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Subject: 2-player game (specific criteria) - help! rss

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Aidan Mirisola-Sullivan
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Hello All:

Before I really get into the meat of my post, I'd like to assure all you tired veterans out there that I have, indeed, done my homework. Over the last few days, I've probably spent 8 hours reading Geeklists, reviews, going over the highest rated games, checking prices, etc. So I ask for your recommendations knowing full well that my [general] question has been asked a thousand times already. However, I'd like some responses catered to my criteria, and hopefully all you BGGs out there can help.

The meta: I'm looking to start boardgaming with a close friend of mine. We usually relegate our evening activities to discussion, music, films, or videogaming, but lately I've been craving a more interactive gaming experience, and I think that boardgames are where it's at :). I am an avid RPG-lover (I've played probably every computer RPG that's come out in the past 8 years, as well as most of the MMORPGs). Shaun (my gaming buddy), on the other hand, is an ex-Star Trek nerd. Thus, our interests, in terms of potential subject matter for a board game, are relatively divergent.

Here are my other criteria: I'd prefer a game that's light-medium, and has an average play time of about an hour (thus multiple games can be played in a night). I used to be a heavy CCG player, but I soon discovered that they're a serious money sink, so try not to include any CCGs in your responses (although expandable card games are A-OK). I'd like to find a game that includes equal amounts confrontation and thinkery - I like to get all riled up as much as the next geek. War games need not apply (I'm looking for something *fun* above all, so brooding about grand strategy for two hours before making a move isn't that appealing); abstract strategy games probably won't be engaging enough for us, either. I'm still not entirely sure of the vocab yet, but I reckon I'm looking for a more Euro-style game. Also, I'm trying not to spend more than 30 bucks on my first BG, as I don't know yet if it's a hobby that will catch on. :)

After researching my options, I've come up with this list of potential games (however, I *HIGHLY* encourage you to reply with suggestions that aren't on the list):

Battle Line
Carcassonne - The Castle
El Grande
Lost Cities
Samurai (too mathematical?)
San Juan
Starship Catan (too complicated?)
Ticket to Ride
Tikal
Blue Moon (too simplistic?)

Can you comment on these based on my criteria? Or, better yet, can you suggest a new game that seems to suit our needs?

Thanks in advance, all.

-Aidan :arrrh:

PS Bonus points to any game that can be expandable to 3 or 4 players (but my focus is primarily on 2p).
 
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Luca Iennaco
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I love El Grande, but it is definitely POOR with only two players.
Go to get 3 more friends, please!


(Maybe you'd like to check "Lord of the Rings - the Confrontation"...)
 
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Barry Weiss
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On the lighter side, Odin's ravens would probably fit the bill. Interesting decisions to make with as much conflict as you want to have.

On the heavier side, Goa is awesome; or at least it will be when the reprint comes out.
 
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L Myrick
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For only two players you might consider Carcassonne The City. Many consider it the best two-player Carcassonne.

And since you were into CCGs, Blue Moon, while not collectable, has the expansion aspect and gets much more interesting as you play with different decks (species/peoples), and figure out their strengths and weaknesses and how to play them.

And how about some of the themed cooperative games, like Arkham Horror? That way you can play as a team occasionally.
 
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L Myrick
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Forget what I said about Arkham Horror. I just remembered you wanted games that can be played in an hour.blush
 
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Scott
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I have 2 that you should definetly look into:

1. Dungeon Twister: It has a cool dungeon theme, variable player powers, should play in a half an hour and is very deep. It's sounds like it could be what you're looking for.http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/12995

Oh, it's also got a 3 and 4 player expansion

2. Lord of the Rings the Confrontation: One of my favorite games. It has a few similarities to stratego but not many. It's a Knizia design. Each side plays differently, it's very cheap, and I doubt you'll get sick of it.http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/3201

3. Also, don't give up on the idea of wargames if you have any interest at all. They aren't all 2 hours per turn games. Consider some of the Columbia block games: Napoleon, War of 1812, Crusader Rex and the like. They're amazing 2 player games. There's also a free game that MMP is giving away called Target Arnhem that is a great intro game that plays in 1-2hrs. It's worth a look:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/16162

Sorry about the wargame rant. I just wanted to let you know that they aren't all 10 hour marathon, 50 page rulebook slugfests.

