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Our thoughts on two player games: yet another couple speaks out
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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New info!
The opinions we have given for most of the games are after 2-5 plays. So, this will give you an idea what your first opinion of the game might be, if we have similar taste that is. To make it more clear which games are our long term favorites, I have added a meeple to these entries. I hope this will help you find the real gems that also have a huge replayability.
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So, I decided to put down me and my wife's opinions on our two player games in a geeklist. I know it has been done many times before, but I still decided it would be worth doing with the following reasoning.

1. Always good to have more opinions out there. There are many geeklists like this, but WE haven't done one, so this is bound to be different just because of that.
2. The best two player geeklists are not updated any more. I hope to continue to add new games all the time.

Anyway, some basic info abour our tastes in gaming:

I have a loooong experience in gaming, but mostly RPG's and Warhammer FB. Sure, I played a boardgame or two back in the 80's, but RPGs are what filled my mind back then. Aaaaah, good times. I got into boardgaming (and the geek) with a bang two years ago and spend far too much time here. Waaaay too much... I prefer heavily themed games with some luck in them. I love dice! You will never hear me say I like a game because it is "elegant" or "balanced". Sure, I like balance, but not at the expense of theme or fun.

My wife has always played games as well, but more of the monopoly family games kind. She is willing to play anything I suggest but does not analyze the games as much as I do. She will know if she likes a game or not, but not always WHY. Having played a lot of games with me she now enjoys much more complicated and long games than she used to. She loves engine building and economy based games and is not particlarly intersted in combat games, but enjoys a few such titles as well.

I use the following rating system:
Good game, we like it!
Ok game I guess. Both of us will play if asked, but not suggest it.
Nah... No fun, or boring, or too complicated or something...

On to the games!

Update 3 May 2012: Woot! Added 30 games to get the list up to 100 entries!
I will now let this list rest, as our feelings about many of the games in this list has changed over the years, and instead start a new list when time allows. I hope that the list still can be of use for many of you, in particular if you are looking for first impressions.

Update 8 Feb 2011: Added Macao
Update 14 Dec 2010: Added Oregon
Update 15 Sep 2010: Added Carcassonne: The Castle and The Castle for all Seasons
Update 10 Sep 2010: Added Roll Through the Ages, Claustrophobia, and Finito!
Update 16 May 2010: Added Micro Mutants: Evolution and Caylus Magna Carta
Earlier Updates removed...

Current favorite short two player game: San Juan, Roll Through the Ages
Current favorite longer (1-2 hours) two player game: Burgen von Burgund, Le Havre
Current favorite looong game: Through the Ages
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51. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:233]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A game I had great hopes for, but did not click with my wife. The game is fairly tactical, with cards being dealt randomly, and you often have to do the best with what you have. I like this, and would really like to play this more, but my wife I think did not feel she had enough control. As a side note I can't really see why you have to use two other colors as blocking markers, that did not change much in my view.

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52. Board Game: London [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:171]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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This game we both liked, but I still sold it fairly quickly. I am not really sure why it didn't turn out to be a keeper. It felt fairly fresh, while still being familiar enough for us to pick it up easily. It just wasn't engaging enough.

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53. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:260]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A friend owns this one, and I played it a few times with him and really liked it! Great quick fun! I then borrowed his copy and brought it home to my wife, thinking it would be a great success, but no... She played it, and enjoyed it in a way, but it didn't "click" with her. Too mathematical I think. Not that she can't count, but there was not enough theme to hide the mathematical dryness, or something...

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54. Board Game: Lungarno [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:3503]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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We enjoy Carcassonne quite a bit so I though this tile laying game also would be hit. First impressions were very bad though, couldn't find any fun in the game. Then something clicked, and we enjoyed the last half of it. We never got back to the game though, a game has to be more than "ok" to be played in a household where there are so many great games on the shelf.

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55. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:156]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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I have realized that I am much more omnivorous when it comes to games compared to my wife. She is much more picky. So our favorite games tend to be games that have clicked with her, I am usually fine playing most games. So, since Macao clicked big time with my wife, this is a big hit!

There are several things in this game that we like. The multidude of cards is one thing. We love this in Through the Ages, San Juan, and so on, and find that games with many cards have a way of feeling fresh and different each time. In Macao only a fraction of all cards are used every time, which makes for a different game each time. The engine building quality that the cards bring to the game is also a real strength in our minds.

The way dice are used to decide what resources become available is also a great mechanism that we enjoy a lot. It gives you control, but not too much.

I was afraid that the pasted on theme would be a real turn-off for us, but I can't say it has bothered me. The game is fun anyway, and the shipping action and at least small effort of following the theme made with the cards is enough for us.

