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Subject: Trying to find a winner. Looking for a 2+ player game for my wife and I to play. rss

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Kristopher Hickman
United States
St. Joseph
Michigan
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EDITED

First post!

Hey folks,

I'm stumped. My wife and I play games together 4-5 nights a week. We often have friends over and I myself run a local game group, but when it comes to it, I play games more with her than anyone else. It was my wife who first introduced me to The Settlers of Catan when we were first dating, so it might be fair to say she planted the seeds of my love for everything tabletop. Due to my gaming group, my collection has seen a lot of growth in the last year. Most of these games I have played with my wife. We have found some that work great, while others have fallen flat. The reason I am here is that because we play so often, the games that she likes tend to get burnt out in what can be 30-40 plays in less a 2 month period. Because of that, I need something fresh that just the two of us can enjoy.

She loves:
Lost Cities
Ticket to Ride: Europe
Settlers of Catan
Dominion
Legendary: Marvel
7 Wonders

She Hates:
Smash Up! (Too Much Text)
Carcassonne (She like this one until the final scoring then got burned. I am afraid it might be a lost cause.)
Kingdom Builder (Too Random)
Kahuna (Too Mean)

Some more details that might help:
My wife is a Math and Biology teacher. She loves animals and plants. She has commented that she dislikes games that are too text-reliant or those that have too great of a luck component. She absolutely abhors any sort of "draw and make the best choice" type of games or anything that feels too random (Kingdom Builder). She doesn't want a mean game, which is why Kahuna failed. I made a huge mistake by ASSUMING that because she was a woman (and therefore not super into games), I should pick light games. I was wrong. It appears that she would like a game with medium to heavy strategy that does not place heavy reliance on luck. She definitely needs to be able to see the end game goals and work over many turns to achieve victory. Theme is not a huge issue (though I'd definitely avoid any horror or war genre's) This game should also try to fit in a 90-minute period as we are both high school coaches and play after work and practice.

Thanks so much for your help!

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Hive Pocket has no luck element whatsoever. It also depicts insects (and spiders).
There are different versions of Hive with the Carbon and the Pocket version containing two of the expansion pieces already.
You might want to add Hive: The Pillbug
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Daily Grind
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You might give Alchemists a look. It's about competing alchemists trying to publish academic papers on the chemical makeup of their potions.

It's heavier than those you listed, has a small luck component on card draw but its much more about strategy & deduction all of which is in your control. The player interaction is more about racing to get published as apposed to being mean to each other.

My wife is also a Math teacher and this is her favorite game. I think its a fantastic game myself, although I have never beaten her and that sours me just a little
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Jacob Schoberg
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Elkhorn
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and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting
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Vikings!

An excellent tile placement game. Sounds right up her alley.

1) All of the available tiles every round are visible, so she can plan ahead (no draw and hope for the best)
2) Zero in game text
3) Almost no luck, unless you count which 12 tiles are drawn at the beginning of each round
4) Runs about 45-60 minutes with two players, and is excellent with two players to boot!

Seriously, give it a shot. One of my favorite euro games, and my wife really likes it too.
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J .M
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Patchwork Is one of the best two player games I've played. The rules are simple but the tight button economy and forward planning are really compelling.

Splendor is good but it can be kind of mean with two if you play trying to block each other the whole time. But if she likes lost city I think it'd be okay.
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Eric Gergotz
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Ohio
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Battle Line (because of Lost Cities)
Trains: Rising Sun (Dominion with a board, this expansion has 2-player maps unlike the base game)
Onitama
Patchwork
7 Wonders Duel
Jaipur
 
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Chris Williams

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Viticulture
Dungeon Petz
 
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John Burt
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I think you should try these:

Arboretum
Puerto Rico
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, or Agricola if you can't find a copy of that.

If she likes either of the last two, then for sure check out Fields of Arle.

Edit: it's ironic that many commenters on this thread seem to have read your post as a request for lightweight "wife games", even though you wrote:

Quote:
I made a huge mistake by ASSUMING that because she was a woman (and therefore not super into games), I should pick light games. I was wrong. It appears that she would like a game with medium to heavy strategy that does not place heavy reliance on luck.


