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Subject: Looking for relatively short, but relatively complex, "coffee table game" rss

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Devin Smith
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Arizona
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I'm not sure the topic title is clear so please allow me to clarify.

My wife and I just had a newborn (and have a toddler) and it's hard to find the time for games! Still, we manage to squeeze some shorter ones in and enjoy them very much.

Currently, my wife is LOVING Race for the Galaxy and wants to get an expansion. Instead, I would rather buy a new game than an expansion...

We have San Juan, though we both prefer race, but most of our games are 1 hour plus games with significant setup. We also love dominion though we've started to tire with seaside and prosperity (and base) but I'm not sure I want to put the money toward another expansion yet either (the game requires a bit heavier setup than race too).

So, what games would you recommend? We love games like viticulture, castles of burgundy and other euros..

I'm guessing many will say Jaipur but gameplay videos haven't excited my wife and I... So other suggestions? We like a bit of complexity if possible.

Thanks!
 
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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Could you provide us with a specific time frame in numbers ?

"Relatively short" is, well, relative...
 
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Devin Smith
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I guess about 30 min, give or take a few? On shorter side if setup is long.
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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Battle Line


The Duke


Le Fantôme de l'Opéra


Hive


Kahuna


Quarto


Onitama




I would not describe them as "complex", but they definitely have some strategic depth to them. Think of "easy to learn, hard to master". The setup and breakdown time for each of these games is very low.

Too bad that Targi exceeds your given time frame. A good small-box alternative for a deckbuilder is Valley of the Kings, but again, it usually plays longer than 30 minutes.

Once you have again more time available in the future and are maybe interested in heavier strategy games for 2 players, I absolutely recommend Android: Netrunner, Polis: Fight for the Hegemony and Twilight Struggle -- these are brilliant, deep and more lengthy 2-player strategy games. I am aware that you are looking for shorter games at the moment, but I still wanted to mention them to put them on your radar for the future. But feel free to just ignore them.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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Mottainai is worth checking out. Setup is very fast and the game has a lot going on for something that is so quick.

Homeworlds is another good one. To play it, you need 36 Icehouse Pyramids (3 large, 3 medium and 3 small in each of the four colors ... red, blue, green and yellow). The 2-player version of Homeworlds is called "Binary Homeworlds" and eliminates the good/evil aspect of the multiplayer version.
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Derek H
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toomanymouths wrote:

Currently, my wife is LOVING Race for the Galaxy and wants to get an expansion. Instead, I would rather buy a new game than an expansion...

You don't appreciate how lucky you are to have a wife that likes this game - just buy the expansion already shake
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Steffen Eichenberg
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All that (ɹnʎʞ) suggested. My wife and I are playing Battle Line and Hive quite often. For us, Hive is the shorter of the two games.

Another good and short two player game is Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends, but the spacial aspect might be a problem (not everybody loves that).

Oh, and I nearly forgot Ekö. Great competitive game for two, that can be played in 30 minutes.
 
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gamesbook wrote:
toomanymouths wrote:

Currently, my wife is LOVING Race for the Galaxy and wants to get an expansion. Instead, I would rather buy a new game than an expansion...

You don't appreciate how lucky you are to have a wife that likes this game - just buy the expansion already shake


Lucky? My wife beats my ass every time we play that game. It's sad.
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John Burt
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Look into these:

Arboretum
Valley of the Kings (playtime can be adjusted up/down by using more/less cards)
Haggis
Eight-Minute Empire: Legends
Lost Cities
OddVille (out of print, but hits all your requirements, and used copies can be had).
7 Wonders Duel
 
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Richie Freeman
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scameronde wrote:
All that (ɹnʎʞ) suggested.


+1 to all of (ɹnʎʞ)'s suggestions too.

Also +1 to Arboretum and 7 Wonders Duel.
 
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David Barry
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Strongly recommend 7 Wonders: Duel, if you are limited to only two players anyway. It's a great two-player implementation of 7 Wonders, with some good additional complexity, and in a reasonably small box too (which will become important as you add more to your family and games library).

The Builders - This is less weighty on the strategy side, but scales up to four players and is VERY compact - and pretty too.

If you have an hour available (and a good size playing table), Agricola is a marvelous game and the new edition has fantastic production values. (It will scale up to four players, or six with an expansion, but playtime gets progressively longer with more players). (There is definitely some setup and takedown time though, and you don't want to leave the small bits lying around where a toddler might reach them).
 
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James C
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Cardboard Conundrum wrote:
scameronde wrote:
All that (ɹnʎʞ) suggested.


+1 to all of (ɹnʎʞ)'s suggestions too.


+8. Especially Hive.
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Devin Smith
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Arizona
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Thanks for the suggestions. I think I'm eyeing Battle line and Hive in particular. Not sure Hive will fly with her though; it sounds like Hive is a bit chess-like and she refuses to do that with me. Strategy games are fine with her, as long as the strategy is a little more opaque (I think theme helps cover this up for her too).

