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Subject: Small, simple direct conflict game for two rss

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Sacre Bleu
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Hello all.

A few months ago, I introduced my girlfriend to modern boardgames. Up until now, we had played Ticket to Ride: Europe, Splendor, Kingdom Builder and Jaipur. She found it fun and it was a thing we did from time to time.

Yesterday, I decided to try Mr. Jack Pocket with her. She loved it. Without using these words, she explained to me that the other games felt more like multiplayer solitaire, that she liked that you were directly impacting the other player's strategy in this one. It triggered her competitive sense and she loved it.

She had to be reminded often of the movement rules, but overall it went pretty smoothly.

So after two games of this, I look around and see if there's another simple direct conflict game I own. Enter Small World. What a disaster! I could tell from the beginning that she wasn't going to enjoy it, but she insisted on playing, to see if she would eventlly get the game. It didn't happen. What tripped her up is how this game has too much "data". The rules are already something to deal with, and all the added data of the various racial and special powers was too much for her. She never really had any clue what to do and was sort of playing randomly.

So with that in mind, I am wondering what kind of games I could get that would involve us engaging in direct conflict, but that would be palatable to her.

I think I'm going to try Rattus with her at some point, and I will definitively buy Onitama when it comes out, so I'll probably try it with her as well. Maybe Citadels? We'll see if the whole doublethink thing works with her. I might try Hive, but I'm not too sure about that one. One of the biggest problems with this game is how people initally have no idea what to do. They understand the general idea of surrounding the opponent's queen, but they have no idea how to get there. It can be intimidating.

I think what made her enjoy Mr. Jack Pocket is how there is an explicit objective for each player, every turn: try to see/hide as many characters as possible by the end of the turn. It gave her short term goals which allowed her to be engaged in the game without having to think too much about the long game.

So, to summarize:


What I'm looking for here is a two-player, small, rules-light game (doesn't have to be physically small, although that's a plus, but it shouldn't have too many components). The core of the game should requires players to be engaged in direct confrontation. It doesn't have to be a battle per se, but we should have opportunities to directly interfere with the opponent's plan. Absolutely nothing like multiplayer solitaire. And finally, it should be a game that doesn't have too much "data", so no large amount of wildly varying player powers like Small World, for example, even if the rules are otherwise simple. Or if it's a card game, it can't have a whole bunch of different kinds of card that you have to individually read and understand. And we ideally want a game that provides players with clear, short term objectives that help them build towards the bigger picture.

That's a lot of very specific requirements, so I don't really have a clue what to go for here. Any ideas?
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Matt Gustafson
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Battle Line
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Sacre Bleu
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gamesgocrazy wrote:


Ah! Great suggestion! I was thinking of getting this one eventually. Thank you. Any other ideas?
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Johnny Carhat
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Hive definitely checks a lot of those boxes, hive pocket also has a much smaller footprint and features 2 expansions for free (just 2 additional pieces) so its pretty good value.

feels like a traditional game (chess, checkers) but is refreshing and simple enough that I found it very enjoyable,
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Sacre Bleu
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jcarhat wrote:
Hive definitely checks a lot of those boxes, hive pocket also has a much smaller footprint and features 2 expansions for free (just 2 additional pieces) so its pretty good value.

feels like a traditional game (chess, checkers) but is refreshing and simple enough that I found it very enjoyable,


I own Hive and all expansions and will probably try it with her at some point. My personnal experience is that the people I introduce this game to need 3-4 games to get to the point where they know what to do. Meanwhile, I'm playing pretty much on auto-pilot. A lot of people get discouraged and don't want to play too much after that...

Is there some way you present the game to people that allows you to keep them invested past the intial hurdle of understanding tactics?
 
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Daily Grind
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Hmmm. You might take a look at some of Dr. Finn's games like Biblios and Cosmic Run. They're not 'direct' conflict (combat) but they do involve you impacting the other's plans either by feeding each other junk cards (Biblios) or by closing off options in a race style game (Cosmic Run).

Cthulhu Realms is a head to head card game. The cards have 'special powers' but its all done with maybe 5-6 pieces of iconography which (in my opinion) is very easy to pick up after a few hands. There are some folks on the forums who really struggle with the icons for some reason ... but its super cheap too.

Impulse is a direct conflict game and actually plays very simply, but the rulebook is not super clear so if you give it a try you'll want to learn it yourself before bringing it out I expect.

Revolver 2: Last Stand at Malpaso is direct player conflict, mostly cards, and the cards pretty much consist of a cost and a strength value. A few special powers but not many.

An honorable mention that probably don't meet the criteria ... but Summoner Wars is pretty simple and direct but may have too many special powers cards for you (although there's really only 4-6 per deck, repeated multiple times but it can seem like a lot).
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B B

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Gabriel N
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Try out all other Mr. Jack games, they are amazing. Hard to get right now but there is a new edition of Mr. Jack coming out latter this year.
 