I think I understand where you're coming from. When we started this hobby, my wife (a math teacher) and I (a scientist) quickly ramped up from light gateway games into mid to heavy strategic euros. We still play a lot of lightweight games with some luck, but they are now fillers, or played at restaurants when we go out to eat.
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Drew
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Patchwork and Jaipur are games my wife and I play almost weekly.
 
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Y P
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Istanbul - luck comes in the form of dice which only come into play on 2 of the 16 possible action tiles and can be mitigated by gaining an ability tile that allows rerolls or changing a die face to a 4; and bonus cards that are drawn from a face-down deck. Otherwise it's all skill. Fast and fun with good replayability because the board is modular and the layout can be randomized. Final score is always obvious at a glance so no end game surprises.

Lewis & Clark - only luck is the order of characters cards being revealed into the draft area. This very much rewards careful long term planning as well as smart short term play. No end game scoring to worry about since it's a race to the finish line. Might play long the 1st time around but will be easier with more plays.

Arboretum - planning an arboretum by planting various species of trees! OK, the theme is a bit pasted on, but it's a great game where skill definitely matters, although as with any face-down draw deck there will be some luck. This isn't a very heavy game but it might be a good fit theme-wise and is just excellent. Scoring all happens at the end though, and you can block your opponent from scoring by keeping higher card values in your hand so it might also seem mean.

Snowdonia - one of the best worker placement games around. Scales perfectly down to 2p, luck affects everybody almost evenly (weather effects on productivity, event cubes coming out of the bag, etc.) although being 1st player when something bad is about to happen can make it easier to deal with for the 1st player. There is some card text but it explains the corresponding icons on the card, so after reading it once the text becomes unnecessary since the icons depict the same thing. End game scoring could be a nasty surprise if not paying attention during the game.
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Sonia Mitchell
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Renfrew
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I'm a mathematical biologist that mostly plays two-players games with my boyfriend. Whilst I also dislike mean games, I prefer tactical over strategy games.. and these days prefer light/medium to heavy. If this sounds familiar, you're welcome to check my profile. Our games are ranked ^^

With that out of the way. My favourite is without a doubt, Agricola. With 2-players it plays quickly, rules are simple, but there's a lot of variety in there. Also love Bruges, Suburbia, and Five Tribes. All are replayable for me, but I have a short attention span, so we don't repeat as much as you guys do. Starting to get into abstract games (again, simple yet engaging) and particularly enjoying YINSH.. and Dominion

Recommend any of these, or more Dominion expansions!
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Davin Nisser
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Sonora
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Sychosymatic wrote:


No, no, no. See: Kahuna (Too Mean)
 
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Ali B

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My husband and I are often in a similar boat, trying to find games for the two of us to play that don't get stale. Some of the ones we get to the table a lot:

Summoner Wars: Two person card game, with deck-building optional and lots of expansions. There is some luck involved, with dice rolls and card draws, but a lot more strategy. However, being a card based game, these is a decent text component, although it's not a major piece of the game.

Arctic Scavengers: Very similar to Dominion, but with a bit more story and game structure than just building a providence buying engine. I prefer it to Dominion for that reason, but I could see a case made the other way. Also, it plays a bit better at more people, though the box does say 1-5.

Xia: Legends of a Drift System: This is a sandbox game, where you can explore the galaxy doing whatever you want, for as long as you want. The original game says 3-5 players, but there are solo and 2 player rules that have been added with the upcoming expansion, that implement really well. My partner and I have been playing this one a lot recently, and I'm a fan of how it scales to different game lengths and different player numbers.

Mage Knight: This game is nice because it comes with a bunch of different scenarios, some of which are co-operative and others are competitive. I find it's best at 2 people, though there are parts in the box for up to 4, I believe. It's also got some of that deck-building component as you play through the game. Some war elements, but also a lot of exploration and RPG style strategy.