I've heard really negative things about kahuna though in the past.. I'll have to look into this one further also.

I should add that we both like at least somewhat thematic games too, even if it's pasted on (I know, this is a picky request) but that turns us off of some of the other options.

And we do have twilight struggle and several other games on my wish list for the future.. But indeed they will have to wait. And to the other poster, we do indeed have and enjoy Agricola.
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Virginia M.P.
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toomanymouths wrote:
And we do have twilight struggle and several other games on my wish list for the future.. But indeed they will have to wait.
What about the quicker, lighter yet still crunchy 'version' 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis? It's got very good reviews and pretty much fits in your time frame.
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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toomanymouths wrote:
[...] it sounds like Hive is a bit chess-like [...]

Your observation is correct.


Battle Line is a great choice, just know that it is a very competitive game. I like to describe it as "a knife fight inside a telephone booth".

toomanymouths wrote:
I should add that we both like at least somewhat thematic games too, even if it's pasted on (I know, this is a picky request) but that turns us off of some of the other options.

I can relate to that, my personal favourites tend to be thematic games simply because I like aspects like storytelling, roleplaying elements and atmosphere.

To be honest, the most thematic game on my list of recommended games is arguably Le Fantôme de l'Opéra -- and even that's a bit of a stretch and only reflected by the characters' different abilities. The game is easy to learn and the iconography is easy to read, but wow can it be a brainburner.


If your wife hates chess, I would definitely stay away from The Duke, because the different pieces are double-sided and flipped over once they have been activated, showing a different side with different rules/behaviour for the individual piece.

Onitama also reminds a lot of people of chess, but it's in comparison to The Duke a more casual game. The way this game uses cards is really nice and intuitive though.

Quarto! can be described as Tic Tac Toe on crack or a competitive puzzle game. It's also a quite decorative. x)


If both of you like puzzley tile placement games, Patchwork could also be worth checking out.

There's also Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game, which is cooperative and indeed has theme, but there's definitely a bit more luck involved here because of die rolls. It's in my opinion best as a solitaire game, but maybe you will have a different opinion.

That's all I have, good luck with your research !
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L B
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I'd agree with your wife and say get The Gathering Storm expansion. She loves the game and wants an expansion, so I think that's something you won't regret. RftG is definitely my husband's top choice for a quick & deep game to play.

I think Battleline is a really solid rec.

Patchwork would be another I'd recommend.

We enjoy Lost Cities, The Duke, and Hive, but I'd recommend Patchwork or RftG Gathering Storm over either because Hive and The Duke are going to be more chess-like than she might want and Lost Cities probably doesn't have the complexity you want.
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L B
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Star Realms might be a good option.
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Kevin Garnica
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I've been really impressed with the designs of Alex Kevern:
Gold West
World's Fair 1893

There's also Helios, Elysium, Five Tribes.

All these games play in under an hour with a very straightforward and manageable setup.
 
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30 mins:

How about Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small with one of the two expansions to add more choices? 1st expansion: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – More Buildings Big and Small

The other short 2P game by the same designer is Le Havre: The Inland Port, which I haven't tried.

45 mins:

Glass Road - about 20 mins per player, relatively complex, nice components

Targi - I have yet to try this and from what I've read, some found it great (including some of the reviewers on BGG), while some found it dull.

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Shawn Harriman
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Pocket Imperium is small and a lot of strategy in a quick playing format.

Both Eight-Minute Empire and Eight-Minute Empire: Legends are quick & have some depth.

Tsuro is fun every time and quick to learn & play (2-8 players also.)

Coloretto
Love Letter
Gloom
Citadels
Unexploded Cow
all are quick & fun

Trains is a pretty fast great deck builder with some map strategy (killed Dominion and Thunderstone for our group)
 
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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RenaissanceMom wrote:
toomanymouths wrote:
And we do have twilight struggle and several other games on my wish list for the future.. But indeed they will have to wait.
What about the quicker, lighter yet still crunchy 'version' 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis? It's got very good reviews and pretty much fits in your time frame.

Never heard of it, but it looks interesting, so thanks.
 
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JW Redell

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+1 to Arboretum. Its a rare game I've played where it feels like each subsequent play begets more difficult decisions. It's surprisingly complex for what it is. I imagine its different at 4 players, but we enjoy it just fine with 2.
 
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Michael
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Best ones I've heard so far are
Arboretum
7 Wonders Duel
Mottainai

All have quite some depth considering their short play time. What I'd like to add myself is Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small or a fast coop game like Pandemic: The Cure
 
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James P. E. Reynolds
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KUMO Hogosha, It's relatively short at about 20-30mins, but relatively complex in strategic depth. When I think of a coffee table anything -- it's gotta look top quality. KUMO Hogosha IS a coffee table game -- the production quality is incredible.

Checks all the boxes.
 
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Joshua Hibbert
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Despite gameplay footage, Jaipur is a really solid game with a lot of depth. If you can get it cheap it's definitely worth it.
 
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