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I received a surprise gift in the mail the other day, and most of it will go into the bank for necessities (money's tight here, as it is most everywhere), but I might let myself enjoy a little bit of it.

Just for today, money and time are no object (we don't have kids, and can spend a Saturday gaming, or leave a game set up on the table).

I don't think I want a civ, adventure, economic, or building game, exactly, but some sort of hybrid. Here's my qwirky list of likes and dislikes:

We've been playing Candamir: The First Settlers, and I like the movement mechanic with the cards, where you get to choose which way to go, weighing both your goal and what you'll find on the next space. I tend to shy away from fighting the animals or doing the challenges, or when I do, I tend to be safe about it (if I have a 2 strength and need a 6, I'll drink a potion so I'm up to 4 and only need to roll a 2 or better). I like how the target products change - if someone makes a chest for Jarred, next someone will need to make him a sword. I like that I can up my strength for a challenge, and recover strength. We aren't confrontational, so we don't use the meade on each other; we keep some on hand if a challenge requires it.

Contrast that with Prophecy, which I really did not like. It was just moving around in a circle, fighting stuff. You might get to acquire an item, but it was just a bigger sword to go fight the next thing. I'd rather face something realistic like a wolf than something fantasy-based like a dragon.

Another game that I enjoy is Goldland, where you explore new areas, laying new tiles, and each tile adds to the adventure by giving you items and/or requiring something for passage. I love the thick tiles and the great wooden bits. The theme fits it well - you need rope to make a bridge to cross the canyon, or a fishing pole to get fish. There's both how fast you get to the end space, and how well you do getting there (if you solve the most challenges of a type, you get a bonus tile worth varying amounts of gold). The movement mechanic is great - you carry a backpack with items that you need, but your movement is the number of empty slots in your backpack. Heavier backpacks weigh you down. Lighter is faster.

Laid out on the table, Goldland looks a bit like a jumbo Carcassone, which I just don't like at all. You have to be a bit too confrontational to be good at it, and it's a little too much based on the draw of the tile. We prefer things where we can each go do our own things, and see which way works out better. We're not opposed to a little luck, like in Stone Age where the dice roll determines how many of a given resource you get, or in Candamir, where you roll a die for challenges.

Our number one game is Agricola. I was skeptical about the whole farming thing, but it is just supremely satisfying to play. I love the bits (especially with animeeples and vegimeeples) and using the card combinations. I know it's essentially an economic engine game, but I can be fooled into growing carrots for points. I don't enjoy games where the point is just to make money for the sake of money (which might be part of the reason I don't really like Le Havre. In Le Havre it doesn't feel like I'm really building anything, or that anything is mine.)

I've been looking at games that sound interesting, but none seem to fit. Antiquity intrigues me, but I'm just not going to drop that kind of cash on a game I've never played. Through the Ages looks interesting, but I'm concerned about war and conflict. This looks less war-dependent than some, but perhaps still too much, after reading articles in the game forum. Settlers of Catan Card Game is similar - I like the idea of building something up, but I see a lot of mention of conflict.

I like filling in a board, like in Agricola, Princes of Florence, or Arkadia, but games termed "area majority" usually leave me cold.

What I'm looking for, perhaps, is some sort of adventure game, where you explore like in Candamir, and then get items to develop something (village?) like you develop your farm in Agricola. It can be more worker-placement or card drafting to get items, rather than exploration, but I'd like there to be a developing landscape of some sort. I'd like there to be growth and change, like the harvests. Something perhaps an economic engine, but not just about killing stuff or making money. I'm okay with battling some 3rd party challenge (like the plague, or a bear), but don't want to have to go after my opponent to win.

Does this sound at all familiar? Does it exist? I'm fine with not buying another game, but, since I had this opportunity, I didn't want to miss out on something great.

My only requirements are that it plays with 2 players, and that it's either in English, or, like Goldland, be language independent and have English instructions available.

Thus ends a contender for the longest-winded recommendation thread known to BGG.

Thanks for reading!
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David Gibbs
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Through the Ages is a Civ/economy/building game, runs long, tends to be a bit expensive, but is an awesome game.
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Karl Hiesterman
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Try Pocket Civ, a free Print and Play solo game that's a lot of fun. Build an interesting map, grow your civilization from stone age to Iron age, fending off invaders, developing technology, growing cities.
 
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Darren Hron
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dagibbs wrote:
Through the Ages is a Civ/economy/building game, runs long, tends to be a bit expensive, but is an awesome game.


I'll second Through the ages. Yes it can be a bit long but does get faster as you get used to the mechanics of the game.
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Emily H.
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You might check out Roads & Boats. It's kind of an economic/civ hybrid that plays well with two. Player conflict is fairly minimal - there is always a chance that your opponent will catch you unaware and take some of your stuff - but nothing war-like.

Plus, it's got geese.

EDIT: The bits are likely to be disappointing, however. Most of the components are small, square bits of cardboard.
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Does Through the Ages make you wage war against your opponent to be successful?
 
