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Subject: Recommendations Needed for a Sophisticated Gaming Wife rss

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tom franklin
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hi all,

my wife grew up in a family of chess champions. as such, she thinks of chess as "the perfect game" and frequently laments how some board games are merely trying to be "cheap imitations of chess."

on our second date, not yet knowing this, i brought over my Pente board and to her surprise, she ended up liking it. it's now her first choice to pull out when we have company over and a three or four person game can be played. (it's more of a social event than a serious game at that point)

she's an artist with a degree in philosophy and, even better, she's willing to play games with me from time to time. now it's just a matter of finding the right two-player games.

we discussed her gaming likes and dislikes this weekend after two hopefuls turned out to be duds -- Fjords and Hive. fjords failed because it was too much like a puzzle and it was a lot of work for such a small amount of payoff. (it would have been better if there was a way to destroy the other person's land, however) hive failed more due to theme than anything else. ("Oh, bugs!" turned into "Can't we just step on them and get this over with?")

we identified the following aspects of game play that she likes:

* "a minute to learn, a lifetime to master" games (Othello, Pente, Abalone)
* games where aggressive play is rewarded (if she could have launched fire bombs at some of my farming land in fjords, she would have been far happier)
* games where offensive play can be made by either moving you closer to victory or moving your opponent farther away from victory
* games where each move can change the landscape of the board (YINSH, Abalone)
* games where gameplay is changed, favorably, with the inclusion of extra people (Abalone, Pente)
* games where the goal (winning) is clearly defined and progress toward that end is easily identifiable as play progresses


we also identified aspects she dislikes:

* games with puzzling aspects (board-building -- i.e. Fjords, Carcassonne)
* games with "lots of pieces of paper" (chits, etc)
* games without much action or are slow moving
* any game that's "too close to chess"
* games with long, complicated and/or confusing rules
* any game i'm really good at and/or have played for a while
* card games (except in larger groups)


possibilities

* games with deduction (i mentioned Clue but was really thinking Mr. Jack
* games of logic
* games dealing with time or philosophy (not just themed, but with those elements as integral parts of the game play)


a friend has suggested Pentago which i'm going to run past her tonight. i'm hoping not only for other suggestions but for games that might be a bit more complex. i'm also hoping for some gateway games for 'better' and/or 'heavier' games. (fjords was supposed to be a gateway game for carcassonne...)

recommendations with reasoning would be ever-so appreciated!

...
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No. "Go" is the perfect game. Its elegance and depth are sublime. For anyone who likes Chess, this is the game to try next. It has so much strategy and thought that are involved with every move as to be engrossing. Plus, people at different levels can compete against one another. This would be the game to Go to.

Hope this helps.
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Quote:
we also identified aspects she dislikes:

* games with puzzling aspects (board-building -- i.e. Fjords, Carcassonne)
* games with "lots of pieces of paper" (chits, etc)
* games without much action or are slow moving
* any game that's "too close to chess"
* games with long, complicated and/or confusing rules
* any game i'm really good at and/or have played for a while
* card games (except in larger groups)

Let the Wookie win.
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tom franklin
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Osiris Ra wrote:
No. "Go" is the perfect game. Its elegance and depth are sublime. For anyone who likes Chess, this is the game to try next.


go is a game that her father (who taught her chess) respected. back many years ago when i tried silk screening board games to sell, go was one of the ones i chose, in part because of this. i have a basic understanding of the game, but we've never played.

thanks for the recommendation. i'll start looking for a nice set!

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tom franklin
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On High wrote:
Quote:
we also identified aspects she dislikes:

\snip\

* any game i'm really good at and/or have played for a while
* card games (except in larger groups)

Let the Wookie win.


midway through our first game of fjords she said, "you know, i'd better win this if you expect me to ever play it again."

she won, fair and square. then she trounced me in the second game.

still, she announced she didn't like it. (worse, she questioned why in the world i liked it)


then i did let her win at hive.

"you let me win," she accused, somewhat angrily.


true, but... oh, nevermind.

...
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Man thinks, the river flows.
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    Bridge


             Sag.


