Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 Hide
28 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » Recommendations

Subject: "Relatively Modern Classics" for Two Players - Help Me Choose From This List! rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
MAKANA McDONALD
United States
BRONX
NY
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
For Christmas, I want to get my father something he and I can play together. He's really into classic games like Backgammon and Cribbage. I wanted to get him something more modern, that could still be considered a "classic" game.

It will usually be only me and him playing together, so the game has to work extremely well with two players. I am also considering games designed specifically for two players.

The game must have some element of random luck involved, whether it's a small element or a large one. (This rules out games such as Hive and Blokus.)

Finally, I'd strongly prefer games that are fun and have high replay value without their expansions (if applicable).

Here's a list of everything I've been considering so far:

Carcassonne - This game looks like my best bet; it seems like the perfect example of a modern classic that plays amazingly well with two players. The only thing I somewhat dislike is that there doesn't seem to be a strong sense of conflict between the competing players, but if this game can live up to its reputation, that doesn't really matter.

• Carcassonne Big Box 3 - I'm also considering spending more money, and avoiding the problem of the game getting stale without expansions by simply buying expansions. Is the Big Box worth the extra cost?

Dominion - This looks very fun, but I'm not so sure if it's the best option for two players, and I'm iffy about the card design. (Why isn't the silver silver?)

• Dominion Big Box - Same idea as before; spend more money, get expansions. However, this is even more money than the Carcassonne box, and I'm really hesitant to spend that much on one gift.

Pandemic - I could solves the problem of not having enough intense conflict between players, by completely eliminating the conflict altogether, and going with an intense co-op game. I'm not sure if this is my (or my dad's) thing, though, and I'm also not sure how well this plays with two.

Ticket to Ride - Yet another game that I'm not sure is good enough with only two. But, it's another game that some people consider absolutely essential to own, so I'm considering it.

Citadels - This is the only game on this list that's not on the 2012 Gift Guide, and it's omission seems a little strange to me, considering how many people absolutely love it. But yet again, how well does it work with two? I've heard that with two players, each player has to pick two characters instead of one, which is a little unusual.

Jaipur - Finally, a game besides Carcassonne that I know works well with two players, since it's designed for two! This game rivals Carcassonne in terms of aesthetic quality, too. But, is good enough (and replayable enough) to be considered a "classic"?

Lost Cities - This seems quite similar to Jaipur in some ways. Is it better, or worse?

Mr. Jack - I own Mr. Jack Pocket, which is really fun, but actually a completely different game from Mr. Jack. Again, I think this probably would be really fun, but I'm not sure if it's quite good enough to be considered a "classic" like Carcassonne.

Small World - This just barely makes the list, since my dad enjoys Risk, and it would be nice to have a similar game that can scale down to two players. However, it seems to get extremely mixed reviews, especially with only two.

• Anything Else - I'm definitely open to suggestions. If there's something else you think I should be considering, please let me know!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
NeonNocturne wrote:
Carcassonne - This game looks like my best bet; it seems like the perfect example of a modern classic that plays amazingly well with two players. The only thing I somewhat dislike is that there doesn't seem to be a strong sense of conflict between the competing players, but if this game can live up to its reputation, that doesn't really matter.

Some people (erroneously) think Carcassonne is meant to be played as a peaceful non-competitive "don't intefere with each other" building game.

But nothing in the game forces that. It can be played quite competitively with conflict, e.g. maneuvering to steal at the last minute the points from a city in which an opponent has had their pieces invested for a long time, or playing a tile to make their city literally unable to be completed so they never get their pieces back.

I don't think you need to add all the expansions. The base game is fine, although most people I know agree that the Inns & Cathedrals expansion is the most worthy expansion to add.

Also see the lesser known Carcassonne: The Discovery (which we like more than regular Carcassonne, but caveat emptor, it seems less popular with many people.)

Quote:
Dominion - This looks very fun, but I'm not so sure if it's the best option for two players, and I'm iffy about the card design. (Why isn't the silver silver?)

Works fine for 2, but not so much direct interaction.

Quote:
Citadels - This is the only game on this list that's not on the 2012 Gift Guide, and it's omission seems a little strange to me, considering how many people absolutely love it. But yet again, how well does it work with two? I've heard that with two players, each player has to pick two characters instead of one, which is a little unusual.

Too much randomness/chaos for my taste, and yeah, the 2-player rules are different from multiplayer rules.

