Recommend
1 
 Thumb up
 Hide
16 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » Recommendations

Subject: Recommendations for 2 Types of 2 Player Games rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Neo Elemental
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Hi all,

I'm looking to expand my game collection in the upcoming weeks, and would love input from you all. There are two large slots that I'd like to fill in my tiny, but growing, collection, and I'll do my best to nebulously define what I'm looking for here.

I play largely with my brother, whom I live with, although I do have a variety of friends who are down to board-game every once in a while. The bread and butter of our group sessions is Settlers Cities and Knights (not owned by myself), although I've brought Power Grid and the group hasn't been averse to that. We tend to be engineers, nerds, and spouses of engineers/nerds (my friend works for Con Ed, so he particularly enjoys Power Grid). My brother tends to have a proclivity towards Fantasy (our latest purchase was Descent), while I have one towards Sci Fi (also pre-ordering Eclipse).

Games owned:
Descent - The current new buy and champ of my 2-player playtime. That being said, I often screw myself for the next workday by staying up til 2AM to finish a quest...
Power Grid - Enjoy the intense economic aspect of it, definitely on the mathy/cognitive side with an equally nerdy theme. I love it, but not the most accessible game ever...
Dominion - An interesting endeavor, although somehow I'm never quite as satisfied. My plays have usually ended up with multiple people racing along the same strategy, or one person trying something new and interesting and invariably losing.
Ticket to Ride - A little stale with 2 people. Nice as a gateway, but definitely a bit too simple for when it's just my brother and me
Blokus - Good fun when I'm looking to think, but not think ahead. Goes great with a drink on the side (although so do oh so many others).
Bang! - An awesome game I love, in the vein of mafia, but free from the paralysis of no evidence. Sometimes hard to get the right number for (thinking of grabbing Resistance soon).
Time's Up - Favorite Party Game. Period.

The two categories I'm trying to fill are:

1. a diagonal step in complexity/elegance from Settlers with similar play-time, okay/playable with 2 and better with more (4 or 5)
2. a short two player game (most like card-based)

In terms of playtime, it would go Descent, Eclipse, Category 1, Category 2. I would just like to have a solid game for any given time availability.

My brother and I are generally okay with most game-types, and enjoy the rather meta process of breaking down a game's mechanics and strategies. I, therefore, prefer games with slightly different mechanics to games that I own. I've done some general research in the area and below are my shortlists for games that I think fulfill the loosely defined criteria above, although I'm not opposed to outside suggestions.

Other notes:

Since I'm relatively new to the genre, I'm also generally okay with playing games that others might consider overplayed or popular or whatever (we're still playing Catan after all ). That being said, if some game has come along and really improved or streamlined a set of mechanics, I would prefer buying the most refined product, not having to go through multiple iterations of the same mechanic. I guess that threshold where a game's mechanics are similar enough to be fully substitutable as games is very subjective, but I think mine is rather high, since I haven't played enough games to really have a particularly granular palate for game mechanics.

Category 1:
Puerto Rico
Agricola
Caylus
Le Havre
Princes of Florence

Category 2:
Lost Cities
2 de Mayo
Battle Line
San Juan

Betweenish (maybe not on the list for this go around, but next?)
Few Acres of Snow
Goa
Tigris and Euphrates

Please try not to recommend them all! That's precisely the problem I'm trying to get around. Especially of the Agricola-Caylus-LeHavre triplet, I'm curious to know if one outpaces the others, particularly in terms of tightness or updating mechanics.

Thanks all!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Dunford
Canada
Kemptville
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
1. Dominion
2. Dominion

If you want 1. to be 90-120 minutes, then perhaps Agricola or Puerto Rico... but they're quite a bit more complex (heavier) than Settlers.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Neo Elemental
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Haha, I do have Dominion! I will edit to include a quick list of games I own.