Good luck and have fun!
 
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For your odd criteria I would consider:

Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers (expands to 5P, but maybe a bit too luck based?)
Samurai (expands to 4P, but maybe a bit abstract?)
Netrunner (it's a CGG, but you only need a single double starter)
Bonaparte at Marengo (2P only, it's sort of a wargame, but it's on the lighter side and might work for you)

There are also a bunch of primarily multiplayer games that happen to work well with 2 as a side effect. Maharaja and Traders of Genoa are both 5 player games, but work well with two, in my opinion. The Kramer action point games are supposed play well with two also: Tikal, Torres, Java, Mexica.

San Juan is a maybe... it's like a lighter CCG, but it plays best with 3. There might not be enough there to keep you interested with two. Lost Cities might also be a bit light or abstract for you.
 
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Paul Imboden
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Dungeon Twister, Louis XIV, and Battle Line.
 
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Brent Mair
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I'm not sure it fits the criteria but Attika is excellent and plays best with 2.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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Have you considered Shazamm!? I prefer it to Blue Moon (which isn't too simplistic, BTW, though Lost Cities and T2R arguably are). What I like about Shazamm! (which is a duel between wizards simultaneously hurling curses at each other) is that each player has the exact same deck (though not the exact same hand -- you draw) and the curses double back on each other in interesting ways. I think it would meet your equal- parts-combat-and-thinkery criterion quite nicely.

Two potential downsides, though. It's only available in French and it's hard to find in the US. But LeValet.com in Montreal (which has cheap/relatively speedy shipping to the US) has it in stock and the English translations of the cards (as well as a player aid) are available here on the geek. My 7 year-old, who has virtually no French (but a great accent, LOL!), has no problem with the language issue. The text is brief, the cards are numbered, and lots of English cognates serve as mnemonics.

FWIW, I think Samurai fits the same criterion as well. I don't experience it as mathematical, but it's not heavily thematic either which is why I thought you might prefer Shazamm!

 
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Have faith
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Quote:
light-medium
about an hour
confrontation and thinkery
non-abstract
Euro-style
30 bucks
Here's my opinion about which games in your list meet your criteria:

Battle Line - Yes
Lost Cities - Yes
Samurai - Yes, also good for 3-4 players
San Juan - Yes, also good for 3-4 players
Tikal - Yes, also good for 3-4 players
Carcassonne - The Castle - Yes
Ticket to Ride - Yes, also good for 3-4 players
El Grande - No
Starship Catan (I haven't played this)
Blue Moon (I haven't played this, but it has a game play weight rating of 2.0, so it doesn't sound too light)

IMO the best games in your list are Battle Line, Samurai, San Juan, Tikal, and Ticket to Ride.
My top recommendation for you is Samurai (1998 version by Reiner Knizia). It's short, thinky, and confrontational. It's a little abstract, but to be honest most Euro games are too. It's less abstract than Chess, for example. Battle Line is more abstract than Samurai, IMO. And I notice you like the movie Seven Samurai, so maybe you'll connect with the theme. I like Samurai a LOT, and I don't usually like abstract games.

Try a computer version of Samurai free online:
http://www.klear.com/new/games/samurai/
Of course, the real game is better face to face.


Other games to consider:

Memoir '44 (not a wargame, just a fun WWII combat game)
Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
Nexus Ops
Citadels (I don't like this personally, too cutthroat)
Attika (some people think this is kinda abstract)

If possible try out games first, either at a game group or online. Many of these can be played free online - such as Ticket to Ride, Samurai, Memoir '44, etc. Geekmail me if you want more info.

For the best prices online, try www.timewellspent.org or www.thoughthammer.com

 
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Joe Huber

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It's another 2-player only, but I'd strongly recommend Jambo.
 
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Sean Ross
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Kahuna?
 
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Brice Feal
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I can't believe no one has suggested Jambo. This is our most played 2 player game right now. Very good game with a lot going on.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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#1: Lord of the Rings Confrontation!

