$30.00
Recommend a Multiplayer Game that also Works for Two
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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My wife (S.) and I had been enjoying Agricola, but recently we lent it to some friends. In its place, we bought Le Havre but S. can't sit through a game of it - she's claimed popping bubble-wrap is more entertaining. We've moved on from Carcassonne and have enjoyed a number of two-player games of Steam, but want something that plays a little faster. But what?

S. doesn't like games with open agression or where one side takes all. Risk is the classic example. My nabbing sheep and cooking them in Agricola after she builds fences is about as openly aggressive as she can take.

I prefer games rich in historical themes and I don't like abstracts (unless the theme is well woven in). And randomness should be kept to a minimum. I actually like Le Havre.

We both enjoy Puerto Rico, Imperial and Princes of Florence. And Louis XIV. But none of these make great two player games - and we have tried some of the 2-player variants but they just aren't as fun as playing these with four or more.

So if there are any recommendations for a great two-player game that plays in about an hour but also scales up for more than two-players and that we might like given our likes/dislikes, please post them here.

Thanks!
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1. Board Game: Cuba [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:368]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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You situation sounds very similar to mine. I love Agricola, can take or leave Le Havre. We don't play aggressively or confrontationally unless it's a super short, light game (Doubles Wild, where we roll for the contested spot, and it's all luck anyway).

Cuba has beautiful artwork, great wooden bits, and individual player boards. You get your resources off your board, and the other person can't affect it. If you don't have water, it's because you blocked it or chose to take something else this round. It plays with 2 without a variant, and has an expansion newly out. Everyone has the same role cards to play every hand, the only thing that matters is the order you choose to play them, and all the buildings are out and available right from the start. The game changes by the order of the Acts in Parliament and the ships coming into harbor, but you can see those ahead and plan.

Pillars of the Earth would be another option. Great artwork, and an expansion available. Like your comment about Agricola, the main conflict would be if someone took the spot you wanted.

Candamir: The First Settlers is a Settlers game for two, but it's different than the others. You walk around, exploring and gathering items, then build things with those items. Minimal conflict with the other players. You can choose which direction you want to walk, and choose whether to try to fight the bear, or to succeed in a challenge. You build items (chest, swords) for VPs. As you build something, the next item to make changes, which makes it interesting. First one to place all their VP cubes wins.

Catan Card Game - I was really hesitant about this one, because I kept reading about all the conflict, but the great thing is that you can easily avoid cards you don't want to play (or even take them out of the deck). The base game is $16, the box of expansions is $16, and the new Artisans expansion is out (for $4.80). Might be a bit on the long side, but dollar for dollar, is an excellent value.

Phoenicia is one of the few auction/bidding games that works with two (Goa and Before the Wind being two others). I followed the recommendations and ignored the rulebook and learned it from the rules available here, and had a fine time. Again, minimal conflict - you can each try a strategy, and see who gets there first (my favorite kind of game). Found it on sale for $24 recently, so a good price.

Hope this helps. Take a look at my collection for more ideas, if you want, as I have such similar tastes to your wife.
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2. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:186]
Mystery McMysteryface
United States
Florida
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We recently tried this--I know, I know--it's super ugly, but WOW!! This is a fabulous game. It is very simple and easy to learn and play, but very engaging, strategic, and FUN!!!

One of our absolute favorites is Louis XIV. Having only played it 2-player, we really enjoy it!! I'm glad you like it too!

An overlooked gem, in my opinion, is Freight Train. Very simple, elegant, strategic, and with 3 "days" that find you slightly changing tactics each "day".

All these are multiplayer and have official 2-player rules included which are seamless and non-intrusive.

A lighter option would be Hey, That's My Fish!. It is also an abstract.

Good luck and let us know what you decide and how it goes.

Mrs. Mystery Bob
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3. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:178]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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This game plays great with 2 players, as well as all numbers up to 5. There is only limited interaction in this game, each player plays worker to their own boards, and this of course also limits negative interaction. It has a historical theme and plays in around an hour with two players. I like it a lot actually.
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4. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:239]
Keith Gray
Scotland
Dunfermline
Fife
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We Like this a lot as a 2 player. Looking forward to the expansion too...
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5. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:91]
Glenn Ironhat
United States
Syracuse
Utah
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Two to Four players that scales very well.
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6. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:199]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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It sounds like San Juan would be a great fit for you and your wife, and it's relatively easy to teach to others. Shenomad and I are up to almost 100 plays in under 2 years.