Dominion in short: Market op.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Captain Spaulding
United States
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Agricola.
And hands down, don't even give it a second thought - San Juan.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Dunford
Canada
Kemptville
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
OK... to throw something non-standard out there:

1. Ninjato
- plays a little bit like Agricola/Puerto Rico/Stone Age, but lighter and a different theme that is incorporated neatly into the game. 2-4 players.

2. Mr. Jack
- fairly quick 2-player deduction game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin B. Smith
United States
Mercer Island
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
iNano78 wrote:
1. Ninjato
- plays a little bit like Agricola/Puerto Rico/Stone Age, but lighter and a different theme that is incorporated neatly into the game. 2-4 players.

It may be lighter than the first two, but it is heavier than Stone Age. Also, Ninjato has much more direct player interaction (attacks, of a sort), which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you like.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick Holzgrafe
United States
Happy Valley
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"the understandably frightening and chimeric semicolon" -- HiveGod
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
For a really good Category 2 game (short and elegant) I would recommend either Dominion (medieval theme, nice artwork, but not strongly themed) or Eminent Domain (science fiction theme, nicely realized). These are both card games, and both are deeper than they may seem at first glance.

Dominion has a ton of expansions but you don't have to have them. If you try it and like it and want more, I'd recommend the Dominion: Seaside expansion as the best.

Eminent Domain has no expansions yet, other than a small set of "bonus planet" cards currently available in the Geek Store, but an expansion is in the works. Again, it doesn't need an expansion! There's great fun and playability right out of the box.

Of the games you listed for Category 2, I haven't played 2 de Mayo but would definitely recommend San Juan as the best of the rest. Great game.

For Category 1: Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence are my picks for the best of the ones you listed, but neither plays with just two players. Agricola, Le Havre, and Caylus all play well with two. Of those, Caylus is a remarkably intense, 2 or 2.5 hour chess match for two players: once the board has been set up, there is no luck or randomness in the game. As you add players, it gets more chaotic. I like it best with two. Agricola plays well with any number and is a very good, very popular game. Probably my favorite of the three is Le Havre, which plays well with two-to-four but is perhaps too tight and chaotic with five. Le Havre can be daunting until you get used to it: there are a million cards to keep track of, and you just have to get familiar with them before you can use them well.

Bottom line: all of your Category 1 picks are fine games. Pick the one or ones whose characteristics best suit your tastes and situation, and you should be very happy.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Neo Elemental wrote:
That's precisely the problem I'm trying to get around. Especially of the Agricola-Caylus-LeHavre triplet, I'm curious to know if one outpaces the others, particularly in terms of tightness or updating mechanics.


Of the Agricola/Caylus/Le Havre triplet, I'd recommend Agricola without hesitation. It's an excellent game, with massive variety from one game to the next; you'll get an awful lot of milage out of Agricola.

(also, bare in mind that Le Havre - despite being an excellent game - is currently out of print, and sold out at most retailers; you might have difficulty sourcing a copy of that one)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Neo Elemental
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Thanks for all the suggestions thus far. Just to clarify, I do own Dominion. I do enjoy the deck-building process, but I find that I love the visceral process of placing blocks, counters, etc. As Dominion was in my last batch of purchases, I would prefer not to get something too much in the same vein. Additionally, I find that with setup, Dominion takes a bit longer than the "short" time frame I'm looking for with my Category 2.

Agricola seems to get as many vigorous thumbs up in that trio as thumbs down, but maybe that's just the cult of the new making their voices heard.

As a side comment, some have noted that Puerto Rico doesn't play two, but I was under the impression that the 10th anniversary edition has explicit rules for 2 and that there is a well documented set of rules for the non-10th ann editions as well. Is the 10th Anniversary version worth 1.5-2x the price of the original? I'm not budget constrained, but I don't have a money pile to set aflame either...

