Empty Nest Gamers

With our children now grown and out of the house, my wife and I have a lot more time to fill. This blog will feature our thoughts on games that we've played recently (with an emphasis on how they've worked for us as two-player games).
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Spousal Snap Judgments

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Love the world.
While my wife enjoys gaming, she doesn't share my interest in learning about new games, trading games, or pondering new purchases. She leaves that in my (perhaps overly) capable hands. Occasionally she'll notice a box that I'm fondling and express interest, but usually her first awareness of a game comes when I set it up on the table and start explaining the rules.

After we finish that first play, she'll think for a minute and then say some variant of one of the following:

"I liked that one." This is high praise. It's a keeper.

"It was good." She'd probably like to play it more; will be mildly annoyed if she finds out that I traded it.

"It's not my favorite." This is polite-speak for "meh." It's probably headed for the trade pile (unless I think it will be a hit with our game group).

"That was irritating." Bleh. Don't want to see it again. Bye!

So, with that rubric in mind, here are some recent spousal snap judgments (with minor elaborations from me).

"It was good."

So we played Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, and it was good. Clever. Quick. Cute. But when I reflected on it further, I found myself losing interest. Why? Too deterministic. The game has no luck elements at all and the set up is the same every time. I much prefer it when a design offers you a different strategic problem every time you play. Which brings me to...

"I liked that one."

Me too. Seasons has inter-play variability up the wazoo. Every game you'll start with a different sub-set of the available pool of cards. This creates a large variety of card combinations, which keeps the game fresh and interesting. The game begins with a card drafting phase, so you'll have a chance to mitigate the luck of the draw by putting together a deck that's tailored to whatever strategy you hope to pull off. Plus there are BIG CHUNKY DICE. A very fun game to play.

Booga booga!

"It was good."

As a two-player game, Java worked really well. It was an interesting spatial duel, with a three-dimensional twist. The tile placement rules offer clever opportunities for creative destruction. As you place tiles on top of other tiles, you can change the type of landscape within each hex of the game board, allowing you to grow, merge, and chop up the existing terrain. The game has a lot in common with Taluva, but it adds a couple of layers of complexity. I haven't decided yet whether that added complexity is worth the trouble, but so far I've enjoyed it. (Side note: I tried this with 3 and we set a new game group record for AP -- another player and I literally went into the other room to chat for 20 minutes while the third player figured out his final scoring turn. To make matters worse, he beat me by one point!)

"It wasn't my favorite."

I did a fair amount of work to find a trade for this one, because it had caught my eye as a well regarded light two-player game, with charming artwork. It was all of those things. But ultimately it was a bit too simplistic for us. I did see some potential for the tactics getting deeper with more experience, but I didn't enjoy it enough to want to put in that effort. I'm currently auctioning it off. If you're interested you can find it here:


"It was good."

Glory to Rome is a very solid engine building card game that plays well with two. I never could get past the cartoony graphic style of the original edition, but I'm quite happy with the more austere black box edition art. The game play is interesting and fun, with a clever role selection mechanism. Lots of things to juggle and balance. The only potential downside is that the game seems prone to wild swings as powerful card powers get triggered. If that kind of thing bothers you, you might want to look elsewhere. But I really liked it.

"It was good."

Santiago de Cuba surprised me. I'd heard that it was an interesting little resource conversion game that works well with two. What I hadn't heard is that it's a rondel game, and a pretty good one. The thing that sets it apart from other rondel games that I've played is that the spaces in the rondel change with every game. This variable set-up creates a different strategic situation every time you play. I really like that sort of thing, as it keeps the game fresh and extends replayability. A nice surprise!
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