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How to get your girlfriend into boardgames? [guide for 2 player gaming with your SO]
Samo Gosaric
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As this question pops up more frequently than any other on BGG recommendation and general treads and myself being a lazy bum, not willing to write similar answers all over again I decided to put my thoughts on the matter in this geeklist, which I can and will link when appropriate situation arises. Also I'm all the time thinking of trying to write an article in English (not native tongue) this seemed like a good opportunity to try it out. (Note to self: if I was not such a perfectionist it wouldn't have taken me a couple of days to finish this.) This list focuses on the general picture of 2 player boardgaming with SO and highlights some social issues and gaming preferences I find important and I believe those posting questions on recommendation thread would need to hear.

DISCLAIMERS:
1. The title is applicable for any SO - wife, husband, mother, close friend, what have you. I chose the title as it seemed most frequent. And I'm not married yet...
2. The list might come across as heteronormative and I just have to state this is not my intention, it merely reflects that the most common sitation on bgg is guys asking about games for their female SO.
3. YOUR FEEDBACK is welcomed. Rule of thumb - if it's short put it under comments, if it's a longer text put it into it's own list item. I reserve myself an option to change the order of list items.
3.1. ADD GAMES AS COMMENTS TO ITEMS OF THE LIST - I didn't list any comprehensive list of recommended games for each category, so feel free to add yours if you wish, the same goes with geeklists, threads and so on.
3.2 AS ITEMS ADD EITHER SOME "PROBLEMS" OF 2 PLAYER GAMING YOU WISH TO ADDRESS OR YOUR INTERESTING PERSONAL EXPERIENCES


so:

How to get your SO into playing boardgames with you?
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1. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:478]
Samo Gosaric
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1. maybe you just can't

Ok.
Breath in.
Breath out.
Relax.
Take a step back.

Not everybody's a gamer and not everybody cares let alone wants to be a gamer. Sure, you're new to the hobby, you're enthusiastic, you want to share these fine experiences with your friends and your SO. But not everybody will feel this way. Maybe nobody will.

Reasons for this are numerous, and I'll get into them later: some people socialize to socialize and don't care about gaming at all on any level, some find it a childish activity or a geeky activity whatever you'll say or do, some don't like the competition, some feel turned of by aggression in games, some feel stressed with learning new rules, some had bad experiences with monopoly and so on.

I'm not saying it's futile to try to covert your SO into gaming. I am saying though that you should accept the possibility of a failure. Such is life and it's best you get this possible outcome in your head straight away to give you some perspective. Take note that, you SO will likely give in to your pleas, because it's you and they care about you.
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2. Board Game: Relationship Tightrope [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:2118]
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2. It's not about yourself, it's about the two of you

Gaming in couples is firstly about being a couple and secondly about gaming. Sure there are plenty of great games out there, games you would love to play, that maybe your SO would just not be interested in, or would feel intimidated by its complexity, or theme, or style.

The trick is in finding a game that ideally both of you would enjoy
or at least one your SO will enjoy playing and you won't mind or hate. (Let's be realistic here).

It just might be that your SO is willing to play just ONE game. And that one game might be a traditional card game or Monopoly or a great game you'll find here on BGG, but not anything else. And if you're wise you'll respect that and with time you'll love that game precisely because you play it with your SO. And you will see that it's the players that make certain games fun (and not vice versa). You can get your geek on elsewhere, no need to dump everything on one person.

Another thing to mention here is that a lot of people don't like learning new rules all the time, or ever, but enjoy playing one game that they know how to play over and over again. That's also mostly the best approach with new gamers - one game at a time.
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3. Board Game: Funny Friends [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1190]
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3. Different strokes for different folks.

Take note that people play boardgames for different reasons. Firstly that means finding out what gaming motivations are important to you and your SO. Secondly this means understanding that a lot of games people recommend may come from a different gaming motivation to yours. And thirdly - your gaming style might be different while playing with your friends, people at local game club or your SO (the latter might be less competitive for instance).

