Super Fillers for 2
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su·per ('sü-p&r) adjective - exhibiting the characteristics of its type to an extreme or excessive degree

fill·er ('fi-l&r) noun - a piece used to cover or fill in a space between two parts of a structure; material used to fill extra space

Super Filler - Coined and defined by Mike Siggins in the Gamer's Notebook on October 25, 2006:

Mike Siggins - Gamer's Notebook - October 25, 2006 wrote:
The Super Filler is really a subtype of game that I used to call The Middleweight. It is more than a 20 or 30 minute starter, but it does not amount to a main course in weight or play length. The game is 'straight in,' has plenty of decisions, a fair amount of depth, but importantly it is very quick to play. Almost always under an hour, and leaving you feeling as if you have played for longer. In many ways it is an important species of German Game because it can avoid many of the traps – too light, too random, too boring – and appeals to most types of player. And those that don’t like it can see that it won’t last that long. A typical Super Filler is Mykerinos. I would put Yspahan, Taluva and Gheos in the same group.
I am on a quest to find an elusive subtype of this subtype of game, specifically Super Fillers that are best suited for 2 players. I want to find Super Fillers that are great for 2 players, not games that simply work for 2 players. This quest began after trying the "typical Super Filler" Mykerinos and finding that even though it is a good game, the two-player version did not appeal to me due to the "artificial third player" rule (also seen in Alhambra, Acquire, and Louis XIV). Consequently, I want to find other typical Super Fillers, but only those that shine as two-player games. As Mike explained, these should be games that take around 45 minutes to play, and certainly no more than 60 minutes.

In order to provide a little more guidance and help find games that do qualify, I will elaborate on what games do not qualify.

First, the ideal Super Filler for 2 players should be heavier (i.e., longer and more complex) than all of the following great light games for 2 players: Lost Cities, Balloon Cup, Odin's Ravens, StreetSoccer, Fjords, Can't Stop, Travel Blokus, Pingvinas (also known as Hey That's My Fish), and even Lord of the Rings: Confrontation (although I think that last one almost qualifies as a Super Filler if you each play both sides).

Second, the ideal Super Filler for 2 players should be lighter (i.e., shorter and less complex) than all of the following great heavy games for 2 players: Caylus, Goa, Tigris & Euphrates, Java, Puerto Rico, and even Louis XIV (although I think that last one almost qualifies as a Super Filler if you play quick enough).

Thus, Lord of the Rings: Confrontation and Louis XIV exemplify the outer limits of the Super Filler genre at the light and heavy ends of the spectrum respectively.

Third, examples of good Super Fillers that require (or are better with) more than 2 players include: China, Mykerinos, Clans, and possibly Kreta (if experienced players can get it under 60 minutes). I think I'd also add Yspahan to this list even though the two-player variant works decently well because I think that the two-player rule requiring players to use an action to build weakens building too much, taking away one of the viable paths to victory, resulting in decision-making becoming less interesting.

Fourth, I will arbitrarily and capriciously add a criteria in that eliminates pure abstracts from qualifying for this list. Although the GIPF games and Ingenious would otherwise fit well here, I have an irrational fear of pure abstract games, so I'll acknowledge that Project GIPF includes some wonderful two-player Super Fillers (assuming you don't spend too long deciding what move to make), but they won't belong on this list.

Finally, a few games that I considered adding to this list, but I didn't for various reasons are (although you should feel free to add them to the list and justify why they belong):
-Gheos: It's certainly a Super Filler, and one that greatly appealed to me from reading the rules, but after playing it 13 times, I feel like there's something not quite right with this game. I'm not sure what it is, but I think it has something to do with the % of tiles that are used to replace previous tiles rather than expand the landscape, with the ratio being approximately 50:50 in my games. It's an interesting game, but not quite a great Super Filler for 2 players in my book... a good one though.
-San Juan: I don't know what it is I can't stand about this game, but after playing it 4 times, I hope to never play it again. I can see why this might be the perfect Super Filler for 2 players according to others (so feel free to add it to this list and explain why you love it), but it's just not for me.
-Alhambra: This is a curious one because after playing it 7 times I can see that it's long enough to be a Super Filler, but it still feels too light to be a Super Filler since there doesn't seem to be enough control.

