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Subject: Our "Perfect" Game rss

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Jacob Vincent
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Welwyn Garden City
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This is more of an ongoing quest than a here and now recommendation. I'm trying to find the "perfect" game for my girlfriend and I, or maybe just add to our collection of loved games. She is more into boardgames than me, I'm more into video games, but I love playing boardgames for the interaction - so spare me the multiplayer solitaire.

Must have
* Plays well with 2 - This might seem obvious but it's really the top point since it's how I play 99% of my games. Preferably it plays well out of the box and doesn't require a variant to make it work. I prefer that there are minimal rule adjustments to scale up from, or down to, 2. We don't solo so that makes no difference.
* Interaction - as I already said, I hate multiplayer solitaire. Interaction doesn't have to be direct, I like Race for the Galaxy and a lot of the interaction is leeching off your opponents engine. Interaction could be nasty, but maybe not too nasty as my girlfriend isn't a big fan of that.
* Low downtime - if my opponent does so many actions between my turns that I zone out and don't pay attention to what they are doing it's really bad.
* Not AP inducing - I totally suffer from AP. I try to control it. But the more a game pushes you to perfect efficiency the worse it gets.
* Replayability - I want a game that takes a few plays to understand, more to get good at, and even more to master. Preferably with different set ups, unbalanced starting positions, or randomness to give it a longer life.

Nice to have
* It ends when it ends - let me explain this, because it is a bit weird. I like games less that end after a set number of turns. I like when there is an obvious winning condition or when you can see your opponent building towards ending the game.
* Quick set up - the longer a game takes to set up the better it has to be to impress me afterwards. It doesn't matter how good it is, I won't get it off the shelf if I spend an age setting up or packing away compared to playing the game.
* Good box - this is totally superficial but I get enraged when I unbox a game and realise it could have been a quarter of the size. Similarly, if it's a good box then I'm already feeling positive about playing the game.
* Lots of bits - my girlfriend just adores the sight of 1000s of cubes ready to go.
* A bit of meanness - I covered this above, but I like to be able to hurt my opponent a little. But it won't go down well if being nasty if mandatory!

Games we like
Twilight Struggle - I still don't totally understand why she likes it; I think a big positive is seeing her influence spread across the map. I love it because it's tense, lots of replayability - and gets better as you get better, good balance of strategy/tactics and luck, and theme matches the mechanics.
Catan - this is her favourite game. We never play it because I dislike the 2 player variants. But I'll always indulge her when we do have a 3rd player. I think she prefers Cities & Knights, but to me that adds more complexity than you get back in improved gameplay.
Race for the Galaxy - Small game but big on replayability and a number of different strategies. You can get screwed by the draw now and again, but good play can mostly keep it tight.
Innovation - we don't play this very often because I get a bit bored of beating her (the only game where that is true), but in honesty she likes it more than me. I think what she really likes is seeing the tableau grow over the game and I like that there's more than one path to victory even when hope looks lost.
Archipelago - we've not played this enough to totally grasp it yet, but we generally enjoy it. It seems to scale well to 2, there's a lot of options each turn, and I really like that you can all lose if you piss off the natives too much.
Tash Kalar - this was a gem. I got it on sale because I was worried she wouldn't like it. If anything she likes it more than me. Problem is that I prefer "high form" and she prefers "deathmatch". Either way I've come to find it a little dry and sometimes a bit too frustrating.

Games we dislike
Castles of Burgundy - what a dull game we both found this! After so many recommendations for 2 we got it. Played it twice. Both hated and traded it.
El Grande - maybe it is just bad with 2, but neither of us enjoyed it and neither of us wants to look at it again.

Games we disagree on
Agricola - she likes it, I hate it. Almost zero interaction, almost zero variability, basically requires you to make a plan at the start and stick to it to the letter - if you drop one turn you may as well give up.
Polis - I bought this thinking it would be perfect after it getting recommended for fans of Twilight Struggle. We haven't finished a game yet because she finds it too much of a grind.
King of Siam - I think we only played this once before I was instructed to trade it away. I liked how unique and intricate it was. She hated it because she didn't get all the subtle interactions.
Dominion - she likes it, I don't like it. I will play occasionally, but I don't get much from it. I think it is deckbuilders in general but I feel like I'm just building probabilities of having that great hand rather than forming a lasting strategy or reacting and playing tactically.

