Pantheon is an expansion for the highly acclaimed two-player game 7 Wonder Duel and is considered by many to take what is a good game and raise it a few notches. So, in this short piece on what is a small expansion for small box game I will be asking the question, is Pantheon the expansion to take 7 Wonders Duel into the category of a must have?
What Should I Look for in an Expansion?
- It should add something positive to a game.
- It should not take away from the core game.
- It should fit with the established game theme.
- It should fit seamlessly with the core game.
- It should not add game changing levels of complexity.
- Two additional Wonder Cards – Extra Wonders are always a good thing.
- Three additional Progress Tokens – Like above, extra Progress Tokens are always a good thing.
- Five Grand Temple Cards – These replace the Guild cards which are no longer used. I actually like the Guild cards and the Grand Temple cards are actually in themselves not particularly interesting.
- One Pantheon Board – This fits onto the 7 Wonders board.
- 15 Divinity Cards – In five sets of three. These represent five different pantheons, Roman, Egyptian and so on, and 3 Deities from each Pantheon. Each Deity has a different power which can only be used once.
- One Gate Card – A sort of super Divinity Card allowing a player to pick one deity from a selection of five.
- 10 Mythology Tokens – Two for each pantheon.
- Three Offering Tokens – Used for a one-off discount in activating a Divinity.
- And a few other bits and pieces including a play aid and rule book
On the face of it there is plenty of new things to add to a game of 7 Wonders Duel, and one thing, the Guild Cards are removed. Just adding content does not necessarily make for a better, deeper, or more challenging game, so the question remains, is this a must have thing?
Set-Up and Gameplay Changes
Set-Up is the same as for the base game, with the Pantheon Board added and the five sets of three Divinities and the Gate card placed to one side. Gameplay is pretty much identical to that in 7 Wonders Duel. During each of the three epochs the Epoch Cards are set out the same.
During Age One, randomly selected Mythology Tokens are placed as per the rules on set positions in the Age One Card structure. Obtaining these tokens is desirable, because it lets the player who obtained it select an associated deity and place it face down on the game board. But here is the rub, the token is taken when the Age Card becomes exposed, not when it is taken, so effectively gifting the opponent first choice on that card. This is a neat and well thought out addition. At the end of Age One there will be five selected Divinities and the Gate Card added to the game board.
During Age Two the three Offering Tokens are added to the structure in a similar way to the Mythology Tokens in Age One and obtained in an identical way. These tokens provide a discount in activating a Divinity or the Gate.
During Age Two and Age Three an additional action is possible. This action is to activate a divinity or the Gate, and each Divinity has a different and interesting effect which may fit with a specific strategy or simply be useful at a specific time. To do this the player must pay the cost in coins, but there is one really important difference, the player does not take an Age Card from the structure, the player simply pays the cost.
This is the only way any action can be taken without selecting an Age Card. What this effectively does is allow for greater manipulation of the selection of Age Cards, to my mind is what makes Pantheon so good because it adds an extra layer of strategy on top of the candy of Divinities and the other extras.
Conclusion on Pantheon
Pantheon adds a couple of Wonders, some Progress Tokens, and Divinities which have additional effects. All of these add to the game and are pretty cool, especially the Divinities. What Pantheon really adds is a greater challenge in selecting Age Cards from the structure, and an ability to manipulate selection of Age Cards. The ability to be able to manipulate the card structure to a greater degree adds competition and forces some tough and interesting decisions.
I think it's a pity the Guild Cards are removed, I thought these were rather cool. I've not yet tried playing with leaving the Guild Cards in so cannot say whether this would work or not.
Pantheon fits really well with the theme of 7 Wonders Duel, it adds to the sense of playing a game about a rising civilisation. Furthermore, it is seamless, it slots into the core game beautifully, and does not add uncomfortable levels of complexity.
So, back to the question. Is Pantheon the expansion to take 7 Wonders Duel into the category of a must have? Simply Yes. 7 Wonders Duel with Pantheon is a cracking two-player game which deserves to be in any collection.