Some people game for competition, some for training brain muscles, some for drama, some for tension, some for interaction/chatting, some enjoy the ride, some enjoy playing with toys minis, while some might be put off by those same motivations. Some like to think while gaming, some don't, some like to talk, some don't, some like serious controllable gaming environment, some revel in sheer chaos, uncertainty and tons of tacky plastic minis.

So how do I know what kind of games I like?

Well it's hard to know your tastes without trying different games. If you're lucky you have a gaming group nearby where you can try games and if you're even luckier the group plays a variety of different kinds/genres of games, if you're less lucky you'll throw some money away on games you won't like (and maybe you can trade them away if you don't like them).

P.S.: Consider yourself blessed if your taste is aligned with BGG's mainstream as you can just follow the popular opinion around here.

So how can I tell what games my SO is likely to enjoy?

Do your research. I'll try to guide you trough the list what factors you should keep in mind when choosing a game and to give you some idea what kind of gaming experiences are there and which games to look at for those experiences.

Talk to your SO. They likely won't be interested in 30 minute lecture, so keep it brief, go trough some major issues (friendly/confrontational, competition/ride, control/chaos, Simple/a bit more complex, Geeky theme / no geeky theme, theme important/not) and suggest a couple of games (I'd say max five), if they're interested show pictures or even a video.
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4. Board Game: The Count of Carcassonne [Average Rating:5.94 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.94 Unranked]
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4a. Limits of games – Scalability (suggested number of players)

First question is whether you're looking for a game just for the two of you, you're looking for a game to play with friends, or you want a game for both occasions?
Publishers will tell you the game plays from x to z which is not always the case, so bgg data is most valuable here.

Thing is - a lot of types of games do not scale well from 2 to 4 people. 2 player games have specific dynamics which differs from dynamics of multiplayer games. Some multiplayers games won't work as well with 2 as there will be the lack of tension the game needs to work - might be averted by special 2 player boards (Small World), home made 2 player boards (Tigris & Euphrates), special expansions (Power Grid: The Robots), even stand alone versions of the game adjusted for 2 players (Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries). For some genres it can't be done, for instance it's impossible to create trading or negotiation environment with just 2 players (I'll get flak for this as there are some 2 player trading games, but there you trade with the bank, not each other - Jaipur, Jambo). On the opposite side some good 2 or 2-3 player games won't work as well with more as there's too much downtime between turns causing the game to drag past its welcome. Or the game will scale well from 2 to 4, but there will be more chaos and lack of control with 4 players, causing the game to have a very different feel - being effectively a different game with a different player count (Carcassonne is such an example. (You might still like it in both situations such as it is, though. I do).

There are however games that do scale well from 2 to 4 or more people. The question is just whether they're your type of games. These are games of indirect interaction* where you are in essence racing for victory points with little options to hinder the other's position, causing to game to play itself similarly with different number of players. Because of lack of direct interaction = lack of direct conflict, these games are often enjoyed by couples and are frequently on "spouse games" lists. Second group of games that scale well are cooperative games - games where all players work together as a team against the game (though some might be harder to win with less players and others with more players). However if these two genres of games are not your cuppa, I would advise that you look for separate games to fulfil your two player and multiplayer needs. Which is wise also because you might find easier to handle conflict with your SO in multiplayer situations.).

* You're likely come across a derogatory term for these: MPS - multiplayer solitaire
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5. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:215]
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4b. Limits of games - Weight (complexity of games or game rules)

There's the general consensus that "spouse games" should have simple rules and be easy to play. While this is not necessarily true for any spouse in question, there are a couple of aspects I'd like to point out to you. "Weight" is a bgg term for telling if the game is light or heavy on 1 to 5 scale, however the weight ratings are subjective and based on target audience - in general a wargame of a certain weight will be heavier to grasp than euro or ameritrash of that same weight (because in general wargames have quite extensive rulesets). Another thing is that complexity in euros is not necessarily the same as in ameritrash.

Easy to learn or easy to play?