Quote:
Mr. Jack - I own Mr. Jack Pocket, which is really fun, but actually a completely different game from Mr. Jack. Again, I think this probably would be really fun, but I'm not sure if it's quite good enough to be considered a "classic" like Carcassonne.

It's a quite clever good 2-player game, and unusually asymmetric.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David B
United States
Chesapeake
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Since your father is not familiar with modern games I would keep it simple. I really think Jaipur and Lost Cities are your best bets from the list you have. Dominion could overwhelm someone in your Dad's situation. But it does sound like a card game is your best bet and Jaipur or Lost Cities are both great choices.
Also, if your dad was ever a dominoes player, a light game you might both enjoy is Ingenious
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
MAKANA McDONALD
United States
BRONX
NY
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
pfctsqr wrote:
Since your father is not familiar with modern games I would keep it simple. I really think Jaipur and Lost Cities are your best bets from the list you have. Dominion could overwhelm someone in your Dad's situation.


Good point; I'll stick to something simpler. But isn't Carcassonne fairly simple to learn, as well?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David B
United States
Chesapeake
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
NeonNocturne wrote:
pfctsqr wrote:
Since your father is not familiar with modern games I would keep it simple. I really think Jaipur and Lost Cities are your best bets from the list you have. Dominion could overwhelm someone in your Dad's situation.


Good point; I'll stick to something simpler. But isn't Carcassonne fairly simple to learn, as well?


The actual play of the game is fairly simple, but keeping track of how each feature scores, especially the farms, can be frustrating. Oh yeash, you can't go wrong with Ticket To Ride either since since its essentially Rummy. But for two players only, I prefer Jaipur if you go with a card based game. But both are extremely easy to learn, teach, play, and score and both are fun. So its a toss up.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Many people seem to like Carc. (I'm not among them, but don't let that stop you.)
I find Dominion is best with 2; I'm rarely willing to play it with more. Plenty of replay even in just the base set, but it's less interactive than the expansions. Still, a solid choice.
I wouldn't buy a Big Box of either until you know you (and/or your dad) like a game.
Pandemic is an odd duck; some people really like co-op games, and some people really don't. It's less interesting w/2p, regardless.
TtR is not made for 2, and certainly not essential. I'd skip it.
Citadels I'd likewise skip with 2, and I also think the many people who hate it is a fine reason to keep it off the Gift Guide.
Jaipur I haven't played, but hear nothing but praise about.
Lost Cities is a classic, and if your father likes Cribbage, probably something he'd pick up easily and not mind playing. Doesn't have a lot of replay in my mind, but then again if he has replayed Cribbage a lot, maybe.
Mr. Jack is a very cool game, but a brain-buster for sure. That could be a big plus or minus, depending.
Small World is not great with 2. But I'll agree that if he likes Risk, he might dig it.

Speaking of which, if he likes classic games, you might consider modern "themed upgrades" of classic games.
e.g. Yahtzee --> To Court the King, Gin Rummy --> Wyatt Earp, Stratego --> Hera and Zeus, etc.

Finally, you might watch the Fantasy Flight holiday sales to see if any spare copies of Blue Moon are kicking around.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
MAKANA McDONALD
United States
BRONX
NY
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
pfctsqr wrote:
The actual play of the game is fairly simple, but keeping track of how each feature scores, especially the farms, can be frustrating.


I should add that he's not exactly an idiot. He may prefer simpler things like Backgammon - but he's read quite a few advanced strategy books on Backgammon that are hundreds of pages long, and he's probably one of the best players in the world. I'm sure he has the patience to take ten minutes to learn a slightly complicated scoring system.

I watched a tutorial video on how to play the base Carcassonne game, and there's really nothing in there that's overly confusing. Even the farms seem straightforward once you get the hang of figuring out their boundaries; knowing that farms score 3 per completed bordering city once the game is over and calculating that is almost trivial.

That having been said, we both prefer games that are easy to learn, and hard to master. I agree with you that a game like Dominion, where rules and abilities are printed on the cards themselves, might be a little too much, at least for an introduction to modern gaming.

At the moment, I'm heavily leaning towards Carcassonne, Jaipur, or Mr. Jack.

Osirus wrote:
...


Thanks for your feedback! I'm still leaning towards Jaipur over Lost Cities, but I'll keep the latter in mind.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mads Fløe
Denmark
Aarhus C
DK
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If your dad is indeed one of the best backgammon players in hte world, then I think Carcassonne might be a bit too simplistic, but I'm not sure. All I can tel you is that when I play it as a 2 player game, there really isn't much choice but one or two obvious ones. In a 3 or 4 player game, that changes dramatically.

