Nov 2011

A Good Dirk

Today Rafael and I had a chance to play 7 Wonders with the two player variant. 7 Wonders is a great game with a neat card draft mechanic, can play up to seven people and plays in about 40 minutes or so. My game group likes it a lot.

Many Eurogames that are designed for 3+ players have a two player variant. These are often rather undesirable because they seem tacked on to the rules as an afterthought, usually as a marketing decision to sell more copies.

The two player problem is often solved (poorly) through the addition of a fake third player. This was done most stereotypically in Alhambra, where the fake third player is called “Dirk”, after the designer of the game, Dirk Henn. After encountering the fake third player in that game, we now exclusively refer to that fake third player in a game as Dirk, no matter what the game.

Due to the usually poor integration of Dirk into game rules, I was reluctant to try the two player variant in 7 Wonders, but Rafael persuaded me to try it. The completed game is below with Dirk on the right hand side.

I was surprised at how well the play went with a Dirk player. In the Dirk variant for 7 Wonders, players exchange their hands with each other every turn and the lead player selects one extra card from Dirk’s pile. The lead player then plays one card to his board and another card to Dirk’s board. Next turn the opposite player becomes the lead and repeats the process.

This leads to many interesting variations such as: forcing Dirk to buy resources from you, arranging cheaper resources for yourself, and causing Dirk to pay less to your opponent than yourself. These underhanded techniques may cause your opponent to glare at you when they work in your favour.

We will probably play with Dirk more often, at least in 7 Wonders.

If you have the game I urge you to give it a try.