There are people, especially nongamers, who have trouble learning new rules, but will play very well and competitively once they know them. For these abstract and euro games offer something called depth. Deep games should be simple to learn, but tough to master, rewarding repeated play. Go is probably the poster child for this and if you're serious about playing it, it's probably the only game you'll have time in your lifetime to play. In general deep games reward players who like competition and improving their skills.

On the other end of scale are games with finite learning curve - you can master a game only to a certain level, usually because of strong luck element involved, which is there to level the field between the new players and veterans. A lot of family games are made with that purpose in mind, where it's more important to participate than to have winning skills.

And then there are games which are harder to learn, but not that hard to play - more complicated than complex. A lot of ameritrash falls into this where the ride is again more important than winning (again high frequency of random elements) and rules are there to reenact theme of the game. While in general it's not a wise idea to overburden new players and nongamers with rules, I've had success with a cooperative game of this type because I took on myself a role of rulesmaster. (Arkham Horror was my game of choice, if you're interested in this, you should also look at Flying Frog Productions catalogue).

Question is of course: with what do you want to lure your SO into gaming?
Is more important the ease of play?
The ease of playing at a competitive level?
or the comforting charm of a good theme?
and/or relaxed gameplay and enjoying a common experience?
Know your SO and you'll have a better idea what to look for.
(we'll cover a lot of this into subsequent paragraphs).
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6. Board Game: War of the Ring (first edition) [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:34]
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5a. Conflict level.

Together with game complexity probably the most important factor in deciding on a game to play with your SO.
A part of it is also whether the winning is important in a game or not?

indirect interaction games
These are most popular as "spouse games" and by some frowned upon because lack of interaction. In these games each player is playing their own game or building their own plateau or engine, usually the player with the most victory points wins. Interaction comes in form of comparison while it's more or less impossible to hinder other's position - it's a race. These games come in variety of forms, from light ones (Alhambra) to heavy ones (Le Havre), usually they're also scale well. Also deck building games began as a variant on this approach.
subgenre: building games.
Not all indirect interaction games are building games and not all building games are indirect interaction games, but a lot of them are. Games where each player build on their own board or build their own plateau give them another motivation - a sort of narrative watching their estate/empire/whathaveyou being build which may even overshadow the main aim of the game, winning. In these games, people don't mind losing if they're satisfied with what they've built. Me, I even don't care about winning if the narrative is good (and I can get away with it, if the feeling is shared by all players). Games: Race for the Galaxy, Agricola, 7 Wonders
careful: take that elements in building games
Be warned that take that elements in games where people build their own stuff tend to be more disrupting and offensive than in game with direct conflict. True, a lot of these games can be played without player actually utilising these effects, making the game more or less aggressive, depending on players (Jambo), and then there are also games where you can customise the level of conflict from "friendly" to "ugly" (The Rivals for Catan).

Games with blocking
A lot of traditional boardgames were 2 player zero sum conflict games - one player wins something, the opponent loses the same thing. While on one hand you have deep brainburning abstracts like Chess and Go, there also ways to soften the conflict or brainburning or both. One thing to look is whether the objective of the game is collecting victory points (usually not zero-sum game), making it more of race even though blocking is possible (Carcassonne). The other thing is whether the game features cards or tiles, making it a game more about dealing with the situation at hand, then clashing your perfect strategy with opponent's. More or less euros will tend to go in both these directions to make the game more friendly.
subgenre: conflict games
Apart from abstract there's the whole world of 2 player conflict games out there - wargames. These tend to be complex rules-wise as they deal with historical simulation. Narrative in these games might make it less competitive - don't play them, can't tell (comments?). There are also some 2 player games of ameritrash subjenre (LCGs, Summoner Wars, Space Hulk and derivatives) - as ameritrash focuses on "drama", there tends to be dice involved in combat, which can put emphasis more on story than the winning (Claustrophobia). In general I distinguish conflict games as those where each player plays a side, represented by tokens/figures/chits on the map.

Hybrids and other types.
There are also games combining the both ends of a spectrum. Civilisation games combine building and conflict aspects. Also there are games I would have trouble categorising on this scale, like bluffing, double-thinking and deduction games where obviously one player will win, but conflict is hard to pinpoint other than saying it's a very tense race to the finish. Also there are risk taking games which are tense, but tension doesn't come from the conflict with the other player (Knizia has this, his Lost Cities is often recommended as spouse game).

