FTW Staff Picks - 7 Wonders Duel
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
7 Wonders Duel
Genre: Card Drafting
Designer: Antoine Bauza, Bruno Cathala
Player Size: 2 Players
Game Length: 30 minutes
For fans of: 7 Wonders, Seasons, Sushi Go!
7 Wonders is one of the most well-known tabletop games among enthusiasts, and its ability to support up to 7 players is rare, and makes the game suitable for bigger groups. However, when you shrink to 2 players, the game forces you to add a "ghost" player that the two players will take turns drafting for. It's a clunky solution to an otherwise well-designed drafting game. But now with 7 Wonders Duel, there's a way for players to enjoy that same experience in a head-to-head driven game.
In 7 Wonders Duel, players still draft cards to develop their Civilizations over 3 Ages. But instead of drafting from hands of cards, the two players draft from a formation of available and unavailable cards. As cards get drafted, they reveal cards beneath them and open them up for drafting. The same archetypes are there with slight modifications. Blue cards are still raw victory points and Red cards are still Military. But Instead of Military being an end-of-Age reward or penalty, there is an active marker that shows which player is currently leading. In fact, if one player pushes their Military marker to the opposing side's final space, they automatically win the game. Additionally there is the ability to win through Science, if a player can collect 6 of the 7 symbols in the game. And like the previous game, if no player wins via Military or Science, the player with the most victory points at the end of Age 3 is declared the winner!
I like 7 Wonders Duel. A lot. I think it's one of the best re-imaginations of a game that I've seen in quite some time. It manages to bring the same 7 Wonders feel without feeling like a lazy adaptation. I only ever played 7 Wonders with 2 players once, and it was enough to leave such a sour taste in my mouth to never try it again. With Duel, I not only feel like it is a solid card drafting game, but I think it actually surpasses the original. The added victory conditions and unique drafting system add more elements to keep track of. In the original game you could just avoid and ignore certain types of cards, with little to no penalty. Here you have to be cautious about letting certain things slip up. They've made the game feel deeper without really adding any complicated mechanics.
When you look at the designers of the game, you can't help but feel like it was a match made in heaven. The original Bauza creation was already a staple in most collections, but add in someone like Bruno Cathala and you have just another great mind innovating further. 7 Wonders Duel is one of the best 2 player games out there today, and if the Pantheon expansion is any indication, the extended support will only further enhance the experience.