from analysis paralysis. I can’t imagine trying to play this with a table full of indecisive players.
The scoring system for solo mode, as with all modes, does include a lot of counting. Solo mode has a little more math, but thankfully the rulebook states how many total points there are in each category so scoring Trees, Building, Gridmarks, and Drafting for Euler is a case of finding the difference between the total available and your score. So you don’t need to be counting trees you missed on the map one-by-one. As I got more experienced, Euler no longer posed a challenge and it became a game of beating my own high score. Although a few games the score was quite close and there was a bit of high tension as the scores were being added.
While playing two player, a few of the games it was obvious who would win. In the other games, there was a great deal of tension while the scores were being calculated. I assume with larger groups, it would be more difficult to predict a winner and thus much greater tension and drama as scores are calculated.
I find Seven Bridges to be an excellent solo game. Its short playtime, 10-15 minutes for solo, is packed with interesting and meaningful decisions. Difficulty is scalable, although in its current state, starting difficulty is trial and error. Dice mitigation is available, but limited, and therefore valuable. While after several plays, I do find the solo mode easily winnable, I still find the game rewarding. I do believe that an achievements or challenges list would give the game more longevity and direction for solo players. I do hope the game gets expanded to include more maps, preferably also based on historical maps.
Meaningful and interesting decisions
Quick set-up and Playtime
Right amount of dice mitigation
Close games bring great game end tension
Difficult to know where to start
After several solo plays, not much tension
Scoring involves a lot of counting
Can led to Analysis Paralysis
Encourage more reviews
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- Tiago Miranda(fargow)Brazil
- Thanks for the review. I haven’t played it yet. Need to give it a try. How many times have you played solo in order to master the game? What do you think could be done so that the game doesn’t get too easy after a great amount of plays? Maybe different scores objectives dealt each time?
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- Ron HallidayBrazil
Thanks for the great review, Jason! I think you covered all the topics really well and brought up some great points.
Thankfully I haven't run into any serious AP situations so far with larger multiplayer games, though no doubt a couple of AP-prone players could hold up play a bit as they process their increasing options as the game progresses. But usually AP is somewhat mitigated by the fact that quite often, the last couple of players might not have to choose their dice, if the last two or three remaining are all identical. Also, because dice selection reduces as player count increases, average scores tend to drop as well, about 25 points per player. So there aren't as many options to chase down or paths to follow as in a 1P/2P game, which also helps reduce AP.
Thanks for reminding me about the starting difficulty/challenge chart, I'll post it soon! And I really like what you mentioned about 'handicapping', where a new player could start in an easy square and an experienced player in a harder square.
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- Ron HallidayBrazil
Here's the current difficulty map for games against Euler. The easiest starting squares are blue and the hardest are purple.
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- Jason Barrett(JGBlargh)Canada
I believe trying the various starting squares according to difficulty would extend the game life. By starting in one of the most difficult squares, it will be tougher to get a high score.
I also think adding some achievements would also prolong game life. Such as win a game will creating a path that goes from bottom left corner to top right corner, or win a game while visiting over 50 trees, or visit all 11 landmarks, etc...
I don't think I have mastered it. With dice there will always be a certain level of randomness to it that has to be overcome. It took me about 6-7 games before I was able to win the majority of solo games.
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