BoardGameArena currently offers a great selection of games with fast matchmaking. You can create and play an entire game of 7 Wonders in under 10 minutes, which is pretty crazy! This has let me play far more games in a short period of time than I ever could in real life, and as a result I think I have a huge advantage in strategy over most players, who tend to only have face to face experience.
I like three player games the most – they’re the most interactive and skilltesting. As a result, I’m limiting this guide to *only* 3-player games. Some of it may carry over to higher player counts.
- In 3p, you’re much more invested in hurting your opponents than in higher player counts, where it’s more optimal to do your own thing. For that reason, military is better than usual, and science is worse. More on that later.
- An overall tier list is meaningless under the default rules, since you can’t pick your wonder. But tier lists are fun, so here’s a tier list. Best wonders within tiers are listed first.
B: Halikarnassus, Rhodes, Alexandria
C: Babylon, Olympia, Giza
- A winning score is about 60 points. It can be lower if there are military clashes (with no one getting the points) and no one goes science, or higher if a person cedes military and goes all in on science. But overall, 60 is around the correct number to shoot for.
- More specifically, the value of a card will go up as you progress through the ages, with a noticeable spike in the final age when the heavy point scorers come out. The value of the average card in age 1, age 2 and age 3 seems to be 2 points, 3 points, and 5 points, respectively. If you multiply each of those numbers by 6 and add them all together, you again get the magic number of 60 points.
- In a 3 player game, denying both of your opponents a point is equivalent to scoring a point yourself. As a result, you should treat denied points as roughly half as valuable as scored points.
- However, in Age 3, it’s common that only one opponent “matters” and the other one is out of the running (either too far ahead or too far behind). In that case, you should value a denied point from the opponent that “matters” as worth 1 point, and the denied point of the opponent who does not matter as worth 0 points.
- Military scores you points and gives your opponents negative points, but it also *denies* your opponents from scoring the military points themselves. Winning a military conflict in Age 1 scores you a point and prevents you from losing a point, so naively you might think of it as a 2 point play. However, since you deny your opponent from scoring 2 points, it’s more of a 3 point play. Using the same logic, Age 2 victories are worth 6 points, and Age 3 victories are worth 9 points. Winning every conflict in a game should be valued at a whopping 36 points. Military is strong, folks!
- You’ll see every “pack” of cards twice, and know where all of the cards are at the beginning of turn 2 of each age. This is extremely important to pay attention to. Picking a singleton Ore is normally bad, but can be good if you are going to be passed the Ore military in the next pack. Similarly, picking a singleton silver can be decent or terrible based on whether you can scoop up the corresponding science card in that cycle.
- Science denies almost nothing from your opponents, which is why it’s so weak in three player. Going heavy science cedes the military victory and likely does not give you enough time to make denial picks. You better be scoring A LOT if you go all in on science.
- If you can get up to 3/3/3 you probably win the game. Naturally, you shouldn’t expect good opponents to let you do this often.
- Let’s say you first pick a tablet to complete your second set in Age 3. You’ve scored 7 points for completing a set, plus 3 points for getting your second tablet. 10 points?! Amazing! But you had to spend your first pick taking it, and probably passed something fantastic for your opponents to build. Your 10 point play doesn’t look so hot if your opponent builds Palace (8 point blue) next turn.
- The above point is why you should prioritize tablets in Ages 1 and 2. There is only one tablet in Age 3, so if you need one to complete a set, you have to pick it early to prevent it from getting blocked by the person passing to you. Otherwise, they’ll probably bury it under their wonder. However, if you need a gear or compass to complete your set, your opponent probably can’t afford to block both cards, and you can try to finish your set on the second rotation, AFTER contesting the first rotation for the top picks like Palace and military.
- Science cards beyond completed sets are rarely worth it. If you have 2/2/2 science completed, your next science card is only 5 points. Good for a last pick in Age 3, but awful for a first pick.
- From all of this it should be clear why I think science is more of a niche tactic than a game-defining strategy in 3 player. Science is reasonably point efficient in the early stages because the value of cards is lower there. It also might force your opponent to make some uncomfortable plays, like playing a science themselves as a block pick. However, when Age 3 hits, the value of the blues, reds and purples are so high that science is usually not worth chasing beyond a late pick or two.
- Following from the previous point, don’t take science over free military cards. Science is a tactic, not a strategy to dive in on.