Easily two big smiley faces:
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56. Board Game: Maori [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1200]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A very "pleasant" game. I bought this mainly to play with the whole family, including my 6 and 9 year old, but we have tried it a few times just me and my wife as well. This is a light game, possibly even lighter than Carcassonne with which it shares a number of similarities. Like Carc there are tiles that are used to make up a landscape, but here every player has a board of their own. The major invention of the game is the way how tiles are collected. You don't just pick one blindly, 16 tiles are placed in a 4x4 square and you move a boat around the square usually 1-3 steps. Whatever is in the row the boat is next to can be collected and placed on your board. I like this as it makes some planning possible even when picking tiles.

My wife also enjoyed the game, in large part because it is light and easy to understand but still makes for a fun game. We still play heavy and long games most, but sometimes the energy is just not there for those games, and then games like Maori have a real place.

The only negative thing I would mention is that I am not sure about the longevity of this game. There are variants included that can spice things up, but I kind of doubt that the game will played much more than 10 times anyway. Time will see. For now, the rating is positive:

Me.:
Mrs.

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57. Board Game: Marrakech [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:950]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A game that works great with two players, but is too simple for adults only. Play it with the kids and have a great time. The cloth carpets are just adorable.

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58. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:88] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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Big hit! It took me some time to convince my wife to try it, but when we did she was hooked! Might have something to do with the fact that she always beats me at this game... This is one of those games that manages to cram a lot of gaming into a short playing time. We like the cards, the pretty bits, and the quick turns. You are at the mercy of the cards, but we both like the fact that you are limited by the cards. Too many options or too much control just frustrates us.

Me:
Mrs.

We were both pretty disappointed with the Easthern Front expansion though. Didn't add much we felt. We want more cards, not brown figures instead of green or a terrain that adds another minus for movement or whatever.
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59. Board Game: Micro Mutants: Evolution [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1390]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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Fun fun fun! I bought this to play with my kids (7 and 10 this year) and so far we are having a hoot! My son just can't wait for me to come home from work so we can play this game! It works as a two player game for adults too, but obviously this game is not the first choice if you want to outthink your opponent.

Basically, this game is combat tiddlywinks. Each player has an army of tiddlywinks, with each army consisting of different unit types with different abilities. The aim is to get your units on top of your opponents units and on top of his/her bases. The first one to destroy two bases wins. Simple, and a lot of fun.

This is a simple and rather chaotic dexterity game. It is not a subsitute for a game of Agricola, San Juan or just about any other non-dexterity game. We will play this when we are in the mood for this type of game, and we will enjoy it. It plays quickly, and can work as a filler game.

If you want a good two player dexterity game, get it. If you have kids of 6 years of age and up, get it even quicker.

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60. Board Game: Mykerinos [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:535]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A very euroish tile laying game. It plays pretty quick and is cheap, so for those of you that are looking for a two player game and don't mind the pasted on theme, this is really worth trying. I though it was ok, but felt too much like pushing cubes around. The mechanics didn't really connect to the theme for me. My wife, on the other hand, liked it. Probably because she beat me at it every time we played! She is better than I am at long term planning, and enjoys it more, so this was more her type of game than mine.

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61. Board Game: Nexus Ops [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:225]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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I bought this game to give us the ameritrash feel we are looking for, but in a short playing time. However, this game is not that good with two. I like the game, and so does my wife, but only with more players. The build-up phase is too long with two players and there is not enough fighting. With two players we give this game a:

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62. Board Game: Nightfall [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:882] [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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C L U N K Y. Way too unintuitive and hard to get into for us. We never got to the point where we could see good combos and so on. Thunderstone for the win!

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63. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:140]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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Yet another worker placement game, and yet another game we really like. This game plays pretty quickly, and works very well with two players. The actions the players can take are dictated by which cards they hold. When starting a turn the players send cards over to the other player who can keep a card and then send the last card back. So it is impossible to know which actions are available each turn, and the players have to adapt their strategies to which cards they are dealt. I always enjow tactical games like that, and my wife is no different. She actually enjoys this game more than me. I found the graphics a bit bland, she had no problem with that.

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64. Board Game: O Zoo le Mio [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:954]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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Both of us tend to like tile games, but this one didn't really catch on for us. I still like it, and I recently played it with my daughter and we had a good time, but my wife does not really like it that much. I think it was the blind bidding that ruined it for her. I have no problem with that.

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65. Board Game: Odin's Ravens [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:784]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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One of our long time favorites. Quick, but has room for strategy as well. It has this great mixture of hand management, luck, confrontation, and planning and plays in 30 mins. The graphics are also very appealing. If you are looking for a two player game that won't burn your brain to crisp but provides a lot of fun in 30 mins, you should try this one.

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66. Board Game: Oregon [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:692]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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It took several years for me to at last add this to the shopping cart. I should have done it earlier. This is one of games that is easy to get to the table and always is a good time. It plays fairly quickly (under an hour), works great with two, and the amount of think you have to put into it won't strain you but still require you to put some effort into it.