There's a spectacular geeklist on this topic that I recommend:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/19346
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7. Board Game: Mykerinos [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:705]
John Earles
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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If you enjoyed Louis XIV but didn't enjoy the 2-player variant try Mykerinos. Each player does get some neutral cubes to play, but their use is quite tactical.
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8. Board Game: Elasund: The First City [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:1048]
John Earles
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Indigopotter recommended Candamir: The First Settlers, but I would recommend Elasund: The First City. The game will probably last a bit longer than your desired 1 hour time, but they game scales wonderfully from 2 - 4. The board is scaled in size to keep the battle for prime real estate tight. My wife and I have had some epic battles back and forth.

Edit: Rereading your intro the conflict in Elasund might be a concern. The game is definately aggressive as you can build over your oppenent's buildings and use their building permits. My wife does not have a problem with this at all, but their have been session reports where partners haven't been so receptive to this type of interaction.
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9. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:62]
Stacy
United States
Wisconsin
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My husband and I love playing Pandemic on our own or in a group. You can scale the difficulty level by changing the number of epidemics, so as you get better at the game, the game gets tougher.

I like it because of the cooperative element. I'm not fond of games in which you have to be overly aggressive either, so Pandemic is right up my alley!
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10. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:45]
suPUR DUEper
United States
Villa Hills
Kentucky
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Somebody stole my first choice (Goa) so I will go with this....
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11. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:17]
Stephen Shaw
United States
Cleveland
Choose a State
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Plays 2-4, best with 2 or 3. You and your SO clearly like heavy games with lots of theme, and this one has both strategic possibility and flavor in spades!
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12. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:55] [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
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My wife and I have played a lot of this. It is a faster game that what you're looking for, but it's easy to play for a few hands. There is very little downtime. There is player interaction, but no direct take-that warfare.
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13. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:128]
Not really Ryan Leaf
United States
Texas
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yes, it's ugly, but the gameplay is superb. Check out ender's amazing review on this game. you know the game's gotta be excellent when its so ugly but still rated so highly.


my wife likes it quite a bit.
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14. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:40]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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After doing some more research on BBG on the games recommended above and some others, I'm wondering about Caylus. It sounds like a good two player but maybe a bit ruthless...? Yes/no?
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15. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:282]
Phil Sauer
United States
Willow Street
Pennsylvania
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This list wouldn't be complete without this gem... works very well for two, and it's inexpensive to boot. Well worth having in the collection, not only for two, but for up to seven. Enjoy!
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16. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:14]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Just a little follow up. We got Agricola back last weekend so the hunt to find a new game is not as much of a priority as it was a few weeks ago - which is probably a good thing because all my BGG research has given me is a bunch of 3+ player games that I'm interested in and very few 2+ games.
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17. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:40]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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A bit of a cop out, but I went with Caylus, the premium version, because I got suckered by the medieval artwork and metal coins. blush

That said, it still hasn't hit the table so I have no opinion as to whether it will fit the bill as a worthy successor/alternate for Agricola.

Thank you all for your recommendations. And who knows, in a month or two when I get the bug for a new game (or two), one might end up on the order form.
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18. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:72]
Brian Sinclair
United States
Grand Rapids
Michigan
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Stone age works very well for 2 players. I've played several games of this and it is for 2-4 players.
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19. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:209]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Should anyone stumble on this list in the future, my wife and I have added At the Gates of Loyang to our collection and it's exactly what we had in mind when we wanted a game that plays great for two (or more).
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20. Board Game: Vasco da Gama [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:392]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Here's another game in our collection that works well as a two-player game but scales up to four. Only played it once with two at this point, but it works. And compared to At the Gates of Loyang, it plays relatively fast (under an hour and a half and probably closer to an hour once we play it a few more times).

