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I got to play with the Seven Wonders Leaders expansion for the first time last night, and it certainly adds an extra dimension to the game. I was able to assemble a lethal combo of Xenophon (2 extra coins every time I built a commercial structure), Hatshepsut (1 coin back for each neighbour I bought resources from each turn) and Midas (+1 victory point per 3 coins at end of game) to finish with 38 coins in my coffers, and a narrow 73-72 point win over the guy who'd amassed 52 points of science alone (gulp)!

If this was Agricola or Race for the Galaxy there would be acres of statistics out there on which leaders are likely to give the biggest boost in the hands of a skilled player. So I was wondering, if anyone else has drafted the Leaders, which cards should one be looking out for as likely to put your game into overdrive? Are there any leader combos that are potentially broken or unfair?

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Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any hard data of the sort that RftG or Dominion players collect.

That said, Bilkis (once per turn, pay 1 to the bank for 1 of any resource) is my pick for best all-around leader. She lets you get away with playing fewer resource cards and avoids enriching your neighbors.

Other choices are more situational:

Imhotep (resource discount for Wonder stages) is great for Giza B or Wonders that have an inconvenient cost.

Hammurabi (resource discount for blue cards) is good unless you're committed to a maximum-science strategy.

The vanilla VP leaders are pretty good for their cost, and since in general you will be happy to pay 1 coin for 1 VP, the largest ones, Cleopatra and Nefertiti, are strongest.

If you can get two leaders that support either science or military, that can be strong. It does sort of commit you to that path, so if you draft 2 military leaders and your neighbor decides to pursue a military strategy, you might find yourself frustrated. Either one, although science moreso, is high-risk/high-reward.

Of the military leaders, Caesar and Hannibal grant shields, which give you a leg up and signal to your neighbors that you're not worth fighting. Alexander and Nero give you bonuses for winning. Pericles is expensive, but can be worth 8 or 10 points if you're going military. Leonidas provides a discount for military, although if you often get a fair number of brown buildings anyway you might not need the discount.

Of the science leaders, Archimedes provides the discount, which (in contrast to military) can be important especially in Age 1 since the science costs require advanced resources. Hypatia and Aristotle make your green cards and sets worth more. Euclid, Ptolemy, and Pythagoras provide science symbols; they're expensive but can be worth lots of points if they fill up a set or give you the 5th card of a kind.

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I personally think following are the best combos:

Gizah: 1. Imhotep. 2. Nebuchadnezzar. 3. Amytis

Babylon: 1. Archimedes. 2. Vitrivius. 3. Hypatia.

Olympia: 1. Caligula. 2. Zenobia. 3. Cleopatra.

Rhodes: 1. Hannibal. 2. Alexander. 3. Darius

Halicarnassus: 1. Macenas. 2. Justinian. 3. Solomon.

Alexandria: 1. Phidias. 2. Praxtelites. 3. Berenice.

Ephesus: 1. Croesus. 2. Xenophon. 3. Midas

However, this is just the best picks. For example, all the one coin leaders provide a cash boost for your board. The two cost leaders are varied, each with their own power, but Hannibal is undoubtedly the best by giving you age 1 victory.

Of the three cost leaders, Nefertiti, for 4 points, is better than many people. Alexander demands you to win almost all your wars, Aristotle requires to amass two science sets, Midas needs you to end the game with at least 15 coins, which is difficult and meaningless. Hiram demands you spend over a third of your age 3 picks on guilds, assuming, they each generate you at least 5 or 6 points each. Praxtelites needs you to collect every manufactured resource (glass, cloth, paper), assuming your natural production is not a manufactured source and your neighbours don't already have one. Aspasia gives you two direct points and a peace to prevent you from losing two, so Aspasia is bascially Nefertiti's long-lost twin sister. Unless grabing a vital science crad at the start of age 3, how often can Solomon give you a card worth 5 o r more points? The best age 3 leaders are Phidias and Varro, because resource and commerce cards are cheap and necessary for most people. Caligula can let you build powerful cards for free, such as capitol for 8 points, or contingent to let you win age 3, so he is good. Justinian seems difficult, but if you play him right, he can generate at least 9 points.

Among the 4 coin leaders, 3 beats them all. Archimedes, Bilkis, and Tomyris. Plato, on the other hand, sucks, and so does Amytis, unless you're paying Gizah B or Great Wall of China.

Among the 5 coin leaders, they go to extremes. Caesar is good to recruit for war buffs, and has the same power as militia, but costs 1.6 times as much, so unless I take someone like Macenas or Nero in age 1, I'd never recruit Caesar. The science leaders should only be played at the start of age 3. If one completes a chain, it has earned you at least 8 points. Ramses, on the other hand, gives you free guilds, but it depends on what your neighbors have and whether or not guilds are worth it, compared to military, science, and civilian structures. Hiram and Ramses go hand in hand, but is normally, like Caesar, someone you don't want to recruit. I'd always desire Hannibal or Varro over Caesar or Hiram.

Finally, Pericles is the lonely 6-coiner. He costs a lot, but generates 2 vp for every red card. So, if you lose in age 3 against both neighbors, and wasted so much money on 4 red cards. Your net gain is actually 1+1+3+3+(-1)+(-1)+(2*4)=14 points, which is the equivalent of taking 1,3,5,5.

So therefore, my favorite 5 leaders among all others are Croesus, Hannibal, Justninian, Archimedes, and Bilkis.

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