7 Wonders Breakdown: Commercial Structures
Commercial Structures are a core part to the game of 7 Wonders. One of 7 different kinds of cards within the game, Commercial Structures are markets and trading posts, taverns and forums, designed to add an additional level to the gameplay. They add additional ways of getting resources, additional coins, and even victory points. Where they aren’t a huge way of gaining victory points on their own, they are a decent supplementary strategy.
The Commercial Structures are useful tools to have within the game, and act as enablers within 7 Wonders. They aren’t perfect solutions to problems, but they do make it easier to play the game.
Essentially, when looking closer at the Commercial Structures, they fall into two categories. There are the resource generators and the resource rewarders. The resource generators make resources cheaper. The resource rewarders are exactly what they sound like. They reward players for having resources.
Since Commercial Structures aren’t exactly resources in their own right, they can’t be quantified in the same way. Instead, in this article we are going to look at each card in a bit of detail, with ideas about when it is best to play them and when it is best to let them pass
What are the Commercial Cards in 7 Wonders?
So, what are the Commercial Cards? How can they be used? Let’s take a look –
East Trading Post and West Trading Post – Age 1
The Trading Post cards are two of the most interesting early game cards. Available in the first Age. There are two of each card within the early Age, and they can be used to purchase resources (specifically Raw Materials) from neighbours. Where resources can always be bought from neighbours for 2 coins, the East and West Trading posts reduce the cost by 50%, making that cost only 1 coin. This is incredibly valuable if you want to focus on other strategies
One of the neat ways to use the Trading Posts is to find another way of getting money, through any other means, and using the Trading Posts to use opponents resources. This means that you, personally, don’t need to collect resources, but can instead leech of your left or right neighbour.
Marketplace – Age 1
The Marketplace is very similar to the Raw Material ability of the trading post, but it allows the ability using Manufactured Goods. Manufactured Goods are rarer in the game, so the card compensates for this by allowing its player to use Manufactured Goods at a reduced price from either neighbour. Since there are fewer Manufactured Goods, this makes them easier to get.
What the Marketplace and Trading Posts also do together is they reduce the amount of coins opponent players get when you buy resources off them. Where this probably won’t throw off their game, as they will most likely be planning for what they have rather than hoping for additional money, but it reduces the amount you gift them for resources. You aren’t enabling them the same as you would if you were giving them two coins per resource.
Tavern – Age 1
The simplest of the Commercial Cards, and the last Age 1 card to look at. The Tavern gives 5 coins. That’s kind of it. It’s really useful for teaming up with the above cards – the Marketplace and the Trading Posts as it makes it easier to use those.
The Tavern is a useful coin generator and shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s simple, but taking it can allow for a lot either a full two resource card at a later date or five whole resources teamed up with the East and West Trading Posts or the Marketplace.
Caravansery and Forum – Age 2
The Caravansery and Forum are the upgraded versions of the two Trading Post cards. Rather than allowing for the player to have cheap resources from neighbours, they count as resources. The Caravansery is worth one Raw Material, whilst the Forum is worth one Manufactured Good.
Where there is the obvious way of looking at the Caravansery and the Forum, there is a deeper strategy that can be employed. The Caravansery and Forum can help support a later game strategy. Along with either the Trading Posts or a strong early game resource collection game, it is possible to become a resource powerhouse in late Age 2 and all of Age 3 with the Caravansery/Forum. The earlier they come out in Age 2 the better, as it means the more it is possible to use them. They can be used to seriously turn the third Age around, and alter the game, with some clever playing.
Bazar and Vineyard – Age 2
One thing that becomes apparent the more you play a game like 7 Wonders is that coin generation can be a real pain. Coins usually mean resources, and they are hard to come by, especially after the first Age and the Tavern exits circulation.
This is where the Bazar and the Vineyard come in.
What the Bazar and the Vineyard do is pure coin generation. The Vineyard gives you one coin per Raw Material you or your neighbours have, whilst the Bazar gives two coins per manufactured good.
To be honest, there is never a bad time to play the Bazar and Vineyard. The cards themselves are free, and they are awesome, especially in the middle of Age 2 when the majority of resource cards would have been picked. In fact, these cards are designed to help out the resource light, especially if other players have been doing well on the resource collection front. Likewise, it is worth taking these cards just to make sure no one else can. They are genuinely really amazing cards. They may even be some of the best cards in the game.
You know what – as someone who has spent the past few days analysing cards, the Vineyard and the Bazar may actually be the best cards in the game. They genuinely are amazing.
Arena, Haven, Chamber of Commerce, and Lighthouse – Age 3
The final cards are actually really circumstantial, and they can kind of be put into the same category as the Guilds. You see, unlike the other cards that reward or help based on what you are planning on doing or what your neighbours have done, these final few cards (and the same with the Guilds, which is why we won’t be covering those for now) are really circumstantial. They benefit you based on how you have already played…mainly.
Okay, that is a generic statement – these cards give victory points at the end of the game based on your end game condition – however, they are third Age cards. If played early in the third Age it is possible to improve the allure of the Lighthouse and the Arena, but by that point the points for Haven and the Chamber of Commerce are more or less set.
So, what do these cards do?
- Arena – Three Coins and 1 Victory Point Per level of your Wonder built.
- Haven – One coin and 1 Victory Point per Raw Material you have.
- Chamber of Commerce – Two Coins and 2 Victory Points per Manufactured Good you have.
- Lighthouse – One coin and 1 Victory Point per Commercial Structure you have.
Now, it is possible to play the game with these cards in mind; however, since there aren’t that many and you can’t guarantee getting them, that may be a bit of a dud strategy. That being said, they can easily be a points boost later on in the game. Games of 7 Wonders are usually close, and this can help close that gap even more.
TL;DR: Counting on the Commercial
Throughout the course of the articles on this site, going through literally 7000 words of analysis across a handful of articles about 7 Wonders, we have looked at different factors, summarising the strategy as we go along. Here are the top three points for the Commercial Structures:
- The Commercial Structures are enablers more than they are primary strategies. They help make it easier to get resources in the first and second Ages. This changes in the third Age when they become more circumstantial.
- It is possible, with the Age 1 and Age 2 cards, to create a really incredible resource generation engine. This revolves around the Trading Posts/Market and the Caravansery/Forum.
- If you see the Vineyard or Bazar go past – take the card. They are incredibly good!
This is the last article in which we are looking closer at the cards in 7 Wonders. We’ll continue to analyse the game, but for now, what are your thoughts on the Commercial Structures? Let me know in the comments below.