Evolution: I love this one for the theme. I'm also a science teacher, with a background in geology and earth sciences, and this game just makes me really happy. It's a natural selection simulator, where you build a set of species with the goal of eating the most food. It works well at 2, although it's probably better at larger numbers.

Android: Netrunner: Ok, so this is a living card game, not strictly a board game, and does include a lot of text due to that fact, so it might not be the best fit for you guys. However, it is the single game, hands down, that my partner and I end up playing the most. The asymmetrical nature of the game, as well as the deck building components, mean we've never really gotten bored of it, after playing multiple times a week for the last two years or so. Like I said, it might not be up your alley, but I figured it might be worth mentioning, since I was initially not a huge fan of TCGs or LCGs and found this one quite a bit more engaging than any other I've tried.

Best of luck finding some new games to add to your game nights!
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Geoffrey Burrell
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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Lords of Waterdeep
 
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Gary Tanswell
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top games my wife and I play currently are Jaipur, 7 Wonders Duel,Patchwork and Lords of Waterdeep

first 3 are 2 player exclusive and are very fun, 7 wonders can be a bit more cut throat but in no way would I call it mean.

lords of waterdeep is also unlikely to cause many issues as the board is quite big as a 2 player game so you don't get into too much conflict.

if you fancy something a pretty Arcadia Quest is a very nice semi co-op game that plays quick once you know how to get the setup done.

finally we just picked up Village and it may be right for you (fell a bit flat personally compared to LoW but I want another play at least before ruling it out as I think it was the strategy side of it that went wrong)
 
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Jill Hauck
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Maybe Star Realms would be good, I've played the app a lot (it's free!) and just ordered the physical copy and it should be here today. It's a deck builder, and while it may seem mean because the goal is simply to attack your opponent until one of you is dead, because that's the whole game it doesn't feel mean, because really you had no choice. I am not a big fan of Dominion, it just seemed dull to me, but I love the art and them of this game, and I like that we are both pulling from the center cards. True there's luck in what cards come up, but it may be worth a try to just see if she likes the app since it's free.

I second the Hive vote, that game feels a lot like chess, zero luck involved.

I love Sail to India, a very compact but strategic worker placement game. Technically it's for 3-5 players but I have heard good things about playing it with two, and there are some rule adaptations available in the forums to tweek it if the two players with the normal rules doesn't work for you guys.
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Levi McBryde
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Neosho
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Your gaming relationship sounds almost identical to the gaming relationship I have with my wife. Even the list of games you enjoy closely mimics our game collection. That being said, here are a few of our favorites that you might enjoy.

Dungeon Lords: Interesting theme. Like a dungeon crawl in reverse. In other words, you are the dungeon master and adventurers are trying to defeat your monsters and traps in your dungeon. Really a four player game but two player mode is still a top notch game. Good worker placement with simultaneous action selection. Good amount of strategy without being overwhelming.

Stone Age: Another worker placement we really enjoy. Plays well with two players. Really enjoy the theme. Gameplay is simple (our 6 year old plays with us) but strategy is deep. So many choices, and so many strategies that no two games are the same.

Race for the Galaxy: Sort of similar to Dominion. However, because the cards in your hand are your available options as well as the resources to pay for those options (discard x number of cards to build xyz) this may be too close to the "draw and choose the best option" mechanic that she so abhors. There is an element of urgency ("Race" for the galaxy) that keeps the game interesting. Main mechanics are hand management and card drafting with some simultaneous action selection.

Taluva: Tile placement like Carcasonne. Uses a unique tile stacking method with mild amounts of "take that" mechanic when you spill a volcanic eruption onto somebody else's huts. Very simple mechanics, but much like Stone Age, the strategy runs deep. You must be able to predict your opponents moves and play what is best for you while not giving the advantage to them. Plays well with two players.