Lastly, I'm a fan of Knizia and all, but the Knizia to non-Knizia ratio of this list is nonetheless a bit out of whack, help rectify that with your own additions please
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1. Board Game: Hansa [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:1008]
Board Game: Hansa
Talia Rosen
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Hansa is the first game I personally think of when considering great Super Fillers for 2 players. I've played it 28 times and have certainly not tired of it yet. In fact, it has grown on me more and more, considering the fact that I was ho-hum about it at first, and am now putting it at he #1 spot here. I think the biggest problem with this game is that the publisher put 2-4 players on the box, while the game shines with 2 players, and is merely okay with 3 and 4 players (although I'm sure there are many people out there who think the opposite is true). De gustibus non disputandum est. For me though, this is the perfect two-player game when I'm looking for a middle-weight game that is heavier than Fjords or Odin's Ravens, but lighter than Goa or Java. It has just enough luck and randomness to make it different every time, but not too much that you feel like the game is out of control and your decisions are meaningless. The mechanic of the boat being used by both players is obviously what makes this game, at least for me, since it provides the most excruciating decisions of figuring out where to leave the boat for your opponent. I just recently tried the Changing Winds and Extrakarte variants for the first time, and while I didn't think that the Changing Winds map added much to the game, I did like the endgame bonus points added by the Extrakarte variant, and hope to try that again soon. As was suggested by one of my opponents recently, if only they'd made the different color barrels into different goods instead (e.g., furs, spices) to make the game feel less abstract, then it would've been perfect.
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2. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:518]
Board Game: Through the Desert
Talia Rosen
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I'm surprised at myself that I'd put this gem at #2 on the list rather than at #1 but I'll console myself by considering it essentially a tie between Hansa and Through the Desert for the two-player Super Filler crown. I think that Through the Desert is another game where the publisher made the mistake of putting 2-5 players on the box, even though the game shines with 2 players. This sentiment is a recurring theme with me, except with a few games like Mykerinos and Clans as mentioned above in the header. Anyway, after playing Through the Desert 21 times, I think I can say with some certainty that it's another outstanding Super Filler for 2 players. In contrast to Hansa, it has the benefit of no in-game luck, but uses a nice pre-game random distribution of watering holes and oases to make each game different. I really enjoy the tense feeling of this game, especially in the beginning, because just like Pingvinas, the decisions in the first few turns are the most difficult and most important, and there are far more things that you'd like to do than are possible to actually do. It also has an fun mental component of trying to read your opponent and gauge his or her priorities. However, while the components are unique and enjoyed by some, this is one game that I'd love to see get a Doyle makeover and emerge with somewhat less silly looking bits.
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3. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:223]
Board Game: Samurai
Talia Rosen
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Samurai is the third and final game that I'm sure belong on this list (as the other two that I've included are both "maybes"). This is Knizia's second (of three) entries on the list, and while it pales in comparison to Through the Desert in my opinion, it's still a great Super Filler for 2 players. This is the third game on this list and the third game that I think excels with the fewest number of players on the box. As with Hansa, the problem in Samurai with adding more players is that the game has a serious left-right binding issue (even more so than Puerto Rico in my mind). That is to say that sitting to the left of the weakest player is a major advantage in Samurai, which is why I prefer the game with 2 players since you're to each other's left. One thing I love about Samurai (aside from the fabulous components) is that after 23 games I'm still not sure what the best opening hand of 5 tiles is to select. I've tried different opening hands and have yet to settle on a favorite, which is the sign of a good game in my opinion.