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Your game preferences are very similar to mine, although I'm starting to discover that I don't mind some interaction and confrontation as long as the players have an equal chance at succeeding.

So, given what you like and what you are looking for, I think you would really like the Catan Card Game (with the expansions thrown in, if money is no object). It is incredibly easy to ignore the "screw with your opponent" cards (like the arsonist), and voila, you have a great multi-player solitaire game which really feels like you are building up a community.

Given that you like Arkadia and Candamir, I think you should also look at Elasund: The First City. Yes, it can be more confrontational, since you can build over each other's buildings, but if you both approach the game with the same mindset it shouldn't be a problem. It feels to me like a cross between arkadia and the catan card game. La Città, which I just love, might be something else to consider. I would also look at Lost Valley, although I think you have to be willing to be a little aggressive (by following and stealing gold that the others have discovered) for it to work with 2.

I don't have Through the Ages, although it's at the top of my wishlist. If I had unlimited funds and times, that just might be what I would pull the trigger on.

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123ABC wrote:
So, given what you like and what you are looking for, I think you would really like the Catan Card Game (with the expansions thrown in, if money is no object). It is incredibly easy to ignore the "screw with your opponent" cards (like the arsonist), and voila, you have a great multi-player solitaire game which really feels like you are building up a community.


Thank you, all of your ideas were very helpful, especially the part about being able to ignore the "screwage" cards in SOC:CG. It's intrigued me for a while, and I'm even more curious to give it a try now. I will give the other games you mentioned a look, too.
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The Settlers of Catan Card Game - This game does give you the feeling of building up a settlement although not as much as Agricola does. As mentioned the 'nasty' cards are easily avoided (we do that too). It's not the deepest of games however and takes a surprisingly long time to play at around 2 hours. Saying that we really enjoyed it at first, got burned out on it and so stayed away for quite a while, but are now quite keen to revisit it again.

Lost Valley - We really enjoy this and it sounds very similar to Goldland as you described it. As mentioned there will be some filching from eachothers goldmines if you are both on the same side of the river. If you played on opposite sides of the river, or just chose to remain 'honest' you could turn it into a straight maximisation game however which in itself would be fun, however it sounds pretty similar to Goldland so might not be worth your while.

Antiquity - I hear what you're saying about the cost and risk involved in purchasing blind, however this sounds pretty close to what you're aiming for. Whilst there are confrontational elements in the game you can totally ignore them (as we do) and just compete for space to build/collect resources from. You build up your own city and try not to sink under the weight of your own graves and pollution.

I was also wondering lately whether Steam might be my next purchase. There is the build up of routes on the board and the delivery of goods which sounds rewarding. The board is such that 2 players wouldn't be butting heads much either, which is fine by me. Reducing the number of goods cubes seems to be the way to go to introduce more competition if needed.

Finally we bought Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization because it really does seem to be the grail game for this genre. I'm afraid we haven't played it yet so I can't be sure but if I had to suggest only 1 game to you then I guess by its reputation it would have to be this one. I hear your worry about the war aspect though!
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indigopotter wrote:
Does Through the Ages make you wage war against your opponent to be successful?


You do not have to wage war to be successful. But, if others prepare for war, and you do not prepare a defense, then it can be painful for you.
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indigopotter wrote:
Does Through the Ages make you wage war against your opponent to be successful?


There is a peaceful variant that removes (direct) conflict from the game. My wife and I got it recently and since we don't like direct conflict in 2 player games have played with that variant and very much enjoyed it. The rule book seems fairly insistent that even in the non-peaceful game the advantage tends to be with the defender, so I doubt military strategies would dominate.

Good luck finding your game
David
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indigopotter wrote:
Does Through the Ages make you wage war against your opponent to be successful?


There are three different levels. The first is the simple game, which takes about 90-120 minutes and does not include the military mechanics at all, instead granting bonus victory points at the end for military units. For a variety of reasons, one of which is the lack of a military component, most Through the Ages players do not regard the Simple Game as that engaging of an experience, though it's a nice way to learn the game basics.

In the Advanced Game military buildup is introduced. There are passive benefits to having a greater military (beneficial events tend to target the strongest players, harmful the weaker players), as well as active benefits (military force is used to colonize territories, many of which are quite nice to have). Finally military aggression is possible. Not full-out war, but more like border conflict, where a successful aggressor will steal resources from her target. Succeeding at an aggression is not an easy task; the threat of aggression is often a huge factor in the game but the effects don't happen as often as one might think. The Advanced Game clocks in about 3-4 hours and is a satisfying experience in and of itself (in my opinion).

The Full Game introduces a third age (modernity) and the war mechanic. Wars are similar to aggressions but take longer to resolve and have sliding benefits depending on the margin by which the winner defeated the loser. Losing a war decisively can be a game-losing event. One doesn't necessarily need to wage war to win, but had better at least be able to defend himself adequately. The Full Game takes 5-6 hours and is regarded by the majority of TTA players as the best of the included rulesets.

