Half Moon Bay
Hi all, long-time lurker, first-time poster. I have to say that I'm a newbie, but I stumbled upon this website and find it incredibly addictive. I can't stop! Anyway, my girlfriend and I have finished graduate school and moved to a new area. Since we don't really know too many people, we tend to stay home. I've been trying to suggest boardgames as an activity that we can do together, although she has a little stigma to that whole "geek" image. So I was hoping I could get some suggestions for some good games. I know there are a ton of lists like this, but she's been pretty picky about some of the usual suspects.
I first bought Carcassonne a year ago on a whim to play with some friends and we had a blast. Even better, we found out that it was an excellent two player game as well. We have since bought most of the expansions. The only downside is that we now have so many tiles that the the playtime is almost too long, but we still play fairly often.
We next got Ticket to Ride: Europe which was fun with friends, but she is also a big fan of two-player TTRE. I tend to think that two-player TTRE becomes too much like multiplayer solitaire, but it is still fun that we can both enjoy.
After reading some of the 2-player recommendations here, I got Lost Cities. She initially loved it. It's a great, simple game that comes down to risk management. But that became part of the problem---after you "figure out" how to handle the risks, the game becomes almost formulaic and it feels like you're just going through the motions. The game just isn't deep enough for us and we haven't pulled it out in quite some time.
Also after reading more, I got Odin's Ravens and Jambo. I liked Odin's Ravens, but to my dismay she disliked it, comparing it to Lost Cities in that it was mostly a card management game with not much depth. While I liked Odin's Ravens, I do admit that the game is much shorter than I anticipated (at least the way we played), and never lasted long enough to develop long term strategy---it's a little too tight of a game. And just like Lost Cities, the right move is often obvious, so it feels like you're just going through the motions. Despite some of the Odin cards, she also disliked the lack of a "screw your opponent" factor.
Now to Jambo...we have a winner! She loves this game and actually requests to play it! I think she likes the colorful theme, the player interaction (she especially loves the "Croc" card and snaps her arms threateningly), and the strategy/multiple play options.
So, I'm here to ask what other games do you recommend? We're mostly looking for two player games, but are open to multiplayer games that play well with two. Since she's the picky one, here appear to be some of her requirements, in rough order of priority:
1. Strategy. The game is deep enough to develop longer term strategy with a variety of options each turn. On the other hand, we're looking for something relatively short (not longer than several hours). Is this going to be a contradiction?
2. Good player interaction. I was kind of surprised, but she likes the nasty player interactions in Jambo a lot!
3. Strong theme. She really likes the theme in games like Jambo over the more abstract numbers games like Lost Cities.
4. She's not a geek, so while she would prefer something deeper than Lost Cities and Odin's Ravens, anything too geeky or with a rulebook too long is bound to turn her off.
I was thinking about the Mystery Rummy series, Alhambra, or San Juan as a next step up, due to a lot of recommendations. Do you think these will work?
Thanks a lot! (Sorry, I didn't realize this was so long!)
New South Wales
My wife loves it. She will play most games I throw at her, but this one she loves. And she's a Jambo fan too.
San Juan is not a bad choice either, but I find it gets a bit samey after multiple plays. (maybe that's just me)
Alhambra not so good with two players. You have to play with an imaginary player. It's okay but. . .
The Evil-Do That I Do-Do
I would highly recommend Carolus Magnus, it's a great game and i have had great experience exposing SOs to this game. I have never had them NOT ask to play this again. I wrote a review you might find helpful (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/144247). Good luck!
mystery rummy series is really good. The card quality/stock/box are all excellent. It's a favorite around my house.
balloon cup, is also a good one. i fought this for a while thinking that it would be too simple...but it's actually a great little game. that's our second most played two player game.
i can also recommend san juan. It plays well with 2, i've actually never played it with more than 2...as we have puerto rico for that.
goodluck, and welcome to the site
"Blow up the damned ship, Jean-Luc!"
Attika is an excellent 2-player game; there *is* card management but it's combined with building strategy.
Roma is another good 2-player game that has a nasty side to it. Though it plays fairly quickly, there is still a chance to choose a strategy to try.
I just got Taluva and gave it a trial run by myself and this might also be one for your to look at.