Also, if I end up getting Puerto Rico, does that overlap too much with San Juan? Again, everyone has a different opinion here, but I think I would prefer two games not thematically explicitly linked to one another, even if their mechanics are different.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kathy Sheets
United States
Stuart
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I can only speak to Category 2 and I don't want to diss Lost Cities, but I think you'll find it way too light and pretty much a one-trick pony. Out of your choices, I think you'll find San Juan the best.

Have you thought of At the Gates of Loyang for your Category 1 choice? I haven't played it, but from what I've read it sounds like fun. (My guys won't play a game of that length, even though it's not like it's epic or anything.) I think it's supposed to be good 2p, also.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Captain Spaulding
United States
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If you have the dough, definitely splurge for the Anniversary Edition of PR if you choose that over Agricola.

BTW, Agricola is definitely not a case of the cult of the new, it's an amazing game. And if you like the tactile aspect of gaming, it has it in spades - much of the fun is in setting up the cubes and wooden pieces that represent your farm, fences, livestock, crops, etc.

I don't think owning Puerto Rico the board game overlaps too much with San Juan. They're different enough. That said, I still give the nod to Agricola... unless you go for the Anniversary Edition of PR - then it's a toss up for me.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Neo Elemental
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Sorry, to clarify, I meant those speaking against Agricola in favor of Le Havre represented the cult of the new.

That being said, I don't know that they're not onto something. I've definitely heard well reasoned responses either way, and I guess it is hard to predict how I would react without playing the game directly.

The stuff I've read has come down to two main things:

1) averting disaster vs. choosing the best from a pool of good

Agricola is painted in the stark reality of feeding your family, whereas Le Havre you're always in the green, it's just a manner of how far you are in the green (some allegory for farmers vs. merchants maybe?)

2) really really random vs. sort of random

Agricola is often lauded for its incredible re-playability due to the large supply of game-altering cards and roles and such, but some people say that drains the strategic element more than in something like Le Havre.

I'm fairly sure these can all be true, but I guess I'm not sure where I fall along the spectrum. Maybe I'll just have to bite the bullet and get both whistledevil

But I really shouldn't...cry
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M K
United States
flag msg tools
From your description, I might recommend Samurai for you for category 2 (although it obviously plays with 4). Light on theme, but if you're into breaking down possible strategies, I think it's a great option. It's clearly heavier than Lost Cities/Battleline (the two from your Cat 2 list that I've played), but it still plays pretty fast.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Captain Spaulding
United States
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Not that this will make your decision easier, but I don't think Le Havre really counts as cult of the new either. There are three newer games by the designer available, including one which I would say does qualify, called Ora et Labora, which is quickly selling out and has been described as most similar to Le Havre. Take that with a grain of salt though; many people stayed away from Le Havre at first because it was described as similar to Agricola (myself included) only to kick themselves later for not discovering another brilliant game.

Then there are Uwe's other two games that have come out since Le Havre, both underrated. At the Gates of Loyang (my wife's favorite of the bunch, it's basically Jambo on steroids) and Merkator.

I have played all the games I mentioned except for Ora et Labora and I disagree with claims that any of them are too similar to any others. If you're a fan of meatier euros of this type, the only reason not to play all of them, IMO, is the expense.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Neo Elemental
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Mr_Bickman wrote:


I have played all the games I mentioned except for Ora et Labora and I disagree with claims that any of them are too similar to any others. If you're a fan of meatier euros of this type, the only reason not to play all of them, IMO, is the expense.



Sigh, that's what I figured. If you had to choose an order, would you go chronological? Haha.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff Hall
United Kingdom
Yate
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
From your category 1 choices I'd definitely go for Agricola.

I can't really help with Category 2 as of those I've only played Lost Cities, which is a decent enough 2 player game but I prefer Dragonheart for something of similar weight and much prefer Race for the Galaxy to either of them as it's a much deeper game that you can still knock out in 15-20 mins 2 player (and which goes up to 4 with the base game and 5 or 6 with expansions).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.