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Subject: Nudge the Wife rss

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Ryken C

Illinois
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I need a game that will nudge my wife into a little bit heavier gaming. So far, she has enjoyed Dominion, Jaipur, and Pandemic, tolerates Catan and Hive, and refuses to play 7 wonders after one play-through.

I'm looking for something that has a little more strategy, but is not too overwhelming or symbol heavy (she's weary of symbols after 7 wonders). We just moved and don't know too many people, so strong 2 player play is a must. Also, we both like theme heavy games (we may or may not use horror film voices when playing the torturer in dominion).

Any recommendations?
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Samo Gosaric
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heavier can mean many things
- deep: simple rules, but lots of time mastering the strategy if you have that time and willingness to compete in the long battle of brain VS brain
- complicated: thematic games that might be difficult to learn, but are simple to play, sometimes it's not even a problem if you miss some rules (especially in cooperative game). There can be conflict or no (lots of dungeoncrawlers, cooperative ameritrash)
- deep and complicated:
--- euros: brain burn extraordinaire. Well usually less deep than the first group. With so many different components that make that VP engine there's bound to be a superior strategy somewhere. Usually low conflict and interaction.
--- wargames: more complicated than complex. High conflict and interaction.

tons of recommedations here:
Metalist for 2 Player Games Geeklists (68 lists!)
to give you some general idea what kind of atmosphere you'd want in a game (geeklist items no. 4-10)
How to get your girlfriend into boardgames? [guide for 2 player gaming with your SO]

once you can pinpoint the general feel of the game you're after, it will be easier for us to recommend stuff:
- rules: simple / medium / complex
- gameplay: thinky / thematic / relaxing (the point is playing, not winning)
- gameplay: high conflict / blocking / double think and bluff / low - interaction / cooperation game
- theme: a lot and as geeky as it gets / historical / non offensive
- theme: narrative / decoration (nice looking bits)
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Kevin
United Kingdom
Colchester
Essex
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Not heavy at all, my wife enjoys:

Finca
Stone Age and now
Trajan.
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Steve Haywood
United Kingdom
Lancaster
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Stone Age +1

Thebes

San Juan - A good card game, not very symbols heavy as I recall (unlike the similar but better game Race for the Galaxy, which is full of symbols)

Ticket to Ride - always a good one to play with your other half in my experience.

Agricola - we like this with two players, there aren't may symbols and cards all explain their use. It satisfies the 'heavier game' condition too.

 
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Uncle Potato
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I would second Agricola. My wife and I play two player fairly often. She enjoys building her farm and she's actually very good at the game...well, as good as she needs to be to beat me handily every game, but that may not be saying much. cry

This and 1960 were my wife's introduction to games where a strategy can be built around the cards you are dealt. She's really enjoyed both of them. There's also an option to play without the cards, but honestly the game is pretty straightforward once you have the rules and flow down.
 
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David
Switzerland
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I second San Juan. It's cheap, un-intimidating and interesting. Although not necessarily heavier than Dominion it might be a good stepping stone towards Puerto Rico/RftG or other games with a similar role selection mechanic.

Agricola has a pretty bad rulebook. The gameplay however is very accessible. I've played it solo, with 2 and 3 players and found it interesting each time. Another bonus for the game is that it has multiple variations to increase complexity. You can start her off on the family variant and then build on that.

One of the few other heavier games I know well enough would be El Grande. According to the BBG ratings it's heavier than Dominion and SJ but I don't think it would be too heavy. Unfortunately I have no idea how well it plays with only 2 players.
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Jeffrey L.
United States
Western Burbs of Beantown
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Mondo
 
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David Mauro
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Hamilton
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Agricola did it for my wife, she never touched a board game and I started with Carcassonne.

I will say it was a chore to learn. The rules seem dense if you aren't used to such games...looking back we could learn it rather easily now.

However, once she got rolling and figured it out it was a great gateway.

If that seems to complex, Alhambra came before Agricola for us and is still one of her favorites. I think it appeals to woman for some reason...I'm not sure why lol
 
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Jonathan Tullsen
United States
Tigard
Oregon
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The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet.
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How about Kingdom Builder?
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Ryken C

Illinois
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This is a good point (first reply about different meanings of "heavy"). I guess I am looking for something that is a step between a brain burn euro and games like Dominion/Pandemic. I like games where I have to think of a long term strategy and implement it, and she like games that have fun mechanics. I forgot to mention Alhambra, which we own and are so-so on because it just feels kind of random.

How hard is learning the family rules for Agricola? I think the game looks like a ton of fun, and I think the theme might work for her, but I looked at the rule book and it seemed like she would balk at it. Truth be told, Agricola is more or less the goal I would like to achieve (ie, I want a game now that will provide a bridge to Agricola being fun for us in the future). My biggest hesitation is that she won't develop strategies and I'll win every game due to the unforgiving nature of the game. I win 70% of our Dominion games, and I'll have to sandbag every now and again because my engine will really start to pound her.