If war and its effects are a significant stumbling block to game enjoyment, then you should be able to take out the war cards from the deck. Some of the strategic richness will be lost but the game is still viable without it. If even the concept of aggressions from the Advanced Game is off-putting I would sugest a different title, as I don't think the game would work very well without them. (I don't think the Simple Game works very well as more than a teaching tool.)
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Now that I've actually read the whole thread and not just the Through the Ages part, I do have to echo the previous poster who said that Antiquity's just about what you're aiming for. There's some indirect conflict if one or more players choose a particular victory condition, but the main focus is on building.

Now to find someone with a copy in your area...because I'm with you, I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a game I hadn't played.
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Eric Clark
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Quote:
You do not have to wage war to be successful. But, if others prepare for war, and you do not prepare a defense, then it can be painful for you.


That's an understatement. Through The Ages has an enormous runaway loser problem. It actively encourages ganging up on the weakest player (not much of an issue in two-player games, I guess) and has a number of other elements that heap additional rewards on whoever is already winning. You can remove the conflict-based cards, but then you're carving a huge chunk out of a game that set you back $70. Not what I would call a wise investment.

Antiquity is a spectacular game. Very tense, minimal luck, worth every penny. You just need to accept the fact that the game itself, not your opponent(s), will kick your ass on the first play. You need to learn which opening moves work and which ones constitute a three-hour suicide process, and it's not immediately obvious.

The Catan Card Game is a great two-player experience. Getting hit by a take-that card (arsonist, black knight, etc.) is a setback, not a crippling blow. Plus, there is an element of risk in using them, so they can backfire on an aggressive opponent.

I've played three of the Catan Card Game expansions. Knights & Merchants I found dull but inoffensive, Science & Progress I actively disliked, and Barbarians & Traders I loved. With or without expansions, it's a great choice for anyone who does lots of two-player gaming.
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I've always liked Merchant of Venus for its exploration and trading.
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Indigo, we recently stepped into the Crayon Rails world and I can tell you that our first foray was very positive.

Empire Builder - is the original in the series but since we were going to mainly play 2-player, we chose one of the smaller map games that come highly recommended for 2 (as well as for more) - India Rails.

We struggled learning the map, but I can tell you that it is a very satisfying experience to plan, build, and execute your plans. I highly recommend it.

At least, you can view the video on Empire Builder on its game page here on BGG. The components seem a bit dull, but since you are coloring the map, they cannot be too colorful.

We followed the wonderful vinyl tablecloth covering suggestion by
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and bought the overhead projector markers. It worked really well!

Check it out, I also like ColinK's suggestion for Merchant of Venus.

But boy do I agree, Antiquity looks HOT!!! The (somewhat) cheaper Indonesia doesn't seem as interesting and I'm not sure about Roads & Boats?

Good luck and let us know!!

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Quote:
But boy do I agree, Antiquity looks HOT!!! The (somewhat) cheaper Indonesia doesn't seem as interesting and I'm not sure about Roads and Boats?


Indonesia and Roads & Boats are both excellent games, but I don't think either of them is really what the original poster is looking for. Also, R&B carries the same price tag as Antiqutiy, I believe. I don't know much about the publisher's newest game, Duck Dealer.
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I really do think that you would enjoy the hell out of Through the Ages. The military strategy is more powerful than some would like, but as other posters have mentioned, there are variants which make aggressions/wars less of an issue. Also, if neither of you are particularly interested in starting a confrontation, the arms race is likely to remain under control in a 2 player game. Cost is an issue, but I've seen some posts recently in the "Hot Deals" forum that seem to indicate it's being discounted a bit more now.

I'll also second Antiquity, since you said cost isn't an issue. If you can find a copy for a "reasonable" price (less than 150?), and you decide you DON'T like it, then you should be able to trade/sell it without taking a loss-- it is likely to retain its value/go up in price, given how hard it is to find a copy these days.

You and my fiancee seems to have similar tastes, and though she also dislikes direct conflict, Through the Ages and Antiquity are two of her favorite games in our collection.

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UPDATE: The Settlers of Catan Card Game came in the mail yesterday, and we played it yesterday afternoon. The mechanic for keeping track of your resources in really interesting - no piles of little resource cards/tokens/chits. I like how the settlements and cities are built across the middle, and the resources are around the edge, alternated with the red and green cards. The symbols were well used, so it was relatively easy to count windmills or VPs. I could handle and enjoy something heavier, but for $32 for the game and expansion delivered to my door (thanks MyAtomic!) I won't argue a peep.

I never had more than 7 unprotected resources, but I did lose 7 resources in a nasty plague towards the end. We didn't attack each other (it was enough to keep up with the losses to the game, anyway).

This was a very satisfying buy, and I will keep looking at other games (working on a possible trade for La Citta).
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I think you would enjoy Lost Valley, but unfortunately it needs a minimum of three players.

You might want to consider Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery.
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That's great. Don't forget the expansions if and when it starts to feel old. Actually there's a new one out called Catan Card Game: Artisans & Benefactors. It has some positive comments in its comments section.

If you manage to trade for a copy of La Citta please let us know your impressions on first play - it's been on my want list for years but not high enough to actually purchase.
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