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Subject: Medieval Academy -- Surprise 2 player hit rss

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Pete K
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So I recently purchased Medieval Academy knowing that it would fit well at holiday family gatherings. My wife's family loves Sushi Go and a game that included drafting that was slightly more complex but still very clean and simple design seemed perfect. It also was a game I knew my wife and I could play with our five-year old son with a little bit of help and he picked it up quickly and enjoyed it.

I was surprised at just how much my wife liked the game and she asked to bring out as a 2-player game the other night. I hadn't even thought about playing the game 2-player as the two of us tend to play things definitely a little heavier than this such as Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Targi, Castles of Burgundy, etc, and I viewed this game as more family fare.

Now I'm not going to do a full review of the game as it's easy to obtain elsewhere, but I wanted to give my perspective of the 2-player variant of the game. The basics are that you each control 2 of the four colors of the game, so for this game I played red and yellow and my wife blue and green. You move all your markers along the tracks and score just like a four player game but combine all your income into one pool.

Instead of drafting like you would in a normal four player game you deal out six cards to each player. Then ,you separate those six cards into two three-card piles and make them available to your opponent. This is a fantastic mechanic that reminds me of COMKL where you are pricing rooms for your opponent and trying to figure out how to get what you want and make them pay for what they want, etc. It created some super tricky decisions in terms of trying to make what your opponent selected not too great while still getting what you wanted without making either hand too strong as they would just snap that one up. After each party selects three cards from the opponent, they take all six cards back into hand and separate them into two three-card hands for each color they own. The game comes with a turn order sheet and you play according to those orders. The player with the first player marker each turn is also allowed to "break one tie" in their favor and take the lead on a track.

This variant created WAY more tricky and interesting decisions than what I was expecting from a light family game. Playing the game three-handed with my son decisions were not blatantly obvious but not generally super tricky either. For some reason this 2-player variant ramped up the strategy, IMO. You had to get the right cards into hand, split them the right way among your colors, and then make decisions such as "should I split up these two dragon cards so each color gets to move along that track or give them both to one color to try and get that 17 point first place marker?" and "Do I take that high value 5-card or do I take a low 2 gratuity because it's the only one and will give me first place this round?" What does my opponent have in hand? What do they need, what do I need? How can I navigate into first place on as many boards as possible?

My wife ended up wiping the mat with me but I loved it anyways. So if you've passed on this game because it's light family drafting fare, consider the value the game gives you if you can play it as a light enjoyable family get-together game with non or casual gamers, but also get a slightly heavier two player couples game out of it as well? Big thumbs up from me and I hope some of you "mostly 2-player" gamers like myself check it out.
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Jared Parkinson
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Katy
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+1 for a great 2 player game that is similar but still different from the main game.
Such a great all around elegant and fun game! Good for all player counts on the box.
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Chris Yi
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Thanks for the 2 player review! I just bought it not realizing the 2 player rules were different than the 3+ player rules. We have lots of friends to play it with, but I we like to play 2 players a lot. I might teach this to her today!
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Chun Ping
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i must add that this 2 player count is really a surpisingly good game! It capture the feel of the multiplayer while presenting entirely different and tough challenge. I will go as far to say that if you play this game exclusively for 2 player, it's still a great choice. on par with games like jaipur or battle line!
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