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Subject: Recommend an alternative to Magic: The Gathering rss

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Steve Tudor
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I recently introduced my girlfriend to the Magic card game. She really likes the game but is getting frustrated that the game tends to end quickly; doesn’t give much opportunity for tactics and seems to be completely reliant on the luck of the draw. I am wondering if we’re playing it wrong and so far we haven’t got into deck building but are relying on pre-constructed decks (e.g. Knights vs. Dragons)

So I’m looking for an alternative two player game that takes up to 30 minutes to play, that is well balanced and is quick to set up.
 
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Green Knight Games
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Wahoffelmadenga wrote:
the game tends to end quickly

How quickly? How does a game typically go?

Are you looking for a game that is combative/confrontational, or a more Euro-style game? I see you have Carcassonne, which plays well with 2.
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Scott Nelson
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Don't attack each other so much, put up a defense before launching an attack.
Seriously, not many games feel like M:TG as a whole. Many parts of other games feel like M:TG pieces.
Jambo is a great 2-player game that has some M:TG pieces.
Fairy Tale has some pieces.
LCGs by Fantasy Flight like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings
AEG has Legends of the five rings, but it is a CCG as well.
 
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Steve Tudor
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That was a quick reply! Magic games typically last 8 to 15 turns, which means in a 60 card deck we barely get through a quarter of the deck. Basically we seem to be winning based on the other player’s inability to play good cards, whether that is because of no strong cards being drawn or a lack of land cards.
We play a lot of Carcassonne, so I am looking for an alternative and I think something confrontational would be good (she is very competitive).
 
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Green Knight Games
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Wahoffelmadenga wrote:
That was a quick reply!

It's lunch time

Wahoffelmadenga wrote:
Basically we seem to be winning based on the other player’s inability to play good cards, whether that is because of no strong cards being drawn or a lack of land cards.

Being land-locked in M:tG is a pain. You can take a mulligan if your opening hand is very poor.

Wahoffelmadenga wrote:
We play a lot of Carcassonne, so I am looking for an alternative and I think something confrontational would be good (she is very competitive).

Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers is more confrontational than the original
Carcassonne: Expansion 4 – The Tower turns it into an attacking game

I usually suggest Jambo on these occassions; it's one of the better 2-player games.

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Matt Green
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Jambo is a great two player game, as mentioned, with some confrontation. Another great two player card game with unabashed confrontation and a Magic feel is GOSU-it's fantastic.

I think Revolver has the potential to be a good fit for what you are looking for too.
 
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Oliver Kiley
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Are you looking for another CCG or a standalone boardgame or cardgame?

Seems to me that something like Summoner Wars could work for you.
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Paul Harmon
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Warhammer Invasion is a good alternative.
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Cracky McCracken
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Wahoffelmadenga wrote:
I recently introduced my girlfriend to the Magic card game. She really likes the game but is getting frustrated that the game tends to end quickly; doesn’t give much opportunity for tactics and seems to be completely reliant on the luck of the draw. I am wondering if we’re playing it wrong...


Yeah you're playing it wrong, let the lady win once in awhile .

Magic can be a great couples game. Buy her some decks and mix up a killer Green and Red deck. It doesn't have to be perfect, just make sure there is a good ratio of land cards. Than you start building decks to try and beat the current Green/Red champion deck. Once a deck beats that Green/Red deck, it's the new deck to beat.

So she has her cards, and you have your cards. Now you start anteing for keeps at the begining of the games. That spices things up. Best of all, sneak out behind each others backs and buy boosters to make your decks stronger. The "Arms War" side of Magic works within the confines of a couple just playing for fun.

You can play Magic for years with a modest collection of cards and an opponent who's stuck living with you..

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Jerry Martin
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If Magic isn't the problem, just the issues you describe. I find the best way to play Magic is Commander. They recently released pre-made decks intended to play with each other. 100 card decks, that have no repeated cards (other than basic land) You have a leader to the deck that can be repeatedly cast. Since you start with 40 life and the decks aren't super tuned the games last longer and have more back and forth.
 
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Ron Lacock
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I agree with the others. Given a bit of time I think you will find that Magic plays very well. In fact, the advice might be - Run away now while you still have money in your wallet!

If she would enjoy an inexpensive game that requires a lot of thinking, with good tension as far as card placement goes, and is less reliant on the draw, try Battle Line. It is quite different from Magic (less theme but great tension) but is a real gem as far as 2v2 goes. You have to play it a couple of times before the aha moments come as far as the strategy goes, but once you get the aha's you also get hooked. I have introduced this game to a number of people and they all end up buying it for themselves (with one exception).
 
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Darren Webber
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play to thirty life. it stops fast red decks being a problem... and makes creature standoffs... interesting

remember to swap decks after a few plays and keep a record of how much you win by in life total, and penalise yourself the average difference next time you play... it may be you are playing the slightly stronger deck.

Have fun, make sub optimal plays once in a while!
 
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Royce Banuelos
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To be honest Magic is a lot of deck building, games can last a couple of minutes or hours. Also a good tip would be to find maybe another couple to play against that way the game does last longer with more folks involved. BTW: I'm not a huge magic player but everytime we've played my wife has won (I did build the deck though) and we typically play against more people. 6 was the most we played against and it went fine.
 
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Roberto Pinheiro
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+1 Summoner Wars.
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Ed G.
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Try Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. It was designed by pro Magic players, and for me, provides the deck-building and combo goodness of Magic in 30-45 minutes. Also, since you will never have the same cards in your deck twice, the playing field is more level and replayability is endless.
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Hoyle A
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+1 for summoner wars
 
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Gert Meyer
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Wahoffelmadenga wrote:
Magic games typically last 8 to 15 turns, which means in a 60 card deck we barely get through a quarter of the deck. Basically we seem to be winning based on the other player’s inability to play good cards, whether that is because of no strong cards being drawn or a lack of land cards.