If you've taken the time to read all that - thank you! That's not exhaustive and as I'm not looking to purchase something right this moment I'm happy to go back and forth with questions. I'd love to be able to come back to this over months and keep digging into it.
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George Nebesnik
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Lords of Waterdeep

I know a lot of people will tell you this isn't a good two player game, but I disagree. My wife and I have played this game a ton 2 player and we love it.

+ Interaction. Other than blocking spots, you have intrigue cards which range from very nice to mean. Good interaction without hurting your opponent too much.

+ Low Downtime. Pretty simple. Place one worker then your opponent goes. Very low downtime.

+ Not AP inducing. You have quests with everything you need. So you can very easily look at a quest and go get what you need.

+ Replayability. Can't go wrong. With two players you will see different quests, cards, and buildings everytime you play.

+ Only 8 rounds and it ends.

+ Quick Set up. The base game is very quick to set up. 5 minutes and your done. 8 minutes if you add the expansions.

- The box isn't the greatest but it looks cool and the insert is sweet.

+ Lots of bits. Tons of cards, money, and cubes in four different colors.

+ This game has the perfect amount of meanness for you.

I think if you check it out, you won't be disappointed.



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Michael Gonzalez
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Surprisingly, the first game that comes to mind, which meets all your must-haves and 4/5 of your nice-to-haves... is Pandemic and/or Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. Obviously, there is no meanness, and if "interaction" means messing with each other then definitely "no". But, I took "interaction" at face value, and by that metric (and most of the others) Pandemic is perfect and Pandemic Legacy is a really great experience on top of that basic game.

I'd be surprised if you'd never played it, but, if so, I can go line-by-line on your desiderata and explain how it fits each one.

That being said, you probably didn't really have a co-op game in mind for this "perfect game".... Perhaps consider a card drafting game. They aren't "multi-player solitaire" as they actually reward you for choosing cards to mess up your opponent's strategies. I love Among the Stars, but most people seem to prefer 7 Wonders and/or 7 Wonders Duel.

I'm sure there are much more qualified gamers on the forum, ready to give you much better suggestions, but those are my two cents
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maf man
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A worthy quest, one I am also on so I hope what I have seen can aid you.

Amerigo - a hit for my wife and I and I think may be for you too. It plays in five rounds of seven turns each (each round you do one action). There are a lot of actions you can do but the way it gives you only one at a time I think will help you not lock up in too many choices. Its a very clever random action choice generator. You toss cubes into a tower and some get stuck and what comes out are the actions you can choose from and the amount of points you can use. And there's your pile of cubes that your girlfriend will like. You also have your player board, the central board, a map, and property tokens. It really looks nice and functions well. With so many pieces to it it's still easy to set up thanks to the box organization, nothing complex. The rules area easy to understand and so is playing. Your trying to get the best score, developing better than the other player, racing them to better spots, scoreing better locations, blocking them from building their patches they want to. Some games go more friendly than others but with 2 players its usually more up to you rather than the game.

for an alternate recommendation I'd actually mention a game that I have yet to see an action but was recommended to me when I asked around.
Claustrophobia. check out some reviews it may be a good pick.

And best of luck on finding a winner!
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Brendan Lapsley
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Have you looked at Star Realms?

It's a 2 player, direct-confrontation deck builder.

It covers your "Must Haves" pretty well.

For your "nice to haves", it's got a clear end, easy setup and (the base game) comes in just a small deck box.
The game is just cards and something to track health, but it does spread out a bit. It can be a bit mean, considering the goal is to reduce your opponent to 0.

It's also fairly cheap, so it's not a huge deal if it's not a big hit.
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Michael
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The quest for the perfect game appears to be seductively accomplishable, yet ever slightly our of reach. Games that have come close for my wife and I are Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (though it needs expansions, and Yomi (second edition).

Legendary offers endless scenarios within a simple ruleset. I like the variety, and it is consistent enough that my wife likes it too. There is s bit of set up, though it's still reasonably quick.

Yomi is an amazing, competitive game, the play is simultaneous so there's really no down time. The only set up is pulling decks out of boxes, so super convenient.

