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Subject: A Fantastic Two Player Game rss

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Chris Leder
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A good two-player-only game is hard to find. Of course they do exist, but often, the strategy, depth, and fun is slightly curbed to bring the game to a place where it can adequately work for two. That’s why Four Tribes is such a wonderful design. It is a game specifically designed for two players that includes all the best parts of a deep strategy game, without needed a crowd to play.

The story of the game slight, but does enough to provide a theme without getting in the way. The players represent warring factions who need to convince a bunch of village elders from the four tribes to join their cause, in order to tip the scale in their favor. How do you convince them? Bribery, of course! During the game, players will be laying down all manner of goodies at the feet of the village elders to sway them. And if that doesn’t work? Unleash a Dragon to sabotage the other player’s efforts! What fun!

The gameplay is quick, but each turn brings meaningful decisions about which of the six available villages you want to choose, and what kind of card you wish to add. You begin the game with a handful of cards, and each turn, you simply play one of your cards to one of the six villages. Usually you must play cards on your side of a village, but some cards let you be a sneaky snook and play on the opponent's said, thus taking up one of their slots. After playing a card, you draw a new one to replace it. A village is only scored once both players have laid down the requisite number of cards. That means that racing to influence a village might not be the best option, because the other player can see what you played, then play better cards to beat it. The trick of the game is to spread out your provisions, and shrewdly unleash your offensive cards at the right time to earn the village. The game ends when you get three elders of the same color to join your cause, or one from each of the colors. It’s really very elegant, and a ton of fun.

Who is the audience for this game? Well, I’ve played the game with kids, teenagers, adults, my spouse, and older folks, and in every case, the game was a resounding success. It is high praise indeed to say that this is an amazing game to play with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. It plays pretty quickly, though analysis paralysis can set in if you play against someone who makes mighty slow tactical decisions. I would safely say that the average game (in my experience) is less than 40 minutes, though.

Four Tribes is a perfect example of a two-player game done right, with an incredible amount of decision-making packed into each turn, but with a light enough theme and intuitive gameplay that leaves players satisfied and looking to play again. I cannot recommend this game highly enough. Do yourself a favor: Grab Four Tribes and a fellow player, and start bribing those village elders right away!
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John O'Haver
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Quote:
A good two-player-only game is hard to find.


As a wargamer of 40 decades, your opening sentence made me smile. I've played scores of great two player-only games. That said, your opening sentence aso made me read the rest of your post. Might be a good game for me and my non-wargamer friend.

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Chris Leder
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Glad the opening hooked you into reading! I suppose I wasn't thinking of the wargaming contingent when I wrote it!

As a primarily two-player gamer, I've tried out a boatload of non-heavy games designed for a duo, and while many of them are indeed excellent, a lot of them are missing the special sauce that keeps them fun but maintains a good layer of decision making (and doesn't make the players hate each other after the game ends!).

I like Four Tribes because I can play it with a wide range of audiences, and it usually elicits the reaction and garners the replayability that I search for!

Cheers!

P.S. 40 decades of wargaming is quite the feat indeed! Congrats!!
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sunday silence
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How does the game play? Is it like rummy? poker? a deck building game? What? I have no idea from this review; all I know is it has something to do with cards. The dragons and villages is obviously some sort of theme, but what kind of thinking is involved? memory? trick taking??

EDIT: well after reading the rules, it seems similar to Battle Line. Is that comparison fair? What would make one person prefer this to Battle line?
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Chris Leder
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I haven't played Battle Lines, or Balloon Cup, or Lost Cities, or any of the other games I've heard mentioned along the same lines as Four Tribes.

I will say that Four Tribes is a fast-playing game, that it is extremely easy to learn and to teach, but that it has a ton of great tactical decisions.

An entire turn is "play a card, draw a card." Within those parameters, you have choices to make, such as:

- Do I spread out my provision cards between villages or focus on one (which would clue my opponent into how to proceed)?

