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Subject: 2 player development/economic (my pal hates luck!) rss

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Dan
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The Background

I have a bud who hangs out regularly to play board games. We really enjoy Agricola, but there aren’t many economic games like it that seem to play well with two-players. We’ve played and enjoyed Power Grid and Brass, but as we don’t have a regular 3rd player, I’m hesitant to make a purchase. So we started dipping into lighter wargames, but as much as CC:A and Memoir are a fun diversion, the luck often leaves a bad taste in our mouths. I bought Conflict of Heroes, but it wasn’t successful (I’m hoping it will grow on him).

So I turn it over to you: what two-player game would you recommend knowing that we like the planning and development of Agricola? What game rewards tactical decisions as your opponent messes up/or competes against your strategy? What game doesn’t feel like it comes down to the results on the dice instead of the player’s decisions?

See below what we play, what I’m looking at purchasing, and other commentary.

Often Played

CC:A/M’44 – I like these games and their simplicity, but the dice aggravate my bud. Our last game of CC:A saw me retreat and damage 4 of his units in battleback and he could only take one block from me.

Mr. Jack – A fun game. Sometimes we play 5 times in a row. My only issue with it is mistakes will cost one the game, so it can bog down as we consider each move and try to find the best.

Agricola – Probably our favorite game. Just enough brain-burn without bogging down or draining us.

Played Some

CoH – This game seems to up the ante between us as compared to CC:A/M’44. Even though we have to think harder than in a Borg game and have more control, the dice can still leave us feeling like we were ripped off by an uneven distribution of dice rolls. Thus is life, but he’s not a fan. I hope he’ll turn around as we add more complex rules.

1960 – We were both real excited about this and had a good time playing it once, but for some reason haven’t gone back yet. I hope that will change.

RftG – We play this kind of as filler. Great game and I like it for the same reason I like Agricola. I want more like this (but probably not San Juan).

Tried but Meh...

Carcassonne
Pandemic
Thebes

What to Buy (maybe?)

Hive
Hannibal: RvC – previous CDGs haven’t been a huge hit
Twilight Struggle – love the theme, and I want it, but seems a shame since 1960 is unloved
Combat Commander – I’m intrigued, but afraid he wouldn’t like all the chaos
Hammer of the Scots – perhaps...
Through the Ages – maybe too long
Stone Age – probably a good fit, I may order this in the next month
Dungeon Twister – no luck, but it’s just not that appealing to me...may eventually get it
Galaxy Trucker – sure to frustrate him, but I’d like to add this to my collection some day
Le Havre – too similar to Agricola? Not very good at 2 players?
Brass – I see there’s a two-player variant, but $60 is a lot to put down to play an unofficial variant...
Caylus – when I look at the board, I think bleh—and Agricola may be a more fine tuning of WP...

I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible in describing our interest and what’s worked and I look forward to seeing what you have to say.

Special thanks to Tony Ackroyd and his indispensable lists.
 
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Cuba - It has similarities to Agricola, including individual player boards. It has economic elements such as a marketplace with prices that fluctuate with supply and demand, and changing taxes and subsidies as acts are passed in Parliament. Great wooden bits, plays well with two. Cuba and Agricola are my two "tens".
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Scott Roberts
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Definitely stay away from Combat Commander if you don't like luck. It is highly random.

Give Chicago Express a look. It plays in less than an hour and has no luck.

Scott
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Железный комиссар
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Caylus is a superb 2-player game. Agricola may do interesting things with Worker Placement, but I don't think anything in the genre is more "fine-tuned" than Caylus.
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Rob Judy
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Maybe try Tribune or Sylla or even Roma is a good 2 player game.cool
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Goo
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Look into Goa
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J
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JohnRayJr wrote:
Caylus is a superb 2-player game. Agricola may do interesting things with Worker Placement, but I don't think anything in the genre is more "fine-tuned" than Caylus.

Agreed. Get Caylus.
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Adam Slape
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I'd say Le Havre is the no-brainer here...lots of planning, very little luck, just a great game (unfortunately you'll have to wait for the reprint).

Caylus also works very well with 2 players and really it's nothing at all like Agricola.

Through the Ages is fantastic and went directly to the top of my favorites, but if you're going to play it be aware that there will be a lot of conflict (which can really screw with your planned economic build up). It's very expensive as well.

I also really like Cuba, but I've never played it with less than 3 players and I'm not sure how much things would change...for all I know it could even be better.
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Dan
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I'm thinking TtA, Le Havre or Cuba then. Can anyone comment on Cuba as a 2-p game? On the game page people have voted 'not recommended.'

Thanks for all of the other recommendations! I'd definitely be down to play Caylus, but I think it's a try-before-buy scenario with me.
 
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Emily H.
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Definitely consider Neuland, but play with the original rules (available in the file downloads section of the Neuland page here on BGG).
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Chris Jay
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I second the Goo's recommendation: you can't go wrong with Goa.

Points for: very little luck; it is an auction game that works very well (perhaps *best* with two); almost zero-sum; rewards long-term planning; many crunchy decisions.
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oeolycus wrote:
Can anyone comment on Cuba as a 2-p game?


Do you play and enjoy Agricola with 2? I'm sure some people would say Agricola doesn't work well with two. We play Cuba 2p all the time and love it.

The interesting thing about Cuba is, you get your resources from your player board and the market. Your player board is up to you to develop. If you block your water or sugar by building a building (and there might be a good reason to do so), that's up to you. Your opponent cannot do anything on your player board.

The other place you get resources is the market. Everyone has the same character cards. We can both go to the market if we want to. Now, where the other player's actions affect me is if they buy something that I wanted, now the supply is more scarce and the price goes up. There are also alternatives to the standard market choice (getting a free item), so if they take the freebie that I wanted first, I'm out of luck.

Cuba is more about developing a strategy than blocking your opponent. The restrictions on my movements are largely by myself, for myself. You get to use 4 out of your 5 character cards every turn. The last one that you play and the one that you didn't play affect other parts of the game. So you want to use a person early if you don't want your opponent to get there first, but those are also the cards that are worth more for playing 4th or not at all.

Being able to choose which Acts are passed in Parliament is nice, but sometimes it matters more than others. You have to weigh your card and peso supply against the desire to control Parliament. If you control which Acts are passed, you can make life harder on your opponent, and/or make it so only you can benefit. Maybe they don't have sugar to pay, and you do. You'll get points that they won't.

There's no luck, except in the order the ship cards and the Acts come up, but you're able to see them a little ahead of time to plan.

It's a very interesting game, and I like the market prices fluctuation, as well as getting resources from my own board.

Hope this helps.
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Marc Frank
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Reef Encounter looks like a good fit, particularly in terms of tactical responses to your opponent messing up your strategy.
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Rob Judy
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A game that gets little mention, but is worth looking into is Notre Dame. Give that a try!
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Steven Harris
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scottandkimr wrote:
Give Chicago Express a look.

I haven't read any favorable reviews of Chicago Express with two players, other than for the purpose of learning the basic mechanics. Lacking with two players is any chance for alliances to form.

I write this never having played the game myself, for the specific reason that I can't count on having more than one opponent, and, trusting all the reviews here, never made it all the way to purchasing the game. Chicago Express is supposedly an amazing game; it's just not a good two-player game.
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