7 Wonders Strategy: Winning Picks for the Lighthouse of Alexandria Side “A”

by Brian Durkin

An optimal set up for Alexandria side “A”

In his recent article “Staying Flexible (Or Not),” Steve Sadin wrote the following about his strategies for Scars of Mirrodin draft:
“Sometimes I will go into a draft with a specific plan in mind, … Other times I will go into a draft with a couple of different plans in mind, start working towards one (or more) of those plans with my first few picks, and then fully commit at some point in the second pack.”
You can find the full article here: Staying Flexible (OrNot)
Steve’s opening statements highlight two important predisposed positions for drafting. Should you arrive at the table with a plan you will force, or do you see what happens and keep your options open? In 7 Wonders, I lean towards the former. Your starting wonder already dictates a lot of the cards you will seek out, in order to maximize the effectiveness of your wonder’s powers. Of course every rule needs an exception. The Lighthouse of Alexandria provides so many options that players need to pay attention to signals. With drastically different resource requirements on each side for constructing this wonder, each side requires a different style of play. I’ve isolated four effective strategies for playing Alexandria, two different methods of playing each side.

Mining for Glass: A Commercial Success
Try to select at least six commercial
structures to maximize the points
from Lighthouse
Side “A” only requires stone, ore, and glass to construct all three levels. Each level only requires two of each, so do not anticipate taking a lot of resource cards. Stone and Ore allow you to play Craftsmens Guild. The second stage of this wonder plus some help from neighbors could allow you to play Workers Guild as well. These guilds promote you to take commercial structures and shy away from depending on raw materials and manufactured goods as your resource base. You need to acquire a Trading Post and Marketplace in order to succeed relying on commercial buildings. Alexandria does not generate gold through wonder construction like the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. You need cost reducers and or Tavern in order to survive on minimal resource cards; furthermore, side “A” does not want clay and wood, so you need the cost reducers in order to play Caravansary and Forum in Age II. Even with taking several commercial structures, I still recommend taking stone and ore in order to construct your wonder. Without taking it yourself, make sure you have access to loom and a second glass.


 

Alpha Strike
Stone and ore lend themselves to military structures, so you should compete for victory tokens. As always do not go out of your way to win military contests, but you should score over ten points in this category. You want access to loom because it allows you to play Strategists Guild, which side “A” should always benefit from with its military prowess. Stay on the lookout for Barracks in Age I if you want to play a military structure in that age, since Alexandria side “A” cannot easily play Stockade and Guard Tower.
Look out for these military structures when playing
Alexandria side “A”
Do I Need the Four Thousand Dollar Solution?
If you plan to take scientific
structures make sure you take at
least these three (Workshop,
Dispensary, and Library)
Alexandria allows you to play Workshop, but do you want to field Aggro Shops? Yes and no. For side “A” I like a splash, or add a small amount, of scientific structures. If you play Workshop in Age I, try picking up University and Library (another reason you need access to Loom) in Age II. If you do not grab Laboratory in Age II, then do not take any scientific structures in Age III. I demand an average of about five and a half points per pick for cards in Age III. With only three scientific structures going into the final age, you cannot support my average points per pick benchmark when selecting scientific structures in Age III. Since side “A” leans to fighting, I find it difficult to dedicate so much time to scientific structures (especially in Age II). If you sit next to the Colossus of Rhodes or another hardcore military player, focus on scientific structures more.
Age III: A Match Made in Heaven
No surprise that Alexandria supports Lighthouse. The wonder provides glass and side “A” wants stone, but you need to select at least four commercial structures before Age III. Taking Arena will round out the necessary six commercial structures to make Lighthouse an eight point card. I find it difficult to fully construct this wonder prior to Age III because of all the other cards and goals you need to accomplish; however, do not fret constructing the final stage in Age III because it provides seven points (it surpasses the benchmark). Just complete the last stage early to maximize the benefit of Arena. Besides the fore mentioned guilds (Strategists Guild, Craftsmens Guild, and Works Guild) and commercial structures (Lighthouse and Arena), round out your Age III picks with solid civilian structures. Town Hall belongs with Alexandria, and you can even play Senate for free with Library. Do not forget about Fortifications and Circus to guarantee you score big in military at the end of the game.
Summary of Strategies
You must choose between commercial structures and resource cards, particularly manufactured resources. I suggest going the commercial structures route because it enhances the value of Lighthouse and Craftsmens Guild; however, commercial structures can pose a high risk. With side “A” you need a Trading Post in order to play Forum for free. Without Forum, you could end up missing out on important cards like Strategists Guild. If you do not sell out and go commercial, you need scientific and civilian structures to make up the point difference. Regardless of which path you end up on, you always want to compete for military strength with side “A.” Besides the resources you need to complete your wonder, you want access to Loom. It allows you to play Strategists Guild, Library, and Observatory (if you miss Laboratory).
Another optimal set up for Alexandria side “A”
Summary of Picks
A list below summarizes which cards to look out for in each age. The order the cards appear on the list does not reflect their importance versus other cards. The lists also include cards from each strategy for side “A.”
Age I
  • Mine
  • Stone Pit
  • Ore Vein
  • Loom
  • East or West Trading Post
  • Marketplace
  • Tavern
  • Workshop
  • Barracks
Age II
  • Foundry
  • Quarry
  • Caravansary
  • Forum
  • Library
  • Dispensary
  • Laboratory
  • Training Ground
  • Walls
Age III
  • Town Hall
  • Senate
  • Craftsmens Guild
  • Arena
  • Lighthouse
  • Circus
  • Fortifications
Note: This article only covered side “A” of Alexandria. For information regarding side “B,” stay tuned for the next article out on Wednesday June 22, 2011.
How do you like to play side “A” of Alexandria? Do you feel that this wonder promotes many different avenues to victory? Comment on this article below about whether you agree or disagree with this advice.
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information

For more information about 7 Wonders check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of 7 Wonders? Try the following links.
Amazon: 7 Wonders.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. Most of them make up my play test group. We play usually every Monday Night.

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