7 Wonders Strategy

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Some Complex Strategies For 7 Wonders The purpose of this guide is to explore some of the strategies for 7 Wonders that may not be immediately obvious. This isn't really the kind of guide for a complete Novice. It assumes a pretty decent familiarity with the game. This isn't a quick read. The guide will start fairly basic, but the concepts toward the end are going to build off of the ones at the beginning, so establishing a framework during the discussion is important. This isn't the type of guide where you can skip to the part you want to read. Without the foundation, some of the ideas discussed in previous sections, later sections won't make as much sense. Even in the wonder section, I try to build one idea off the next, so you may not get what you're looking for by jumping over the Giza section to get to Babylon. There are going to be specific counter-examples to nearly every strategy I advance. When I say, "You shouldn't go for Scientific advances when playing Giza in a 6 player game," you can believe that someone will quote that section, remove it from all context and then tell show you a screenshot of the game where they dominated with a 90 point Pyramids of Giza / Science victory. And they probably did. But this isn't the kind of thing that's going to happen frequently. If you go into a game with the idea that you're going to reproduce someone's miracle story game every time, you're going to get beaten a lot. There are a lot of strategy hints and tips out there for 7 Wonders, and I'm not here to tell you that they are wrong and that I am right. But you have to consider the context of any strategy advice given. Did the person say, "You can't win without any Military"? Perhaps he plays most of his games 3 player, and in that case, the advice is very sound. But in a 6-player game, that isn't necessarily the case. Did they advise you to get the resources you need to build your Wonder ASAP? Again, good advice for 3 player or 7 player, but not so much for 4 player. What I wanted to do with this guide is to look at 7 Wonders as a whole. This guide asks a lot of questions. Why does the game work the way it does? Why does something that works so well in the 3 player game fall apart in the 4 player game? Why is the pursuit of Science so dominant in the first game we play and so utterly futile useless in the next? Hopefully this guide will get you thinking about 7 Wonders in ways you haven't considered before so that you can answer some of those questions. I believe that 7 Wonders is a balanced game. I also believe it to be the best strategy game available today for several reasons. First and foremost, there is no guaranteed way to win every game. The game changes in subtle but significant ways based on the wonders in play and the numbers of players. Best of all, having a single sound strategy isn't enough to win the game - one also must constantly adjust to the strategy and play of one's opponents. It's easy to forget that you're playing against other players in 7 Wonders - even the ones that are all the way across the table from you. Many inferior strategy games require a player to select a strategy early and strictly adhere to it. These games generally punish a player for switching horses mid-stream. In 7 Wonders the horse sometimes drowns mid-stream. Being able to jump to another steed isn't a fault. It's often a necessity. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS AND THEORYCRAFTING I have seen many posts about which cards are better/worse than others. Are you more likely to win a game with the West Trading Post or the Excavation in Age I? Could a poor first card choice really cost you the game? There are many posts about which "color strategy" works best. Green science cards rule! Or do they stink? Is military the dominant strategy, or is it better to take your -6 points and concentrate on other areas? There are many discussions about the "good" wonders vs. the "bad" ones, and whether the A or B side is the better side to play. Up to now, most of the theories and suggestions about most of these subjects are based on fatally flawed theorycraft. Most of the statistical analysis done for this game simply doesn't hold up. For example, if I said I had analyzed a few thousand games of 7 Wonders and that card X shows up as played by the winner the greatest