#2: Jambo


Others:

Hera and Zeus,
Blue Moon,
Kahuna,
Roma
 
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E Voyles
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San Juan. You'll need to give it a few plays to learn the cards and combonations, but you'll be heavily rewarded if you do. On my first play I thought the game was interesting, then I jumped on BSW and got my backside handed to me over and over.......hmmmmmmmmm. I quickly discovered there's alot more to the game than I first thought. A great, great game.

Jambo is my second suggestion. Alotta game here too. Jam combines alotta different mechanics in a neat little card game - neat artwork ta boot.

LOTR:Confrontation. Win or lose you'll want to fire up another game immedieately.

Lastly I suggest Streetsoccer. Once again you've gotta give it a few plays to see the depth of strategy and skill - don't let the "lucky" dice rolls fool ya - it's a tricky game.
 
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Steve Bennett
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I'll chime in with Citadels, which has been mentioned. I think it's great with 2 and also great with more. Some would argue about how it plays with 2, but I think, given your criteria, it's an excellent choice.

Attika was mentioned. It's a dandy 2-player game, but as was suggested, it might feel more like an abstract than some of the others that are floating.

Another I like a lot as a 2 player and think it fits all your criteria is Alhambra.

You mentioned San Juan. As I better understand and remember the various cards, I appreciate this game more. I've played Attika, Alhambra, and San Juan this week, all two player.

Good luck.

Steve
 
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Troy Adlington
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I think you might have been a little hasty my friend. Most of the best 2 player games ARE wargames! A conflict where all the politics is already done and the conflict ensues is classic 2 player fare.

Try the easier ones though....Something about the same complexity as Russian campaign should get you started, not much unit density, playable in a good chunky sitting.

yours

Troy
 
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Jonathan Franklin
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A ton of the games already mentioned are awesome. Lost Cities, Battle Line and some of the others are fairly abstract, in that short of the number on the card and its color, little else on the card matters.

StreetSoccer is a blast, but would a sports or racing game be satisfying time after time? That really depends on the players.

One game that has not been mentioned, but is pretty cool and has conflict is Senjutsu. Worth at least checking out and under $30 at many major dealers.

Another one to consider that is at the long end of your time limit is Settlers of Catan Card Game. After you know most of the cards, it would be playable in 60-75 minutes.

If you can go up to 75-90 minutes & $35, you might want to look at Return of the Heroes. The only downside is that you cannot beat up on each other, just on the level boss.

If you want a shorter game that is fairly abstract, but awfully good, check out Hive. You can try it online at Hivemania.com

Good luck and let us know what you decide.
 
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Aidan Mirisola-Sullivan
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Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to reply. I can certainly understand why boardgamegeek.com exists, and is so popular - there are *so* many games, and they're all so varied.

Anyway, based on my current mood, availability, and everybody's recommendations, I've kinda narrowed my list down to the following:

Battle Line
San Juan
Jambo
Odin's Ravens
Memoir '44 (I realize it breaks my rule of no war games, but based on Tom Vasel's review, it seems to be cream of the crop. Comments?)

(All suggestions were good, and I read about every game mentioned.)

Which one deserves the honor of being my first real purchase? (If I have fun, I'll probably get another one for Christmas...)


Thanks,

Aidan robot

 
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Have faith
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mammothbaby wrote:

Which one deserves the honor of being my first real purchase?
Choose [Samurai] one among these three [Samurai], depending on which theme interests you the most [Samurai]:

- Battle Line
- San Juan
- Memoir '44

If I were in your situation [Samurai], I would choose Memoir '44, with San Juan a close second. Both great games.

Or if money is the biggest factor - get [Samurai] both San Juan and Battle Line for about $29 plus shipping at http://www.timewellspent.org

Or if you want to prove you're a real Geek - pull out the credit card and get all three.
You only live once laugh
 
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Aidan Mirisola-Sullivan
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Mark:

*laughs* Did you have to edit in all of those Samurais?

I downloaded the computer version of Samurai, and am enjoying playing it very much. However, I think I'm looking for something a bit "different" (per se). I haven't really played that many alternative boardgames (i.e. games with a structure that differs from traditional abstract strategy), thus my interest in San Juan, Jambo, and Odin's Raven. Although, replayability and strategic depth are important, and Samurai seems to excel at both. *shrugs*

I'll let you know if/when/what I decide, and what I think.

