7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon Review - Gods In The Background

7 Wonders Duel is one of the best 2 player games that's out there. Is it my favourite? I'm not sure on that, I think in January I should get a Top 10 2 Player Games list done, it's about time I did and I know some crackers I could talk about. I'll put that on the list after we get the Top 10 of 2016 done. But enough of that, 7 Wonders Duel did the impossible - take a game which we already loved for its ability to play up to 7 players in a quick time and somehow make it work with 2 players, especially as I don't know anyone who likes the 2 player variant in the original game.

It was only a matter of time before an expansion came out, but I was expecting something more in line with the expansions that came out for the original 7 Wonders. This one seems a little different, introducing "god" cards instead, which we haven't seen in 7 Wonders. Now Duel was easy to teach to a player familiar with 7 Wonders so I don't want added complication here. But this is Bauza and Cathala we're talking about here, they know what they're doing! Let's see if my faith is not misplaced.




Designer: Antoine Bauza / Bruno Cathala
Publisher: Repos Production / Asmodee
Age: 10+
Players: 2
Time: 30-45 Minutes
RRP: £17.99


From Board Game Geek

A pantheon from several civilizations — including Greek, Egyptian, and Middle-Eastern — gets added to 7 Wonders Duel in 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon, with each god having its own power to help you or hinder your opponent.
During Age I you collect mythology tokens — which allow you to choose which deities have a place in the Pantheon — and offering tokens, which help you court those deities. Then, during Ages II and III, you can activate a god or goddess in the Pantheon instead of taking a card from the pyramid. To do so, you pay whatever that god or goddess demands from you in offerings, then place it next to your city.

With Isis on your side, you can use a card from the discard pile to construct one of your Wonders for free. Zeus, whose nod determines what happens and what does not, enables you to discard any single card from the pyramid that you want as well as any mythology or offering tokens on it. The Phoenician goddess Tanit, whose people were renowned for trade, fills your coffers with twelve pieces of gold. Enki, the Sumerian god of crafts, technology, and creation, lets you choose one of two progress tokens. Minerva's ability to keep the conflict pawn from entering your territory may not instantly bring you victory, but it can save you from military defeat.
What's more, instead of adding three guild cards to the deck for Age III, you add three of five Grand Temples. Each Grand Temple belongs to a different Mediterranean culture, and if you have the favor of a god or goddess from that culture, you can build the temple for free. For example, having Isis by your side enables you to build the Egyptian temple; with Enki, you can build the Mesopotamian one. These temples are worth 5, 12, or 21 points depending on how many you build.
7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon also includes two new Wonders: the Sanctuary (which for the cost of 2 coins lets you reverse turn order) and the Divine Theater (which grants points and easier access to the gods).

BYE INSERT, WE HARDLY KNEW YOU


The first thing you'll notice is that you're not going to fit the contents of this box into the original without getting rid of the insert. That's a shame, I thought maybe this box would have been a little bigger to incorporate everything in a new insert, but sadly no. However you're at least greeted with a selection of large sized cards with the same stellar artwork we're used to in this franchise. Take heed though, they are not a common size so if you're thinking of sleeving them, you may need a specific pack - I believe Mayday call it "The Dwarf King French Tarot" pack or something.

The best kind of expansion is one that adds more of the good stuff and increases variety. The next best kind is one that adds a new mechanic without being too complicated. Pantheon fits directly in that second category. You don't get additional blue, yellow, green cards etc, but you get the new Divinity mechanic and some extra Science tokens and Wonders that can only be used with the expansion. I like how the new Pantheon board slots neatly around the Military/Science track board keeping everything together, that's a nice touch.


SWITCH-A-ROO


The first new aspect that's a solid plus point is that the Mythology and Offering tokens are placed on face-down cards in the Age tree structure. Normally giving your opponents a chance to choose from two unknown cards before you get a chance was not an optimal move, but now you have an incentive to do so anyway. Yes, the opponent gets to see new cards first, but I get dibs on a new Divinity card or Offering discount. It's cool to have that extra decision of whether the ends justify the means. You don't know what colour deck it will come from, but you can decide what price point to set it at.

It's also a neat rule that activating a card from the Pantheon does not require you to take a card from the tree structure. That's a new twist and one that's exploited often by savvy players. Sometimes you end up in that situation where you feel that the turn order has messed up your range of choices. Well if you're got the money, you can invoke a Divinity and mess up the turn order, hoping that they can't quickly switch it back.

There's actually very little extra to add to the ruleset with Pantheon. A quick glimpse of the rulebook is all that's required to know exactly what you're doing. I dare say that if you're teaching 7 Wonders Duel for the first time to someone familiar with the original game, then you can throw this expansion in from the beginning. Certainly don't bring it in for a brand new player though as getting used to 7 Wonders iconography is already a lot for a new player to deal with.


GIVE ME BACK MY GUILDS!


One thing that is a little bit of a niggling issue for me is that the Temples that are worth victory points replace the Guilds that you would otherwise use before. The guilds were varied and gave points for different criteria based on the cities built. The temples that replace those guilds are simply just generic victory points for how many temples you have purchased in the game. No where near as interesting.

It's also a fact that you only get to use a card from the Pantheon once. Now it's good that it adds a bit of tension of when's the best time to take advantage of it, but it also makes them a rather minor addition overall. However I can't fault it too much for that as it would probably get a little unbalanced if you could somehow spam a Divinity card that gave you military sheilds for example.







VERDICT ON 7 WONDERS DUEL: PANTHEON


There's no question that if you're a huge fan of 7 Wonders Duel, you're probably gunning for this expansion. However it should be noted that it's not adding a ton to the game. The new Divinity cards and related additions are very easy to implement to the point you could teach this inclusive to anyone who's familiar with 7 Wonders already and there's not a lot of additional setup required.

It adds some nice choices throughout the game and it's especially welcome that now offering face down cards to your opponent to choose from isn't quite as damaging as it once was as you now gain a benefit. The fact that you need to re-organise your box to fit it all and that you don't use guilds with this is a bit of a pain, but one I can live with.

It's a good expansion and adds a little bit of an extra tweak to the game, but it's certainly not an essential must-buy. Grab it if you love 7 Wonders Duel, take your time otherwise.



BROKEN RATING - 7 Golden Temples of Anubis



YOU WILL LIKE 7 WONDERS DUEL PANTHEON IF:


You love the original game and want to add more without too much complication.


You want to add an up-side to revealing face-down cards for the opponent.


You enjoy the extra variety in choices you have each turn.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE 7 WONDERS DUEL PANTHEON IF:


You don't want to say goodbye to the original insert.


You were hoping for more cards in general.


You don't like the idea of replacing your guilds with the temples.

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