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Subject: Help me find something my wife might like? rss

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Adam Richards
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In hindsight I could probably have chosen a better subject title...

My wife likes to play the odd game or two, but it's always been the same stalwarts that get playtime; Scrabble, Cribbage, more recently Bananagrams. Now I'm as fond of a cloth banana stuffed full of tiles as the next man, but when it comes to anything more difficult she loses interest. I love Last Night on Earth and she does, but I think she gets fed-up with all the rules - especially as we're still kinda new to it and there's a lot of referring to the rulebook which slows things down.

So I've been looking for something more two-person oriented, and ideally with less in the way of rules to remember. I've been looking around and the ones that seem to crop up more than once are the likes of Dominion (I really want that one!), Forbidden Island or even something like Blokus, although it seems like that one's better with four than two?

So any recommendations? Quick to learn for her, lots of fun (fun is important, nothing too serious), but some depth to it too. Ideally something that only takes an hour or less per game too. Thanks in advance lovely people.
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Geoff Hall
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Dragonheart (one of my wife's favourites)
Jaipur (never played it but it WILL get recommended multiple times in a thread like this, I guarantee it)
Onirim (2 player co-op)
Biblios (very nice card game)
Haggis (2-3 player climbing game a la Tichu)
Tien Zi Que (2 player Majong the card game)
Ingenious (really good but simple abstract)
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Steven Backues
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If you think she might like Blokus, try Blokus Duo instead, as it is made for 2.

If it's complex rules that she doesn't like, then indeed abstacts might be the answer. But not everybody goes for those either - and just because the rules are simple doesn't necessarily mean the game is easy to understand.

Also, if going to the rulebook turns her off (which I can understand), perhaps she would be more amenable if you made sure that knew the rules entirely, before you started to play together?
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Roberto Vaccari
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Nonantola (Mo)
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My wife loves 24/7: The Game!
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Markus Hagenauer jr.
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+ Blokus Duo
+ Ingenious

Further I´d suggest Topology and everything form the Gipf seris (GIPF, DVONN, ZÈRTZ, TZAAR and PÜNCT)

and if she wants it even lighter, try Qwirkle.
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Madhujith Venkatakrishna
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These games:

Lost Cities
Kahuna
Balloon Cup
Battle Line
Odin's Ravens
Caesar & Cleopatra
Hive
Mr. Jack
Jambo- Just that there are quite a few cards that needs to be understood, you might require 1-2 plays that's all.

All the above mentioned games take 5-8 min max to learn and all of them play in the 30-45 min timeframe

Some multi-player games which would be great with 2P like

Tikal
Tobago
Thurn and Taxis
Code 777
Lords of Vegas

The above mentioned games take 8-12 min to learn and plays in about 60-90 min max.

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Nick Fisk
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Elendil wrote:
If you think she might like Blokus, try Blokus Duo instead, as it is made for 2.


And if you're having trouble finding the two-player version:

- Use the original, but take one colour each

- Use a third colour to mark off the board to make it 14 x 14

- Start 5 in and 5 across, instead of right in the corner.

Et voila, Blokus Duo with a regular set!



N.

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Steve S
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My wife really enjoyed Forbidden Island, until we got a copy of Pandemic, which she now LOVES (and is by far her favorite game, and we now have the expansion for it as well), and Forbidden Island is now collecting dust.

Another one she really digs is Ticket to Ride. She was also into Citadels for a little while.

She HATES Dominion, mostly I think because there's a total disconnect between the theme and the game play - she doesn't "get" it. In fact she refuses to touch any sort of deck-building game now because of this one example.

Lost Cities she'll play, but she doesn't exactly get excited over it.

I'm finding that for her to be interested it firstly has to have an interesting theme, secondly it must not be rules-heavy or have a huge number of options to choose from on every turn, must have enough strategy to be interesting but no so much that it gets dubbed A Strategy Game (because she "hates strategy games,") and it must not involve direct player conflict, because she doesn't like it when other players get to be "mean," especially when the other player is her spouse. (Personally I think the whole *point* of a game is player conflict, but apparently that's a mostly male point of view)
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Eric Brosius
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My wife and I love Lost Cities.
 
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Peter Ernest
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Try Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. Simple rule, and good for 2-3 players.
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Andre Lucato
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According to your list, I guess Dominion will suit you perfectly.
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rob cavallo
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def start with Dominion

my wife isnt much of a gamer, but she really enjoyed catan, and we used play MTG all the time in college.

once i opened the door with dominion, a bunch of other games found their way in.
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Kevin B. Smith
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To add a game not yet mentioned:
Ra: The Dice Game is a great game if she has fond memories of Yahtzee. It has familiar dice mechanics, but with interesting scoring.