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Monica Elida Forssell
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Minotaur Lords or Scarab Lords? Or both together..
 
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Kathleen Nugent
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Aton, but I wonder if you can find a copy.

You place a disk. She places a disk. You try to have more disks in an area than she does. She tries to remove some of your disks. (That's an over simplification, but it shows that you're directly interacting with your opponent.)

Roma or Arena: Roma II - just one or the other. You don't need both.

Some of the cards let you attack your opponent's card. There are other tactics besides attack, but that's one of them. The game can be won without any player interaction though. Attacking has to be a deliberate choice.

And Battle Line was my immediate first thought too.

How about either Blockers!, Blokus, or Blokus Duo? They're in a whole different category - mass market games with plastic boards and plastic pieces. But by their titles you can see that they're interactive.

Edit: I thought of two more: Kahuna and Baseball Highlights: 2045.

Second edit: The above mention of Impulse made me think of the other Carl Chudyk games such as Innovation or Mottainai or . . . Just go to his designer page and look at the list. Even though not all are for only two players, they all play well at that number. And they all have tons of player interaction/interference. Innovation is my favorite.
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Tom Decker
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The Pillars of the Earth: Builders Duel seems to fit a lot of your criteria. I've often thought that Targi is similar to Mr. Jack Pocket, too. And not that it's a perfect fit for what you are asking, but I've also found that people I play Mr. Jack Pocket with also like playing Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. Good luck.
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Shane Larsen
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Ben
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You can't get more direct conflict than Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. Quick 2 player game with plenty of conflict.
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Gláucio Reis
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Raptor is a recent release that fits your criteria and is quite fun. The only problem is that it doesn't seem to stay very long on the stores' shelves, often selling out on the same day they receive new stock.

Blue Moon Legends may fall in the category of "whole bunch of different kinds of card" (in fact, every card is unique), but I mention it anyway because it doesn't bother me like other games of this kind. Card powers are simple and direct, most are one-use only, and about half of the cards don't even have any. You do not have to keep re-reading and remembering lots of special powers. Also, it is a truly excellent game.

Another game that she might enjoy is Babel, which is very confrontational and is widely available in a new edition from Z-Man.
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Mark Yang
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If you enjoy special reasoning games, my wife and I love Patchwork and Blokus Duo, but a good ol' game of Carcassonne plays great with 2 players as well!

I've never played these ones myself, but I've heard good things:
Specter Ops
7 Wonders Duel
Stronghold (2nd edition)
These are direct conflict 2 player games.

Good luck!
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Gláucio Reis
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Skarjak wrote:
What I'm looking for here is a two-player, small, rules-light game

deadeyedshooter8 wrote:

Really?!
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Daily Grind
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Heh... Rahdo just posted a review Drako which is a few years old and one I had never heard of, but it looks like it might fit this recommendation.
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Alexander K
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You might check out The Duke which is a fun little abstract where the each piece has its movement rules printed on both sides of it. It's quite easy to learn, but is definitely a direct conflict game.

If you are interested in Onitama, this may be a different flavor of that if you wanted something that can be a little more involved.
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Gláucio Reis
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cafin8d wrote:
Heh... Rahdo just posted a review Drako which is a few years old and one I had never heard of, but it looks like it might fit this recommendation.

Indeed it does. I forgot about it, even though I own it. It's pretty good, but I don't know if it's something I would play very often. I suspect it might get old fast.
 
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Thomas H
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+1 for Drako.

Smash Up could also work (the basic rules are simple enough, but getting to know all the different cards might scare your girlfriend off).

Star Realms would also be an option (depends if you and your gf prefer sci-fi or horror (Cthulhu Realms, which was already suggested)).

Dragonheart is also a great little two player game.
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Chris
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Shed possibly go for Arboretum. Huge indirect interaction with 2p, very simple but very clever.
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Jordan S.
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MrFettuccine wrote:


GSReis wrote:

These are (IMHO) two of the very best two-player games out there...but my only hesitation on recommending them to the OP is that they are games that have lots of "special text". In LotR for example, not only are the sides asymmetrical but every single piece on each side follows a special rule. Now...these rules aren't that "complicated" in the sense of understanding how they work but it does mean that a player needs to remember the 9 special abilities of *their* pieces, plus keep in mind the 9 special abilities of their *opponent's* pieces.

But if you are able to get over that potential barrier, they are some seriously, mind-blowingly fantastic games.
 
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Rob Robinson
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Robert Wesley
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Re: Small, simple direct conflict game for two times even
According to the late great Rick Brown, it is a simple 'inquiry' then:

wow ~"What did the HAND 'say' to the FACE?"

thumbsdownwhistle-"-*-S-L-A-P-*-!-"
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I'll second Carcassonne with an expansion or two. If you play aggressively, it can be a very interactive game.
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