As both of my gaming groups and I are all already fans of 7 Wonders, I was excited to get a crack at the still fairly new 7 Wonders Duel. It didn’t disappoint.
If you’re already familiar with 7 Wonders, it’s an outstanding game for the way it makes you feel part of competing great civilizations, each with its own wonders and chosen technological path as it moves from one age to the next. In 7 Wonders Duel, designers Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathela bring all of that to a tight, quick, 2-player duel that you can play a round or 2 of while you’re waiting for others to show up for a bigger game like, you know, 7 Wonders. For a quick duel of a game, it’s strategic and thematic, basically, everything I could ask for.
This is where 7 Wonder Duels really shines. It manages to compact everything about the multiplayer game into a duel setup, particularly with the military marker on a line between the two players that you can push forward and backward, forcing penalties upon your opponent as you do.
There’s also an interesting play-or-flop mechanic at the heart of the game which gives both players interesting choices nearly every turn. The cards come out into interesting patterns, and almost like a game of solitaire, you have to “unlock” cards by playing the cards in front of them.
Meanwhile, you have your tableau plus great wonders that you build to represent your civilization while you pursue Military and/or Science superiority and accumulate victory points in order to win the game.
They really do a wonderful job of finding components that are fairly cheap and easy, yet have enough feel to lend some theme to the game. The cards are a little smaller and thinner than I would have liked, but the art on them continues to be high quality, adding a lot to the game’s overall theme. The small plastic military shield adds a lot on its own. The cardboard wonders and tracks all work pretty well together. This is a game where the components are simple yet hardworking, and the fact that they don’t stand out in such a small, compact game is a testament in and of itself.
Seven wonders always pulls off its theme of ancient, grand, distinct civilizations and it’s no different in the duel version. The art and components are solid, the game’s mechanics work with the game’s “seven wonders” theme to create an overall feeling that’s hard to beat in a tabletop game, enough realism but still with a fantasy element mixed in.
Seven Wonders has always delivered here for me, because if nothing else, you’re building one of the seven wonders of the world! Not to mention building either a big military or progressing your science. There are games where you do more building and creating than in this one, but it does deliver in this way enough to want to play again and again.
7 Wonders Duels is a great, great 2-player game, one of the best I’ve seen and in part, because they set out to make a strictly 2-player game instead of one that could be played by 2, 3 or more players. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s strategic, it’s thematic, and it’s totally re-playable. It also leads in nicely to the larger game for when the rest of the group arrives!