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How to Play: 7 Wonders Duel

How to Play 7 Wonders Duel

In 7 Wonders Duel, two rival civilizations will battle to build the best and most magnificent city over the course of three ages. Each player will have to muster enough resources and wealth in order to increase their military power, achieve scientific improvements, and build Wonders. Wonders come with special rewards that may change the course of a game.

This is a strategic ancient city building game with card drafting and set collection as the basic mechanics. Different from its bigger brother and predecessor 7 Wonders, here rivals will be drawing cards from a pool of face-up and face-down arrangements for every one of the three different Ages.

Components

7 Wonders Duel comes with a small board, which you’ll use to track your military power and house progress tokens. You’ll be using a conflict pawn to keep track of that and military tokens to mark how far have you've gone in case you are eventually pushed back.

There are two sets of cards. The bigger set of cards is composed of Wonders. The smaller set has all the other buildings you can construct. The decks are divided by eras (I, II, and III) and there is also a deck for guild cards. Buildings are divided by colours so you can easily spot them while you augment your city: raw materials buildings (brown), manufactured goods (grey), civilian (blue), scientific (green), commercial (yellow), military (red), and guilds (purple). Last but not least, you have coins to buy resources and pay building costs.

How to Win in 7 Wonders Duel

There are three ways of winning the game: military, science, or civilian victories. The first two options will grant you an instantaneous victory stopping the game on spot. In case duelling players don’t manage to do that, you’ll be counting victory points (VPs) collected throughout the game. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

  • Military Victory - The player that manages to push the conflict pawn on the board all the way into its adversary's capital wins. To do this you build military structures. Every red card comes with one to three shields, and when you play these cards you advance your pawn toward the enemy capital.
  • Science Victory - To achieve a science victory a player should collect six different scientific symbols out of the seven available. Each green card comes with a single scientific symbol.
  • Civilian Victory - A civilian victory is a points victory when all the cards have been drafted. There are seven ways you can gather points. Blue and green cards will win you VPs, some yellow and Wonder cards, as well as progress tokens, will do the same. All guilds have conditional VPs. You will also get points for your position on the military power board, and finally by exchanging every set of three coins for one VP once the game is over.

Set-Up

Place the board between the two players. Make room for your wonders and building cards you will be drafting. Place the four military tokens on top of the five and 10 VP spaces and put the pawn right in the middle of the board. You should also randomly choose five progress tokens and place them on the board.

Next, place the first set of four Wonders in front of you. The first player chooses one Wonder, followed by a choice of two Wonders by the second player. Whatever is left goes to the first player. Do this a second time changing who picks first. Once you’re done, place Wonders next to your capital on the board.

If this is your first game, forget about that rule and make sure one player will get: Pyramids, Great Lighthouse, Temple of Artemis, and Statue of Zeus, whilst the other should get Circus Maximus, Piraeus, Appian Way, and Colossus.

To organise your cards, get the Age I deck. There are iconographic depictions of how you should set up the pool of cards for each age. Always discard three cards before starting to build your pool. This will add an element of chance and enhance the game’s replayability.

As you advance through the ages (when cards run out) you will repeat this by following the different settings for the pool of cards, depicted on the manual and quick reference guides. On Age III, add three guild cards to your deck after discarding and before assembling your pool.

Game Turns

In each turn you’ll be able to perform one out of three actions: constructing buildings, discarding cards to obtain coins, and constructing wonders:

  • Constructing Buildings -Some cards have no cost and you will be able to place them for free. Those are resource cards. Some cards will have resource costs that can be paid through buildings that grant you resources. Alternatively, you may buy resources from the bank. Some cards will have cost in coins or a cost in both coins and resources. You may also build for free through chains (more on this below).
  • Buying Resources - Resources can be bought for two coins, plus one coin for each of the same resource your opponent has from brown or grey cards. Resources produced by the opponent's yellow and Wonder cards will not count for costing purposes.
  • Chain - Some buildings come with chain symbols like masks, books, and suns. Once you have a building with one of those symbols you may have the option of building a structure for free instead of paying its resource/coin cost.
  • Discarding - If you’re out of coins you may choose to draw a card and discard it for two coins, plus one coin for every yellow building you possess.
  • Wonders - To construct a Wonder you will have to draw any card out of the pool and put it face down under your Wonder, on top of paying its cost. Remember, although each player has four wonder cards, this game is called 7 Wonders for a reason. Only seven Wonders can be built throughout the course of the game, so you’ll be in a race to build that fourth Wonder before your opponent does it in front of you.

On Science and Progress

Instead of collecting six green cards with different icons to achieve a science victory, you can also collect two green cards with the same icon to get one progress token out of the five available on the board. They come with a variety of benefits such as earning coins, VPs, altering costs of future builds, or even changing some features in specific cards.

Tips and Tricks

7 Wonders Duel is a fast-paced strategy game with very little downtime. You’ll be constantly monitoring your foe’s science and military while making sure he won’t grab a hold of resources needed to build his wonders. All of this whilst counting the VPs and not losing track of your own strategy.

As much as you may like to play the game in a specific way, most times being flexible will pay off. Over the course of a game, you will have to change your plans quite a few times according to the pool you’ve been dealt and how your opponent will lay down his game plan. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you strategise:

The Eras

As you change Eras, cards will come with better benefits and higher costs. Considering Age III has no resource cards, you should focus on acquiring resources during Age I and II in order to build your wonders and other structures. The majority and most valuable blue cards are on Ages II and III and those are a good source of VPs. Age III is when you can access guild cards which will mostly give you coins and victory points.

As you can see Age III is all about collecting VPs, so be sure to get there in a position to fight for them. Don’t pay attention too much to the military during Age I. Try to keep it balanced through Age II, unless you’re going for a military victory, and be very watchful of Age III when military buildings easily turn the course of a game and force you to abandon your strategy.

Wonders

Be smart when choosing your Wonders. A nice selection of Wonders should grant you a decent amount of victory points. Try getting two Wonders that grant you extra turns. That’s the single most powerful feature of any Wonder. Also, try getting a Wonder that grants you a choice of resources. Some special powers are very interesting to have but, whatever you do, don’t focus on military power at this point.

Chains

One strategy is going for buildings with chain symbols instead of resources. By doing so you’d be free to pursue a science or military strategy, adding pressure on your adversary. This is great, especially against adversaries that are not really good out of their comfort zones, and helps you be in charge of the game. This may also help you with guilds that reward VPs for the majority of cards of a specific colour. More than half of games will be decided by VPs.

Yellow Cards

Don’t forget to build a couple of yellow buildings as soon as you can. This way, if you ever need to discard a card for coins, you will get a lot more out of your action.

Discarding

Try not to waste a turn just to get some coins unless you’re really desperate. It's better to do it when you want to keep your opponent from getting a specific card. You can also do this when building your Wonder, by choosing a card your adversary may find interesting to have in their city.

Card Picking

Try not to pick a card that, when removed, will reveal other cards on the pool. This gives more options to your opponent. Since you have no idea what’s coming up, this may be a really bad move for you.

Don't forget to read our review of 7 Wonders: Duel... and check out the Pantheon Expansion!

Editors note: This blog was originally published on April 19th, 2018. Updated on January 5th, 2022 to improve the information available.