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Subject: 2 player games rss

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Josh Taylor
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I have a vague question (sorry). What makes for a good 2-player game?
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Sturv Tafvherd
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MagiMaster wrote:
I have a vague question (sorry). What makes for a good 2-player game?


It depends on the two players.
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Nate K
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Ho, boy. Well, for starters, a good two-player game includes things that any good game includes: meaningful decisions, not too much downtime, a sufficient amount of interaction between the players, and that ephemeral feeling of fun.
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Brandon Duhon
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MagiMaster wrote:
I have a vague question (sorry). What makes for a good 2-player game?


Well, here's my general answer:

I think there are several answers but in my personal opinion, the #1 thing that makes a good 2-player game is - high depth gameplay vs low number of rules.

The perfect example would be chess. Compared to something like D&D, chess has hardly any rules at all, and yet the game can be played for one's whole life without getting sick of it. Super high depth gameplay, but very low number of rules.

Something like D&D has high depth gameplay but also a very high number of rules. So the game is really fun, but the audience is MUCH smaller because not everyone wants to go through the process of learning a bunch of rules for a game.
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David Boeren
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I'm not sure it's much different than what makes a good game with any other number of players.
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Ethan Larson
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Play Aton, Quarto!, and Twilight Struggle to see the range of possibilities for 2P games. These are all good, and all very different from one another.
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Josh Taylor
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dboeren wrote:
I'm not sure it's much different than what makes a good game with any other number of players.


There's got to be some differences. Ignoring D&D (the need for the DM throws things off), games like Monopoly (just off the top of my head) just don't work with only two players. I think there are a lot of mechanics that don't work as well with only two players, but maybe it's something else.
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Nate K
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Josh brings up a good point. I think balance is more important in two-players games. With three or more players, a runaway leader has to deal with two or more people ganging up on him or her. In a two player game, the designer cannot expect the social aspects of the game to provide balance--the mechanics themselves have to be balanced. Each path to victory has to be equally valid--or at least, equal enough that one strategy does not become dominant and obvious.
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Russ Williams
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dboeren wrote:
I'm not sure it's much different than what makes a good game with any other number of players.

I basically agree, although there are some things that make multiplayer games good which are not relevant for 2-player games. E.g. debates about kingmaking and player elimination become irrelevant in a 2-player context.

So I'd be tempted to say "whatever makes games good in general" minus "whatever is strictly about making multiplayer games good".

And just as different people have different answers for "what makes a multiplayer game good?" there are different answers for "what makes a 2-player game good?"

E.g. different preferences about:
* game length
* rules complexity
* randomness
* hidden info
* "negative interaction" / "direct confrontation" / "ability to hurt the opponent" / "nastiness"
* theme
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Filip W.
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Euros are better with dice!
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Stormtower wrote:
MagiMaster wrote:
I have a vague question (sorry). What makes for a good 2-player game?


It depends on the two players.


Definitely. A good 2 player game for one set of players will be horrible for another. For example, I enjoy EuroFront II, which goes for some 60 hours that include over 20 hours of downtime (or more, depending on the side you play). There are people in my gaming group who'd rather cut their leg off than suffer through that.

On the other hand, if you're aiming at the mass market, you pretty much have to go with a filler type game as players who enjoy long and tough games can sacrifice themselves for a 30 minute game (it's only 30 minutes) but players who enjoy fillers probably won't go for a 60 hour game.

Other than that, it all depends on the players.
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Sam Mercer
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Emergent Gameplay is a word that is banded around quite a lot especially concerning abstracts (and 2 players games) basically like this. Imagine novices playing Poker or chess. They would have no idea what to do, they JUSST ABOUT understand the rules, and as such the game wouldn't be very exciting, it would essentially be chance.

As soon as you put two pros in front of eachother - the game changes.

Poker: Highest suit wins, betting at every round.

That's it, that's all the rules. YET people love it and people swear by it and people even earn a living from it. I think here (and in chess) that the fun aspect occurs when the game's components allow a level of interaction in which the players carry on the games rules and create there own game: The Meta Game. (game within a game) same applies to scissors paper stone, go, eat poop you cat, charades, minecraft, high level fps console games, mmo's etc etc - the great games always have this secret level of game in which the game only gives os much, but is geared in a way that the players can continue the direction and create more and more within the clearly marked boundary of the rules.

I would say that. The easiest way to plaster a load of that into a game is encourage some kind of very expansive interaction.

think dominion - it is a good game, but some people criticise it and say that it is a multi-player solitaire game. You play against yourself really, the only time when interaction comes into it is the action-attack cards, and the fact that there are only so many stockpiles and end-level-victory cards (what are they called again?).

And for me it is easy to see that these two elements (action:attack, and "Oh no, there is only 1 card left!!") are the two main reasons why the game is really fun - and thus we see that the rest of the game is somewhat irrelevant to these two critical parts. These two parts that can create "emergent gameplay" , these two elements of "[b]interaction[/b[".
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Bob Briggs
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What makes a great 2 player game for some can be a disastrous play for others which makes it hard to give a shout out for a particular game. You need to decide how much time you have to play, which makes a difference in game play for some can take 30 minutes, others, hours. What style of game play do you both enjoy, (war, fantasy,kingdom building, math, etc.), and then narrow down the options of what you are looking for. What might be one gamers paradise is another gamers nightmare (which, if you are playing a nightmare game can be a good thing). So you need to know what works for the second person and what works for you in interests and with that common ground find a few games...once established, don't be afraid to venture out and try something different, spice is the season of life.
A nice example Hannibal Rome vs. Carthage, it is a 2 person military strategy game which takes at least 2 hours...so if you like military strategy and have a few hours, it is a good choice, but if you don't have a few hours, and don't like military games, well...
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Josh Taylor
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On a related note, which mechanics do you think are less fun with fewer players? I'd say that most auction/bidding mechanics need more than 2 players to produce interesting results.
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