Qt3 Boardgames Podcast: High Society, Duel of Ages II, 7th Continent

Title Qt3 Boardgames Podcast: High Society, Duel of Ages II, 7th Continent
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Games podcasts
When June 14, 2019

Tom Chick discovers a new way to lose a bidding game, Erik Wolpaw hates it when Brad shows up to battle across time, and Bruce Geryk can think of six other continents he'd prefer to visit..

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So, a few comments re: 7th Continent, not to necessarily tell anyone on the podcast they should change their minds:

  1. The trays can be lifted out of the box (as we see in the image above). That…doesn’t actually make pulling and refiling cards that much better, TBH. But it might help a bit?
  2. The developers do include some tweaks if you’d rather minimize the amount of restarting or generally are not that interested in the survival gameplay. Or, conversely, to make things harder (as well as the option of playing multiple curses). I don’t know how they work because I haven’t used them yet.
  3. I’m not done with my Crystal Song playthrough yet and I have 9 experience points. I think this is because I’m playing the lady botanist, who has a skill that makes another skill that gives you experience free. (it’s normally 1 card, 1 star, she makes it 0 cards with an automatic star).

Personally I think it’s pretty cool so far, but I agree that the cards are kind of a hassle to stock and restock.

Uh, I feel pretty dumb, but you’re totally right. I’m looking at the set-up right now, and the lid of the box makes it more of a “peering down in” angle. I also think I might try spreading out the cards across more trays so they fall open more easily.

Do you mean the 777 card? Or whatever the relic is that says “okay, only restart after your second death”? How glib. I mean, if I want to just not play by the rules and ignore the stakes of dying, I can do that without a card telling me. eyeroll.gif

I appreciate they tried to make the game more accessible, but I think the inaccessibility that turns off Wolpaw and Geryk is kind of fundamental to the design. Dying means going back over the part you already played with the benefit of knowing what’s there and having an easier time optimizing your progression before you reach the unknown. Just ignoring death and pushing forward isn’t much better than simply flipping through the cards without playing the game.

Oh, but now that I think of it, there’s also a set of more forgiving cards you can shuffle into the action deck. That’s probably what you meant. I actually might do that when I’m starting out a curse. It will let me see a bit more before I fail and restart. I’m just worried it will make me lazy when it comes to action deck management!

I’ve done Crystal Song several times. It really does feel like a tutorial level. It basically teaches you about stealth, combat, digging, and multi-stage encounters with specific crystal fragment cards. You pretty quickly draw the “scenario over” card and tally your score, so I even if you do cash in whatever experience you’re getting from your botany lady – I haven’t used her – you’re not going to be able to use it. In fact, I’m surprised you didn’t finish Crystal Song in one sitting. There are nine exploration cards to be played first on every terrain tile. After those nine cards, it’s over. Unless you intentionally ignore the objectives and just wander around, you should never have to play more than ten terrain.


I started on that tutorial island place, and there’s only like three terrain cards where you can place Crystal exploration cards (you only place one per terrain card) . And then I pretty much poked at every nook and cranny before I failed the way off the island. Which does reset exploration, and which is where I stopped for the moment.

Ah, right, Crystal Song lets you start at one of three starting places. I redrew when it put me on the Voracious Goddess island, because I felt like I’d spent enough time there. The other two starting locations were a real treat for revealing that there are distinct places on the continent.


I knew this! I did it! Nothing will make me enjoy pulling and filing these cards! During my brief 7th Continent phase, I went to Home Depot to buy a dremel for my upcoming Gaslands phase and genuinely thought about hiring a day laborer from the parking lot to deal with the cards. I think I don’t mind lots of filing in between games, but I won’t stand for it in the middle of a game. Also, and I can’t remember if I mentioned this, the game’s fanatical indifference to any kind of turn structure makes
it better solo than with two players, which also doesn’t work for the way I live my fantasy board game life.

So I was curious how you managed to get 9 experience given how little you’ve played, but I’m at a complete loss in terms of figuring out what you’re talking about. Which character and skill are you referencing that’s giving you free experience?


So, before I listen to this podcast, after initially liking the game (I’m primarily a solo player) here’s my problem with 7th Continent: its chief draw (exploration of new terrain and cards) is at odds with its design (repetition and optimization based on prior knowledge).

I love the idea of exploring a world bit by bit, uncovering new stuff! But then I have to do it all over again if I pull a bad terrain card, or get boned on the shuffle in my action deck, or — and this really is reminiscent of Ye Olde Gamebookes of years gone by — decide to go left instead of right at a critical juncture.

And exploration’s only fun if there’s something to explore. While getting to grips with the game, I had to do that tutorial island five or six times before I managed to get off it, and when I did I was elated! I then promptly died on the next two cards.