Update: after playing it as a four-player game, I have some difficulty playing two-players again. It was so much tighter and timing became so much more important with four (and therefore had so much more tension) that it kind of pales to go back to only playing with two.
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21. Board Game: Thunderstone [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:476] [Average Rating:7.01 Unranked]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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And now for something completely different....

In our (okay, my) quest to find something that the two of us can play and that scales up for more, we (okay, I) decided to try something different. We'd been moving away from board games with cubes and tokens towards more card-heavy games: At the Gates of Loyang to Jambo to Glory to Rome. So what about one of those deck-building games?

I was never a fan of Magic: The Gathering. My miniature wargaming buddies in the '90s all started to play it, and though I envied the guy that came up with the idea of a collectable card game, I wasn't going to wreck my university budget by getting into it. Nor, two decades later, did I get into the whole Dominion thing. The idea was interesting enough, but the couple times I played on BSW just didn't excite me. As a friend of mine had the same "m'eh" experience live, I didn't pursue Dominion any further.

Then I came across Ascension: Deckbuilding Game on BGG. Sounded interesting, yet simple enough that my wife would pick it up easy. And it sounded like it worked well with two (or three). It even had a little "Jamboese" in it because you could play some contraptions like "utilities" in Jambo. Finally, I actually like the thematic artwork and the fact that it was uniform in style - among other things I never liked the mixing of styles and artists in Magic. But then I read about production issues (bad cards, missing cards) and though the company has been very good about sending replacements, I didn't want to be bothered.

And that gets me to Thunderstone. Initially I had dismissed it as another "Dominion" but then I read a bit more about it. The theme was okay, the artwork though more traditional "fantasy" than Ascension: Deckbuilding Game was all done by the same artist. I liked the separation of the village (to buy things) and the dungeon (to gain experience) and that though it was a "dungeon crawl" theme, there were no buckets of dice. In fact, there are no dice at all. I bought it from the local games shop - unfortunately, I didn't realize until I got it home that it was the first edition. Oh, well, if I ever start collecting the expansions, maybe I'll get the second edition and give the first to my nephew who is really big into Magic.

Anyway, after three games with my wife, it's got a pass from the both of us. There could be a little more interaction between players - at this point, it's just discard one card if the other player takes a 2nd or 3rd level thief into the dungeon. Not a real stab-in-the-back kind of move.

I'm sure our decks get too bloated with low level cards - but we'd rather buy a new weapon and level up than "waste" a turn resting. It's not a high tension game - we don't count each other's victory points as they go into our decks so neither of us have a good idea of who is winning and how close it is. In fact, the game is quite cooperative as we help each other optimize our hands...although now if you declare you are going to the dungeon, you aren't allowed to change your mind when you discover that you miscounted your attack or light factors.

All in all, this game works for us as a two player game and I can see it working with a third player as well.
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22. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:201] [Average Rating:7.35 Unranked]
United States
Unspecified
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I'm going to throw this out just because - its playtime is WAY over an hour, but it is one of the BEST thematic games out there and everyone plays together to take on a common foe. Works with two players, heck, works with 8 players

If you have never given Arkham Horror a shot, you've gotta try it out!
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23. Board Game: Glen More [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:227]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Picked up Glen More a couple weeks ago after hearing positive things about it here on the Geek. Except for one three-player game of it, it's been strictly a two-player game between my wife and I. It's a good two-player game, but I wouldn't call it great. While there's some brain-burning in tile selection and placement, it's not really nail-biting decision making. But as a game to spend an hour playing with my wife after a long day at work, it does the job.
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24. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:63]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Troyes is another one that I'm enjoying as a two-player game. In fact, I prefer it to Glen More as there is a bit more to it in terms of depth and interaction. Although it's not quite as heavy or long as Caylus or Le Havre, Troyes pushes the same buttons for me. What's more, my wife enjoys it (unlike Caylus and Le Havre).
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25. Board Game: Vinhos [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:244]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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After four plays, I'm finding this quite enjoyable as a two-player game. Mind you, once I play it with three or four, it may turn out to be like Vasco da Gama; having tasted it with four, I won't be able to go back to two.

Update: after one three-player game, I'm still more than willing to play it as a two-player.
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