- You ideally want to shoot for 2 science or 5 science at the end of Age 2, with the missing piece of the set not being a Tablet. Otherwise you may be pressured to burn a first pick, or worse, be blocked from completing your last set.
- All bets are out the window if you get all three science in the first Age. At that point you are threatening a huge amount of points, and it might be good to go all in unless your opponents spend a huge amount of effort blocking you (and they may well do so).
- Pick side B.
- Rhodes has the most pressure to complete its wonder stages. They’re high value and action efficient, but are also very easy (and profitable) for your opponents to block you from building. If you can’t build both stages, you probably lose.
- If you get Caravansery, breathe a sigh of relief. As long as both the singleton metal and the singleton stone got played in Age 1, you can’t be blocked from building your wonder. As always, make sure you can build Caravansery if you open it!
- Otherwise, you’ll need the double stone to build Stage 1 (unless Giza is in play). You’ll need the double ore to build Stage 2 (AND the Age 1 Ore needs to have been played). Be looking to grab them as soon as possible.
- You should play stone and metal defensively in Age 1. Giza is a big factor – if Giza is not in the game, focus on your first stage. The singleton stone is easy to underrate. It lets you build Baths and ensures you can complete your first stage with either Caravansery or the Double Stone improvement. The singleton metal is also decent insurance.
- If Giza is in the game, things change a lot. You can now depend on your “buddy” Giza for stone, since he both starts with stone and needs more for his wonder stages. He also has a big chance of blocking Baths for you, making the singleton stone a worse choice. Instead, prioritize pointing a trading post at Giza.
- The A side is usually better than B. B requires an extra 3 clay for 5 more points. As mentioned earlier, in a competitive game the winner will get more than 3 points per card. Since the 3 clay usually requires playing an extra brown, B forces a 5 point play that requires 2 cards. That’s not efficient enough! It’s also a liability, giving opponents an additional way to block you.
- A clear exception is if you are facing Babylon. They not only start with clay, but need more to complete their wonder stages. As a result I play the B-side vs Babylon, with the plan to point a Trading Post at them to mooch off their clay. You’ll probably be able to play the clay stage without an additional resource play, making it quite strong. This is when Giza is at its strongest!
- You need to get into the military game if you want to win, but stone can’t build any military. Because of this, it’s not awful to build the singleton clay and ore for the sole purpose of building some military. Just like when you pick silvers for science, you’ll need to pay attention to pack distribution and whether your opponents can build the cards themselves.
- Giza is at its worst against Rhodes. Not only does Rhodes mooch stone off of Giza, it tends to win on military, which is where Giza tends to get a lot of its points.
- Like Rhodes, if you don’t get Caravansery you’re at risk of getting blocked on Stone. Pick the 2 stone brown card in your first few picks.
- Play the B side. The 2nd ability doesn’t look like much but it can easily score 6 points if you get passed something good as the 6th card in Age 3. The A side requires 4 clay, which is the magic number where you’re at risk from getting blocked.
- Assuming you build all three stages of your wonder, picking science has a strange reward curve. Picking two different science cards with your wonder scores you 10 points, which is great efficiency. However, the third science card scores only 3 points, and the fourth science scores between 3 and 5. It’s good to stop at 2 science unless you expect at least three more.
- Babylon plays more silvers than most wonders due to its science ability and lack of an innate silver resource. How good a silver is depends a lot on the distribution of the science cards. If taking a silver gets you a green card next pick, it’s often worth it. I wouldn’t ever take silvers over free military or dual brown resources.
- The best silver is paper. Paper gives you access to build two Age 2 science cards – School (1 wood 1 paper) and Laboratory (2 clay 1 paper).
- The second best silver is silk. With access to paper and silk, you can build the Compass and Tablet in Age 1, then build the Laboratory with raw resources to “catch up” on Gears. Silk also lets you complete your first wonder stage if you are playing the B side.
- Play side B – it gives you its strongest stage right off the bat!
- It’s quite common to sell a card for 3 gold to “reserve it” for later if you’re unable to build it. Common targets for this are science cards, age 3 blues, guilds, and military. Selling a military card for 3 gold and building it at the end of the stage can catch opponents off guard.