+1 Forbidden Island. It's easy to learn, fun, and cheap.

+1 Jaipur. Beautiful, light but slightly deep, and fun. It's our favorite non-cooperative game.

+1 Lost Cities: The Board Game. It has a bit more theme than the 2p card game flavor. Not a lot of theme, but some. Plus it can handle up to 4p when you have friends over.

+1 Dominion, with the reservations noted about theme and the fact that it looks VERY intimidating when you first see it on the table. Avoid all the expansions at first. And pass on it if she hates shuffling.


+.5 Something in the Ticket to Ride family. Personally they do nothing for me, but they are very popular with casual gamers.

+.5 Onirim. My wife likes it much more than I do. Maybe I just suck at the game, but it feels too much like Patience. She still enjoys it solo, but having the 2p co-op option is nice.

+.5 Balloon Cup. Good game. We quite enjoy it (partly because hot air balloons have sentimental meaning for us). But it is hard to find and expensive.


-1 Mr. Jack. It's a chaotic/thinky/bluffing cat-and-mouse game. Honestly, when my wife and I first started learning it, it felt as complicated as chess. If all that sounds ok, it is a very well-designed game.

-1 Tikal. As pretty as it is, it's complex enough that it sounds like it might not suit your wife.
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Roger Fawcett
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If she likes cards then perhaps San Juan - the card game version of Puerto Rico. It is straighforward and takes only about 20 minutes at the most. We also enjoy Jambo in the Kosmos series, although as mentioned above there are a lot of cards to get your head around. We find that Medici vs Strozzi is a good game in that series. We discovered it when we were looking for a bidding game that would work with two.
 
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George Ramos
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My wife's always a reluctant board gamer. I'll second Blokus Duo, Hive, Ingenious, and Lost Cities which others posted here. I don't particularly love these games, but my wife and I have played each and had enough fun for her not to swear off board games forever. But since you asked, here are games that both my wife and I enjoy. I hope it's useful...

Battleline: ignore the theme, it's a simple card game but one that's more exciting and directly (but gently) confrontational than Lost Cities

San Juan: a full-blooded board game that happens to use cards. In case you don't know, it's basically the 2-player version of the superb Puerto Rico.

Alien Frontiers: If you can find it, this is another full-fledged board game that plays just as well with 2 players as it plays with 3 or 4 players.

Ticket To Ride: It's simple and mildly addicting. Try the iPad or iPhone or PC version if you've never played this. The fantastic 2-player "Switzerland" board is coming out soon as part of a package called "Ticket to Ride: India". You'll need the base game first, however, with either the USA & Canada map, or Ticket to Ride: Europe.

Hellas: A wife-friendly wargame, nicely designed and great graphic design. Talk about guns, tanks, and GI's and my wife loses interest, but when ships and sandals are involved, everything changes.


If she likes Lovecraft's or Tolkien's works, consider:

Elder Sign: Feels like Arkham Horror but only takes about 90 minutes. You won't need to explain all the rules to your wife if you do the board management (flipping the cards, locking dice, spawning monsters, etc).

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation: If you liked Stratego growing up you'll love this one. Each piece in the game is a character from LotR, with its own powers and movement. Always fun to play.


I have a few caveats for games that others put on this list:

Dominion: the rules are simple but my wife hated this game because she had to read every single card, again and again, to see what it does.

Forbidden Island: way too simple a game. Pandemic is probably better, but the graphic design of the game may be unappealing to her.

Dixit: hardly qualifies as a board game. It's great with friends at a dinner party, but for 2 players you might as well just sit on the couch and talk.
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Kathy Sheets
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Okay, here is the game you really really need, I can guarantee it will be a winner.

Finca

Everyone likes it and many love it, especially newcomers to games. My husband and son both request it.

It was just reprinted so it is available, it's not terribly expensive, it is very beautiful with all it's colorful fruit bits and there is a very cool rondel mechanic with which you chose your fruit. Once you've collected the fruit you want you deliver the fruit in order to pick up the tiles displaying it. The tiles are numbered, you add them up at the end (plus some bonus tiles etc) and high score wins. There is just enough strategy to this one to keep everyone happy, the rules are ultra simple (you can open this and be playing in about 10 minutes, including punching) and it's fun!

The other game (already mentioned) that I would recommend is

Thurn and Taxis

in which you build your postal route with cards, collect bonus tiles, and high score wins, of course. This is a very satisfying game to play.