Kindly,

Aidan zombie
 
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T. Rosen
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For your criteria, I actually think my favorite four games would work very nicely. My favorite, Tigris & Euphrates, is an excellent two-player game that takes about 90 minutes (I know a little more than you wanted, but then next couple recommendations takes less time), and has a great mix of "confrontation and thinkery." You shouldn't be put off by the rules, they're not nearly as bad as people say. It's a tile-laying game where you build kingdoms, and earn points by laying followers, building monuments, and also through conflicts. It also employs a great scoring mechanism in addition to the very engaging and replayable gameplay.



Aside from T&E, I think that some form of Carcassonne (whether it be the original, Hunters & Gatherers, or Castle, etc.) would be a great pick for trying out Eurogames. It's lighter than T&E, but also involves as much confrontation as you make of it. The original has the advantage of being very customizable through mixing and matching the various expansions, which is why it would be my preference, but you can't go wrong with any Carcassonne I don't think.



The last two I'd recommend are Through the Desert and Torres. Through the Desert is a Reiner Knizia game set on a hexagonal board, like Samurai (which is also a good possibility), where players build caravans in five different colors, trying to score points in four different ways. There's no luck involved, and plenty of thinkery combined with confrontation. Torres is an action-point game by Kramer/Kiesling where players build castles and claim them with knights, it's a really interesting and flexible game in that you can try out all sorts of different approaches, and the confrontation comes in when players try to steal the castles that their opponents have built.



P.S. While Ticket to Ride is an excellent family-friendly gateway game, I don't think it will suit your needs very well.

P.P.S. All my suggestions get the expandable to 3 or 4 players bonus points. While they work great with 2 players, Tigris, Carcassonne (except Castle), Through the Desert, and Torres all accomodate more nicely.
 
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Aidan Mirisola-Sullivan
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Great post, Tom. Can't go wrong with pictures.

I checked out Torres - cool concept. I wish I had the cash to just start a sweet collection. At least I know what all of the staples are, at this point.

I think what I'm learning while reading through all of these reviews is that I need a game that's relatively multi-faceted - i.e. Samurai focuses on victory points through placement of little dudes (sorry, I know that's not the preferred nomenclature . Thus, all of your time is spent thinking about the placement of little dudes. I'd prefer a game that includes building (appeals to the RPGer in me), movement, conflict, etc, thusly giving you more things to think about and more paths to glory. Bah, I wish I could be more articulate.

Tigris & Euphrates seems very interesting - looks to be one of the most well regarded games on BGG. I'll have to keep reading, although it does seem rather expensive (30 bucksish). I wish there was a group of gamers in the area (southern Maine), so I could try some of these bad boys out.

-Aidan gulp

EDIT: Random question: I spent a semester in Scotland a year ago, and a few of my friends over there talked about a German card game that had to do with farming (or at least the notion of 'growing'), I believe. Any ideas? I'd still like to find it, if possible.
 
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Dave MacGugan
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Forgive me if I say what someone else has. A lot of responses to weed through. I am a two-player gamer. My girlfriend and I have different personalities. We agree on these games from your list:

Carcassonne - The Castle
Lost Cities
Ticket to Ride

Carcassonne - The Castle, better than the original for 2 players, I think. Not very confrontational. It can be if you WANT it to, but there's not much need to. Fits your timeframe. Maybe less than an hour long.

Ticket to Ride - I played this with 2 3 and 4. It works OK with 2. It's a little longer than Carcassonne. Of the two, whichever one I played last tends to be my favorite.

Lost Cities - another game that appeals to all types of people. There is just enough opportunity for "in your face-ness". There's just enough thinking to keep it interesting (there's never an obviously "right" choice). This one is great because you can bring it along with you easily, it's quick to learn and very addictive. At home, we keep an ongoing score. Every five hundred points or so, the "loser" has to bring home a bottle of wine or something.

Seeing as you and your friend like to yap the night away, none of these games are brain drains, so you'll be able to have conversation. All three are trusted games we revisit often. You might consider Baloon Cup too. Not as solid a game, but a nice light one. Hope this helps.
 
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