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Tyler
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I think you should go with Mr. Jack.
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Mike Jones
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Octego, I found somewhat boring and just checkers. But, I'm not a huge fan of abstracts. Some of the gamers that I played it with that do like abstracts liked it.

Fragile, I found very enjoyable. However, if someone doesn't like it, they can bring the game to a stalemate. It does look really nice on the coffee table, though.

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Lacombe
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A lot of Icehouse games would be really good choices:

Alien City: One of my absolute favorites. Very strange and subtle strategies.

Volcano: Many possibilities on each turn, lots of action and board-shifting.

Homeworlds: A bit slow-moving for the first few rounds, but lots of carnage later.

Zendo: Not really a two-player game, but definitely a sophisticated and logical one.

Apart from these Icehouse games, I don't much experience with abstracts, which is what you seem to be leaning towards, but here are some other semi-abstract recommendations:

Samurai: Very sophisticated and sleek, both in gameplay and bits; the "box game" for adults.

Through the Desert: A wealth of strategies made difficult to grasp through the asymmetric and randomly-setup board.

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Don Sikes
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pHr0sT wrote:
I think you should go with Mr. Jack.


I agree with this. Great deduction game for 2.
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Brent Johnson
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What about Dungeon Twister? It seems to fit, and would be quite a thematic change of pace.
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Sue Hemberger

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Second (or third) Samurai and Mr. Jack. Also check out the GIPF series: YINSH might be the best place to start.
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Richard Johnson
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Clans
Samurai
GIPF -anything from this series


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Bob Kohut
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I third (or fourth) SAMURAI. I'd also suggest Colovini's CLANS.
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Sue Hemberger

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Is Clans good with two?
 
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Dario
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Attika sounds like a perfect game- it fits most of criteria listed and is very attractive.
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Bob Kohut
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CLANS is at its most intense with two.
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Liz Rizzo
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Sucks with two, but I have to suggest In the Shadow of the Empire. It is my most absolute favorite game, fabulously vicious and strategic. I see that this may go against some of your wife's stated preferences, but I swear it's worth it. You can play it online at Mabiweb.

For two players, I suggest Schotten Totten (without the extra cards ala Battle Line). It is a very pure, strategic card game. There *is* luck involved, but I find it leans more towards strategy, deduction, and hard choices. OK, I know you said card games are a dislike, but I really, really feel the same way, and I am totally addicted to Schotten Totten. If you have/find Battle Line you can make a Schotten Totten deck from it by ditching the tens and the non-numbered cards. Also, playing that you take the stone at the end of your turn, rather than at the beginning, makes for more competitive game play. You can play this online at yucata.de.

Cheers!
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Sue Hemberger

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BobKo wrote:
CLANS is at its most intense with two.


Thanks, good to know! I found it on a "shines with three" list, so hadn't thought of it as a 2p option.
 
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Chia Richardson
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Blokus immediately jumped out at me when I read your post, though you'll need the Travel version for a two player game. Good luck!
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Daniel Castellanos
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how about zertz or blokus?
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T. Nomad
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Bridge
Mr. Jack
Blokus Trigon
Through the Desert
Taluva (especially for destroying others' creations)
but most of all....Quoridor!
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tom franklin
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smithhemb wrote:
Also check out the GIPF series: YINSH might be the best place to start.


YINSH is a game my wife likes. she says her "brain is just wired" for the game -- in a way my brain, apparently, is not since i have yet to legitimately beat her in it.

i already have ZÈRTZ but it was passed over once i explained the pieces jumped other pieces "like in checkers". i think it still has a chance, though.


i'll be checking into samurai. thanks!

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tom franklin
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tommynomad wrote:
Bridge
Mr. Jack
Blokus Trigon
Through the Desert
Taluva (especially for destroying others' creations)
but most of all....Quoridor!


i have quoridor and i have to admit that i have never been all that taken by it.

i've respected your opinion on other lists, so i'll pull it out and give it another chance.


i don't know the other games, but will check into them.

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paul canosa
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You might consider

shogi (japanese chess)

I think acquire might scratch the right spot too
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