7 Wonders Duel: A Board Game Review

Finding board games that are great for two players is more difficult that you’d think. Two player games tend to have very simple gameplay, as trading, cooperating and complex card tactics are difficult to build into a game for just two. This is especially pronounced in games that are two players or more. They either don’t have special rules for two player gameplay, and then you’re sure for a duller game than a four player game, or they create complex “dummy” players or partial decks that end up never really simulating a multiplayer game. The game ends up not being as fun.

7 Wonders“, a wonderful strategy board game, has a two player ruleset that makes use of dummy players. It doesn’t work great. The trading element is huge in this game and just doesn’t work with two players, and the game becomes much less complex when you only have another player’s strategy to worry about. You end up spending most of your time thwarting the other player, or just trying to barrel your way into as many easy points as possible. Red and green cards take the biggest hit out of this kind of gameplay. That’s a shame, because the game is gorgeous, very clever, and very fun and interesting to play, especially if you enjoy strategy games.

So I was very happy to find out that Asmodee came out with “7 Wonders Duel“, a “7 Wonders” game rewritten for two players.

The basic “7 Wonders” rules are the same. Each play tries to rack up as many victory points as possible. Blue culture cards give you straight victory points. Yellow commerce cards give you gold, resources, or more favourable trading rates. Brown and Grey cards are resource cards, and are much rarer than in the original “7 Wonders”. You are going to find yourself really squabbling for resources, or spending a lot of gold on them. However, it’s in the Green science cards and Red military cards that the game truly differs.

Green and Red cards can bring in an early victory condition, but unless the other player is really inexperienced, I doubt that it’ll happen. They are more interesting precisely because you don’t need to rack up a large amount of them to make the other player sit up and take notice. Two Green science cards with the same symbol on them allow you to pick a bonus chip from the top of the board, each one giving you a significant advantage.

Red military cards make the red marker advance towards the edge of your opponent’s board. At first you gain victory point on them, then they start to lose gold, and finally they can lose the game outright. You’ll tend to spend the game near the middle of the board, but the Red and Green cards are what make you more engaged with the other player’s strategy. If they’re racking them up, you need to start playing defensively, or you’re going to lose pretty quickly.

The game still goes on in three ages, and you still benefit from building wonders – especially those that give you an extra turn or more resources. You can still chain buildings – gaining free builds if you’ve built an earlier building with the required symbol. Especially with Red and Blue cards, you’ll want to keep on eye on what you’re opponent has, because in this super resource constrained version of “7 Wonders” a free build is a big help. Trade is with the bank only, which means that you can always trade – but trade gets more expensive if your opponent has the resource you need. Guilds are as powerful as they are in the original game, and wonders are even more important – and if your opponent builds his four first, you can only build three of your four (there are only 7 wonders after all…).


“7 Wonders Duel” is about 30-40 minutes play time, with another 10 minutes to setup and pack it all up. The box is super well organized, and while not compact, can totally slip into a backpack quite comfortably – unlike the huge “7 Wonders” box. It’s a game with engrossing tactics, very beautifully made and fun to play. Each turn is quick, so there’s very little downtime, and you can’t just focus on one aspect of the game (Wonders, Greens, Blues, Reds or Yellows), or you’ll very quickly lose. Even though there’s no trading with the other player, you are constantly looking at each other’s builds, trying to figure out and thwart their strategy, and changing your in response, so there’s no isolated play possible – a huge plus over the two player version of the original “7 Wonders” game. This gets a big thumbs up from me.

This week’s long run: clouds and sunshine

Managed to leave the house earlier than last week, but still not early enough to entirely skip the heat. Thankfully it was a windy day, so the heat wasn’t too unbearable, which meant that I could speed up my run a little bit.

The clouds were gorgeous, edged with morning light. It almost looks like a winter morning (Tel Aviv winters aren’t very grey and rainy) because it was so overcast.

There’s usually a lot more wildlife around the park, but since there are more people out this time of year (running, walking, doing yoga, playing with their dogs), only a few ducks and geese were around the boat docks.

8K done today, 4k done yesterday, and it looks like I won’t have time for a proper run tomorrow, so rest and stretch day it is. That’s the floor of one of my favourite coffee places, by the way. My machine is on the fritz and I haven’t had to fix it, so I’ve got to schlepp a bit for my brew nowadays.

Summer 5k, World Cup edition

This is from last week’s 5k – I just realised that I forgot to post it. Ain’t Tel Aviv gorgeous?

The promenade cafes and restaurants are packed with people watching the World Cup, including random bystanders.

The sunsets at this time of year are some of the best:

Midweek 5k run: Chinese festival and Te❤️iv.

I usually run with my running group midweek, and then I rarely have time to stop for photos. This week was crazy in terms of scheduling (as will next week), so that meant either running by myself midweek or giving up on my runs, and I am NOT bailing on my runs. They help me keep grounded and sane in this crazy time.

There’s a new sign on the Tel Aviv Port deck, and I really like it:

Get it, Te-love-iv?