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4. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:184]
Board Game: Ra
Talia Rosen
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The fourth game on this list and third Knizia game on this list is Ra, but it's only a provisional addition because I haven't played the two-player variant enough times to be sure. While I've played Ra 46 times and am sure that it's a fabulous Super Filler for 3 players (contrary to my GOTW successor's infamous griping, heh), I've only tried the two-player variant a few times. I must say that, as with Goa, I was very surprised at how well the auctions worked with only 2 players. In both games the auctions are more interesting than I would've expected even when you play against one opponent. Ra certainly fits into the time and complexity requirements of this list, but the number of players requirement may or may not be satisfied... only further research will tell.
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5. Board Game: Taluva [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:538]
Board Game: Taluva
Talia Rosen
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Finally, I'll add a second provisional addition to this list. I've only played Taluva 3 times, so I certainly can't be sure whether it's a great Super Filler for 2 players yet, but my initial impression is that it may belong here. It definitely fits the time and complexity requirements of the list, and also certainly seems like a game that I'll enjoy more with fewer players, but the question remains whether it's great and has staying power, or is merely okay. I do really like the components (both the thick, chunky Java-esque tiles and the nice wooden bits) and the tension of the gameplay was wonderful, so only time will tell for this one.
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6. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:617]
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Jonathan Takagi
United States
Escondido
California
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Yspahan IMO doesn't lose anything at all when played 2-player. It plays quickly (under 30 minutes) and offers a good amount of decision making.
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7. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:186] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Board Game: Carcassonne
Steve Oksienik
United States
Jackson
Michigan
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The Carc Evangelist is back to once again extole the virtues of this amazing game. Two player, without ANY expansions, is the best way to play this game. Play time should be 20-30 minutes putting it firmly in position as Das Uber Filler.
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8. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:321]
Board Game: Saint Petersburg
Guillaume G.
Switzerland
Genève
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I'm not crazy about the name "super filler" (I prefer "middleweight game") but I do love this game category and quite a few of my favorite games are on it.
Here is one: Sankt Petersburg plays nicely with two players. It has a slightly different feel than with 3 or 4. It is a little marvel very much enjoyable.
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9. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:307]
Board Game: Notre Dame
Guillaume G.
Switzerland
Genève
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Notre Dame is a wonderful recent game which has slightly the same taste as St Petersburg. I do enjoy it a lot.
It is an excellent game which scales nicely from 2 to 5 players: a rare quality.
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10. Board Game: DruidenWalzer [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:6643]
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L. Stitz
Germany
Lüneburg
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First thing that crossed my mind after reading the description and seeing the examples. Hope it fits your category, as it might be a bit on the heavy side... However, it's done usually in less than 45 minutes.