Other games tend to be more of a hit with one of us compared to the other. My wife loves Dungeon Petz, I like it, but it's longer than I'd like and I stress a bit playing it. I love Puzzle Strike, but my wife just doesn't care for it. We both like Tash Kalar, it just hasn't seen tons of play for us. My wife really likes Ascension and Star Realms, but I get a little bored with them.

If your GF like dominion, Puzzle Strike might be a good option for you two, it has way more player interaction than dominion which is why I think you might like it. (though the game has about the same amount of setup.)

Both liking Twilight Struggle, are war games an option? Richard Borg's Memoir '44, or Commands and Colors are awesome, have near endless scenarios for fun variety, but pretty basic ruleset. My wife categorically does;t like war-games, or historical settings.
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Harv Veerman
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You might want to check out Raptor.
I think it meets your criteria.
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Carel Teijgeler
Netherlands
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Perhaps Wir sind das Volk!?
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WD Yoga
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I'd suggest the current favourite in our home: Mechs vs. Minions.

- It plays well for 2-4 players.
- It has fast and engaging gameplay, around 60-90 minutes for each mission.
- It is a coop, so no "take that" interactions but full of table talk/coordinating efforts among players.
- It has great game components! 5 pre painted mechs, 100 minion minis, coins, cards, boards, dice...
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Mitch Willis
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Kathleen
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Pax Porfiriana
Tak (estimated to be released within the next couple of months)
Patchwork
Thunder & Lightning
Splendor
13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis
Imperial Struggle (won't be released till next year; same designers as Twilight Struggle...supposed to be similar but simpler and covers the tension between England and France in the 17th & 18th centuries)
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Scott Allen
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I'll throw an odd one out for your consideration: Shipwrights of the North Sea. Just make sure you play with the free PnP Shipwrights of the North Sea: The Townsfolk Expansion (it's not really an expansion, it's a fix).

Plays as well with 2 as it does 3 or 4 or 5.

Goal is to collect the needed material and craftsmen to build 4 viking ships. Game ends after someone builds their 4th ship, but winner is the player with most victory points.

A little meanness in that you can play an assassin card to kill off one of your opponent's craftsmen.

A nice amount of "bits": meeples, brown wood, white wool, grey iron.



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Jacob Vincent
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Wow! I wasn't expecting such a response so quickly.

I'll briefly go over what has been said so far.

Lords of Waterdeep - I've heard lots of good things about this so many times. I don't know why I've never looked in to it. You've convinced me to go check it out. The fact that it ends after 8 round is more a negative than a positive, but maybe I didn't explain myself clearly. That said, it's not a show stopper so I will check it out.


Mentat1231 considering we own those games already I'd say your suggestions were pretty good!

Pandemic - my girlfriend already owns this. Neither of us are a big fan of co-op so it doesn't hit the table much. I couldn't imagine not owning it and not having it as an occasional though. As for Legacy, I've looked at it but so far kept me away given how infrequently we play Pandemic.

7 Wonders Duel - was a Christmas present from me to her last year. We've had a lot of fun playing it.


Among the Stars - Never heard of it, will check it out.

Amerigo - I've always scrolled past without checking it out. So I'll endeavour to find out about it since you've described it so well.

Claustraphobia - my hunch is that my girlfriend will not like the theme. That being said, a quick read of the description makes me think it could be worth a punt.

Star Realms and Legendary - I'm reluctant because they are described as a deck builders (see Dominion in OP) but for now I'm not going to put anything off the table until I've looked into it further. A Marvel theme will definitely go down well with both of us.

Yomi - first look reminded me of Jab but not real time. She hates the real time in Jab so it's worth looking into.

Puzzle Strike - I barely understood the description of this game, which simultaneously intrigued me and put me off. Not a fan of the artwork.

Memoir 44 - she has played (maybe even owned) and disliked it. I think war games in general will be a hard sell.

Raptor - this caught my eye when I clicked on it, I think it could work. Great suggestion.

Wir Sind Das Volk - good suggestion. I looked into this a while back during a maths trade. It's already on a long list

Thanks so far everyone. I wonder how many reviews I can get through while at work tomorrow ...

