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This is part of my series of reviews of how multiplayer games work with just 2. For the full list see: My 2 player game reviews.
Rules - how are they different in a 2 player game?
There are no rules changes in a 2 player game. The only special rule is that you have to use two particular colours, because the other colours have less pieces.
How is the game different with 2?
The key thing that doesn't work with just 2 players is the cash. Cash is brought into the game by a player with less than 4 cash rolling the dice, taking that much cash and giving all other players one more cash. With just 2 players this almost always results in one player rolling the dice almost all game (if not all game), while the other player just gets an extra cash each turn. It is very hard to break out of this cycle - this can be a big problem with just 2.
The second thing that doesn't work with 2 players is the scout hut trails. With just 2 players both players should expect to get all their scouts down quite easily, which means it's quite hard for the scout huts not to split 50/50 between the two players. Assuming each player gets an equally good start (again fairly likely), each player will start the same number of scout huts, so know which of theirs are good and defend accordingly, and so the scout hut tracks just seem fairly irrelevant. It's also very easy to make sure your opponent can't use the eye to see one of your huts, if you are so inclined. With more than 2 players these scout huts tracks seem to work rather better, with more genuine decisions and competition.
The gameplay itself on the board though is relatively unchanged with just 2. Each island has a bonus for the most and second most on it, and getting presence on any island of size that scores is very important, while battling for supremacy on the bigger ones - this is all almost identical to the multiplayer game. The problem is that the player with more cash has much more power, while the dice roller is generally struggling to maintain position relative to them, as they are much shorter on cash - relying on high rolls every so often to be able to place their settlements and forts (the other player generally has enough cash to put these down at their convenience, and if they've been sensible with their cash and time it well, also without losing their cash advantage). Having said that though, it doesn't mean that the dice roller will definitely lose the game - I have won a game without my opponent rolling the dice a single time in the entire game.
Although the main gameplay is unchanged with just 2 players, the problems with the scout huts and dice rolling for income mean that I'm not likely to pull this out again 2 player. It works much better as a multiplayer game.
I've played the game as a two player with my wife about 10 times. First off, it is true that it is difficult to break out the cycle of one player rolling for income, but in my experience having more income doesn't necessarily translate into victory. As far as the hut scoring goes, I've long concluded that the best way to score them is to award the 2nd player half as many points (in much the same way as the islands are scored.)
And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
When we play it as a two-player game, the only change that we have is for the money-die roll: the opponent only benefits from the roll if a four through six is rolled. It makes it much harder to have a situation where only one player is perpetually rolling the die.
EDIT: a clarification: the opponent still gets money if a one to three is rolled; but that money is equal to what you get. The extra doubloon is only awarded on a roll of four through six.
- Last edited Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:08 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:04 pm