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11. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:625]
Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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This counts for us. Played in around 45 minutes. Despite the simplicity of the rules there are lots of difficult decisions and feels meaty.

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12. Board Game: Catan Card Game [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1006]
Board Game: Catan Card Game
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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Settlers of Catan Card game is also around the 45 minute mark - but can feel much longer. I sometimes feel drained after this game probably because I find it hard to cope keeping track of the resources on the cards (something to do with my spatial awareness) - I need bits.
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13. Board Game: Mykerinos [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1152]
Board Game: Mykerinos
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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You mentioned Mykerinos in your introduction to the thread as a game you tried but didn't like due to the netural player aspect.

However, I think it is excellent with two - the neutral doesn't feel like an artificial add on of a third player, (and doesn't score or draw cards) but is instead an integral part of the game, a blocking tool - used equally by both players.

45 minutes - feels like longer, enjoyable and strategic.
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14. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:236]
Board Game: Battle Line
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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There may be some disagreements with this one. Our average game length is around 35 minutes though sometimes games can be much shorter.

I think it has all the qualities of a super-filler for two. Lots of strategy with hard thinking required.

Great game.

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15. Board Game: Big City [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1470]
Board Game: Big City
Nate Straight

Covington
Louisiana
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This one qualifies, I think. I just got it yesterday and had my first play yesterday, but what a great game. It plays a lot faster than I thought it would, and seems to have a neat quality where you get as much depth and strategy out of it as you put in, if that makes sense. Word has it that the game is at its best with 2.
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16. Board Game: Mr. Jack [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:559]
Board Game: Mr. Jack
L. Stitz
Germany
Lüneburg
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And here is another one we forgot.
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17. Board Game: Attika [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:800]
Board Game: Attika
Patrice Pelletier
Canada
Quebec
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I think this one fits as well. It plays very well with 2. Might even be better with 2 than with 3 or 4. Play time is under an hour.
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18. Board Game: Roma [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1232] [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked]
Board Game: Roma
Sue Hemberger

Washington
Dist of Columbia
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Amazing replayability, but games vary widely in length (5 minutes to 1.5 hours in our experience). Two player only. I particularly appreciate the relationship of luck and strategy in this game -- it's important to continually reassess your options and to have backup plans in store.

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19. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked]
Board Game: Ticket to Ride: USA 1910
Patrice Pelletier
Canada
Quebec
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I am not sure if this one fits since it requires both the base game and the expansion. In any case, I believe the Big Cities variant makes TTR a great 2-player game. Plays under an hour. Not heavy but maybe too much on the light side?
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20. Board Game: Return of the Heroes [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:2347] [Average Rating:6.49 Unranked]
Board Game: Return of the Heroes
Sheamus Parkes
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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Our first game was a rules test and it only lasted a little under an hour and a half. We also over buffed badly, the big bad didn't even scratch my wife.

I can easily see this hitting the "just under an hour" mark when we play it again.

It really is more a intricate game of pickup and deliver than an RPG, but it's fun when you look at it like the boardgame version of King's Quest, I think it makes a "Super Filler for 2".
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21. Board Game: Nexus Ops [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:493]
Board Game: Nexus Ops
Sheamus Parkes
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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Now, I haven't gotten to play this 2-player yet, but I can't see it not fitting in the category. My only 4 player game ran about right at 70 minutes. It's a bit different than the other games on the list, but I don't think that makes it bad.

With only 2, you'd have a bigger build up period, but once the combat started, it should probably sustain itself right up until the end.
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22. Board Game: O Zoo le Mio [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1993]
Board Game: O Zoo le Mio
Sheamus Parkes
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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This is another meaty filler that clocks in under an hour for 2.

With two people, my biggest complaint about the game is moot. I don't like having to continually count exhibit size of all players and figure out who deserves the meeples. With only two players it's *much* easier to see who deserves what meeples.

Also, we only reveal the tiles as they are auctioned, so that speeds the game up some more.

Very fun stuff!
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23. Board Game: Oasis [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1835]
Board Game: Oasis
Lo Ma
United States
California
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We like Oasis a lot as a two-player game using Drew's rules, or some variation thereof: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/77730

Hmmm, two of our favorite 2-player games have camels... ninja

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24. Board Game: Gheos [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2426]
Board Game: Gheos
Sheamus Parkes
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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Sorry, I've got to add it. I don't really see what the problem is with using half the tiles as replacement tiles. You can just stack them on top of the old ones to save yourself the trouble of yanking out the old ones from the middle.

With only 2 players, this is a *much* more vicious game. If your opponent even has 1 more cube than you do in a civilization, it can easily be to your advantage to send that civ to its doom!

I actually prefer this game with more than 2, but I think it provides a nice blend of elements in under an hour with any number of players. Also, the play time has not been that variable in my experience. No more variable than Ra I would say.
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25. Board Game: Medici vs Strozzi [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:2511]
Board Game: Medici vs Strozzi
Huzonfirst
United States
Manassas
Virginia
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I think this is a perfect item for this list, particularly since you're such a Knizia hound, Tom. Extremely intense, meaty but not as heavy as Louis, and wonderfully designed. All within 45 minutes, too. If you haven't tried this yet, for God's sake drop what you're doing, grab a copy, and start playing NOW! It's that good. The best thing Reiner's done since Amun-Re, IMO.
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