A Couple of Gamers: a follow-up geeklist
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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In September 2005, I created a Geeklist entitled "My reintroduction to Board Games through BoardGameGeek, or how a newcomer became a geek."

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...

That list is the story of how my wife and I were introducted to boardgames as a hobby. A friend of ours, naive to modern boardgames, has been staying with us. Mark played a few games with us and wondered how we got into boardgames, where I had purchased the games, and so on. Like all of my friends, he's unfortunately not a gamer. Yet, I'd like him and others to understand our interest in the hobby, and I think that's my motivation for designing this geeklist.

This list is the story of our experience since September 2005. I included the number of plays for games described, though these were only recorded starting in September 2005.
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1. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:292] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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The first set of games I ordered from Thoughthammer was in late February 2005. The order included Sleuth, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Mystery of the Abbey, and Betrayal at House on the Hill. I knew that I'd primarily be playing these games with my wife, but I thought we'd occasionally have a third or fourth player. As such, I didn't pay attention to how many players were required for the games to play best

After finding BGG.com, I read reviews, checked ratings, and chose games that I thought we'd most enjoy. Sadly, we've only played Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne (2 and 3 plays respectively). Settlers is more than playable with 2 using one of the many 2-player variants around, and Carcassonne is playable right out of the box.

I now have Sleuth and Mystery of the Abbey for trade here on BGG not because they're bad games, but rather because these games really need three players. The problem is that if we have three or more players, we're more likely to play more involved games (i.e., of "higher weight").

Betrayal at House on the Hill was simply broken and fiddly, and was quickly disposed of via Ebay.
 
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2. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:131] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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The second set of games I ordered from Thoughthammer was in April 2005. By then, I had found a number of geeklists dedicated to gaming as a couple or two-players exclusively. Most helpful was Jon Aquino's 75 GeekLists About Number Of Players:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...

This order included Ticket to Ride, Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper, Lost Cities, Odin's Ravens, Puerto Rico, Lord of the Rings, and Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation.

Ticket to Ride is a bona fide classic; we've played it 7 times since September 2005. Lost Cities, Odin's Ravens, and Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper are great quick games (2, 7, and 4 plays respectively since September 2005).

Puerto Rico was too fiddly and seemingly too sophiciated for us when we tried it. In fact, it's totally out of place in the first two orders. I felt pushed to try it based on the positive geeklists and reviews in addition to it's then number one ranking. We're probably ready for it now, but it quickly made it's way to Ebay and there's so much more to play anyway.

The Lord of the Rings games were overrated in our views and didn't last long at all. It's hard to say why that was the case though.



 
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3. Board Game: Jambo [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:513] [Average Rating:7.04 Unranked]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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By September 2005, we were ready for something new. This time, I didn't want to take any chances with my order. So I decided to spring for the $6.00 shipping fee Thoughthammer was charging back then, and just pick up games that met the following criteria:
a. definite two player games
b. gameplay weight less than 2.40 (I figured on this as my wife didn't like anything that was more than 2.4).
c. highly regarded by the couples/2-player geeklists by consensus
d. Spiel des Jahres winners and contenders preferred.

So I ordered Alhambra (yeah, I know it needs a dummy player, but it works really well!), Jambo, Battle Line, and Bohnanza (yes, I know it really isn't the same game with two).

All but Battle Line were hits; I like Battle Line, and I like playing it with some of my friends, but my wife simply doesn't enjoy that game.

Of the bunch, Jambo is definitely underrated.

Alhambra: 6 plays
Jambo: 5 plays
Battle Line: 10 plays
Bohnanza: 11 plays

 
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4. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:838]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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After spending much of September playing lighter eurogames for two, I needed to return to my roots. That is, games for boys. Sci fi themed games of world domination usually are my favorite (e.g., the 4X games on the PC like Master of Orion). I closest my wife could get to those games was Cosmic Encounter. I really wanted the Mayfair edition with all the powers and aliens, but it was much more practical to play the game online and buy the Avalon Hill version from Amazon. I played online for about a month (having paid the fee for that time period), and really enjoyed the game. Unfortunately, the tabletop version really isn't very good for two players at all (there aren't two automated aliens to join with you). I can't imagine ever finding a third or fourth to play this given all the other more approachable games that I have. So, despite my misgivings, I'm listing this for trade on BGG.
 
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5. Board Game: Hansa [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:732]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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In early October, I made a third Thoughthammer order in parallel with ordering Cosmic Encounter. I did quite a bit of research to come up with the games for this order. I wanted our gaming to move to the next "weight" level, so I thought I'd ramp up the difficulty with games that were similar to the games she liked most (Ticket to Ride, Lost Cities, Jambo, Alhambra, and Bohnanza).

The first game of this order that we played was Hansa. Hansa was recommended by some of the two-player/couples geeklists, and I thought it looked like fun. We found the game to be very underrated game; it's mechanics are tight and it's interesting to play. Hansa plays fast and we think it's great with two players. It's really more sophisticated than it would first appear, but you don't need to tell anyone that's the case.
 
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6. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:137]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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The second game of the order we played was Ra. I ordered this just as the new Uberplay version was released, so my timing was great. We generally played the two player variant, which we find works really well. My wife is fascinated by Ancient Egypt, so the theme helped out here. Plus, the game is absolutely amazing. This is one of the games we'll play with friends (in lieu of Cosmic Encounter or Mystery of the Abbey). A real winner.
 
