Matt G
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Or anything else to round things out.

Background: About a year ago, my wife and I bought Dominion. We love it. But that also started an itch to see what else is out there. We mostly play 2-player, but now have a regular session with another couple (who also love Dominion.)

The games we own:
Dominion (and several expansions) Always love.

Carcassonne: Fun, but not always our first choice

Agricola: Our newest purchase. I love it. And this is about the weight I’m looking for.

Lord of the Rings LCG: I bought this for solo play. I like it, but don’t like the money-sink it wants to be. I also don’t particularly care for licensed properties and would rather play something original. The game is good enough to get me over that hurdle, though.

I’ve also always loved traditional card games like Spades, Hearts, and Rummy. And I just like holding a hand of cards.

Game we bought but traded away:
Pandemic: Too puzzle-y for our taste. Plus, I think we like competing against each other.



What we’re looking for:
Something that works well with two players but is also fun with four.
Something different from what we have. (I love Agricola, but I don’t want another worker-placement or Uwe Rosenberg game right now.)
Something with some complexity.
Something more Euro-y than with a heavy theme. (I like H.P. Lovecraft, but have no interest in one of those Cthulu games.)

I’ve come up with Castles of Burgundy or Race for the Galaxy just by going through BGG’s top strategy game list and passing on games that either require at least 3 players or seem too similar to what we already have. (There are a lot of worker-placement and/or Rosenbergs on that list.)

I don’t quite get what Castles of Burgundy is. I know you roll some dice, you grab some tiles, you build things with the titles, then at the end you count up your points. Race for the Galaxy looks fun, and I like the idea of cards being both things you play and the currency you spend to play those cards. But is it too light and luck-driven?

Or is there something else that might be good? Skip Castles of Burgundy and go straight to Trajan? Do I already have enough cards between Dominion and LOTR? Try something with more dice? Anything?

Thanks for any and all suggestions.
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Andy E
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I haven't played either Castles of Burgundy or Race for the Galaxy, but here are some other games to consider which seem to fit the criteria you're looking for:

1) Eminent Domain. This is a deck-builder, like Dominion, but it's a bit heavier than Dominion and more strategically complex.

2) Smash Up. This is definitely good with 2 or 4 players, and it's more complex than the silly-ness of the theme might suggest.

3) Kingsburg. Technically this has a worker placement mechanic, but it's very different from Agricola, and it sounds like it's about the right weight.

4) Puerto Rico. This is an amazing game, but is at the bottom of my recommendations because I think the 2 player version is not nearly as good as 3 or 4. That said, this is an amazing game, and I'm always happy to play it even with only 2 players.
 
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Dustin Taylor
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I think Castles would be great. I might also suggest Village or Puerto Rico, but as the above poster pointed out, PR isn't AS great with 2, but still fun.

Something really different might be Seasons. It's a great two player game and quite unlike anything you have now. The card combos you can pull off are a lot of fun.
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Marvin Ramirez
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I think race for the galaxy is a bit to much for what your looking for. The learning curve is a bit steep. The great thing about it is once you understand it, it becomes an amazing 2 player game and goes very quick. Some games can be as short as 15 mins.
 
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Jacob Ossar
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It sounds to me like Race for the Galaxy would be perfect for you guys. The two-player game is deep and fun, but it also works great with (three or) four. And if you like holding a hand of cards and managing a hand, this ought to be right up your alley.

It can take a few games of RftG to get your head around how it works, but once you get the hang of it it's pretty quick-playing, especially with two. That said, I don't think it's "too light and luck-driven". The strategy is pretty deep even though the gameplay is quick. You can play literally hundreds or thousands of times and keep coming back for more. RftG is a card game, so there's definitely luck involved, but without skill and strategy luck won't get you very far.
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Sam Hillier
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I haven't played Castles of Burgundy, but I have recently gotten into Race quite seriously. I can STRONGLY recommend Race for the Galaxy. My wife has just taken to the game, and I was able to get most everyone else in my group interested in it as well. We've all been very impressed by the game.

It's quick to play, simple, but deep. There are a lot of cards and they provide some very interesting interactions. You can't really have a strategy - you have to do the best you can with what shows up. No two games will end up the same.