NOTES:
People have different tolerance to conflict, so even some game with indirect interaction might be too much for some - worker placement does involve a kind of blocking (I don't this as a form of conflict, but ymmv). You might also want to wait with some purchases as some games combine the pressure of learning the game with the pressure on one-on-one competition and you'd might want give you SO a bit of experience in at least one of those fields, otherwise prepare for accusations such as "you cheated", "you never told me THAT rule", "how was I supposed to know", etc. My advice would be to understand the first plays of any game as part of the learning curve, you might want to play with open information (cars) and explain the game as you go.
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7. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1058]
Samo Gosaric
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5b. Does winning matter?

You can eliminate a lot of the conflict and tension, if winning as such is not important.

Cooperative games.
As low conflict as you can find, because you work as a team. Further inquiries into this area are related to weight of the game and whether it's important to win (collective puzzles like Pandemic and Ghost Stories) or it's the ride which is more significant (Arkham Horror, Defenders of the Realm, ashardon) or maybe both (real time co-op like Space Alert).

Winning not important by game design.
There are some games where winning just doesn't matter, these are mostly party games* which again more or less meant for larger groups (6 and up). These games are often coined as "activities" (as opposed to "true" games). Tales of the Arabian Nights is one to check in this category. Of course there are games which could be played as though winning is not important
*There has been a recent case though, which demonstrated a nasty backstabbing move in an otherwise not really competitive party game.

Short games - you lose, you play again.
A conflict is less of a problem if the game is short and you can play it again and again and again. 2 player light, "filler" games are pretty easy to find - Kosmos two-player series is all about this.

WE are in it for the ride.
Heavy thematic games and games with strong narrative are usually more about the journey than the conflict and the winner. There are recent tendencies to include more strategy in these games, so you are advised to do a research regarding each game. A strong part of enjoying the ride more than the final result is also a relaxed atmosphere, it might be for instance better for you SO to play some multiplayer games with your friends, (if your friends are as laid back and relaxed about gaming as mine). A lot of this was already discussed - games with building, theme and so on.

NOTES - is it about skill or a ride?
Games which might be easy to pick, tend to be of "learn as you play" type, which means developing one's skills. On the other hand games with a narrative or a theme tend to be at least a step more complex as the game needs an environment of variety and different elements to provide a possibility for a narrative to form, or theme immersion to happen. There is thus a conflict between the ease of play and the ease of conflict. You can of course find games, that mitigate this (simple cooperative games, simple building games). The compromise will depend on your gaming tastes - depends on what satisfies you as narrative and what you find complex: San Juan might be complex for some, or low on narrative for others, but some might be happy with both aspects; Alhambra is a game about building, but it doesn't feature the strong enough narrative of building to draw me in on this level (again ymmv).
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8. Board Game: Pastiche [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:764]
Samo Gosaric
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6a. The theme issue - theme tolerance

Superficial subject by some, but might be a reason for your SO to even be willing to play a game or not. This depends a lot about their tastes in popular culture in general:
are we serious about looking like adults or like kids?
Fantasy themes and sci-fi themes welcomed or a taboo?
Is it okay to be a geek or is this frowned upon, or just not important?

Know your SO, and you should know the answer to these.

Traditional cardgames and abstracts.
Some people find boardgames as something childish or geeky and this just might be the only thing you can play with them. Card games tend to have the upper hand over abstracts as they're more casual and require less dedication. While some people might only be interested in the games they already know, there's nothing wrong with doing some research. There is a site dedicated to traditional card games, which has a page for 2 player games: http://www.pagat.com/number/2_players.html. Gin Rummy or Cribbage - they're all there. Another game that somehow fits in this category is: Crokinole.