Would you guys advise just pulling the trigger on it now and play the family rules?
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Mindy G
United States
Portland
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Last Night on Earth - full of theme (zombies!) and lots of fun. Multiple scenarios and characters so it's different every time.
 
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Adam H
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rtc84 wrote:
This is a good point (first reply about different meanings of "heavy"). I guess I am looking for something that is a step between a brain burn euro and games like Dominion/Pandemic. I like games where I have to think of a long term strategy and implement it, and she like games that have fun mechanics. I forgot to mention Alhambra, which we own and are so-so on because it just feels kind of random.

How hard is learning the family rules for Agricola? I think the game looks like a ton of fun, and I think the theme might work for her, but I looked at the rule book and it seemed like she would balk at it. Truth be told, Agricola is more or less the goal I would like to achieve (ie, I want a game now that will provide a bridge to Agricola being fun for us in the future). My biggest hesitation is that she won't develop strategies and I'll win every game due to the unforgiving nature of the game. I win 70% of our Dominion games, and I'll have to sandbag every now and again because my engine will really start to pound her.

Would you guys advise just pulling the trigger on it now and play the family rules?

A good thing about Agricola is that it can be played solo. So you can play through it first to learn the game. Then when you teach it to your wife it will probably go a lot smoother. The family game is pretty simple to learn and teach. I think the game is pretty intuitive. For example, the idea that you need to collect wood this round to build fences later. The two of you should be able to graduate to the full game in no time. The strategy will come later though.
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Kevin Garnica
United States
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I vote for Summoner Wars. Light dice-rolling for combat means even she can come out the winner...

Or maybe something like Campaign Manager, where a light CDG might be just the ticket...

Or, maybe she would enjoy Metropolys; it has a unique "bidding" mechanism with very light secret objectives.

There's also plenty of card games that might work for her, such as Coloretto, Haggis or Jambo...

I also "+1" Finca & Stone Age.
 
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Kevin Shillinglaw
Canada
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+1 for Metropolys.

Now, for something completely different - I present Tales of the Arabian Nights. This is my wife's favourite game. I'll admit, it's not very heavy and can be random, but it's a storytelling game and it excels at it! Every time we play we get so involved in the game that we totally forget about winning.

Good luck!
 
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David
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Military Muskrat wrote:
How about Kingdom Builder?

While certainly a nice game, it's not something I would call heavy...

rtc84 wrote:
How hard is learning the family rules for Agricola? I think the game looks like a ton of fun, and I think the theme might work for her, but I looked at the rule book and it seemed like she would balk at it. Truth be told, Agricola is more or less the goal I would like to achieve (ie, I want a game now that will provide a bridge to Agricola being fun for us in the future). My biggest hesitation is that she won't develop strategies and I'll win every game due to the unforgiving nature of the game. I win 70% of our Dominion games, and I'll have to sandbag every now and again because my engine will really start to pound her.

Would you guys advise just pulling the trigger on it now and play the family rules?
If it's what you're aiming at anyway, I'd say yes.

The family version is not very difficult. The biggest hurdle is for someone to figure out the rules so he can explain it in a more streamlines way. You should definitely give it a solo play first and then set some time aside to prepare everything before you two play it the first time together. The game has a lot of components that need to be sorted and set up as well as a lot of cards that need to be separated and filtered for the correct player count. After that it really comes down to:
* Build a farm, as big as possible
* Try to have at least a couple of everything
* Remember to feed your farmer family at the end of year
* Each person in your family = one action
* Rest is on the cards (which you can explain when they are revealed)

Like 7 Wonders it can all feel a bit intimidating at first but unlike 7 Wonders everything is a lot more intuitive once you start doing it. Also to family variant is almost completely non-random and totally symmetrical. Even if she doesn't like it you're still left with one of the best solo games I've ever played.

I found the two player family variant to be pretty forgiving too. Unless the other player is deliberately sabotaging you it's almost impossible to starve your family.
 
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Samo Gosaric
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rtc84 wrote:
I like games where I have to think of a long term strategy and implement it, and she like games that have fun mechanics. I forgot to mention Alhambra, which we own and are so-so on because it just feels kind of random.

Low luck and fun? I never use them in the same sentence. So middle/heavy euros for two?

1. Puerto Rico with cards.
As these are cardgames, there is luck inherent in the game. The logic is that these games are not so much about implementing the best strategy overall, but the best strategy you can with the cards you've been given (first job is setting up drawing engine to get more cards).

Race for the Galaxy is the one I would recommend. Different strategies possible, low interaction, steep learning curve (harder to learn than to play).
Glory to Rome - similar weight, more chaos
San Juan - the lightest and most euroey

2. Dominion for grown ups:
A Few Acres of Snow
2 player war-themed game with some deck building elements.

3. Card driven games (CDG - wargames subgenre) - Cards mean luck, but also mean dealing with situation at hand and there tend to be some thematic events on the cards.
1960: The Making of the President - a lighter euro take on Twilight Struggle (heavier, 3 hour euro/wargame) - 1.5 hour game on elections. You can also check TS.Basically area control games.