(edited to add some links)
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Jacob Vincent
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And even more while I typed and clicked on all those games! You guys are amazing. Loads that I've never even heard of before.
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Quantum Jack
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The Ares Project

Primarily 2-player.
Heavy interaction.
Quick back and forth turns (no AP).
Quite mean (direct conflict).
Lots of bits.
Small, appropriately sized box.
Lots of replayability and many plays to get the subleties.

Simulates a computer RTS game (starcraft) with all the decisions of expensive units vs cheap units, upgrades, etc.
Contains 4 unique factions (one is a giant robot). Each matchup plays differently.

A great game for 2 dedicated repeat players. (wish I had a dedicated repeat opponent myself)
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+1 for Pax Porfiriana

Plays well with 2
Loads of interaction - it can be nasty, but is offset by the fact that usually you will receive some benefit for being "hit" to the extent that it's often a good play to "hit" yourself
Turns are quick and because of the interaction you are always involved
AP wise, because it is a bit chaotic, you can't plan too far ahead
Replayability is big, you only use less than half the cards in a 2 player game so each game is quite different
It ends when it ends, mostly, you remove the dictator to win, if nobody does it comes down to the end of the deck and it's who is richest
Quick Setup - just a deck creation
Good box - the original which is out of print is tiny, the deluxe edition is beautiful and still relatively small
Lots of bits - okay, only cubes and counters, so it doesn't quite hit this one. The cards are also not pretty (I like them but I'm probably in the minority).
A bit of meanness - as above with the interaction.

The only thing is it can be a beast of a thing to learn. It's actually not that difficult once you get it, but the rulebook is not easy. There's fortunately a couple of really good tutorials out there. I made sure I had it down pat and played a bit solo/two handed, and actually succeeded in teaching it to my better half in about 20 minutes in the end with no issues and she quite enjoyed it.
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Michael Coniff
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Star Wars: Rebellion Hits all of your must haves and most of your nice to haves. About the only thing it doesn't have on your nice to have list is a quick setup.




hyamz wrote:


Must have
* Plays well with 2 - This might seem obvious but it's really the top point since it's how I play 99% of my games. Preferably it plays well out of the box and doesn't require a variant to make it work. I prefer that there are minimal rule adjustments to scale up from, or down to, 2. We don't solo so that makes no difference.


Plays best with 2. Can be played by up to 4, and its not hard to scale. 3 or 4 player game feels like a competitive co-op game with teams.


hyamz wrote:

* Interaction - as I already said, I hate multiplayer solitaire. Interaction doesn't have to be direct, I like Race for the Galaxy and a lot of the interaction is leeching off your opponents engine. Interaction could be nasty, but maybe not too nasty as my girlfriend isn't a big fan of that.


Interaction is the whole point of the game.

hyamz wrote:

* Low downtime - if my opponent does so many actions between my turns that I zone out and don't pay attention to what they are doing it's really bad.


Cards are "activated" alternating between players. Since every little thing your opponent does can affect you, I never felt I was plagued by down time even when the opponent was doing a lot of things.

hyamz wrote:

* Not AP inducing - I totally suffer from AP. I try to control it. But the more a game pushes you to perfect efficiency the worse it gets.


This is determined by which side you play. You may be more prone to AP if you are playing as the rebels.

hyamz wrote:

* Replayability - I want a game that takes a few plays to understand, more to get good at, and even more to master. Preferably with different set ups, unbalanced starting positions, or randomness to give it a longer life.


This game speaks for itself in this category.

hyamz wrote:

Nice to have
* It ends when it ends - let me explain this, because it is a bit weird. I like games less that end after a set number of turns. I like when there is an obvious winning condition or when you can see your opponent building towards ending the game.


Being a thematic game, you KNOW when it's game over and you've either lost or won. Rebels, you must complete enough objectives to catch the turn marker. Imperials, you must find the rebel base and destroy it.

hyamz wrote:

* Quick set up - the longer a game takes to set up the better it has to be to impress me afterwards. It doesn't matter how good it is, I won't get it off the shelf if I spend an age setting up or packing away compared to playing the game.