Now if you are in for a whole new gaming experience, here is one that will be unlike anything you have ever played. Project: ELITE has been one of our favorite games since I brought it home from Essen last year. It uses a clever real-time mechanic that really brings the game to life. It is cooperative, which I am usually 100% against, however, I really love the way this game plays. I never feel like we are winning and when we do it is usually by a very thin margin. The choices are simple but don't give you the time to think them all out. You must be quick with your wits and your hands. At the same time, between rounds there is ample time for game planning, but you know what they say about plans. Really love this game. Would recommend it to anyone. We have well over 300 plays in the last year and still are not tired of it.

These games are a few that we enjoy. I think, based on your current games, you will enjoy these also.

Here's to gaming with your spouse.
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Matt Simpson
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Scoville Hot pepper farming!

Orléans Is one of my favorites for this year

Pandemic: The Cure Cooperative - Yes it has dice, but you definitely have to plan a smart strategy and do what you can to mitigate the luck

Trambahn is a more interesting Lost Cities from what I've read

Agility Fantastic 2P game that uses a rondel. Very strategic and fast

Akrotiri

Castles of Mad King Ludwig or Suburbia

Shakespeare

+1 Viticulture
+1 Battle Line - play without tactics cards
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Pauly Paul
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KristopherHickman wrote:
First post!

Hey folks,

I'm stumped. My wife and I play games together 4-5 nights a week.


I'm super jealous you lucky dog.

If she liked Lost Cities I wonder if she would also enjoy Battle Line. Or wait for the new Iello Schotten Totten which has better art.

For deeper weight games how about The Gallerist (would love to try this with my girlfriend but I don't think that will ever happen) or the upcoming Vinhos Deluxe Edition?
 
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Mark Smith

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Me and the missus currently love playing Peloponnes and Roll for the Galaxy give them a look over .
I really did not think she would like roll for the galaxy but I was totally wrong.
 
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James C
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+1s to Patchwork and Jaipur. For more than two players maybe Scoville or Firenze.
 
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Scott Armstrong
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There are a lot of good suggestions here, but I've got an unusual one for you to consider. Why not BattleCON? It simulates 2D fighting-games, and in particular high-mobility high-octane Arc System Works fighting games, like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. In each "beat," players simultaneously select attacks and then reveal them. I often introduce it to people as "Advanced Advanced Rock-Paper-Scissors," in that it's a prediction-game with some elegant rules layered on top to make the decisions interesting and non-obvious.

Here is a tutorial that explains the idea nicely.

It seems especially suited to your criteria:

4-5 nights a week, high susceptibility to burn-out: BattleCON keeps things fresh with its character-roster. Each character comes with their own small hand of unique "styles" to form attacks with and their own special abilities. The teleporting scientist lady is VERY different to fight against than the soulless knight who emits an antimagic field, who in turn is basically nothing like the fire-dragon sorcery professor, who is nothing like the half-demon who attacks opponents using their own shadows.

Not too text-reliant: If I understand this requirement correctly, you mean the game shouldn't grind to a halt every time you draw a new card or hand of cards in order to read the text. Picking up a new character is as simple as reading that character's nine unique cards, most of which have less text than your typical Magic: The Gathering card.

Not too mean: This one's a bit subjective, but hear me out! On the one hand, the theme of the game is fighting - but on the other, it manages to translate into some weirdly pleasant gameplay. Sure, there will be some beats where one player just gets the better of the other and hits them for heavy damage, but other than that there's relatively little advantage carrying over beat-to-beat - both players dust themselves off and then it's anybody's guess what's going to happen next. Being behind in BattleCON isn't a slow, oppressive grind - it's an opportunity to turn the tables on your opponent with a few very clever plays. It's one of the best games I've played for encouraging you to admire your opponent.

Does not place heavy reliance on luck: The only source of randomness in BattleCON is not knowing what your opponent is going to decide to do. Every other mechanic is completely deterministic - you even know ahead of time what cards you and the opponent will be drawing each turn! It would be disingenuous to say that this amounts to "luck-free," but being "lucky" in BattleCON is often really about being clever and deliberately unpredictable.

90 minutes or less: Ostensibly takes 30 minutes to play, but can take as long as an hour if you're really invested in thinking things through. I think I average 45 minutes a match.