So far, you've both shown very good taste is games and it sounds like you're on the long slippery slope to geek happiness.
Self Appointed Senator of Good Ideas
Through the Desert
I think San Juan will work well. Also, 2 player Settlers of Catan card game.
- Last edited Wed Feb 7, 2007 7:48 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Feb 7, 2007 7:46 am
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Yes, I really am that awesome.
My wife and I have enjoyed Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper, Samurai, San Juan, and Ingenious. I'd especially recommend San Juan, it is about the same complexity and depth as Jambo. Through the Desert is another good one, I really like it, my wife only played it once but liked it that one time (then we started playing Mystery Rummy and Ingenious, haven't gotten back to TTD yet!)
Samurai. My favorite euro. It plays in around an hour with two people and has a lot of the things you are asking for. There is a lot of interaction, the theme is strong and the bits are very pretty. I would not consider it geeky, rather very elegant in theme. It has a lot of moments where you really can mess with your opponent by "stealing" their next planned move. It does not feel dry or mechanistic, you really should try it.
Stoke on Trent
Come on you Seagulls! Sami Hyppia's Blue & White army!
That's weird. This bit used to mention Shire Games, and tell you all how wonderful we are. But it seems to have got deleted. Let's see what happens this time ....
I'm probably just backing up what others have said, but ...
Alhambra - Works well - if not best - with two, despite the "imaginary" third player. Although you might get the same "each move is obvious" argument.
San Juan - You'll both love this one at first, but that will fade as it'll begin to seem very same-y
Mystery Rummy - These are great and we still play them occasionally, but beware that they are basically "Rummy with a couple of action cards". (The best ones are Jack the Ripper and Al Capone). Another rummy-based game which plays very well with two is I Go!.
Here are some others for consideration:
Catan Card Game - Excellent Catan game designed for two. Dripping with theme, and enough screwage to keep her interested. You can also get 6 different expansion decks for it in one box, giving you fairly endless replayability.
Fjords - Nice little two player tile game, which plays very fast and has two very different stages to each round. Pretty abstract though.
Mr. Jack - Fairly new, lots of theme, clever game of deduction / tactical movement. This one improves as you play it more and teh two players get better at it.
Saint Petersburg - This one works very well with two. Slightly less thematic than one or two others, but a lovely game. There's a chance this one might start to feel a little "mechanical" after many plays.
Elasund: The First City - Great city-building game with plenty of theme and a fair amount of screwage. You can't win this one without trying to destroy your opponent(s) at the same time! PLays up to four players.
To counter a previous reply:
Carolus Magnus - We are both gamers in our house, but this is the only game that Sue can't stand! It is very abstract and pretty heavy (although the rules are pretty simple). I would suggest Masons instead here.
And finally, something a little different:
You say she's not a geek, but did she like The Lord of the Rings movies? If so, you will almost certainly enjoy the co-operative Lord of the Rings game, which is a great, tense game with just two, and - once you think you've mastered it - add Lord of the Rings: Friends & Foes to make it really tough!
My wife sounds quite similar to your girlfriend... initially turned off by the "boardgames are for STRANGE people" idea, but also plays well when she gets going. We played her first euro about two years ago. She likes a game with interaction and good presentation, and she likes some depth of strategy and decision making but not too complex a set of rules. She doesn't mind a direct head-to-head game.
Here's the winners and near winners we've had:
(no particular order)
Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers works great, but you have a Carc game already
Samurai is a rising star at the moment... she didn't like her first two plays but we got it out again recently and it's hit the table several times since
Kahuna is an interesting one
Genoa hits the spot for trading. It's both the longest and most complex game she really enjoys, except maybe...
Tikal is a surprising win, being a long brain burner
Tigris & Euphrates is one she likes, though it took a couple of games to get going
Blue Moon City got two weeks continuous play recently despite pretty low interaction, and it hasn't burned out for her. We got Blue Moon at the same time and although we started with that before City, and she said she liked it, we haven't opened it since out first game of City. (The games are unrelated except by artwork.)
Lost Cities came and went early on for her
Kingdoms came and went early on for her too
Lord of the Rings had just had a couple of back-to-back plays. She likes it ok but I wouldn't put it near the top of her (now growing) list.
