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Subject: Luck-Filled 2-Player Games That Still Deliver on Depth rss

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Tom Bruno
United Kingdom
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I'm not what you could call a strategy gamer, even if I got a hold of a complex strategy or war game with lots of rules, I'd struggle to find anyone willing to play (my friends and family mostly like casual/gateway games without a ton of rules)
But even so, I tend to over think strategy in all games (I can't help it) and I study game design, which means I tend to pick apart games and try to find breaking points and powerful strategies, even to the point of calculating odds for dice rolls or card draws. All this means that the less a game relies on luck, the more likely I am to win (often by embarrassing margins)

I could just find a gaming group to get into deeper games, but that would mean talking to new people.
My main issue is that the majority if games I play are just me and my girlfriend... And she is getting tired of losing all the time

We have a few lucky games that we like but can be a bit simple at times:
Age of War
Carcassonne South Seas
Love Letter
Yahtzee
Tsuro of the Seas

Then there are the games that we can get into more and are less simple, but more often then not I will win:
Palazzo
Province
Rise to Power
Patchwork
Helios

These problems usually even out with more people, but what I could do with is some games to play 2 player that even out the difference between us. And if they can scale to more players, that's a bonus

So your suggestions please for games with the following features:
- Good with 2 players
- Luck or randomness, something to even out differences in skill
- In print or at least easy to find
- Good level of depth and complexity without being super heavy
- 30min or more gameplay, probably no more than 2 hours
- (BONUS) scales to more players
- (BONUS) nice theme with story/progression/rpg elements

I know Co-op solves the problem of one person winning more often then not but we are set for co op games for now

PS I have been looking at Agricola All Creatures, will I just have the same problem with this game?
 
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Ryan Rau
Canada
Saskatoon
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I have a somewhat similar situation and we found that the game Quarriors! was a very good fit with my wife, kids, and game group. It's dice rolling (so complete luck) but does offer simple strategy decisions (which dice to buy with my rolls).

King of Tokyo fills that similar situation with us as well. Though not very good with only 2 players.

For a card based game I would highly recommend Biblios.

For a just 2 player game, try Jaipur. Very fun.


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David B
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Jaipur
Capo Dei Capi
Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age
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ys xxx
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You could try Thebes:
- Has a luck element in drawing tiles. If you have the better strategy you are still going to win more often, but unless your friend doesn´t have any strategy at all, she should be able to win her fair share.
- Takes about 1 hour to play.
- Isn´t heavy but still provides some depth (and even invites you to calculate the odds!)
- Scales well to 4 players, but also good 2p experience.
- Theme is very well integrated.
- At least the german version is available and it´s language independent.

A lighter game, but also with nice a mix of strategy and luck would be Port Royal. It´s a card game with a push your luck element, that takes about 30 mins.
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mark downie
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Have you tried any dexterity games? I'd recommend Rampage (Terror in Meeple City). Dexterity games don't rely on luck but often calculating odds, etc won't help you win.

I'd also consider Galaxy Trucker. This requires spacial perception and quick decisions during the build phase. Overthinking won't help much here.

As for luck based, how about Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age or iron age as suggested already.
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Garrett X
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Qin is easily and cheaply available (it's very good and I even bought the extra boards) and so is Seeland which comes with a double sided board - one side for more tactical play. They are both family games so high in luck but can also be strategic. All of my games are 2 player, also Rahdo has done runthroughs of them both so you can see them in play for yourself. They all look beautiful on the table which should appeal to the gf
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David B
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Yup. Sealand is really good.
 
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Shane Larsen
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Battle Line plays out by the luck of the draw. But there are many ways you can calculate your odds, push your luck, mitigate risk, and even strategize based on certain tactics cards you draw. It's an amazing 2-player game.

Carcassonne is also really good with 2 players; best with 2 I'd say. Even though you can see the manifest of tiles at all times, it's still possible to get hosed/lucky by the luck of the draw.
 
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Dice bags!
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Wurtsboro
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Agricola All Creatures doesn't have any randomness or luck, and does not sound like it would fit at all.

I was thinking Roll Through the Ages: the Iron Age as well.

What about something like Star Realms?

If you see a copy up for auction, perhaps CV.

 
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Boss Beau Blasterfire
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Citadels - Most among the 3.
Targi
Belfort - Least among the 3.
 
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EGG Head
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Ciúb
Favor of the Pharaoh coming soon
 
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Summoner Wars: Master Set might be worth checking out.
 
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Julien K
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San Juan plays very well with two, and is based on a 100-ish cards deck in which you have to adapt to what you are given, hence sometimes you could win because you got THAT card that was needed but your opponent did not. Still, the better player will win more often than not.
 
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John
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I don't know how possible your request is - if a game has enough luck that the winner is decided on luck a reasonable amount of the time then you are probably not going to find the game that satisfying. If it's the kind of game where there is randomness but the best player will usually win then you're more likely to enjoy the game, but more likely to win.

Also - do you read strategy articles? If so I'd recommend avoiding them. It's not really possible to stop thinking about games, but if you're reading what other people think then you'll have even more of an advantage.

Trying to find games which you are worse at, but are still skilful might be a good approach so this could work:

fathermad wrote:
Have you tried any dexterity games?


Here are some suggestions for games which might work (people may disagree with my attempts to classify them by luck involved):

Hey, That's My Fish! - low luck. 2-4p. I'm thinking it might work with more than 2 player, 2 player is more strategic, whereas with 3-4 players it's more difficult to plan.

Cribbage - medium/low luck. 2-4p (best with 2 or 4). Does anyone you play with know Cribbage? If they do and you don't then get them to teach you and have fun trying to beat them!

Star Realms - medium luck. 2p (expandable to 6*). Easy to learn and enough luck that casual players can probably beat better players. (I'm not that confident I know how much luck there is - I've played 20+ times with the cards and a reasonable number of times against easy AI on the app and my current conclusion is "more than Race for the Galaxy".

Indian Chief - high luck. 2-8 player. Playing Card game. Imagine Yahtzee the card game, though I find it a more interesting game than Yahtzee (I've played it 40+ times).

Citadels - medium luck 2-8 players. 3p is a bit weird, higher player counts can be very slow. A card game of drafting hidden roles and building a city. Surprisingly good 2p.

Race for the Galaxy - low luck, 2-4 players. Not a good game to play with occasional gamers. Fairly complex, I would guess you'd like it and your girlfriend might. (It's one of my wife's favourite games, we're fairly even when playing 2p, I analyse games more than her)

FlowerFall - high luck?, I've not played this but watched reviews - you drop cards onto a table/floor and try to grab control of the highest scoring fields - it looks like the farmer scoring from Carcassone but with cards with cities one one side and meeples on the other. I doubt anyone could be that good at it!

* To expand Star Realms you need an extra copy for every 2 players - or wait until Star Realms: Colony Wars is released and combine that with Star Realms for 2-4 players.
 
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