Designer variations on traditional cardgames
There are plenty of new, designer/invented games that evolved from traditional card games that you might want to look at. Plenty of Rummy variants out there (Mystery Rummy, Utopian Rummy, even Ticket to Ride), variations on climbing games (Haggis for 2-3 players, Tichu - 4 player), also german designers invented many games that use either suits or trick taking or both (Trick-taking - note not all of these are 2 player games; Set Collection is another mechanic that can be argued is similar to Rummy games).

Euros
German games developed as family oriented games, as such they avoid conflict and problematic themes in their quest for enjoyable experience for kids and parents alike. Sci-fi and fantasy themes are avoided, unless implemented with humorous illustrations. Theme in general is not what these games are about and represent more the graphic design than possibility for theme immersion. In short: this is mainstream friendly and you're best advised to look into BBG family games subcategory.

Serious euros
There's been a trend a couple of years back (the first half and middle 2000s) for games to look more serious and adult-like: brown colours, thinky approach to gaming, usually with a renaissance theme and a Dürer like portrait on the cover. Effort was made to make the boxes like books which you put on your book-shelf. In essence: serious looking gaming, requiring serious thought. Pushing my "subtle" irony aside, I can imagine this kind of approach being appreciated by a certain kind of people and helped them get new people to gaming. Not all these games were heavy though and a lot to these have been recoloured recently in more pastel versions (Puerto Rico: Limited Anniversary Edition, Genoa, Chinatown, german version of Tigris & Euphrates).
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9. Board Game: The Awful Green Things From Outer Space [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1239]
Samo Gosaric
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6b. The theme issue - embracing theme

It's about these guys zombie arrrh robot ninja goo

Geeky, Slimy, Dripping Theme
Theme in ameritrash mostly means: fantasy, horror, sci-fi and superheroes. That's more or less it. Oh and pirates, can't forget about pirates. Where the previous entry was about mainstream-friendly and family-friendly approach that could appeal to anybody, this category embraces the opposite. Also let's face it the mainstream has changed and became more tolerant of these themes - Harry Potter books and Movies, Twilight books and movies (female oriented, no less), A Game of Thrones, all the vampire and supernatural TV series and on and on. So yes, the women I game with regularly (my GF and friend's GF) love these themes and this is a reason I rate Totan and AH as highly.

Thematic games are about luring you with the theme you love to learn all these rules. This is an exception to the unspoken rule one should first play simple games with nongamers. Theme is an important motivation which can overcome even the steepest of learning curves (just do proper research that the gameplay is solid enough to be able to reward all this effort). Playing a game with the theme you love is about experiencing this theme in an interactive environment. Theme in such cases takes precedence over strategy (winning) considerations and can even make you tolerate less polished parts of the game - to a certain point. Researching such games you should be careful to find the right kind of comments, which are of people interested in the theme. If finding the right theme is of more importance to you than finding the best game, you should check this company Flying Frog Productions, that more or less makes the same kind of game with different themes.

Theme immersion might be important or not. Even with similar theme you'll find games made to enable immersion if players are willing to invest in it and those that take their theme more lightly, focusing instead on winning or cooperation/interaction. This theme is a good example: Cthulhu Mythos. Immersion is prevented by games requiring too much strategy thought and by players not interested in such kind of involvement. Also there's nothing wrong with liking the theme but not caring about immersion.

Wargames
Though this gaming niche is probably (?) even less female populated than the rest, it deserves at least a note. Wargame design is about historical battles and is about telling a story, not winning. General design of these games is closer to literature - paper maps, and simple chits, the story being narrated in the mind of a player.
So go on, give me flak about my heteronormativity and ignorance to appeal of historical warfare to women.