Clear goal: You have a lifebar. Like most games with lifebars, the goal is pretty clear!

Strategic play: Some characters' abilities let them slowly accumulate power during a fight to unleash at an opportune moment. Trying to pick those moments (or predict those moments if you're the opponent) is the basis of most long-term strategy in BattleCON. It's also important to be thinking several beats ahead to figure out which cards you should hold onto, where you should position yourself, etc..

There are several BattleCON sets, but Fate of Indines is my favourite and it's the least expensive at $25. I recommend giving it a try, and especially because I think we ought to be encouraging women to play more games based on awesome acrobatic fantasy combat!
 
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Kristopher Hickman
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St. Joseph
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Hey folks! I am loving the response provided here. I edited the main post, but I somehow forgot that she really enjoys 7 Wonders and we have often played the 2 player variant along with the Leaders expansion.

With that said, I wanted to ask, knowing she does not like the "mean"ness of Kahuna, is 7 Wonders: Duel still a good option? What have been your experiences?

While this is ultimately a post for my wife and I to get more games to the table, I recently played my 3rd game of Alien Frontiers and have been hungry to get into more worker placement games. I have seen Stone Age and Lords of Waterdeep mentioned here several times, but are these the best worker placement options at 2 players? I'm not above the investment, but I'd really like to get a game that works well at 2 but expands well at more players.
 
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John Burt
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KristopherHickman wrote:

With that said, I wanted to ask, knowing she does not like the "mean"ness of Kahuna, is 7 Wonders: Duel still a good option? What have been your experiences?


That depends on her tolerance of conflict - i.e., her definition of "mean". I researched 7WD and I know that we would hate it, because we don't like zero-sum, PvP type games, and 7WD is that.

KristopherHickman wrote:

While this is ultimately a post for my wife and I to get more games to the table, I recently played my 3rd game of Alien Frontiers and have been hungry to get into more worker placement games. I have seen Stone Age and Lords of Waterdeep mentioned here several times, but are these the best worker placement options at 2 players? I'm not above the investment, but I'd really like to get a game that works well at 2 but expands well at more players.


Stone Age and Lords of Waterdeep are lightweight worker placement games. They may be too light if you crave "medium to heavy" weight (also Stone Age has some luck w/ dice rolling). A little further up the scale would be Viticulture Essential Edition. Although I like this game, I refrained from suggesting it because it has more than a little luck in it in the form of random card draws. Of course, people will say that better players know how to mitigate luck, but it is still there and if you don't like it, then that's that.

I think that Fields of Arle is going to be the best bet, but that game is 2p only and might be intimidating as your first WP game, which is why I suggested Agricola:ACBS/Agricola.
 
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Scott Armstrong
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KristopherHickman wrote:
I'm not above the investment, but I'd really like to get a game that works well at 2 but expands well at more players.


I don't actually recommend this approach. I have yet to find a 3+-player game that works as well for two players as games specifically designed for two players.

It stands to reason, really. In multiplayer, you need to be very careful about when and how players can interact with each other. It's usually not very fun when the best strategy is just to constantly attack the player who's currently in the lead, for example. You also want to make player-elimination difficult or impossible, so that you don't get into the socially awkward position of having somebody sit off on the sidelines twenty or thirty minutes before everybody else is done playing.

On the other hand, having some ability to interfere with the lead-player means that it's safer 3+-player games rely on economy-building and other momentum-based mechanics. For two players, economy-building games often devolve very quickly - one player gets a slight advantage in the early game, and that slight advantage snowballs into an irreversible lead by about halfway in - which is exactly what I interpreted "mean" to mean based on your original post.

In two-player, the strategic play-counterplay is much more intimate - or at least, it should be. Shut Up & Sit Down was unimpressed with 7 Wonders: Duel for its failure to adequately ratchet up the tension and back-and-forth strategy for two players.

If you're okay with investment, you'll do much better buying two relatively inexpensive games, one for 2 and one for 3+, than trying to buy one game that works for both.
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