The board is an abstracted map of Oregon (I guess?) that is divided into squares forming a coordinate system. On the sides of the map there are symbols, and the players play cards with these symbols to place meeples and buildings. The symbols decide where you can place. The strategy is not obvious at first, and I feel I have improved for each game played.

This is not our favorite game, but we have played it around 5 times now, and this is a good amount for us. We might enjoy the longer games more, but with three kids that is just not happening much. It is good to have a game like Oregon around, which you know will be fun and finish before you fall asleep/get bored.

This is an obvious

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67. Board Game: Phoenicia [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1072]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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You have probably heard it: this game has awful rules. I knew that, but thought that given some perserverence it would still be possible to understand the rules and play the game soon enough. I was wrong. The rules are not just bad, they are incomplete! The rules included in the game don't tell you everything you need to play the game! This is a first for me.

After a lot of reading here at the geek, we now understand how to play the game. And it is good. The people calling it Through the Ages light were right, there are some real similarities. The players need to get the engines of their civilizations going by buying cards and employing more workers to place in their mines and so on. I like this part. I don't like the auctions, at least not in a two player game. I might learn to enjoy the auctions too given more plays of the game, but my feeling now is that the game is better with more players. My wife does not analyze games like I do, and she does not feel that anything is wrong with the game. Our very early opinion (3 games played, some rules wrong the first two times) is:

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68. Board Game: Pick & Pack [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1790]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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Our current favorite short two player game! Have no idea why this game is not talked about or recommended more. This game should be recommended when someone asks for a short two player game to play with the wife, not Lost Citites. This game looks great, plays quickly, is nicely confrontational without really angering someone, and has really fun game play that requires some thought but does not hurt the brain. And it has tiles! Gotta love that. Great game!

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69. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:922]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A nice surprise! This game might be better with more players, but is still good enough with two to come to the table pretty often. It is basically a push your luck type of game, but the best of that type I have tried. It really has that thrill of dice rolling, and I always roll once too much just to get those best tiles. My wife likes the ability to steal tiles, and I must say that part adds another layer to the game play even though I don't HAVE to have aggression in a game to like it (but she does...).

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70. Board Game: Pyramid [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:935]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A great game for families, but not a game we reach for just the two of us. The player pieces are magnetic and placed on the sides of a vertical board do that the other player's pieces are hidden. There is some think in this game, but it is perhaps a bit too simple anyway to be played by just the two of us. It easily gets two smiley faces for families, but as a two-player game for adults it gets:

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71. Board Game: Quicksand [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:2419]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A very simple game where you have to get your marker to the goal before everyone else, but the identity of the player's colors are hidden and every player can move every color. So sometimes you move other players markers (by playing cards from your hand), and sometimes you move your own, but you try do to it without showing which color is yours. Get it? For some reason I find this so hard to explain. This game would be boring if it played too long, but it never does. We play it with our 7 yr old daughter as well, and she really likes it. A great short and simple game to have around.

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72. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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One of this games that simply did not click with my wife. Myself I take great pleasure in pulling the chits and pushing my luck when necessary. She couldn't see the point. Better with more players in any case.

Me: (as a two player game)
Mrs.:
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73. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:23]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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Another recent purchase, and a game I think will become one of our biggest favorites ever. We have only played it two times so far though, and with a game this complex it will take several additional plays before it really clicks for us. We really feel that we want to get there though, so this game will definitely be played again. My wife feels she wants to be rested and "gaming hungry" for this one, so it is not a game for those late evenings when you at last have managed to put the kids to sleep and really don't want to think, but I think it will be much more intuitive with more plays.

Edit: No, we never "got there". After six plays it was still to complicated with all the symbols and all. I like it better than my wife likes it, but it is no favorite. Traded away.

Me:
Mrs.
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74. Board Game: Rise of Empires [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:537]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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I am a bit burned out on longer and heavier games. At least if they lack randomness and in particular if they are unforgiving. So I really shouldn't be playing Martin Wallace games. Still, I bought this since I enjoy civ-style games and I wanted to try more Wallace titles. My feeling just now is that this is a good game and also plays good with two, but it is also too long and too unforgiving for me. Just as I thought. It reminds me a lot of Struggle of Empires, but is far from identical. The action selection mechanism is novel and fun and the civ-tiles give a nice civ-feeling, although I wouldn't call the game a civ game. This is a area control game, with added ways of getting VPs in the form of tiles. Good stuff, but expect a playing time of around 3 hours even with two players.

My wife prefers even heavier games than I do, at least she does not mind the calculating and unforgiving nature of this game. So, our rating just now (with limited experience) is:

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75. Board Game: Robotory [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:2747]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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As mentioned in my Hive entry, we just don't like abstracts. This game is actually kind of nifty, with a very clever mechanism in the game, but for us it just way too bland.

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