The other thing you can do is play 'filler' type games such as

Ra: The Dice Game-push your luck set collection game--a favorite of ours and after our many plays I see there is much more to it than is at first evident.

Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age-Another push your luck game. Try to feed your people, buy developments and build monuments, while avoiding disasters. Each person keeps score on a provided score sheet. More fun that it looks like it's going to be.

Biblios-extremely simple, addictive game (in fact all 3 of these are addictive!) where you keep a card, give one to your opponents and put one in the auction pile--then your opponent(s) does the same, and the second time you go through the deck you auction off each card. Then you score according to who has the most of each suit which all depends on how the dice end up. Very quick and fun!

All of these games scale well from 2p-4p and are loads of fun. These are examples of how I roped my family into playing with me and now they are the one requesting the games!

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Tiwaz Tyrsfist
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Caveat: My wife is a gamer, so getting her to play games isn't hard at all. However, even given that, I find the biggest and most important thing when introducing her to a new game is not the rules of the complexity of a game, but rather the theme.

Having a degree in graphic design with a minor in art history, I have NEVER seen her as excited for a new game as she was for Fresco.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that Agricola is, mechanically, her ideal game, she can't seem to get into it. The farming theme simply puts her off. She can't seem to care about it.



So, I think you should also give consideration to the THEME of the games, and look for games where the theme will appeal to your wife, more than looking for games in her current rules complexity comfort zone.
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Andrew Meadow
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Kingdom Builder is an excellent casual game in my opinion, you can explain it and then play a game in about 40 minutes... after that you can get through games in 20-30 minutes and there seems to be a lot of strategy underneath the surface.
 
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Adam Richards
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Thanks guys, you're all awesome, I really like this place, I'm glad I asked.

That's loads for me to have a look at - and then see what's actually available
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Matt Riddle
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my wife is very light usually. she likes Catan and Ticket to Ride and not much else and she loves Hansa Teutonica. If you want a wife friendly euro, try that
 
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Steven Backues
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greekramos wrote:
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation: If you liked Stratego growing up you'll love this one. Each piece in the game is a character from LotR, with its own powers and movement. Always fun to play.


I have a few caveats for games that others put on this list:

Dominion: the rules are simple but my wife hated this game because she had to read every single card, again and again, to see what it does.


My wife and I also really enjoy Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation - it is one of our 2-player favorites. I am a little surprised that all of the special powers didn't put off your wife, though, if all of the rereading of Dominion cards did. If anything I would think the rereading learning curve of this game would be higher than that of Dominion. (It wasn't really a problem for my wife and I, so I don't really mean this as a red flag for the original poster; it just caught my attention).

 
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Christian B.
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I am surprised NOT to see Carcassonne mentioned

It's by far one of the best lighter games for 2-3 players imo and can take up to 5 (6 with expansion) though I don't recommend it with that many.
It's a really nice game, easy to teach, learn and play, but you still need to think a bit. It's my GF's favorite lighter game!

Also, if you want a quick filler game for 2, Jaipur is hard to beat imo!

Ticket to Ride is the best gateway game on earth imo, and I encourage you to take a look on that. However, if you only play 2, TtR Nordic Countries is probably the best option. You can also buy TtR USA and then add the TtR India+Switzerland map expansion; both maps are really great and you will be able to play with 5 (USA), 4 (India) and 3 (Switzerland). TtR is one of the easiest games to learn, but even though you can only do 1 of 3 things on your turn, it's not always easy to decide what to do, and it can actually be quite intense... Non-gamers REALLY like this game!

Blokus is a nice abstract game as is Qwirkle. I think I prefer the latter, and so do most of the persons I play with. Ingenious is a great abstract too, and I can definitely suggest any one of those (or all 3, but 3 abstracts might be a bit too much without any other games). All of them work well with 2-4 players (though Blokus isn't any good with 3).

You mention Forbidden Island, and it's a nice co-op, but I think its big brother, Pandemic, is superior in many ways and it's not that much harder to learn! Just a few pages of rules. It's truly nice to own a co-op game when you aren't in the mood to bash eachother... So, Pandemic is another great game I would like to suggest, and the number of players really don't matter as you can always play for instance 2 roles each.

If you want to take just a little step up from these games I've mentioned, Stone Age is a wonderful game! It's one of the best lighter worker placement games, and it's really not that hard to learn. Also, I think it scales quite well from 2-4 players. It's my favorite gateway game to the worker placement games

I hope you will find a couple of games you like among those mentioned by me and by others - I think a lot of them are absolutely great for 2 (and more) new-to-this-fantastic-board-game-world players!
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