- Do I play an "attack" card (such as a Dragon) early, or wait to reeeeeally ruin the other player's day at the last second?

- When do I choose to play a Sanctuary, which blocks my opponent from playing cards on my side?

- If an opponent has played a Sanctuary, do I basically forfeit the village it is attached to in order to get rid of it? (or do I get lucky and play a catapult to knock it out?)

The fact that each player has is own deck means that you have exactly the same cards, and odds of drawing them, but when will they show up, and will they be there when I need them?

I think that Four Tribes fills a very important and largely ignored niche: 2-player games that are easily learned and allow spouses and friends to play together in a small amount of time.

I have never played a game quite like it (though I know it has similarities to some titles I have not tried), and I think it is simply incredible. As I type this, I want to immediately run over to my wife and play another game of it!
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John O'Haver
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Yeah, but during the first 30 decades there weren't any war games. We just really went to war.




In typing my first post I remembered laughing at an entertainment article I read online awhile back about Tina Turner and her 50 decades in show business. and I go and do the same thing, vacillate between using years or decades and screw up.
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Patrick C.
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Quote:
I haven't played Battle Lines, or Balloon Cup, or Lost Cities, or any of the other games I've heard mentioned along the same lines as Four Tribes.


I appreciate the time you took to write this review. I was investigating this game after hearing about from a KS update from the designer regarding Tasnia getting ready to ship.

That said, this statement sort of destroys for me trusting your argument that this is a truly great 2p game. Battle Line is a pretty darn good 2p game and, even if one doesn't like it, it needs to be played at least a few times as part of understanding 2p games in general. If there was a 2p board game canon Battle Line would be one of the games in the list. Before I can back this game I'd need to know how it's different, similar, better or worse compared to Battle Line (or Balloon Cup or Lost Cities).
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I too liked Manta's follow up comments. Its important for a review to at least explain what sort of strategic or tactical choices the players have and so get an idea of how the game "feels" to play it. A lot of reviewers dont like to recite the rules to a game, but you at least have to tell people how the game feels.

And I agree there are quite a few other two player games that have something similar going on. Dynasties; Pecking Order, COndottiere (not two player but similar card play/area control), Iliad, etc. People will like these if the game has something interesting to offer in this genre.

EDIT: Revolver is a two player game with an outlaw theme; but in that one there are 5 battles they are contesting and also one of the cards lets you replace one of your opponents, something similar to what is going on here. So there's another one.
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Chris Leder
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travvller wrote:
That said, this statement sort of destroys for me trusting your argument that this is a truly great 2p game.


Because I haven't played certain other games, my opinion on this game working well for 2 players can't be trusted? That seems a bit harsh.
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Jezus Christ! Here is the opening lines of your review:

MantaScorp wrote:
A good two-player-only game is hard to find. Of course they do exist, but often, the strategy, depth, and fun is slightly curbed to bring the game to a place where it can adequately work for two. That’s why Four Tribes is such a wonderful design.



You hold yourself out as having some sort of experience with these sorts of games, then it turns out you havent played any of the several games that invite direct comparisons. Then your whole review is filled with gushing supeerlatives, that dont reflect any details of the game play. It's like you dont even treat your audience with any respect..
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Gustavo Vazquez
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People are getting a bit harsh here. Chris, I'm with you, your opinion is as good as any anyone else's. I also can't see why Battle Line "needs to be played at least a few times as part of understanding 2p games in general", even tough it's a very good game - in fact, I don't believe in ideas like "if you haven't played X, your opinion is faulty". This is preposterous and arrogant. Last but not least, Battle Line, Baloon Cup and Lost City are just three games, not "several games" as used in "it turns out you havent played any of the several games that invite direct comparisons".

Anyway, Four Tribes is a lot more similar to Battle Line and Baloon Cup than to Lost Cities.
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Dynasties, Pecking Order and revolver were other two player games that were mentioned. Maybe similar or not, hence the term several seems appropriate as we're not quite sure how many but its more than a couple.
 
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