In 7 Wonders Duel the science victory is the hardest to obtain. There’s a debate about whether it’s worth it to even try to win by science. In this post I’ll share my thoughts.
Science Victory as a Threat?
People often point out that going for science points can be good even if you don’t actually end up winning by science victory. The thought here is that you can pressure your opponent to make awkward plays to avoid your scientific victory. You can then use this pressure to win in a different way.
These people note that you also don’t often win by military victory in 7 Wonders Duel. Rather, you force your opponent to prevent your military victory, and you scoop up valuable civic cards in the meantime.
Although I agree that in principle you can use science points to force your opponent to make awkward plays, this is generally a weak strategy. In my experience it’s much too easy to defend a scientific strategy. The victory conditions for science are just far too stringent. If the Law token is not in the game, the opponent only has to prevent you from getting 1 science symbol, which usually isn’t hard to do.
Military is much Stronger than Science
A good way to illustrate how weak science is in 7 Wonders Duel, is to compare it to military. Military is much stronger than science in 7 Wonders Duel, for at least three reasons.
Firstly, military victories can happen much quicker. You can’t win by Science Victory before the third era, because the sixth science symbol always appears in the third era. A military victory on the other hand, can already happen in the second era.
Secondly, you can pick your wonders to support your military strategy. There are several wonders that support your military strategy. Colossus, Statue of Zeus and Circus Maximus all give you extra military points that your opponent can’t access. Temple of Artemis can strengthen your military rush by giving you an early game economic boost and extra turn. The only wonder you can choose to support your science victory is the Mausoleum. But even this wonder supports military victories more than it does scientific victories, because late game military cards are more expensive (and thus more likely to be put in the graveyard) than scientific cards.
Less luck required
Thirdly, a science victory becomes much harder when science cards are not in the game (in every era three random cards are left out the game). This may sound trivial but it very much isn’t. Military victories and civic victories don’t get harder when military and civic cards are left out the game, because your opponent also needs those cards to defend your military or civic victory.
This third reason is actually very significant so I’ll explain it in more detail. The win condition for military and civil victories are relative: you need 9 military points more than your opponent to win by military victory, and one civil point more to win by civic victory. The win condition for science is absolute: you need six science symbols, regardless of how many your opponent has. That’s why the science victory is the only one that becomes harder when cards of its type are left out of the game. This also means that the science victory leaves players more susceptible to bad luck than the other victories. To see this, just consider that if both tokens of the same symbol are randomly left out of the game and Law is not in the game, it’s literally impossible to win by science victory. The other victory conditions have no such risk associated with them.
Therefore, generally speaking, military is thus much stronger than science in 7 Wonders Duel. Of course, this isn’t always the case in every game. Your strategy should always depend on which wonders and economic cards you obtain, as you need different economic resources for a science victory than for a military victory.
Science Victory is more feasible in the Pantheon Expansion
The creators of 7 Wonders Duel apparently also noticed that science victories are too hard, because they boosted the power of science in the Pantheon expansion. This expansion introduces numerous Gods that give you chances to gain extra science symbols. It also introduces Gods and progress tokens to improve military strategies. These introductions combined put scientific and military strategies on the same strength level as civic strategies.
In the end, most games with Pantheon are still decided by civic victories, just because civic victories automatically happen in 7 Wonders Duel when the game runs out of cards. But, the game will generally have been much closer to a military or science victory and thus much more exciting. The improved balance between the different win conditions is why I recommend 7 Wonders Duel players to buy the Pantheon expansion.