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Dodechotomy

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9
Go to the 7 Wonders page

7 Wonders

73 out of 80 gamers thought this was helpful

Intro:
I didn’t have the chance to play more than 3 games before leaving for another city. I then bought it upon arrival, having been left with such a craving to further plumb its depths. Supporting up to 7 players, it manages the feat of having no down-time between turns, which is difficult among thought-intensive games such as this. It achieves this feat by having all players playing their turns at the same time.

Premise:
Each player has a wonder, and a civilization around it. Your goal, as leader of Alexandria, Ephesus, or Babylon, etc is to construct the stages of our wonder (Lighthouse, Parthenon, Hanging Gardens, etc) and build other buildings and structures to gain points and resources. In each of three ages, all players are given a hand of 7 cards. They select one card, build it using the resources from previously built cards, and pass the hand on to the next player, while simultaneously receiving a hand from their other neighbor.

Learning:
With straightforward steps, and short turns, this game is exceedingly simple to dive into. I recommend for the first game, giving a brief into, going over how to select cards, and whit resources are needed to build things, and then just starting. I find it much easier to explain once players have a civilization they’re invested in, with real structure already build, so the strategy talk can wait until Age II.
After the mechanics are out of the way, and players have started building and gaining points, start talking about the different paths to victory (Military, Science, Beautification, Trade, Wonder, etc) and conclude by showing them the Age III Cards that give huge bonuses for various structures your neighbors have.

Length:
The game takes as long as it says on the box, about 30min. This is short and satisfying, and because of the concurrent turns, there is more real game time packed into these 30 minutes than in some games of 2 hours.

Depth:
With the myriad paths to victory you can take (and combine), the game offers significant variety between replays. Each wonder is different, giving different bonuses for each stage, and offering different point values for completion, and each player will have to dedicate themselves to a strategy for each game, depending on the starting conditions.
The game does not have the variety of something like Dominion, but it is still above many others for replay value.

Expansions:
There is one expansion out as of now, Leaders, which adds characters to the game which either have one-shot effects when you recruit them, continuous effects such as increased resources or reduced costs, or are worth points at the end of the game. It adds significantly to the game, though doesn’t change it completely.

Conclusion:
Buy It. 7 Wonders offers a unique perspective on strategy/building games, and will make a great addition to a rotation including such games as Dominion and Race for the Galaxy. I would say try Dominion first if you don’t already have it, but really you will want both eventually.

10
Go to the Dominion page

Dominion

80 out of 87 gamers thought this was helpful

Premise:
Dominion is the first ever (to my knowledge) deck-building card game. That’s not a game where you build a deck and then play (Magic: The Gathering); that’s a game where building the deck is the goal of the game, and the bulk of every turn. Each turn, you will use 5 of the cards in your deck as your hand, and play the “Action” cards among them to extract whatever effects they have. They might provide more card draws to use, more options for playing cards, or the power to mess with your opponents’ decks, or more coinage to spend in the next step. After those actions, you play the treasures you have in hand, and you buy new cards to add to your deck. The new cards you buy go first into your discard pile, and you will have to wait for your deck to empty before you can shuffle them up and make your new deck, including whatever card’s you’ve purchased and whatever you had already. The self-improving nature of dominion decks means that there are always choices to be made as to what might be better for your deck, what is good to deprive opponents of, and when might be the right time to start the final rush for points toward the end of the game.

Learning:
The mechanics of dominion are so elegantly simple that they take less than a minute to explain.
The goal is a bit more ethereal, as new players often have a hard time grasping what they should buy, or what sort of approach to the game should be taken. Not to say it’s difficult to learn though, just toughing it through the first game will get almost everyone into the right mindset and introduce them to the flow enough to play decently game 2.

Length:
Dominion takes no more than half an hour in almost all circumstances. First game might be a bit slow, as the new players will be asking questions every turn, but after that, gameplay is smooth, snappy and uninterrupted. You can get into circumstances where turns take quite a while, because of cards that chain one another until you’ve played your whole deck every turn. This is easily avoidable, by simply realizing it’s not the way to win, and by selecting cards that avoid the phenomenon.

Depth:
The base set of Dominion comes with 25 “Kingdom” cards which are the meat of the game. In a given game, you’ll select 10 of these (randomly or arbitrarily) and use those exclusive for the duration of the game. This variety and variation means that there are endless new combinations of cards and mechanics in each game, so the strategy doesn’t go stale quickly.

Strategy:
The best player will win 70% (approximately, by rough observation) of the time. Bad draws can kill a game for a player, but it is normally bad choices that lead to those draws. If you buy cards to put in your deck, and later regret drawing them, you most likely bought the wrong cards, or bought them in a bad proportion. Skilled players will know what sorts of cards their deck needs and what sorts it has enough of, which will minimize greatly the occurrence of dead draws.

Expansions:
There are (as of writing this) six expansions for Dominion, each of which adds between 12 and 26 new Kingdom cards to the base set, and some of which add other new components and ideas also. A full set of Dominion means 142 different Kingdom cards (not counting hard-to-find promotional cards) and 664 226 242 466 073 different possible sets of ten (thanks wolfram alpha). I have played all of the expansions, and I have enjoyed them all.

Conclusion:
Dominion is one of the best, smoothest, most replayable boardgames ever to see cardboard. Buy it. Play it. Love it.

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