7 Wonders Strategy: Scientific Structures
7 Wonders is a confusing game. Wait, no, that isn’t how I wanted to start this. 7 Wonders is a great game, a fantastic game, a wonderful game. It is a game created by Antoine Bauza (need I say more?) but it does have one downside to its accessibility – Scientific Structures are not the easiest things to work out at the end of the game.
So, this is the second article we have written about 7 Wonders strategy, and the second to go live on this blog. In the last article we worked out the basics of the cards. We looked at the core mechanics and we understood what the actual composition of the cards are. Today we are going to look at something more specific – rather than just looking at 7 Wonders strategy through the broad eyeglasses of vaguely waving at cards, we are going to deep dive into the world of mathematics and scoring Scientific Structures.
What are Scientific Structures in 7 Wonders?
Scientific Structures are a set collecting aspect to the game of 7 Wonders. Throughout the game you, as the player, will occasionally come across one of three types of Scientific Structure. They could have a Cog on them, a Compass and Set Square on them, or a Tablet with some form of marking or engraving. There are 8 of each card in the game, spread across the ages, and you get points for collecting them in different ways.
Firstly, you get 7 points for each set of icons you have. A set is one cog, one compass/set square, and one tablet. Secondly, you get squared points for each multiple of an icon you have. For instance, if you have 1 cog, you will get 11 points. If you have 2 cogs then you get 22 points. If you have 3 cogs then you will get 33 points. You get the idea.
Although there are 8 of each of the three types of card, it is impossible to collect all 8 in the base game (although not with the Leaders expansion). This is because there are 24 Scientific Structures and the maximum number of cards you can have in the game is 18.
Yes, but what are the Scientific Structures?
Now we’ve explained that, we can look at specific cards within 7 Wonders. Like all cards in 7 Wonders we can split them by Age. In the first age, for instance, the Scientific Structures available are:
- Workshop x2 (Cog)
- Apothecary x2 (Compass)
- Scriptorum x2 (Tablet)
In the second Age we have:
- Laboratory x2 (Cog)
- Dispensary x2 (Compass)
- Library x2 (Tablet)
- School x2 (Tablet)
Finally, in the third age, we have:
- Study x2 (Cog)
- Observatory x2 (Cog)
- Academy x2 (Compass)
- Lodge x2 (Compass)
- University x2 (Tablet)
There is definitely something that stands out there. In the first Age there are only 6 Scientific Structures (which is kind of thematic actually). In the second Age there are 8, and in the third Age there are 10.
Now, this creates a really interesting dilemma in the late game. Firstly, where you could in theory get all the Scientific Structures in the first Age, you can’t in the second or third Ages. This is really interesting and quirky. If you want to get into Science in the second Age then make sure you get your Tablet then. It is the most common in the second Age, but not at all common in the third Age.
What About Resources?
One thing we have completely ignored this far, and I have to admit it is because I didn’t think about it and put the cards back in the box, is what the Scientific Structures cost to build. Now, there is a really interesting rule to consider when playing 7 Wonders and that is that you can never have two of the same named building.
But here is the wonderful thing – certain buildings allow you to instantly build other buildings. This means that you only actually need access to four resources, or generous neighbours and 10 gold, to build all the Scientific Structures you can. This is because –
- A Papyrus builds the Scriptorum.
- The Scriptorum allows the Library to be built.
- The Library allows the University to be built.
- A manufactured Glass builds the Workshop.
- The Workshop allows for the Laboratory to be built.
- The Laboratory allows for the Observatory to be built.
- Linen allows for the Apothecary to be built.
- The Apothecary allows for the Dispensary to be built.
- The Dispensary allows for the Lodge to be built.
One final one, and one for the mid-late game –
- Wood and Papyrus build the School.
- The School allows for both the Academy and the Study to be built.
Pretty neat, huh?
This gives us a couple of interesting points. Firstly, all those are sets of the same resource, apart from the final School set. That is one of each kind. This means that if you manage to work your way down a set – so the Apothecary, Dispensary, Lodge route for example – each set is worth 9 points. That’s pretty good. Work your way down more than one and the points really stack up.
With Scientific Structures – What Do The Maths Look Like?
So far, so good, right? Okay, so let’s look at the numbers. What do the numbers look like with the 7 Wonders Scientific Structures? Well, this is where it gets hard. For this we are going to need to make an assumption.
The assumption we are going to make is – we are collecting the cards one at a time, one resource at a time. So, collecting those, let’s imagine that we collect a Workshop, an Apothecary, a Scriptorum – so one of each, before moving onto the next set.
As you can see, it multiplies pretty fast. It skyrockets even, first with the main multipliers, and then adding +7 for each additional set. It’s pretty awesome actually. For the record, I laid every option out on the floor and that is the maximum number of points you can get with Scientific Structures.
That being said, doing that strategy will take 12 cards, out of a total 18 in the game, and require potentially 4 resource cards, and if not resource then it will take 10 gold. It’s possibly not 100% worth going for the full strategy, but rather diversity a bit; however, that is up to you.
Remember, doing this, the odds are you will end up with up to -6 points for military conquest. Just saying. Worth keeping in mind.
TL;DR – Scientific Structure Take Away
Okay, so we’ve taken the last 1000 words or so looking at Scientific Structures in 7 Wonders, and it’s thrown up some pretty interesting results. What are the core take-aways?
- Scientific Structures are not evenly distributed towards the mid to end game. It is worth investing in Tablets in the mid-game as they become more scarce later on.
- You can get a lot of points with Scientific Structures, and they can help build one another, meaning you only technically need four types of resource, but you need to invest in the very first Age.
- Once you commit to a Scientific strategy it is worth following it through up to a certain point. Points multiply crazy fast. Throughout the game you will pick up 18 cards, and to go for big points you can pick up 12 Scientific Structure cards. You need three resources, of which, if you pick your Wonder well, you may start with one. This is 15 to 16 cards. There isn’t much room for a supplementary strategy. Thus is it probably worth diversifying for additional options, especially in larger games.
So, there we have it – a breakdown of 7 Wonders Scientific Structures and what they mean both points wise, but also how to build them through the tech tree, and when they come into play. Next time, we’ll look at the Military Structures. Until then, what are your thoughts about the Scientific Structures? Do you enjoy collecting them, or do you prefer other strategies? Let me know in the comments below.