percentage of the time, then that would be that, right? Everyone would want to get card X if they could, because it would lead to a win. But it can't really be that easy to determine whether or not card X is really the best card can it? And the answer to that is "no." It isn't enough to measure a large sample size and determine an outcome. What if 40% of the sample games measured contained at least 1 of 2 players? What if both of those players were exceptionally good at the game? What if both were bad? What if 80% of the games analyzed were 4 player games, and the remaining 20% were 3, 5, 6, and 7 player games? What if the Guild Card Y had only been available for purchase in 10% of the sampled games? This theorycrafting could be narrowed in scope a little bit with a more structured statistical analysis, but it would require using real statistical principles. To determine if card X is the best card, you would have to eliminate a number of factors. The skill of the winning player, the number of players, the availability of the card, etc. To do so, you would isolate each factor. First, you would examine only 3 player games and see how often card x showed up. Then four player, then five, and so on. If it showed up as the best card everywhere, you would be on your way. Next you would want to isolate the skill of the players. You could analyze only games that contained at least one player with a greater than 50% win rate. In each of Good Player 1's wins, how often did he have card X? In each of Good Player 2's wins, how often did she have card X? In games where Good Player 1 was defeated, how often did the winning player have card X? Then run the same analysis for players who win fewer than 10% of their games. It goes on and on. It is a lot of analysis. And even if it were done, it STILL probably wouldn't mean much. The fact is that most of the cards have more than one copy available for selection with varying numbers of players. For example, in a five player game there are six available age 3 military cards - one Arsenal, one Fortification, two Circuses, and two Siege Workshops. Are Siege Workshop and Circus better cards, or in the given sample of games are they simply statistically more likely to end up belonging to a winning player because there are more of them? And could an Age I military card like the Stockade (1 wood cost) really be a better key to victory than the Guard Tower (1 clay cost)? If so, does it mean it's really better, or that wood is better than clay? And is wood really better than clay, or would that indicate that the Olympia Wonder (Starting wood resource) is better than Babylon (Clay resource)? Or is Olympia simply an easier wonder to master for starting players than Babylon? The variables and factors that contribute to victory or loss are almost too numerous to accurately measure with a basic statistical analysis. It means that if someone examines only two contributing and correlative factors such as "Victories" and "Presence of Card X". The jury would still be out on "Wonder 1 is good" and "Wonder 2 is bad". It also means there is no silver bullet strategy such as "Always take green" or "Never lose a military fight". So is it possible or useful to measure anything? Fortunately, the answer to these two questions are "Yes," and "Yes." At its core, 7 Wonders is an economic game. In the book "Freakonomics," Leavitt and Dubner describe economics as "a study of incentives - how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing." That is 7 Wonders. It is a 30 minute case study in how you obtain what you want or need when every other player is trying to do the same thing. but the key to the "Freakonomics" quote is "incentives". If you can control the incentives in a game, you can control the entire game. Throughout each section, ideas will be presented about how to limit the possible courses of action for others while expanding those possibilities for oneself by creating incentives for other players to react to your play. RESOURCES When you look at the game, you can see that it is remarkably well-balanced but not in ways that are completely obvious at first. Some balance is easy to spot. For example, in a three player game in Age I, there are 7 cards that

have a non-gold cost. Four cards that require resources (one each of wood, clay, stone, and ore) and three that require manufactured goods (one each of glass, papyrus, and cloth). There are six brown resource cards, two for each player. Each resource (wood, clay, stone, and ore) appears on two of the cards. In fact, with any number of players, each resource appears on an equal number of brown cards. Another example of balance would be the wonders. Each wonder features a different starting resource, all resources equally represented, and each plays to a different strength in the game. Some people believe that certain wonders are better than others. I'm not one of them. Some wonders just take a little more work than others. Some of the balance is more subtle. For example, if you look at every card in the game for all 7 players, you'll see that Ore shows up on 41 cards, Wood shows up on 39 cards, Clay appears on 31 cards and Stone appears on 30. Of those cards, Ore appears on 12 military cards, Wood appears on 14 military cards, Clay shows up on 6 military cards, and Stone on 7. As For Science, Wood is king appearing on 6 cards. Ore, Clay, and Stone each appear on 4 Scientific cards. On Guilds, Wood, Ore, and Clay show up on 4 each, while Stone appears on 5. What was all that crap about being balanced? There doesn't appear to be any balance at all. You obviously w