This is the only one that it does not meet. It is not a quick setup, but fortunately the setup is not near as long as the game, and eventually, once you get everything sorted out and know what you are doing, it's not a terribly long and tedious setup.

hyamz wrote:

* Good box - this is totally superficial but I get enraged when I unbox a game and realise it could have been a quarter of the size. Similarly, if it's a good box then I'm already feeling positive about playing the game.


It's a fantasy flight game, so the insert may annoy you, but I've seen some really clever foamcore inserts for this game that utilize all the space.

hyamz wrote:

* Lots of bits - my girlfriend just adores the sight of 1000s of cubes ready to go.


Check.

hyamz wrote:

* A bit of meanness - I covered this above, but I like to be able to hurt my opponent a little. But it won't go down well if being nasty if mandatory!


Play as Imperials and you are good to go!
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Sarah
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Hiya

Me and my mum like games like this and also thinking about getting raptor and these are ones we enjoy;


Seeland
At the Gates of Loyang
The Battle at Kemble's Cascade
Theseus: The Dark Orbit
Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
Mission: Red Planet (second edition)

We are also getting Olympos and I really want Spyrium but maybe not suitable for my mum but good interaction

In my own personal opinion, I cannot stand lords of waterdeep, I found interaction and fun/theme completely lacking - we are going to get Yedo though which seems like a much better version.

Two simpler games we just love for the meaness are The Downfall of Pompeii and Survive: Escape from Atlantis! - both these go down well with friends also.

I find watching the play through videos like rahdo's run throughs the best way to tell if I'm going to like a game
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Milki Kaplanski
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hyamz wrote:
Star Realms and Legendary - I'm reluctant because they are described as a deck builders (see Dominion in OP) but for now I'm not going to put anything off the table until I've looked into it further. A Marvel theme will definitely go down well with both of us.


Other than lots of core Dominion, I've only played one of the expansions once and it felt too random and limited in strategies to me as well. The difference for me with the Realms and Legendary games the simple addition of card-combos. Both game series feature different factions/classes and playing cards of the same faction usually triggers additional effects on them. I also prefer that you have a random selection in the market to buy cards from and that there is a lot more variation in each game since you don't play with just 10 different cards.

You could check out the Star Realms App on your phone or via Steam, the solo play is for free, so you could get a feel for the game and see if you enjoy this type of deck building.

Playing as a couple we pretty much enjoy both of those game series while Dominion was too boring & random for us.
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Rob Steward
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Lots of bits/quick setup seems like a tall order, as does replayability/no AP.

That being said, I can recommend: Antiquity

* Plays well with 2 - Yes, yes, yes.
* Interaction - Yes, yes, yes.
* Low downtime - Depends...
* Not AP inducing - Heh, also depends. This is a deep game.
* Replayability - Yes, yes, yes.
* It ends when it ends - This game, more than any other, embodies this. Yes++.
* Quick set up - Take down is an ordeal. This one is NO--.
* Good box - Box is HUGE, but there's a TON of stuff in it. Draw.
* Lots of bits - Great googly-moogly, yes.
* A bit of meanness - Well, if dumping your pollution in your opponent's prime farming, fishing or mining areas counts as meanness, then YES!
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Dan
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Subscribe to Mina's Fresh Cardboard. She plays heaps of new games every week and gives detailed reviews with pictures and her feelings on them. She plays almost exclusively 2 player.

I always look forward to reading through her blog, as it gives very good reviews of the good and bad points of every game.

https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/4118/minas-fresh-cardboard

Also, +1 Mechs vs. Minions
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Gab Pal
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The best games ingeniously blend Euro and Ameritrash styles
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Check out Concordia
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chris thatcher
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Keyflower ?
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Jacob Vincent
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Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. An even bigger thanks to those who have taken the time to explain in depth why a game would be a good fit. That is a great starting point when I'm looking at these games.

I've split the recommendations so far into a few categories (hopefully those make sense) with comments about each one. If you think I've been too rash making my mind up then by all means try to convince me.

Thanks to djn1981 for the blog recommendation.

I'm not stopping my search yet so if anyone still has ideas please add them. I will be coming back with comments if I buy or play any of these games, or if I make my mind up on the last remaining few.