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7. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:246] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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The third game in the order was Arkham Horror. I'm interested in H.P. Lovecraft's stories, and I've read most of the stories he had written. I also read through the Call of Cthulhu role playing game books, which I found fascinating. So I was really interested in this remake of a classic boardgame. We played it twice, and it was really fun. However, it's not really the kind of game that we could play over and over. For us, once we whacked out Great Cthulhu, I didn't want to do it again. So I have just traded this for Memoir '44 on BGG.
 
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8. Board Game: Attika [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:591]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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Attika was the fourth game in the order, and the last we played in 2005. It seemed like a mix of Ticket to Ride and Alhambra. Yet, my wife found it very confrontational. It's a little more chaotic with more than two players, but we acutally enjoyed it more with three. So Christine doesn't want to play this as a couple, but for us it's fine with more than two, despite everything I've read on BGG.
 
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9. Board Game: Domaine [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:674]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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The October Thoughthammer order also included Domaine and Maharaja. I also placed an order through National Games Week and got a great bargain on China and Nexus Ops. All of these games were really tilted toward my interests; I figured that playing Odin's Ravens, Lost Cities, or Bohnanza was really a sacrafice for Christine. She was able to hang out with me during time I would have otherwise used to play videogames or golf, so we both got someone out of it. These games would push her limits, but bring me closer to hard core gaming.

For various reasons, we took a hiatus from boardgames, between November and June. After Christine passed her board exam, we settled back into regular gaming. We settle back into it by playing her favorite games in June. By July 4th, I thought we might break the seal on some of the games from the last Thoughthammer order.

Domaine was first. I almost traded this away, thinking it would be too confrontational for us. However, the positive comments on Justin Lang's "Couples Games - Our experiences with 2-player games" geeklist (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/8691) led me to reconsider and break the seal on the game.

We're really happy we did, as Domaine is absolutely one of our favorite games. Christine persistently wins (2/2 in 2 player), and only lost when we added Mark. Domaine has solid mechanics, and the elegance of fighting without fighting is really a thing of beauty. Definitely underrated, especially for two players.
 
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10. Board Game: China [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:658]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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We tried China next, though only with the two of us. I picked China as we loved Michael Schacht's Hansa, and this was based on his very popular Web of Power. The first game was played without the "duel" ruleset, and we just alternated controlling a dummy player. It worked out okay. For the second game, we used the official two-player ruleset, and the game seemed totally bizzare. I don't think it plays well with two at all. I posted a question on the game's forum regarding how to properly play the two-player variant (it's gone unanswered thus far), but it's going to be hard to hold onto this given the availablity of more suitable area majority games for two such as...
 
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11. Board Game: Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:530]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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Maharaja. I almost traded this away as well based upon the high weight rating on BGG. However, I had done my research on this one. Shannon Applecline's review on rpg.net really closed the deal for me. After the first game (which Christine won), we both realized we reached a new level of sophisication. This game is wonderfully designed and very different than our other games. We both love the game, and we think it really plays well with two.
 
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12. Board Game: Nexus Ops [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:353]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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The floodgates had been opened. I figured that I could try just about anything now, and my wife, previously a non-gamer, would be up for it. Really, it's an expression of love (for me!). So Nexus Ops was next. Not only did she get it (it's really much easier than Domaine or Maharaja), but she enjoyed it (despite fighting day-glo aliens) and she absolutely crushed me. I think this will be a winner for us after all!
 
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13. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.55 Unranked]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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After two consective nights of learning new games, Memoir '44 arrived in the mail today. She looked at the game components sheepishly, but eventually gave it a shot. We just finished playing the first scenario, and it was a blast. It's really all that it's cracked up to be, and best of all, it really only plays two players.
 
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14. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:333]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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So now that we're back into boardgames, and have tried all the games that we own, I was faced with two options:
a. Master the collection of games that we own (about 22 eurogames).
b. Buy another set of games from Thoughthammer and save eight bucks on shipping and save 35% off retail.

Well, option a sounded really nice. Option b proved much harder to resist. For the price of two Xbox 360 games that might not be very good, I ordered SIX boardgames. I did my usual research on BGG and rpg.net (thanks to Shannon, who really does some wonderful reviewing!) and came up with:

Citadels, a new printing which hopefully will have better cards and components than prior versions. I picked this because it's supposedly good with two (or it really sucks with two according to some people, we'll see I guess), and I think the role selection will be fun for us.
 
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15. Board Game: Entdecker: Exploring New Horizons [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1680]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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Entdecker: Exploring New Horizons. Having played and loved 2/3 of the original Klaus Teuber trilogy (Settlers of Catan, Domaine/Lowenherz, and Entdecker), I just had to give this a try. It supposedly works with two, and I'm just hoping that it's underrated.
 
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16. Board Game: The Ark of the Covenant [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1202]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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Ark of the Covenant. Well, we like Carcassonne, but Christine hates the farmers. Supposedly this is the most polished Carcassonne-type game, so I'm giving it a try.
 
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17. Board Game: Oltre Mare [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1260]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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Oltre Mare. It's supposed to be Bohnanza on steroids that works for two, so it makes sense for us to try.
 
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18. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:351]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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Thurn und Taxis. It's like Ticket to Ride with role selection. And it's a candidate for the Spiel des Jahres. Supposedly works with two players. Sold!
 
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19. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:239]
Scott Hirsch
United States
White Plains
New York
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St. Petersburg. Well, I was about eighteen bucks short of free shipping. It was either St. Petersburg or San Juan. Shannon on rpg.net thought these two were similar to Citadels, but the two player geeklists seemed to favor St. Petersburg and San Juan. I really wanted Citadels, so I chose St. Petersburg because it retailed for two dollars more and gave me free shipping. Hasta luego San Juan! I don't know if this will really work for us, but it was recommended at the end of my last geeklist, so we'll see.
 
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