Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Dave Reviews: Wonder Twins, Fight!

7 Wonders Duel

More Wonders per capita: how we truly make America great again.

7 Wonders Duel is a few years old now, but it still sells, and it's earned those sales by being a legitimately good scaled-down version of the original. Part of the reason is that the designers didn't feel compelled about making it look like 7 Wonders. They remembered the first rule of spin-offs: all you need is the name on the label and the theme in the box. The game itself (and this goes for movies, TV shows, any type of entertainment) doesn't have to work the same way at all.

You'll recognize all the bits and pieces from 7 Wonders. There are three ages, card drafts, coins, differently colored buildings you put on your side for resources and bonuses, and the Wonders you build for extra bonuses. However, they all go together differently. First, there's no passing cards; you set up the all the cards for each age in a particular arrangement, with some face up and some down. From there you pick one that is both face up and not covered in any way by another card. Early on there are some resources you can get for free, but most have a cost. In the original, you give money to the people you buy resources from, but here you can pay the bank for a base cost of two coins per resource. If your opponent collects some of that resource and you have to buy it, you still don't pay them; you just pay more money to the bank. In this way, coin management remains an important component of play.

Some card types work differently, mainly science. There's no more bonuses for sets of science symbols at the end of the game. Instead, if you get a pair of one symbol, you can take a token that gives you some sort of fair to extremely powerful bonus (depending on how the game is playing out), and if you get six different symbols, you just straight up win the game. Likewise, military doesn't score you points on a per-age basis; there's a track that lets you push a shield back and forth, wiping out some amount of your opponent's money if you push it far enough (this can happen twice per player), or win the game outright if you get it to the end of the track.

For the rest: blue cards were always just points, so they're not particularly different. Brown and silver cards are still the same resource types. Yellow cards offer some different bonuses (ie. 1 coin for a given resource, which also can't be increased by the opponent holding that resource).

Wonders work similarly to the original, in that you draft a card, then flip it face down under the Wonder and spend the resources necessary to build it. Some of the rewards are different, however, most notably the ability to take an extra turn and the ability to break something your opponent has (a resource or some money). In addition, there are four Wonders per player, but only seven can be built per game, meaning more emphasis must often be put on getting them completed, especially if your opponent has some with extra turns and can theoretically knock them out back to back before you can respond.

Spoilers were at the start, but once again, 7 Wonders Duel lives up to the name. Highly recommended for couples who haven't found time to go see their friends anymore, you know who you are, you poor sods.

Score: Seven Wonders, a marketplace, and two plazas out of all that plus a caravan and a bar where the people in the caravan get so drunk they forget to set up their tent the next day.

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