Quick, tense, and fun - more like these?
Matthew Dickinson
United States
Cherry Hill
New Jersey
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Been playing these games recently since they are short enough to fit my schedule, involve enough decision-making to reward some thought, and involve reading the opponent as much as reading the game situation. Angst, along with a healthy peppering of "Gotcha" and "Oh, sh..oot!" moments, are good things. Two-player (or 2P capable) only games need apply.

Any suggestions from the group of others I might enjoy?
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1. Board Game: Star Wars: Episode 1 – Clash of the Lightsabers [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:3401]
Matthew Dickinson
United States
Cherry Hill
New Jersey
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This one is a lot of fun, despite the Episode One trappings. Perhaps a smidge too luck-driven. Seemingly inspired by...
 
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2. Board Game: En Garde [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1873]
Matthew Dickinson
United States
Cherry Hill
New Jersey
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This is the game that inspired the list. Cobbled together a set from some dominoes (for the piste), some stones, and the 1-5 cards from a Phase 10 deck. Best use I ever got out of that game! En Garde has a perfect balance of the qualities I'm looking for in other games.
 
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3. Board Game: Hera and Zeus [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1410]
Matthew Dickinson
United States
Cherry Hill
New Jersey
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Playtime can be a bit longer here, otherwise very representative of what I seek.
 
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4. Board Game: Battleship Card Game [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:10178]
True Blue Jon
United States
Vancouver
Washington
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I picked this up cheap at a KayBee toy store and it definitely fits here. Good quick fun with some strategic choices reminiscent of Hera & Zeus.
 
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5. Board Game: Battleball [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:2197]
True Blue Jon
United States
Vancouver
Washington
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Another one found cheap at Kaybee, lots of fun with some simple strategy which is all about the dice. Some guys roll a d20 so they can move really fast but tackles are won by the lowest number so the guys who roll a d6 have the advantage there.
 
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6. Board Game: Cartagena [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:845]
True Blue Jon
United States
Vancouver
Washington
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This one can be played with more than 2 but with 2, I like playing with face-up cards for more strategy.
 
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7. Board Game: Light Speed [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2327]
True Blue Jon
United States
Vancouver
Washington
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This is played in real-time and the scoring takes more time than the game but there's neat decisions to be made here.
 
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8. Board Game: Tally Ho! [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:2480]
Marc B.
United States
Palm Bay
Florida
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I have really come to enjoy this one. There is definately some luck involved because the start up is so random. But the fun comes in trying to get yourself outta jams caused by initial placement and also try to get your opponent jammed in.
 
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9. Board Game: Wildlife Safari [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1299]
True Blue Jon
United States
Vancouver
Washington
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This is a very quick game of strategy and bluffing for 2-4 players by Reiner Knizia.
 
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10. Board Game: Coda [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:2886]
True Blue Jon
United States
Vancouver
Washington
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A really cool and quick deduction game for 2-4 players.
 
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11. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:621]
True Blue Jon
United States
Vancouver
Washington
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A quick and tense dice game for 2-4 players by Sid Sackson.
 
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12. Board Game: Shazamm! [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3653]
Cédric Junillon
France
Lausanne (Switzerland) or Lyon (France)
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Your description perfectly matches this one, look no further!
The simultaneaous decision making leaves some surprises but believe me in the long run, it's always the better player who wins it!
 
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13. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:204]
Sue Hemberger

Washington
Dist of Columbia
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Gobblet and Pente are two other possibilities -- both are "in a row" kinds of games. Hive is more chess-like (different pieces with different capabilities, capture (surround) the queen).
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14. Board Game: Rough Justice [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:11883]
Sue Hemberger

Washington
Dist of Columbia
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A cheap (even with transatlantic postage) and very portable stacking game which is fun because you can play the other person's pieces as well as your own.
 
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15. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:75]
John Carlton
United States
Shawnee
Kansas
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If you like dexterity games at all, this one has "quick, tense and fun" well covered.
 
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16. Board Game: High Society [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:860]
John Carlton
United States
Shawnee
Kansas
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This one packs a heck of a lot of gameplay into about 20 minutes.
 
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17. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:414]
John Carlton
United States
Shawnee
Kansas
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My favorite 2-player game for the exact three reasons as the title of this list.
 
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18. Board Game: Kung Fu Fighting [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:3403]
Tom Idleman
United States
Unspecified
Unspecified
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I play this with my son all the time. Fun, plenty of opportunity for reversals of fortune, some strategy, much entertaining violence, and over in a half an hour or less.
 
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19. Board Game: Richelieu [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1962]
Dan Rosewater
Switzerland
Zürich
Switzerland
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I think this game also fits in this list.
BGG says it needs 45mins per game but I always need no more than 20mins. So it is quick and fun. Tense depends on the skills of your opponent :-)
 
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20. Board Game: Blokus 3D [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:882] [Average Rating:6.81 Unranked]
Lyman Hurd
United States
Cupertino
California
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This is fun, plays quickly and is one of the simplest games to explain I know of.
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21. Board Game: StreetSoccer [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1685]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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This one is quick and tense. It is a bit luck-dependent (dice), but you can position your players strategically to mitigate the luck. The game has the feel of a real soccer game (for me a bonus).
 
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22. Board Game: Brawl [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2446]
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1) short enough to fit my schedule - check, plays in 1 minute, but you'll want to play over and over again until the adernaline gets to you

2) involve enough decision-making to reward some thought - check, you play this haphazardly, you will lose every time

3) involve reading the opponent as much as reading the game situation - check, you unquestionably have to keep track of what your opponent is doing

4) Angst, along with a healthy peppering of "Gotcha" and "Oh, sh..oot!" moments, are good things - check, as much as you can in the seconds that seem like hours in the middle of a game

5) Two-player (or 2P capable) only games need apply - check, best as a 2P game, but has two good multiplayer variants
 
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23. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
Fraser
Australia
Melbourne
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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Ooh a little higher, now a bit to the left, a little more, a little more, just a bit more. Oooh yes, that's the spot!
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I was very suprised to work my way through the list and not find Lost Cities.

It's 2 player, it's quick (about 20 minutes) and tense. Probably the most tense two player game I have found. The agony of choosing a card to play...
 
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24. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:179]
J
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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This one is pretty tense, and at least for me, cause more anxiety than Lost Cities in choosing a card. I rarely play more than one tactics card, but they can add even more tension to the game.
 
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25. Board Game: Naval Battles [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:4503]
Dan Rosewater
Switzerland
Zürich
Switzerland
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For all those who think this list isn't long enough:
Naval Battles is playable in 30mins.
It's battlemechanism reminds me a little of Magic the Gathering. Even though you can play it between 2-4 players, a 2 player game is recommended (quicker and less luck, therefore more tense).
 
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