Errata: 7 Wonders and Science
This week’s question comes from a real-life acquaintance. Sorry e-mailers. I’ll get back to you next week. This week’s question is about superior strategies in 7 Wonders.
The Real Life asked, “Science is worth so many points. I do science every time because of that. And I never go military. It’s worth, at most, 18 points. So what?” (paraphrased slightly)
Well, sort of. Addressing military first, she was absolutely right that military will not go above 18 points (absent a guild that can count defeat tokens). But if you give out three -1 tokens, then you are effectively swinging the points by 21. Plus you only need one more shield than your opponents. So, if there isn’t an arms race, you could potentially get all 18 points with one or two cards. That’s not the case for any other area.
And with science, she’s also right. Science can be very lucrative. I played a game (one of my first) where the winning player went almost entirely science. He scored 64 points (if I recall correctly) on science alone and won the game. But science is fickle. You will need the refined goods, or at least access to them. So that means you’ll need cards in preparation. Also it can be easy to subvert science. If the player next to me is going strong science, then I do what I can to remove science from what I pass to him or her. Science cards become part of my Wonder or may be discarded for coins. So the science strategy is much more risky. And if everyone adopts it, then the cards are spread among more players and the points never really accumulate.
And, actually, both illustrate how interactive 7 Wonders is. The game is sometimes criticized because you only ever care about your immediate neighbors. There’s little you can do to influence people across the table from you. But that isn’t entirely accurate. For example, if you see someone building science, you can pull science out even if they are across the table.
Better yet, sometimes the player to my right or left and his neighbor are in an arms race. In that case, I might purposely pass a big military card – especially if I have two in my hand. Then I know that both players will waste turns on military while I continue to construct greater achievements. The first guy sees there are two military cards. He knows that if he doesn’t build, his opponent will and therefore he has to build one. That means he has to pass one, and his opponent now sees he is behind and therefore builds the second military to catch up. Meanwhile, I build green or blue cards for points.
7 Wonders is very interactive, with tons of opportunities to influence what goes on down the line. It’s just not overt and you don’t always get to see the fruits of your machinations.
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