We've played it with 2, 3, and 4, and have been happy with all counts. There's also an "advanced" 2 player game, but we haven't played that.

Race also has a number of expansions that will greatly enhance replayability.

The symbols are hard to learn, yes. Once you get it, though, they make sense. After a few plays you'll be very familiar with how things go. It's steep, but it's worth it.
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David Janik-Jones
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Castles of Burgundy is brilliant with two ... perhaps it's best mode, in fact. Any number makes CoB fun. brilliant design.

I didn't care for RftG, though I've played it several times. Seemed sort of ordinary.
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+1 Castles of Burgundy

My wife and myself have been playing this a lot since we got it a month or so ago. It's kinda variable worker placement, governed by dice that you can modify with a few different game mechanics. I have not played a game like it. Our scores are always very close so it does have a skill factor (that comes with understanding the tiles) in my opinion with a random factor that the dice add.

We love it.

Watch this for a great overview: http://boardgamegeek.com/video/26574/the-castles-of-burgundy...
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Quote:
I don’t quite get what Castles of Burgundy is. I know you roll some dice, you grab some tiles, you build things with the titles, then at the end you count up your points.


While this is what you do, I would say the point of CoB is chaining, making cool combos, and finessing the timing. You can save/double up on actions by placing a tile that lets you do something else (castles are especially powerful). Maybe I place a castle, which fills in an area of 1 (bonus points), maybe even finishes all of my dark green areas (bonus points). It allows me to place my 4-pig tile that gives me points for all of my pigs in that pasture, and finishes an area (bonus points) and, if I'm even luckier, bonus points for finishing all of my light green areas.

Those moves don't happen every turn, of course, but it's the fun of it, being clever in how and when you build your player board. If that doesn't sound like fun, you probably won't like CoB.

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Christopher Yaure
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You've made two great choices. Castles of Burgundy and Race for the Galaxy are the two games my wife and I have played the most this year.

Compare and contrast:
RftG - cards, quicker set up and take down, ~30 minutes/game for 2-player; CoB - dice, longer to set up and take down, >1 hour/game for 2-player.

Both games have multiple paths to victory and both require flexibility as the cards or dice may make you change your plans. Both games work well with 2, 3 or 4 players. Neither game is 2-player solitaire: in RftG both players choose 1 (2 each in 2-player) actions that each player will perform, with the person who chose the action getting a bonus. Trying to guess what action(s) your opponent(s) will choose and selecting actions that will least benefit your opponent(s) are very important. In CoB, both players are selecting from the same set of tiles. Blocking your opponent from tiles he/she needs is as important as getting tiles you need.

Both games are largely tactical but with some strategy. In CoB you have 4 choices with each of your two dice - select a tile from the pools, place a tile on your board, get workers that allow you to adjust die values or ship goods to get money and VPs. Almost every turn you will either have to choose between two or more good choices or choose the lesser of two poor choices. Many tiles give you other benefits, so finding good combos is important.

Finding good combos is even more important in RftG. As you noted, you use cards both to play and to pay for the card you are playing. A played card typically will be worth both VPs and provide you a benefit in play. Finding cards that have complementary benefits and/or score well together is important. I also like the theme - the names of the cards (e.g., Plague World) make sense in terms of what the card does.

Summary: two great games, both with plenty of opportunity for good tactics and some strategic play. Given your stated enjoyment of holding cards, I suggest RftG, but you would not go wrong with CoB.
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Matt Gustafson
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Race for the Galaxy
 
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Michael F
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Either game is a great option. Ask yourself this though: Do you want a game that's easy to learn, but takes awhile to master? Then you want Castles of Burgundy. Do you want a game that can be difficult to learn, but is quick to play and offers enough variety to not get stale for a long time (Not to mention adds a solo mode with an expansion)? Then Race for the Galaxy is your best bet.

Based on what you like, I think you would like Race for the Galaxy a bit more. It feels a little too luck-based at first, but after a few games you'll be able to get a grip on how to use what cards you draw. Just make sure you're okay with learning the iconography. I know for some gamers and/or spouses that it just doesn't click at all.