And like Tom says, the designers basically say it’s OK to just “not die”, but then aren’t I just putting a finger in the Ye Olde Gamebooke like back in the day? The only reason I did that was so I wouldn’t have to start all over again to finish the story; but I’m not convinced there’s any actual story here to get to the end of, so I’m left with either A) playing with no tension or challenge just to flip cards or B) having to slog through repetition and chance to get to the ostensible fun parts. Neither is an inviting option.

EDIT: I reread that and it makes it sound like I’m more down on the game than I actually am. I think it’s one of those that suits a very particular mood and purpose, and I’ve found that it functions very well as a “chill” game for me when I want to just take my time and get into a groove (and the constant filing of cards probably helps with that actually, since repetitive tasks tend to clear my head).

There is a skill entitled Knowledge is Power which has you make a Think test of 1 card draw, 1 star required, and there are multiple copies of it in the deck. If you succeed, you draw an 003 card (i.e., experience.). (And an additional one per character that also has one of this skill, but that requires you to be playing with multiple characters, which I am not.) She has a character specific skill called Scholar, which lets her subtract one card and/or add one star to every Think test she does (also two other types of test that aren’t relevant here), making that success automatic. So any time I draw a Knowledge is Power card for any other test (and there’s been a lot of 1 card 0 star tests), I can retain that as my skill from that test and just immediately get a free point of experience from that.

She also has a character specific skill that rewards an 050 and an 003, but that’s 2 draw/2 star so it’s not as automatic. And I hit something else that rewarded three 003s at some point, on the map. I forget what.

I’m imagining a version of this game in which you left the cards you had already explored on the table, but had different fog-of-war cards on them that got set up automatically, but then realize I was thinking of a computer game I must already have.

Sometimes I fantasize about taking out a glacially paced game like this on an afternoon when my wife is out of town, the wind is howling, and I’m thinking of how to spend hours of potential imagination. I thought this might be the game to do it. But I inevitably end up reading a book or watching The Seventh Seal for the fiftieth time.

I actually pulled the individual card boxes out of the main box, and then put them back. I must be crazy that I like to have the cards all in one compact place like that. I’m glad we live in America where I don’t have to worry about being arrested by the NKVD or pummeled off the Internet for expressing contrary thoughts.

Surely you realize that’s an anomaly, right? I can’t even figure out how the math works out on that. There are only three Knowledge Is Power cards in the deck. Are you saying you cycled all 45 cards in the action deck and started redrawing Knowledge Is Power cards during the instant death draws? I don’t see how that’s possible if you only explored three terrain tiles.

And you know you only keep one of the cards when you do a check, right? So every time you keep a Knowledge Is Power, you’re not keeping one of the other cards you drew that would have helped you survive. I find I simply can’t afford to take Knowledge Is Power during the early stages when I’m trying to gear up.

Also, you’re ignoring the red icon of a lock next to the Think test for Knowledge Is Power. That means you can’t modify the number of cards drawn. McClusky’s Scholar will give you an automatic success, but you still have to burn a card from the action deck. It’s the same with McClusky’s juiced up Study the Notes card. You still have to burn the cards, and when you’re taking all these cards, you’re not taking the gear you need to survive, the guaranteed stars you need to make some of the checks, the Think or Remember cards you need to manage the card-specific tasks, and so on. No one who has played enough to know what it takes to survive is going to be wasting early cards and action deck draws on experience points.

I suppose it’s possible to get five experience points if you managed to get all three Knowledge Is Power and both Notes cards at the top of the deck so you’d draw them, and furthermore decided to keep those instead of any survival oriented cards. So that’s 11 of the 45 cards gone from the action deck with nothing to show for them until you find an event where you can spend the experience points. If you survive that long. Based on which cards you’re deciding to keep, that’s not going to happen. :)

I don’t mean to take you to task on the rules, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing something wrong in terms of how quickly you earn experience points in the game. Pointing out that you’ve got nine experience points – I’m still not sure how the math works on that – in an incorrectly played game in which you died just makes my point. So I stand by what I said about how you’re not going to get to use the advanced skills for quite some time and the rate of progression in this game – in terms of spending xp to upgrade the action deck with advanced skill cards – is glacially slow.


Yes, but if you only draw one card when doing a check (and there are a lot of single card checks on that island), you may as well keep it regardless.

You’re misreading the lock icon. It prevents you from lowering the cost with help from other characters, and it prevents you from drawing more cards than required, but it explicitly allows modifying the cost with skills and items. Take a look at the reference on the back of the rules. “unless they use the effects of cards from their hands and/or inventories”.

