Game Buzz: The Bloody Duel

Before Spiel 2015 in Essen, Germany, I did four random previews where I looked at games randomly chosen from the BGG Spiel Preview list.  Now that the fair is over, I thought I’d take a look at a couple of the hits that I didn’t talk about beforehand.  We’ll start with

image by BGG user thiagosleite
image by BGG user thiagosleite

7 Wonders: Duel is the latest addition to the 7 Wonders franchise, and I think it’s the first standalone game since the original.  This is a two-player version of the popular drafting game that was co-designed by Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala.  It’s slightly different than its predecessor in that you are not choosing from cards you were passed, but rather from a central structure that is different each age.  There are some other differences which will come out in this overview.

image by BGG user rootdarkarchon
image by BGG user rootdarkarchon

Duel comes with a game board, 23 Age I cards, 23 Age II cards, 20 Age III cards, 7 Guild cards, 12 Wonder cards, 4 military tokens, 10 progress tokens, a conflict pawn, 31 coins, and a score pad.  At the beginning of the game, each player gets 7 coins.  5 progress tokens are randomly placed on the board, and other components are placed in their correct spot.  You then deal out four Wonders.  The first player takes one, the second player takes two, and the first player takes the last one.  Then you repeat the process with four more Wonders, with the second player getting first choice.

image by BGG user joakim589
image by BGG user joakim589

At the start of each age, you’ll take the current age deck (with three cards randomly and secretly removed) and deal it out into a structure as defined by the rules.  Some of these cards will be face down.  On your turn, you simply take one of these cards.  You can only take an accessible card, i.e. one with nothing on top of it.  Then, as in the original, you can play it in one of three ways – construct a building, discard it for coins, or use it to build a Wonder.  It’s the specifics that are a little different:

CONSTRUCT: Play the card in front of you, sorting by color.  If there’s a cost, you’re responsible for it – cash or resources.  Any resources you have are applied to the cost.  Any resources you don’t have can be purchased from the bank for two dollars plus one dollar per resource of that type your opponent has.  So you’re not buying from your opponent, but if they have the resource, it’s more expensive.  Some buildings give you symbols that can be used later to purchase buildings for free.

Blue cards, yellow cards, brown cards, and grey cards all have the same basic effect as in the original – victory points, money, common resources, and premium resources respectively.  Playing red cards allow you to move the conflict pawn towards your opponent’s capital.  As the pawn enters a new zone, you’ll get the conflict token if still present which forces your opponent to lose coins.  If you move the conflict pawn into the opposing capital city, you win automatically.

Green cards are also different in that there are seven science symbols rather than three.  If you get an identical pair of symbols, you get a progress token which will give you a nice benefit.  If you get six different science symbols, you win automatically.

DISCARD: You can also discard the card you picked up for two coins plus one coin per yellow card you have in your city.

WONDER: You can complete a Wonder if you can pay the cost.  Just place the card under the wonder.  You then get its effect.  Once the 7th Wonder is built, the eighth is discarded from the game.

An age ends when all 20 cards of the current structure have been taken.  Once all three ages have been completed, the person with the most points wins.  That is, if military or scientific supremacy hasn’t been achieved.

I like two-player games.  I like 7 Wonders.  I like Bauza and Cathala.  There’s nothing about this game that I think I wouldn’t like.  BUT…there’s no but.  This looks like an awesome game.  I really appreciate how they worked to make a game that felt similar to the original, but didn’t just try to turn the original into a two-player game.  It’s a different kind of drafting as you select cards from a common display.  You want to get the best cards for yourself, but at the same time, you don’t want to leave any openings for your opponent.  My biggest complaint is that the cards seem teeny tiny, especially compared to the nice large cards of the original.  But still, I look forward to seeing how this game works.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The Bloody Inn is a 2-4 player game designed by Nicolas Robert and published by Pearl Games.  It’s a bit of a thematic departure from Pearl’s previous titles like Troyes, Bruxelles 1893, La Granja, and Deus.  You are an innkeeper who has decided that the best way to make money is to lure in hapless travelers, murder them in their sleep, then rob their corpses.  So, yeah, not the family friendliest.

image by BGG user wolverine1977
image by BGG user wolverine1977

The Bloody Inn comes with 78 Guest cards, an inn game board, four player aid cards, a First Player card, 30 10F Check tiles, 32 Key/Room Service tokens in player colors, 4 white keys, and 4 wooden discs in player colors.  At the start of the game, each player gets two Peasant cards and one player aid (this card also serves as a barn).  Some cards will be removed from the main deck based on number of player and desired length of game.  Each player also gets eight Key/Room Service tokens in their color, a 10F check, and their disc which is placed on the 5F space of the wealth track.  Each player places a Key on an unclaimed room of their choice.

In each round, there are three phases: welcome travelers, player actions, and end of round (evening, night, morning).

WELCOME TRAVELERS: Draw cards and place them into open, unoccupied rooms (empty rooms with a key token).  This will continue until all open rooms are filled.

ACTIONS: Each player performs one action, then each player performs a second action.  So you’ll get two actions, just not consecutively.  Your options are:

Bribe a Guest: Pay a number of Guest cards from your hand based on the rank of your chosen Traveler, then add the Traveler to your hand.

Build an Annex: Play a Traveler from your hand that depicts an annex.  Pay for it with other Guests from your hand based on the rank.  Annexes will remain in front of you and give you benefits through the game.

Kill a Guest: Select a Traveler from the Inn, pay Guests equal to its rank, and then flip it over to its deceased side.  It is placed in front of you.

Bury a Corpse: Select the corpse you want to bury, pay for it with Guests equal to its rank, then put it under an annex (the annex can belong to anyone).  Annexes can hold as many corpses as their rank.  You and the annex owner split the corpse’s purse.

Pass and Launder Money: Don’t do anything.  You can then cash in spaces on the wealth track for 10F checks, or cash in your checks for wealth spaces.  There’s a limit to wealth, so you may want to convert it to checks.

END OF ROUND: After everyone has had two actions, there’s a police investigation.  Each player with an unburied corpse must pay the gravedigger 10F per body, then discard the bodies.  The Travelers then leave, and you get 1F on the wealth track per room with your color key that was occupied by a Guest.  You then must pay 1F per card in your hand.

The game ends after you have gone through the deck twice.  The player with the most money wins.

This looks like an interesting Psycho-style game where players are trying to murder their guests, which only pay out if you bury them too.  It’s a very dark theme, but it looks like it’s some good fun.  I’m pretty interested in trying this one out sometime – it’s probably a little too graphic and violent for my wife, but it still seems like something I’d enjoy.

Thanks for reading!



  1. On 7 Wonders: Duel: we played one game at the Essen fair, and it was as amazing as it sounds. Antoine and Bruno managed to make a game that, although it differs from classic 7 Wonders in core mechanics, feels like 7 Wonders.
    For example, there is no drafting with two players, but the card display on the table gives you a similar incentive to watch what your opponent is doing. I’d have to play it again now for more details, but there were more things that made us go “wow, it does feel like 7 Wonders”. It actually feels more like 7 Wonders than the two player variant of 7 Wonders 😉
    One thing I was really worried about were the sudden death rules for science and military, but they do work very well as well. They had to create more reasons to watch your opponent’s empire so you wouldn’t only focus on your own, and the sudden death works perfectly for that.
    Even the tiny cards work, the one thing that would be really tough to see if original 7 Wonders had this size of cards, the names of buildings you can chain together, was replaced by large, easy to see icons.
    One of the Essen highlights for me, and I hope you’ll enjoy it when you get to play it.

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