Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 26, 2020
How to win at The 7th Continent

Since the 7th Citadel kickstarter, I have been playing more of The 7th Continent, in solo mode. I have also been watching a bunch of videos about these two games on YouTube. And I noticed that a lot of people who show playthroughs on YouTube are actually not doing very well in this game. The videos are mostly about "look at the crazy stuff that is happening to me in this game", rather than providing you with tips on how to actually beat it.

First of all, The 7th Continent is a board game, not a video game. When a video game tells you that you have lost and need to start over, you don't get much say in the matter. When a board game tells you that you have lost and should start over, you always have the option to say "nope!". The 7th Continent recognizes that with card 777, an optional card you can add during setup, "if you wish to play in easy mode". That card teaches you that if you "lose" because you ran out of cards, you can just shuffle your discard pile into your action deck, and continue. While the card is designed to be used only once, I've seen at least one YouTuber using it twice, just to beat the recommended starting curse, The Voracious Goddess. He argued that it would be boring for his videos to start over from the beginning, but obviously the same holds true if you don't happen to stream your game. Your decision! I would say that playing to the end of a curse and trying to have "as few losses as possible" is a perfectly viable game mode, and much preferable to other possible methods of "cheating", like peaking at cards before taking a decision.

Since the 2nd kickstarter, The 7th Continent also has a prodigy mode. You add 5 cards to your action deck, and these cards are better than average. So you have more cards, and better chances to pull positive results, making the game overall a bit easier. I would recommend using these until you feel you are an expert in playing The 7th Continent. The prodigy card is part of The Crystal's Song mini-expansion, and is also contained in the What Goes Up Must Come Down large expansion.

But while these ways to make the game easier exist, the other option is obviously to learn to play better. So how do you do that? The answer lies in playing the game and understanding what makes you lose, and then avoiding it the next time around. The basic loss condition of The 7th Continent is running out of cards in your action deck, then drawing cards from your discard pile until a curse turns up. Most things you do require you to draw cards from that deck, choose one, and discard the rest. And most curses, except for maybe The Crystal's Song, overall need more card draws than there are in your action deck. So what you need is a sustainable way to recycle cards from your discard pile into your action deck. And that exists in the game, in the form of hunting and fishing spots. These provide meat and fish, which (preferably with the help of a fire) can be eaten to recycle cards. Note that hunting spots can deteriorate in quality over time, so you can't stick around the same spot forever (although sometimes hunting twice in a row is the best option). And it is advisable to once in a while "save" the game, to return the good hunting result cards back from the discard pile into the box. So, if you don't run in circles too much, and you watch out for clues that lead you towards hunting and fishing spots, you can keep up exploring the 7th continent for a very long time.

It is worth noting that besides the explore, hunt, eat, repeat cycle, there is another important cycle in the game: Collecting and using experience points. At certain points in the game, you will get the option to "rest" and draw a 000 card. That is generally a good idea, if you have some experience points collected. The 000 card allows you to draw 4 advanced skill cards, and then buy from that selection, using experience points as a currency. Just like with the prodigy cards I mentioned earlier, the overall effect is to make your action deck thicker, and thus last longer between hunting cycles, and to add more powerful cards to it. You should always seek out resting points when you have more than 7 xp.

While the hunting and resting cycles are important to understand the flow of the game, the ultimate trick to play The 7th Continent better (and I would assume the same to be true for The 7th Citadel), is to use the cards you draw better. You are limited by the number of cards you can hold in your hand, by the number of stacks of items you can have in your inventory, and by the size of those stacks. The numbers depend on the number of players, but you will *always* feel restricted. The solution is to use the cards you have in hand and in your inventory aggressively. Before you do anything with the terrain card you are standing on, always check first whether you can burn some cards from your hand. Cards like "Examine the Notes", "Think", or "Knowledge is Power" are to be used as soon as possible. Don't hesitate to use a "Learning by Doing" card to avoid drawing 2 cards, even if you might be tempted to hold onto it to avoid drawing 3 cards later. Don't hesitate to use your walking stick, and so on. Only by aggressively cycling through the cards in your hand and the cards in your inventory will you be getting the best use out of them. Many people make the mistake of holding onto some cards they think they might need in the future, and discarding the cards they could use right now, and that is the way to lose the game. Sometimes it is better to voluntarily discard a whole stack of cards from your inventory, if durability is low, to build up a new and better stack.

While going through your cards quicker is the better strategy than holding on to them and discarding all the newly drawn cards, overall the possibility to ignore the "loss" state can make this a very casual game if you prefer it that way. Beating the game is less important than having fun with the various unexpected consequences your decisions might have.


The win condition for Youtube streams is to gather lots of eyeballs, regardless of how the game ends.
Every or almost every hunting spot has green square-red arrow-golden square icon, which means that after hunting you must banish (remove from game for the rest of current curses) the green card and put the golden one with the same number in it's place. I've been playing it wrong for a long time ;). But if there are more green cards with the same number, you can rest to remove the golden card from table to gain access to them. It's described in "Banish a card" section on page 17 in rulebook. On the other hand, prey goes to the Past, so resting returns it to the box.
Yes, but the golden hunting spots often still allow you to hunt. Often they provide the tougher 250 hunting prey, instead of the easier 150 cards.
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