There were a couple other non-skill sources of experience, and multiple effects that put random cards back in my action deck (which included Knowledge is Power at least once). And I haven’t died yet, I just failed the check to move off the island. But you’re absolutely correct that the experience does me no good until I find an opportunity to spend it, which doesn’t appear to exist in this curse, and I would not have deliberately sought it out under the circumstances. Nor do I disagree that it’s generally slow. This particular character simply has an easier time obtaining it.

Ah, thanks for the correction on the lock! I’ve been Doing It Wrong!

Seems a lot of basic actions are 1/0 (one draw, zero successes) to drip cards into your hand early in the game. A lot of the optimization in 7th Continent comes from turning actions into 0/0. Like crafting items when there are local resources.

Yeah, that’s definitely her superpower. I deliberately haven’t tried her because I need someone who can help me stay alive longer! You’ll see. :)

By the way, how did you learn the rules? By reading them? Watching a video? Did someone teach you the game? By just reading the rules book, it was a difficult process for me. Some of the rules are really cagey because you don’t know what cards are out there, or how the systems interact, or even what you’re supposed to do. It’s not easy to learn rules for systems you don’t understand yet. And I never would have figured out the inventory stacking nonsense if I hadn’t pored over BGG posts trying to figure it out. I mangled several early games by having no idea what was going on with items.


Yeah, that’s definitely the impression I’m getting.

I had no idea what any of the characters did, so I just picked one at random. Probably not the best starter choice, since she doesn’t have any advantages for the actions I’ve actually been needing to do on this curse so far, and there’s very little botany to do. But live and learn.

Reading, and then rereading. I’m still not 100% sure I’ve mastered them, and the item stacking and travel seem particularly unintuitive. On the other hand, it seems like there’s not that much in the way of overarching rules, really - tests, items, travel, maybe one or two other things…and then the rest fills itself in as you’re actually playing and exploring. Which is cool in some ways, a problem in others.

Oh, lordy yes, the travel. I can’t imagine many people are actually doing that correctly. What an aggressively non-intuitive way to do movement rules.

In theory, I like that idea. Set up some basic rules and then let the cards fill in the specifics. But it’s a shame those basic rules aren’t easier to understand for new players. I play a ton of boardgames, and I love reading rules, so I’m the last guy who should be confused. I can only imagine how more casual players must be struggling.


Is it? I think you have to give up, to a certain extent, trying to understand the rules by referencing your intuition. It turns out that the rules make sense, but they don’t necessarily accord with how you think they should work, particularly if you’re steeped in systems from other games. There’s a movement action icon on every map tile. That’s how you move; you take the move action depicted there, and if successful, you can relocate to any visible tile that you can draw a line through other map tiles to. The only hangup is that your intuition tells you 1) it should cost more to move farther and 2) the cost should be dependent on your destination, not source. But the whole game is based around actions: you take the movement action and you can’t take actions that are only available on another tile. I think once you absorb the idea that every turn is an action depicted on either your current map tile, attached events, or your hand, satchel or inventory, the rules proceed pretty smoothly.

In other words, “non-intuitive”? :)

That’s exactly the point. Those are both fundamental concepts in any game where something moves! FACT: Moving ten miles/hexes/tiles away is more difficult than one mile/hex/tile away. FACT: Moving into a swamp requires more effort than moving into a grassy plain. Neither of those concepts is a “hang up”. They are elements of the real world that games model in various ways. Neither of those elements – proximity and difficulty of terrain – is present in 7th Continent because it’s less interested in modeling the real world than encouraging exploration. “You’ve already seen this spot,” it says. “So it’s much easier to get back to it. The resource cost of the action is adjusted accordingly.”

Or, put another way, 7th Continent isn’t terribly interested in the concepts of time and distance, not in the sense of any literal presentation.

And keep in mind, I’m not making a value judgment when I say it’s non-intuitive. That’s just an observation. I understand why 7th Continent is doing this. I see what it’s getting at with these design decisions and I’m on board just fine. I just think it’s going to be a “pain point” for a lot of new players. It certainly was for me.

Now explain the item I’m carrying around that I built out of a shovel, a pan flute, and a hunk of rotting crab meat. :)


I don’t find movement at all interesting in the game. I would rather have 5-10 fewer cards in the deck and unlimited free movement except for the special impasses. It does nothing for me to work around a difficult movement area because I don’t appreciate the cost/reward tradeoffs of easier vs. harder terrain, and don’t enjoy ordering movement correctly or futzing with crafting just to get a walking stick.

Yeah, I think this is pretty fair. And some of its systems become pretty transparent and thus tedious after awhile.

You don’t usually listen to music and eat snacks while you’re digging? It’s just efficient to combine it all together. I’d love to see a collection of minis to represent the monstrous contraptions these explorers all use.