Alhambra is ok but it's pretty low on the interaction too and it's been getting less airtime lately.
Elfenland is one she likes to get out from time to time
El Grande works fine for two, and she usually wins this one, and seems to enjoy it, but for some reason it doesn't come out frequently
She quite dislikes Through the Desert and Fae.
I've only played San Juan once, but I'm pretty sure it'd go down well.
Partner gaming behaviour is a favourite topic of mine.
Here's two lists that might help you along...
This one includes some of my wife's (and my) first impressions of various games...
This one lists the games that get the most mentions of wives and girlfriends when people put in their ratings comments...
There are lots of good games listed here. You might also try Ingenious, which plays well with 2 but scales nicely up to 4.
If your Carc games are running too long with all the expansions, just grab a handful or two of the tiles and put them back in the box without looking at them. It shortens the game and gives you a different tile mix each time.
The Downfall of Pompeii - 2+ players - she can burn you up with liquid hot magma!
Battle Line or Schotten Totten - 2-player often called a gamers version of lost cities - and same designer (Knizia)
Medici vs Strozzi - 2-player auction game is great and it may scratch the same itch that Jambo does
San Juan - 2+ players filled with specialty cards like jambo though it plays differently. could also lead you down the path to Puerto Rico once you get your hooks into a local gaming community
Gheos - 2+ players tile laying game with play that's a little thicker than carc
I second the recs for:
Alhambra 2+ players (there's actually room for some nice screwage with the ghost player when playing 2p game) - card game/tile laying game
St. Petersburg 2+ players (there's a board, but it's basically a card game)
Elfenland - 2+ players designed by Alan Moon (same as TTR) and has some nice screwage opportunities too
Attika - 2+ players card game and tile laying - some like this best with 2
Samurai - 2+ players another Knizia - same designer as Lost Cities
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper - rummy variant but that 'ripper escapes' card changes everything!
It sounds like your girlfriend is a true gamer at heart, so I'd say make the leap to some meatier games...
SAMURAI is a good choice: it is simple rules-wise but is challenging and engaging, and it plays excellent with 2 and also good with 3 & 4. Samurai is like a more elaborate complete the square.
YINSH is a good choice: it is an abstract, but doesn't feel dry like one (it's very fun!), and if you like it you will have the other GIPF series games to look into. YINSH is vaguely comparable to othello but more interesting. However, it only plays 2.
SAN JUAN is a good choice, more so than the other games you mentioned (IMHO), and will very likely be a success with your GF considering she likes Jambo. It also scales from 2-4 players, and it has a similar system to Puerto Rico, which is the best board game ever, so you are indirectly getting her warmed up for it!
if you are feeling brave...
REEF ENCOUNTER is a great game for 2-4 players- but game play is not as easy to intuit as for these other games. However, it is very attractive esthetically (includes little shrimp meeples) so that might help. It is also very deep game (no pun intended), and if you two manage to get your heads around the mechanics there's a lot there to explore.
These have mentioned already, but a couple of my favorites that meet all your criteria:
Samurai: Maybe a little short for your tastes (45 mins for two), but beautiful, interactive, and just unpredictable enough to keep it interesting every time. Elegant is a word often used for Samurai.
Tigris & Euphrates: Somewhat deeper, longer, and more unpredictable than Samurai. Every game is fresh and develops a personality of its own. Tense and all about player interaction. Sounds to me like it is right up your alley. Give it a couple chances, however -- I think there is some investment required before the genius of the game begins to show itself.
I have forced many games upon my wife, but the only game she asks for is Lost Cities.
Yes, I play the Bass.
Sweet Holy Moses, Fruit F*cker Prime!
Hannibal Rome vs carthage
We the people
For the people
Age of Napoleon
Paths of Glory
these are all much better strategy games than anything listed above.
San Juan and Mr Jack are worth looking into
Avoid Alhambra and St pete's they are euro-junk.
I had only agreed to play Jambo because there was just two people who showed up for boardgame night at my FLGS. He pulled out Jambo and I was hooked after the 1st game.
My friend who I invited to my wedding came and stayed with me for a week. During that week I introduced him to Jambo and he took an immediate liking to the game also.