Honestly though you should try and get both games since they're both fairly cheap. I think they're two of the best Euros out there.

As another recommendation, I think Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar would be right up your alley. It has a lot of the qualities I like in Castles of Burgundy and Agricola.
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Erik R.
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Matt,

As others have said, Race for the Galaxy is an excellent card game, and meets a lot of your criteria. I'll also second that the game is not about luck, as you still need to have a very good idea of what you're doing in order to succeed.

It's got a lot of replayability, both in how quick the games are, and how different one game might be to the next. This also means that you don't necessarily need to bother with expansions, as even the base game will give you a lot to play with.

However, it does have a steep learning curve, and you have to determine if the people you play games with are willing to learn the game.


Alternative:

Tournay - This might be your option in between Race for the Galaxy and Castles of Burgundy. It's a card-driven city-building game, very Euro, but with a lot of player interaction. It works splendidly with 2 and is also fun with 4, and mixes in some light worker placement without being onerous about it.



 
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Matt G
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indigopotter wrote:


Those moves don't happen every turn, of course, but it's the fun of it, being clever in how and when you build your player board. If that doesn't sound like fun, you probably won't like CoB.



That actually sounds exactly like fun.
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Nate Edwards
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Put me in the either/or category--both are great for different reasons.
I also like the Suburbia recommendation.
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Kasper Lauest
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Seems like you like the same style of games that I do. If that is the case then I would recommend Castles Of Burgundy over Race For The Galaxy. I love the former and found the latter OK, but ultimately not all that interesting. I do believe though, that if you play Race a lot with the same gaming partner, it will get much better.

So I'd get Castles Of Burgundy if I were you. That, Dominion and Agricola are three of my favourite games. My number one favourite game is Android: Netrunner, but while I think that YOU will probably love that, you really need for your wife to love it too, which is probably a long shot.

Also, get some more Dominion expansions. Can't have too many of those.
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David B
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If you like traditional style card games then I recommend you to take a look at Haggis. It is kind of a mix of spades, poker, and rummy. It's for 2 or 3 only so it would be a great game to play with your wife. With 2, you can actually just use a standard deck of cards. With 3, though, you need the Haggis deck for the fifth suit. There are videos that explain the game and links on the Haggis page to the rules. There is also an iOs app so you can try it out.
 
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Chris
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Definitely would recommend CoB, outside of the fact that's it's a very drab looking game with pretty cheap components. Makes it a really cheap game and great value though.

Played my first 4p CoB this week, after half a dozen 2p games, and really enjoyed it. Both work great, not to the detriment of the game in any direction.

I find that Village scratches most of the itches that CoB does, slightly more complex, but all sorts of directions to head with a much higher quality physical product.
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Matt G
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BlueSwan wrote:
My number one favourite game is Android: Netrunner, but while I think that YOU will probably love that, you really need for your wife to love it too, which is probably a long shot.


Hey, don't make assumptions about my wife! Er, except that you're exactly right.

I know I would probably like Netrunner and I know she would have no interest in it. Going back to long ago boyfriend-girlfriend days, she had no interest in things like Magic: The Gathering or the original Star Wars CCG. And I haven't been able to get her to try the Lord of the Rings LCG.

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions here. I think I'll go with Castles of Burgundy first, then Race for the Galaxy later. (Who am I kidding, I always knew I would end up with both.) Village also looks interesting. That's another one for farther down the road.
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Christopher Yaure
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matt0001 wrote:
(Who am I kidding, I always knew I would end up with both.)


The best choice!
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Vincent
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My wife really likes playing CoB, but she would hate RftG. It's a science fiction thing. As an alternative I bought San Juan. It's a bit easier than RftG, but she enjoys it a lot.

ps. CoB with four players takes much longer than with two. Be prepared for that.
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Nicola Cheney
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Castles of burgundy is a really satisfying game to play. Highly recommend.

Rftg is good, it's taking me a bit to get used to but love the feel of it.
My suggestion would be to get and play San Juan plenty before Rftg as it's mechanisms are very similar so won't be such a jump to learn Rftg. Plus San Juan is just a great game.
 
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