- Halikarnassus is the strongest wonder for pursuing science, especially in 3p. Science is worse in 3p due to blocking, but opponents can’t sell a science card for 3 gold anymore if you are playing Halikarnassus. They’ll have to play it as a wonder stage or build it themselves. Science is best when you can’t plausibly compete for military and are against opponents that can’t block you. The perfect opponent to play science against is Rhodos. It’s easy for them to beat you in military, but difficult to block since they only have two wonder stages.
- Halikarnassus can often get all three science cards in the first age. You build one from your starting silk, play another silver good and a science card off of that, and then discard the last one for 3 coins. You then build your wonder as your final card for the age, and can have all 3 science cards up for chaining. The singleton metal card is important here – you need it on the board for this strat to work, so play it if it comes to you late.
- Try to watch for when an opponent sells a card for gold. If they aren’t thinking, they might have discarded something good for you.
- Your third wonder stage is optional. There’s no need to build it a lot of the time, since it’s often unlikely there are 3 good discards to fish out in a 3 player game. That means you can take your time – don’t feel pressured to build any wonder stages until the end of Age 2, or possibly even later. There’s often not much to grab from the discard unless you specifically discarded it yourself.
- Play side B.
- Alexandria is the resource denial wonder. You want to make things difficult for your opponents to build stuff, or better yet, impossible! Pay attention to what resources your opponent wants and try to deny them. Since you don’t need to play many resources yourself, you have some time in the early stages to sell a card or two for gold.
- Pay attention to the Paper and Silk at the beginning of Age 2. If you don’t go science, silvers are low value and easy to forget about, but if opponents don’t take one of these in Age 1, they open themselves to getting denied the resource in Age 2. Keep in mind you’ll ideally want to play the Forum and deny the relevant silver resource, so this doesn’t happen every game. When it does, though, you’ll be the only one who can build powerful third age resources that require Silk or Paper, which is a long list. You’ll have sole access to Pantheon (7 point blue), Palace (8 point blue), and 4/10 of the guilds in the game.
- Somewhat in contradiction to the last point, you want 2 clay ASAP so you can build your first stage in Age 1. After you have your 2 clay, you can stop taking resources for the most part.
- Because the goal is to leverage your ability to force your opponents to build resources, trading posts work great with Alexandria. Trading posts also work well with denial picks that sell important resources for gold.
- By the same token, try not to point a trading post towards Alexandria if you are playing against it – you probably won’t get much out of it.
- Alexandria has poor innate scoring, so do not expect a high scoring game. You can and should make up for the poor innate scoring by taking blues relatively highly, but that can only go so far. Hopefully if you have blocked your opponents enough, their scores will be even lower than yours. 🙂
- Play the B side – it gives you more stuff. 🙂
- To give an idea of how strong Ephesus is, keep in mind that if you don’t spend ANY of your coins from your wonder stages, you’ll still only score 1 point less than Giza A. The wonder stages are also significantly easier to complete than Giza’s.
- Of course, you should spend money as much as you can. Money tends to be worth more than a third of a point if you spend it on resources to play high scoring cards.
- Similar to Alexandria, you don’t need a lot of resources to build your wonder stages. This increases your flexibility to a scary degree.
- Play trading posts – they’ll make the money from your wonder go farther. Trading posts pointed at the person who opened Timber Yard (Wood/Stone dual) are strong, because both of those resources help with your wonder stages.
- If you’re in danger of running out of money, it’s better to finish your final wonder stage before Age 3. That way you can focus on taking strong picks at the beginning, rather than needing to pause for more money.
- Olympia A is a decent choice against Alexandria. You’re not going to get much use out of your trading post against them, and the free build on A’s stage 2 can be good at circumventing a game without a lot of resources. For the most part, however, I play side B.
- When playing the B-side, it’s often correct to pass Guilds so that your opponents will build them. Don’t just blindly take the thing with the most points. As long as you think an opponent will want to build a guild, go ahead and pass it.
- By the same token, when playing against Olympia B, don’t be too hasty to play a big scoring guild like Builder’s Guild (1 point for every completed wonder stage). It will only improve your score relative to the non-Olympia player, so it might be better to build something else, or even just bury the guild in your wonder. An Olympia B with no decent guild to target will probably lose, so this is a decent avenue of attack.
- Similar to Ephesus and Alexandria, you would prefer your opponents to build resources rather than you. You have a trading post built in, and your wonder stages are extremely cheap to build.
I hope you enjoyed reading this! Let me know where you disagree, and happy gaming!