There was also a very colourful and very popular Chinese food festival in the Port’s farmer’s market area. I got slammed in the face by a Chinese dancer waving long ribbons around, but it didn’t hurt, it just made me decide to circumvent the festival on my run back.

The lifeguards still leave their posts way too early, but that doesn’t deter people from swimming in the sea. A little over 5k done and dusted, with some hill repeats in the middle. I hate hill repeats.

Quick Gongfu Tea Session

I didn’t feel like breaking the tea table out for a gongfu session with all the fixings, but I really felt like some Shu pu’er, so I improvised a quick tea setting. This is my Shu Yixing teapot. I have two more teapots that I’m now prepping to be my Oolong and Sheng teapots, to replace the lower quality teapots that I’ve used so far.

The tea is from the Chinese Tea Company in Portobello road, London and it’s fabulous, like all the teas that I get from there.

A Glimpse into How I Journal

I like my journals to be filled with little sketches and bits and pieces that I collect here and there (labels, business cards, etc). It brings the entries to life, especially when I read through them later on.

So for instance yesterday I created a 3 minute sketch of a group of ladies enjoying themselves at a local cafe:

And here’s today’s page, about to be filled with notes:

So if you go to lunch somewhere, remember to grab their business card so that you can stick it in your notebook later.

This week’s long run: it helps to get out sometimes

Woke up and left early for an 8k run this Saturday. It was supposed to be super hot later on, so I tried to get my run done with before 7:00. I missed by a bit, but not by much. I was feeling depressed and anxious because of my mom, but as usual, pushing through the first kilometres brought on that welcome endorphin hit.

Swallows were out and about.

8k run complete. When in pain, run.

Caran d’Ache 849 Nespresso Pen

I was eying the Caran d’Ache 849 line for a while, wondering whether to try one or not. On the one hand I really liked their design. On the other hand, they’re ballpoint pens, and I have very little use for ballpoint pens. They require pressure to write with, and with my carpal tunnel problems, ballpoint-caused pain is what made me research and get into fountain pens in the first place.

Then I started getting emails about the Caran d’Ache 849 collaboration with Nespresso. From Cult Pen’s website:

In 2015 Nespresso launched its Second Life project, the aim of which is to recycle its aluminium coffee capsules and use them to create other products. Caran d’Ache’s 849 was a perfect candidate! An exclusive alloy using the aluminium from the Nespresso capsules was created in order to meet the 849’s quality requirements, and the ‘Darkhan’ capsule was chosen to lend its dark blue colour to the Nespresso 849 Limited Edition.

Well that got me hooked. I enjoy Nespresso’s capsules and especially its design, and I was intrigued by the idea of its capsules (which I recycle) ending up in such an iconic pen. A quick order from Cult Pens (who now have free international shipping for orders over £50) later, and this arrived:

The packaging is recycled, beautiful, and really evokes a Nespresso capsule sleeve:

The pen has ” Made with Recycled Nespresso Capsules” screen printed on it as well as all the usual, understated Caran d’Ache branding.

I took advantage of the free shipping to also order an 849 Tropical pen, and unlike that and other, more standard, 849s, this pen has a textured, beaded body. If you have sweaty hands, this is a blessing, of course.

Although it’s a metal-bodied pen it is surprisingly light and very well balanced. Even if you have tiny hands you shouldn’t have any trouble using this pen for long periods of time. The knock is so smooth that it doesn’t click, which I found a bit annoying. I’m used to pen knocks clicking unless they are faulty, and so I found myself constantly pausing to check if the mechanism had fully engaged before I started writing.

I don’t use ballpoints for writing, especially not for long periods of time, but this pen is obviously built to be a workhorse. Nothing rattles when you write, the refill is smooth, with no blobs of ink and no problems starting. Thin white streaks appear now and then while writing, but that’s to be expected and is hardly noticeable. Unlike many ballpoint refills, the Caran d’Ache Goliath refill that comes with this pen dries almost immediately, even on Moleskine paper, making it friendly for left-handed writers.

All in all a great pen, and a perfect gift for the Nespresso lover in your life.

Triathlon and Pride: this week’s long run

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, a huge, fun street party sort of affair, which I missed because I was with my mom in hospital. She got released home on Friday afternoon, but has to go back for more tests on Sunday, which makes none of us happy. And when I’m not unhappy or stressed I go out for a run.

Started out at 6:20, hoping to get 7k in before the sun started blazing (wear sunscreen!), but I forgot that my usual route was going to be partly blocked because of the Tel Aviv Triathlon. It made for a challenging and interesting run at least.

6:20AM and look at that sun already blazing:

Some of the decorations for the Pride Parade were still up on the beach, and some of them will stay here permanently:

The sprint category of the triathlon was just about to start as I tried to run past them and into the TLV port and park:

Here I was forced to go on several diversions before finally making it to the park for the halfway point of my run.

Whenever life sucks, go for a run. I guarantee that you’ll feel better.