Still Trying to Make my Mind Up
Lords of Waterdeep
Shipwrights of the North Sea
Seeland


Recommendations I'm Looking at Positively
Yomi - This looks intense. Definitely seems like it will get better over multiple plays. Gamble is whether girlfriend will enjoy it enough to get the strategy, but for the price it's probably worth that gamble. Is 2nd edition so much better than 1st?
Raptor - asymmetric, different theme, seems good value for money.
Pax Porfiriana - it looks like there is so much going on in a small box. Might take a lot of plays to learn, but it's drawn me in. It pretty much only appears to be available in a bigger "collectors edition" with a board for Pax Pamir, is it worth getting that too?
Thunder and Lightning - I can't find as much info as I'd like about this, but given that it is essentially Hera and Zeus, which has been on my radar for a while I will keep it earmarked for now. I'd be interested to know anyone's thought on this vs Hera and Zeus - is this newer and better or should I just pick up whichever is available if I'm in the mood?
Star Wars: Rebellion - appealing theme, don't own a pure combat game apart from Risk so would fit in.
Battle of Kemble's Cascade - was not expecting this when I clicked on it! Not sure whether my girlfriend would like it, but I'm nostalgic for these video games.
Downfall of Pompeii - it definitely won't be our "perfect" game, but it looks like it could be fun and fill a space.
Concordia - my main thought is how did this fly under my radar. Looks like a good mix, and not too long. Maybe a little low on the interaction front and I can't find much info on whether it's lacking with 2. So if anyone has experience with that I'd love to hear.


Recommendations I'm Parking for Now
Amerigo - I'm yet to play a Feld I enjoyed and from what I've read it doesn't feel like it will be different.
Claustrophobia - I try not to double up on similar games, and it's currently losing to Star Wars: Rebellion, but otherwise looked interesting.
Star Realms - of the deck builders this one the one that looked the best but the (admittedly small) amount of things I've read didn't win me over. I might still pick up the app to try it out.
Legendary: Marvel - combination of deck builder and co-op is putting me off.
Puzzle Strike - not sold on the artwork and it's getting beaten out by Star Realms/Yomi.
Mechs vs Minions - co-op wasn't a great start, but I'm more turned off by the missions. Once we've beaten each mission we'd probably never take it off the shelf again.
13 Days - looks like a very stripped down Twilight Struggle.
Ares Project - I'm unconvinced my girlfriend will go for it and Yomi is similar enough.
Theseus - from reading reviews I'm torn between this looks interesting like a moving puzzle I'll never quite solve and I don't understand how this could ever be fun. I'm intrigued, but I don't think my girlfriend will go for it.
Mission: Red Planet - from what I'm reading, the 2 player rules variant are not up to it.
Survive: Escape from Atlantis - similar to Pompeii above and this appears to be better with more than 2 players.


Recommendations I Have Looked at Before This Thread
Patchwork - girlfriend almost bought this so it's in the back of my mind already, but more as a filler than a main meal.
Splendor - I've got the Android app and I'm not impressed enough to buy the real thing.
Gates of Loyang - it's been on a long list for a long time, I'd get it if price and availability weren't against me. I've tried to get it in Maths trades before.
Isle of Skye - I already have Carcassonne and from what I've read this isn't so good with 2. I like the theme.
Spyrium - I've been 50-50 on this for a while. Basically I'm trying to pick it up on the cheap or to get a discount on a bigger order.
Antiquity - I'd love to try this. Buying it scares me because I'm worried it's too complex and it could be an expensive bust.
Keyflower - I've almost pulled the trigger on this a few times but it has always been beaten out by something else.
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Johannes Wentu
Italy
Parma
Unspecified
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7 Wonders Duel: perfect!
Antike Duellum: almost perfect. I love it so much but it could have some AP near the end (let's say the last 20 of the 90 minutes it can last)
 
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Jacob Vincent
United Kingdom
Welwyn Garden City
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7 Wonders Duel has been discussed and we already own it and like it.

I looked at Antike Duellum for quite a while before opting for Polis. The main thing putting me off was that I read getting the last victory point to win can be a grind because you both know how tight it is. Given how badly Polis went down with my girlfriend and how little she liked the theme I will not be buying Antike Duellum for the foreseeable future.
 
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