4. cooperation game: Ghost Stories
said to be the toughest collective puzzle game

5. Uwe's harvest trilogy. For couples this one is often recommended over Agricola:At the Gates of Loyang

-- heavier 2 player euros ---
obviously Agricola
Goa (to be reprinted this year)
Troyes
even heavier
Caylus
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization

That's it, unless you go into ameritrash and conflict games.
Neuroshima Hex, Summoner Wars, Claustrophobia, arkham horror and many more
 
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Uncle Potato
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FoggyPlanet wrote:
A good thing about Agricola is that it can be played solo. So you can play through it first to learn the game. Then when you teach it to your wife it will probably go a lot smoother.


This is the way to do it. Despite the rulebook having a bad reputation, once you play through once or twice, you'll have it down. Yes, the game is complex, but it's also quite simple , which I think is why people like it.
 
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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sgosaric wrote:
Race for the Galaxy is the one I would recommend. Different strategies possible, low interaction, steep learning curve (harder to learn than to play).


An excellent suggestion but his wife doesn't want something symbol/icon heavy. Race is all about the icons so his wife probably won't like it.

But it is a great game (actually my favourite).
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Saint Paul
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sgosaric wrote:
[q="rtc84"]
1. Puerto Rico with cards.
As these are cardgames, there is luck inherent in the game. The logic is that these games are not so much about implementing the best strategy overall, but the best strategy you can with the cards you've been given (first job is setting up drawing engine to get more cards).

Race for the Galaxy is the one I would recommend. Different strategies possible, low interaction, steep learning curve (harder to learn than to play).
Glory to Rome - similar weight, more chaos
San Juan - the lightest and most euroey



If she's scared of too many symbols avoid Race for the Galaxy for now. The iconography is very nice and straight forward but it is prevelent on every single card and there are few duplicates.

San Juan is a great primer for Race though. I bought it for the sole purpose of teaching my wife Race for the Galaxy and now she really likes it!

If you want something that feels similar to Puerto Rico, but with cards and in space, check out Eminent Domain. There are some symbols but they are really easy to understand since there are only 6 of them and they all correlate directly to a main card of some type.

Another good game that is fun and on the lighter side is Biblios.
 
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Jason Hall
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Somerville
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Gonna +1 Agricola.

Wife loved it very much early on when we started getting into modern board games. The farming theme was easy to get into for her.
 
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David Boeren
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The family version of Agricola is pretty easy to learn. As others said - learn it yourself before teaching but that goes for ALL games in my opinion.

One odd thing about Agricola is that it doesn't seem like you need to explain scoring on the first play at all. Basically, anything you add to your farm is worth points and I've been able to just say (to beginning/casual gamers) "the one with the most awesome farm wins" and leave it at that. Then at the end of the game we see the exact scoring formula.

My wife seems to like the game OK with the Family version, but I ran into a snag introducing the cards. I started with the Easy deck, figuring this was the natural place to go for the second step.

1. She feels that the cards are "complicated". We've only played once with cards so far though.

2. She says if we're going to use them she'd rather "learn them all at once" rather than only seeing seven and not knowing what else is out there. I'm at a bit of a loss with this one. I guess we can go through the deck and review them easily enough, but which deck(s)? Just E? EIK all together? Could be a long night, and I doubt she'll want to spend that much time.

The potential drawback is that it's a game of constant pressure and shortage and not everyone likes that. All game long you're going to feel like you can barely get anything done due to needing to feed your family and other people taking the actions you need, everything is in short supply (or taken by the other players) and at the end you all have pretty miserable farms and it's not the most awesome one that wins, but the least awful one. Even if you do a good job, the game will end exactly at the point that your farm starts looking decent.

Or you could just play that "Nudge the Wife" game you were talking about, I've got to look into getting a copy of that one sometime
 
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M. S.
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+1 Agricola

BUT
do a solo playthrough first.
Its hard to get after just reading the rulebook, but after one game its realy no problem.

Edit: And of course you should play the family variant.
 
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Kevin Conway
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Boonville
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My wife's favorite game, by far, is Twilight Struggle.

Yes, I was surprised too.

And yes, I certainly know that I am blessed.
 
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Sophie Morgan
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Fresco and Oregon are what come to mind for me.

Both are pretty solid on the theme front and are thinky, but not ridiculously so. Even though Fresco uses a dummy player if you play 2P, I think it works well and doesn't jam up the works.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Florence
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I'd recommend introducing Stone Age before Agricola. Some people find Agricola overwhelming at first. Stone Age is a great game (as is Agricola), but a little more straightforward and the competition tends to be less cutthroat than it gets in Agricola.

If she has a problem with symbols avoid Race for the Galaxy like the plague! It can take experienced gamers a few plays to get used to the iconography. Certainly if it was a problem in 7 wonders it will be 10 times the problem in RftG.
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