Anyway, here are some other 2-player games you might like:
Settlers the cardgame:Feels just like playing the boardgame but is made for 2 player games. There are lots of interactions with your opponent and the screw your opponent factor.
Citadels:Very good cardgame in which you take on a role of one of the 8 different personalities in the pursuit of gaining majority control of the city. plays well with 2-8 players.
Girl Genius:The cards represent clogged wheels where you have to match the ends of one card with the ends of another. If you match, one ofthe card "pops" into your score pile and sometimes gives off an effect. For 2-4players.
Gheos:My most recent acquisition. You and your opponent(s) are petty gods trying to reshape the landscape to your advantage and to the detriment of your opponent(s).
Thurn and Taxis:Similiar to Ticket to Ride but lighter. The way the points are set up gives this game much depth for such a simple game. Basically you are competing to become the most succeful mailing company in Germany.
Developin' Developin" Developin!!
100 geekgold for OverText, and all I got was this stupid sentence.
I strongly recommend Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. It fits all of your girlfriends requirements, with the possible exception of being a bit too geeky. But Lord of the Rings is pretty mainstream these days, it seems, and the rules work very well together.
You say you are looking at Mystery Rummy--Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper could be a good choice, if she likes rummy games.
You are considering San Juan--I'd recommend Puerto Rico instead, which plays very well with the two-player variant.
She might like Ingenious, despite the fact that it isn't at all thematic.
You might consider Thurn and Taxis, which is great multiplayer, and, I hear, even better for two. I haven't tried it with two myself.
Blue Moon is excellent for two, has interesting strategy, good player interaction, and a reasonably strong theme. It may be a tad on the geeky side, but I think it would be worth giving it a try.
Blue Moon City is also excellent. I've never tried it for two, but I imagine that it would work very well.
Finally, you might consider Reef Encounter, a fairly heavy game, but that doesn't seem to bother her, and it certainly has everything else she is looking for.
Mischa D. Krilov
When *is* BGG Con 20XX registration, anyway?
This space intentionally left blank. :)
I second (or is it third?) the recco for Mr Jack. My girlfriend, who is emphatically *not* a gamer, really liked this one. We played it four times the first night I got it.
Ingenious, while good, might not be a good choice if she doesn't like abstracts.
Personally, I do not like rummy games, so Mystery Rummy went over like a lead balloon for me. YMMV.
Even though it doesn't play with two, you might want to look at Mystery of the Abbey. It's full of theme and plays 3-6.
I'd also suggest taking a look at Heave Ho! for some good take-that, or Tally Ho! for its high player interaction (don't forget to play two rounds and then sum points).
Good luck, and please let us know what worked for yall.
No was has mentioned it yet so I'll throw in the 2-player Kosmos Dracula. Great theme, just enough strategy, some bluffing, fairly big memory requirement, and plays quickly.
Also not mentioned is Starship Catan which [I think] has a lot in common with Jambo in terms of the whole trading up goods mechanism. I understand that a game can be played in under an hour once both players are up to speed.
(The Artist formerly known as) Arnest R
Keep calm and carry on...
Since you mention Lost Cities, my own experience has been that after playing Schotten Totten there was no turning back. We have the version with the wadshalwecallem special action cards, which means it´s the same game as "Battle Line" (correct me anyone if I´m wrong)
Paul / PHX Gamer
My girlfriend is fairly picky when it comes to games as well. I don't think you can go wrong with any of your top 3 (Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper, Alhambra, San Juan).
I own them and they all went over well and get good playtime.
- Last edited Wed Feb 7, 2007 5:53 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Feb 7, 2007 5:53 pm
Mr Jack, Attika, and Hey! That's my fish!
ceci n'est pas une pipe
Through the Desert and Samurai are both outstanding, but you don't really need both. They have a similar feel. As a bonus, they play equally well with two or more, so if you find game-friends, you can share. I find that inviting people over to play games is an ideal way for me and my girlfriend to make new friends.
My girlfriend and I play a lot of Blue Moon. She wins most of our games, always playing the Vulca. I keep trying the various other decks, hoping to find a killer strategy.
Hoping to find the perfect 2 player heavy eurogame, I just ordered Maharaja.