The importance of toys
is underestimated. Tongue in cheek or not, nice pieces will bring nongamers to your table. It might be superficial, but games you could play with classic cards will see more play with special decks, my players picked new colourful euros over the ones from the "brown age of euros". Nice bits just might give that small push players need to tolerate the learning curve.
On the negative, everything that can be problematic with strong theme applies here as well: bits can be seen as childish or geeky, depending on your audience. Also bits and theme don't make a game good on its own, however they can make it more expensive. So if toy factor is important do some research, look for similar games and decide between them.
If you decide on a nice looking game, it doesn't harm to show pictures of it to your SO.
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10. Board Game: Tumblin-Dice [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:472]
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7a. Gaming together: order VS chaos

OR: Women are from Venus, Men are from Vulcan and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri are from Alpha Centauri

I already talked about it as an opposition of deep games and accessible luck including games, but there's another aspect to it as well. Some players fear to lose or they might be frustrated by situations they can't control, they thus need low luck, open information games where they can express themselves in a fair match of skills. An important part of a fair match is explaining the rules in all the details. As such games are to be played over and over again to master ones strategies, you might want to check for games you can learn as you play, if you fear about teaching too many rules.

On the other hand if you are such a player, you might find your SO frustrated because "you always win" and are willing only to play games with sufficient randomness to avoid handing over the game in advance to the "human calculator". And in the third corner or in some orbit there are players enjoying to cope with the completely random and chaotic situation, trying to stay on top of the evershifting chaos and hope for dramatic moments that they can imprint in their memory. Me being such a player, I'd say it's more about the ride than winning, but it's not wise for above mentioned luck avoiding players to be convinced to join a chaotic game. In essence because of their different gaming motivations (proving one self VS losing one self) and preferences in skills they want to use (deep strategy VS responsive tactics).

Gaming solution:
There are some games, where all these people could meet, and those are from my experience double thinking, bluffing and deduction games. There is randomness, but created by players, there is also no luck, because everything is handled by players. Not often used in two player games, but there are some (Double Agent, Mr. Jack in New York).
Another way to reduce the "advantage" of Vulcans who are too smart for their own well being is the cult of the new, which eliminates some depth of the games by playing each game only once or twice. As serious occultism takes a group effort and tends to be expensive it is best suited for those occasions when your SO visits your local game club.

Real life solution: Talk.
A player afraid to lose in a game, might have similar obstacles in other parts of life as well, while it's illusionary to be able to overcome this obstacles overnight, if both are willing to deal with it, things could improve. I am much less frustrated by conflict with my SO in gaming as I once was, I even intentionally played Diplomacy on-line to "toughen-up" psychologically and managed to overcome my fury of backstabbers. Of course any such endeavour requires willingness from all the parties, otherwise it may cause unnecessary frustration.

Another issue is negotiation and compromise between two players of different preferences where the rule is - the player who has more options of getting their gaming fix elsewhere should back down (probably you reading this on bgg). Never forget that boardgaming is a social situation and more often than not it's best advisable to solve tensions that arise as one would in any social situation.

I believe a good talk is bound to help more with your gaming problems than finding another game to "solve it".

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11. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:357]
Samo Gosaric
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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7b. Gaming together: the talking kind of interaction

While this is an important preference in gaming for many people - understanding boardgames as a social events where you talk and interact directly with other players, it's truly irrelevant for two players. I can't think of any 2 player game involving player to player negotiation or trading, but I decided to add this category anyhow, just for some perspective.

social background:
Some people actually like games, because they can socialize without talking much as they might find talking stressful or they just have enough of it and don't want it in their hobby. Some other kind of people find boardgames interesting because the interaction is structured which helps them to navigate in social surroundings. And then there's people who need social interaction within the game with people they game with. This depends a lot on who you're gaming with: gaming with casual gamers and nongamers and friends you would want a event which is social and structured (for instance, gaming as a good alternative to reliving old times by inventing new common experiences). Gaming with core group of players, you might find talking not that much of a necessity as you see these people all the time.

Same thing about gaming with your SO, as you probably live with them, or at least spend a lot of your time with them, gaming will be more about spending your time together than talking. I personally have found low level interaction games at their best in two player environment - low interaction means low frequency of potentially stressful situations and being silent is not that of a problem.

