My Wife Always Wins - An Uphill Battle in Boardgaming!

January 31, 2017
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This Week’s Game: 7 Wonders Duel

by Brian Shabbott

I had three days off at the end of last week, giving me a much needed long weekend. I planned to do some reading, some writing, and catch up on some of the Playstation 4 games I hadn’t played yet. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Ah, if only things worked out according to plans.
The reason I was looking forward to my days off work the most was that I had them all to myself. Or so I thought. Apparently my wife, Lyndsey, caught wind of my little holiday and decided it would be “fun” if we took these days off together. What was even more fun was that she didn’t bother to tell me. When I woke up Wednesday morning and she was still there, I quickly woke her thinking she was late for work. That was when she informed me she had the day off, and she didn’t shy away from the fact that I “would pay” for waking her up so early.
And pay I did. What was supposed to be a relaxing, do-nothing couple of days turned into fully scheduled days of chores.
As if the suffering wasn’t enough, she ended Thursday by letting me know she wanted to play a game Friday morning. I guess I knew it was coming – after all I did commit to writing this article weekly. Still, getting my butt handed to me was hardly how I wanted to start the third day of my miserable long weekend.
This time, however, I got to choose the game. I opted for 7 Wonders Duel. I have a Master’s degree in ancient history and figured maybe my advanced knowledge of the rise and fall of civilizations would influence my gameplay in this civilization building game. But when I shared this fact with my wife, all she had to say was “I have advanced knowledge in the rise and fall of you, and history tells me you are about to have another fall.”
I wonder if there’s a Master’s program for that.

 

The Basics

 

As I suggested above, 7 Wonders Duel is a civilization building game and is based in the world of the original 7 Wonders game. Many of the mechanics of Duel reflect those in its parent game, but Duel is specifically manufactured as a two-player game. In this game, players collect resources and construct buildings and Wonders in order to grow their wealth, military might, and scientific prominence. Each game is played across three Ages, and each Age has its own specific deck of cards.
A turn consists of drawing a single card from those displayed on the table. Once the card is drawn, players have the option of constructing the building, discarding it to gain coins, or building a Wonder. While some cards are free, most have a building cost (whether resources or coins), so players must have the required resources or must purchase the missing resources to construct a building or Wonder.
Each building and Wonder also have their own effects. For instance, a set of green cards will allow players to collect Scientific Progress tokens and red cards add to a player’s military might and shift the Conflict pawn in their favor on the game board.
Victory can be claimed in one of three ways: Military Supremacy, Scientific Supremacy, and Civilian Victory. Military Supremacy is achieved when a player has accumulated enough points to advance the Conflict pawn all the way to her opponent’s capital at the end of the board. Scientific Supremacy occurs when a player has collected six scientific cards, all with different symbols. If the game advances through the entire Third Age with no victor, a Civilian Victory is decided based on the overall point value of the civilization.
 
Read the full rules here.

 

Time to Play

 

 

 

Lyndsey and I both began the First Age by springing for resources. I was the first one to break away from the resource collecting to construct a military building and advance the Conflict pawn toward Lyndsey’s capital. By the end of the First Age, I had gained the lead militarily.
The Second Age was where most of the Wonders were built. Lyndsey built three right off the bat, while I constructed two Wonders gradually throughout the round. I continued to build my military strength and gather resources that would help me along that path. But Lyndsey was within one card of a Scientific Supremacy, so I had to divert my efforts to block her occasionally. Even so, I still ended the Age having moved up one more space toward Military Supremacy.
The beginning of the Third Age solidified my strategy. I was going all out for Military Supremacy. With my very first turn, I was able to construct a military building that advanced me three more spaces toward Lyndsey’s capital. I was a single space away and, with two more military buildings showing, was almost certain I’d be able to grab that victory.
I timed each move so that I’d be able to buy the next military building when it became available. It was covered by two other cards, so I had to make sure that the timing fell where Lyndsey would be forced to pick up the second card – therefore leaving me with the military building and the victory.
The timing was almost perfect, with one slight hiccup. Rather than leave the second card blocking my military building for Lyndsey, I was forced to pick it up. When the card was revealed, it was one of the scientific symbols Lyndsey needed for a Scientific Supremacy – I had to block her. She likewise blocked me, and the military building she built set me back two spaces on the Conflict track.
I constructed another military building for two near the end of the Age, bringing me back to the final space before my wife’s capital. There was only one more military building showing on the field, but I had already calculated the moves and it would fall on me to pick it up. I would claim Military Supremacy on the last card in the Third Age.
Lyndsey pulled the last card blocking my military building, and my eyes lit up. Except that with the card she picked up she constructed her final Wonder: The Sphinx. The effect of this Wonder granted Lyndsey a second consecutive turn, which she used to sell off the military building that would have guaranteed my victory. I was denied my Military Supremacy by just one space. Having focused on military might, I didn’t stand a chance in overall points. I lost with an embarrassing score of 70 to 36:

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

I picked up 7 Wonders Duel because it is specifically crafted for two-player play. There are very few games that are just for two players. Most of the games we play are able to be played at two players, but really come into their own when played with three to five players. We don’t always have the luxury of playing with multiple people so two-player only games really hit the mark in our home. The lack of accessibility for two players is probably why I haven’t played the original 7 Wonders yet – a mortal sin, according to many of my peers. But 7 Wonders Duel fills that void.
Definitely check out 7 Wonders Duel. The strategy involved with developing a civilization, blocking your opponent’s advancements, and being able to calculate for and claim victory in three different ways brings me back to the days of playing Civilization on PC. It is a great two-player game, and has proven to me what everybody else says: I need to play the original 7 Wonders. All in all, I think 7 Wonders Duel is probably my favorite game right now. Quite the positive review right? Imagine how good it’d be if I could actually win.

 

 

 

About Brian:

Brian Shabbott is a 31 year old aspiring writer.  Brian spends much of his time playing games with friends and family. Brian loves to compete and play games he loves - but he never wins against his wife! Brian is looking forward to introducing himself as a writer and producer for you!

Follow Brian on Twitter @heyshabbott

 

 

About Brian:

Brian Shabbott is a 31 year old aspiring writer.  Brian spends much of his time playing games with friends and family. Brian loves to compete and play games he loves - but he never wins against his wife! Brian is looking forward to introducing himself as a writer and producer for you!

Follow Brian on Twitter @heyshabbott