Magic is a battle of decks (i.e. deckbuilders) as much as a battle of players. In a way, deckbuilders are putting their creations up against each other similar to the Robot Wars TV show.

That being said, there is still a nice little game there. One trick I used in my Magic playing days to reduce the risk of land being too scarce or too abundant was to seed it evenly throughout the deck before shuffling. And no, I do not consider that cheating since the cards were thoroughly shuffled afterwards. There is just no reason to put yourself at a disadvantage by having the land clumping already before shuffling.
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Shawn Hendrix
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+1 for Warhammer invasion, it cured my MTG needs
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Byron
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Why are not you playing Ascension: Deckbuilding Game?
 
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Oliver Kiley
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soiledshortz wrote:
Why are not you playing Ascension: Deckbuilding Game?


Correction, Why are not everyone playing Ascension: Deckbuilding Game?

whistle

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Chris Stanton
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The pre-constructed are only really good for a starting point. It'll get much more interesting once you start building your own decks.
It should also be noted that 2 aggressive decks playing against each other will typically result in a quicker game.

If mana-screw is the problem (not seeing lands) then I'd suggest World of Warcraft Trading Card Game as a very similar game that fixes that particular issue
 
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8 turns is probably average, and 15 turns is actually a fairly long game. It's rather rare to see more than half or so of your deck in any given game (with exceptions depending on the particular deck, of course). Remember, Magic is designed with tournaments in mind where you're expected to play a 3-game match in 50 minutes, and that 50 minutes includes time spent shuffling, mulliganing, and sideboarding.

The game does have strategy and tactics, although not at all times. The majority of strategy comes in choosing when not to act.

1. When not to play something you could play.

2. When not to attack, even though it seems safe to.

3. When not to block, even though it seems safe to.

Note that combat is largely deterministic, except for spells each player may have in their hands to throw wrenches into the works. If both players' hands are empty, then both players should know exactly what would happen if you attacked with what, and blocked with what, etc. This won't be true for your first few games, but it's a level you'll probably reach quickly (especially if you're always using the same set of preconstructed decks). Evaluating combat is something that becomes second nature, and the only question is what tricks your opponent might be hanging onto, and what you can do to play around them.

One game I've been getting into is World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. It feels a lot like Magic, but it's got two things going for it IMHO.

1. You can play any card as a resource, although there are certain cards (quests) which give you more bang for your buck. As a result, you don't have to worry about being 'mana screwed,' so games will be more interactive more of the time.

2. You can (and frequently should) choose to attack your enemy's creatures, rather than your enemy directly. This might give it more of a tactical feel, if that's what your GF is after.
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Jason Carlough
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+1 for Jambo, it's a really well done and satisfying two-player game. The first thing I thought upon playing Jambo is that it feels a lot like magic. The differences of course being that your goal is to make money instead of slaughter and that it is a well-balanced stand-alone game. If you don't want/need the customizable aspect this is the game to get no question.

If you prefer a game that involves fighting and/or that has deck-building, I would recommend A Game of Thrones LCG. For two-player though I would recommend buying more than just the core set. I would probably add one of the deluxe expansions for each of the two houses you want to play and try to make a couple of balanced decks for playing against each other. You can find a lot of information and ideas both here and on the net for making AGoT decks (balanced or not). The base set decks alone are just too asymmetrical for playing with two player, IMO. This game is much meatier than Magic the Gathering and it sounds like that might be part of what you are looking for.

Somebody above mentioned Gosu as an idea. I just wanted to put in as a warning that while it is a really interesting game, it is not all like playing Magic (or any of the above games). The strategy is pretty counter-intuitive and mind bending, IMO. This may either be a good or a bad thing in your book. I just know that me and my wife, even though we think it's interesting and respect the design, have had a hard time getting into it.

Finally I want to mention Race for the Galaxy as another two-player card game. This one is good if you want a less conflict heavy game (it works really well for us as my wife tends to get mad if there is too much conflict in two-player). The common complaint with this game from a lot people is that there are two many symbols to remember. Me and my wife honestly never had this problem. I found the symbology to be very logical, very predictable and very well done.

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Ryan Allison
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Try Spellfire Its out of print but you can find the cards very cheap online. It has a MTG feel but because you have territories to build up (and raze) usually the games last a bit longer. I like MTG a lot but when I want to switch things up I go for spellfire. It might make more sense to your lady because there are no casting costs to play cards, you simply play them where applicable at the appropriate time.

Plus you get all the sweet art from D&D, Dragonlance, Ravenloft etc
 
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David
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Suggestion 1: Summoner Wars.
It's also fantasy themed and it's quite tactical. Also through not being a CCG it's far less of a money sink than MtG. It comes in preconstructed decks that should all be quite well balanced against each other. The box says 30 minutes but in my experience it takes just about an hour. Maybe with some practice you can get that down again.

Suggestion 2: EVE: The Second Genesis.
It's a OOP science fiction CCG, but there are still starter decks available on ebay. Those make an excellent introduction into what is IMHO the best CCG ever made. If you are frustrated with bad draws in MtG you'll be happy to hear that this is much less of a problem in ESG because it has two mechanics to help you: 1. you can save up money to play more expensive cards on later turns. 2. if you have to much money collected you can forfeit your income to draw another card.

Edit: I just realized you're from GB. If you're interested in ESG I can send you some of my left-over demo sets (essentially starter sets in shrink wrap instead of cardboard). Give me a pm and I'll check the shipping rates...
 
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