Of course, you might wish to play a simple, not too much involving game, as you can take about other things while you play. Or you might find out your SO prefers multiplayer environment or might only enjoy party games with larger groups. All is valid.

negotiation games
Many good negotiation games are not frequently labeled as such and that is because lot's of multiplayer confrontational games (dudes-on-a-map) are primarily about negotiations - who to ally with, who to attack and so forth. Some of these game also allow for backstabbing and while this is probably the most drama boardgames can handle, you might find some of these games too vicious to play with you SO. Frankly the most extreme games of this sort require maturity of players and ability to separate the game from your social everyday life or bad feelings will happen. There are games of this genre that are more whimsical or light in nature so they're safe for me to play with my GF, and then there are those I wouldn't want to paly with her, at least not yet. There were some reports of people prematurely exposing their SO's to games like Intrigue with predictable results (their SO doesn't game with them).

trading games
I think of trading games as german take on negotiation genre: all talking and negotiation is usually beneficial for all sides. There's also no direct conflict involved. My experience has showed that putting two females in a game like this brings instant doom to all the males at the same table, face it, we just can't compete with fast talking "helpmeI'llhelpyougigglegiggle". And you just might need such a game in your group. As long as everybody's happy and wins once in a while, there are good odds you'll keep on gaming with them.

party games
More easy to learn structured social activities than games in their narrow sense as winning is not truly important in these games (they can often be played without winning conditions at all). Just check bgg's party game subdomain and Action / Dexterity games.
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12. Board Game: Time's Up! [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:245]
Samo Gosaric
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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8. conclusion

This list might not be what you expected it to be, and for that reason alone I think you had to read it. I planned it more as an introduction to the social landscape of boardgaming with 2 players so you know what to expect and to give you some idea what to look for. Any games I mentioned are listed purely as examples and are not in any means referential or meant as recommendations.

Now you are prepared to search among many, many bgg resources dealing with this topic: tons of BGG geeklists and countless forum threads.

to get you started:
Metalist for 2 Player Games Geeklists (68 lists!)

some less known geeklist I found interesting because they are atypical:
Games you were surprised your spouse/friend/group ended up LOVING?
Getting to Know My Spouse via Games
Games Your Spouse Loves A Lot More Than You
and there are surely many many more.

Happy gaming.
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13. Board Game: I'm the Boss! [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:632]
Enrico Viglino
United States
Phoenix, AZ
Arizona
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Silenced - BGG's moderation policies have driven me completely from here
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http://thegamebox.gamesontables.com/
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It really ain't up to her.
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14. Board Game: Start Player [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1763]
Samo Gosaric
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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Quotes 1: Wait for them to make the first step

As I found these comments very valuable, I've taken the liberty to add them as a geeklist item.

hancock.tom wrote:
My advice? Just let her come to it. I didn't pester my wife but eventually after hearing about how much I enjoyed it she wanted to try it. Same thing with drinking beer - I didn't go on beer.com and ask for "wife beer" recommendations. I just kept drinking and eventually she started tasting sips, eventually she found what she liked and was buying her own beer. Same thing with boardgames.
/.../
My wife does the same thing to me with books- she never asked me to read Game of Thrones, she just told me how great it was and eventually I came to it.


Aberdonian wrote:
I have good luck in converting girldfirends to try gaming and manage to find decent fits. I'm definitely an advocate of let them come to it on their own terms. I've found my enthusiasm for gaming has meant they've been willing to give things a go.

From that point its finding the right fit.
/.../
Teaching wise the duels of the planeswalkers game on xbox was my friend as she was able to learn herself with me providing advise and thius bit is important, WHEN ASKED. Found this to be true of teaching any game that people to do not enjoy being told what to do. Explaining structure, rules and light stategy and let people find their own way works better.


Great feedback, thanks to both of you. I must confess it speaks of wisdom above mine. It just might be that my GF was interesting in gaming all the time; she loves fantasy films and like Settlers of Catan, so when I thought of going into gaming I asked her what she makes of it and she said she's willing to try. I haven't played any game without her since. But later trying to find some friends to play with, oh we did frustrate some of them. Now we're more along the lines of inviting those friends that show some interest (usually playing Settlers or Monopoly). There's also the second problem where the male part of the couple shows interest, but female does not. Inviting the guy separately on a game night seems the best way, though you must be proficient in tact and diplomacy to pull it off sometimes.
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