Have you looked at:

Ingenious - randomness is the similar (not the same though) as Carcassonne as you draw tiles and place them each turn.

On the other hand, if you are not the big "mensa" kind of gamer, then I would suggest you find a game that have appeal to the casino/push your luck sort of element of Backgammon. Something in which you at some point can "bet" that you have an edge on your opponent. I can't think if any, but I can sort of long shoot you this little game:

Chipleader

I saw the game presented on the Essen 2012 live stream here on BGG, and what looked like a silly filler game, really did catch my interest for the casino kind of elements and unusual game play (for a card game). If it makes any difference, I also like Backgammon a lot. Like I said, it's a long shot, but something you might both enjoy, And it should be quite cheap too.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would nudge you towards Carcassonne, with the caveat that it's not always a game which immediately jumps out at people. However, if the man has the patience to read Backgammon strategy books, I imagine he's not the type who would dismiss a game on a first impression.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Laura Creighton
Sweden
Göteborg
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If your father is a decent Cribbage and Backgammon player I wouldn't worry about any of these games being too difficult for him. It's also more important that you like to play the game than it counts as a 'classic'. It's rather the reverse -- if your father is a good backgammon or cribbage player, I would much rather play backgammon or cribbage with him than everything on your list but Mr. Jack.

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries is designed for 2 or 3. If you want to get TTR, this is the one you should get. Another one that I would play instead of cribbage -- but not every time, either.

Mr. Jack has the 'easy to teach, difficult to master' factor that you are looking for. Most people find it harder to play Jack than the Inspector, so especially when you are both new at this, expect the Inspector to win a lot more than Jack does. As you get better, it becomes easier to win as Jack, but you will still end up at the 55% wins for the Inspector 45% wins for Jack -- or maybe 60/40 if you are like most people. If you need the odds to be 50/50 then this is not the game for you, or you can play with a point scoring system, where a Jack win is worth 3 points to Jack, an Inspector win is worth 3 points to the Inspector if it happens before the last round, but a last round win for the Inspector is only worth 2 points. And then play to 10 or something. I haven't worked out exactly what the point score should be, as the 50/50 chance isn't something we care about at all.

Lost Cities may be a classic, but I don't think there is anything to master there. I suspect you would get very bored with it very quickly.

I don't recommend Citadels with 2 people. It's a 'what would you do if there were 2 of you on a desert island and the only game you had was Citadels ' sort of game.

I don't know how Smallworld plays with 2, since I really don't like the game.

So pick something you like to play. If this works out, you will be playing a lot of it, after all.

I'd also order Love Letter, which is not a classic, but a hot new thing -- so new that it's not even released until the first week of December. But you can preorder it from www.coolstuffinc. now. It's very inexpensive ($6.50). And if, as is possible, what your father wants in games is 'very short games (hands), and you play many of them in a match to a certain score' -- something that is common to both backgammon and cribbage, then you will have something to play that works like this. It's also a lot of fun.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David B
United States
Chesapeake
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Just to be a jerk and make your decision even harder, a route buidling game that also uses cards that I find more engaging than Ticket to Ride but still easy to teach (but tough to master) is Thurn and Taxis. The board has some history on it, which may add to the conversation. Also, Thurn and Taxis scales better to 2 than TtR.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gertrude McFuzz

New York
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've found, when introducing modern games to traditional game players, to pay attention to the kind of games they enjoy. My extended family is heavily into card games and party games. When I bring games for them to play, I choose card games like Bohnanza, and they are almost always gung ho. My dad likes abstracts and chess, so I choose abstracts for him, etc.

Your dad sounds smart, but it sounds like he likes games with a simple rule base and depth of play. I haven't tried them, but what about abstracts like ZÈRTZ? I also agree that Ingenious or Mr. Jack might be a good choice as well.

Many people dislike one or more of the traditional gateway games because it doesn't suit them. Carcassonne is heavily visual, and that can be challenging for some people, although it does have a tremendous amount of replayability and some great interaction, so as long as your dad is cool with the amount of visual/spatial skills necessary for the game, I would lean in that direction as well. And if the spatial thing is particularly appealling, Taluva is a simple interative and semi-abstract spatial game you might want to consider as well.

And, since you mentionned Risk, I just wanted to suggest Nexus Ops which feels like a shorter, more interesting, risk type game, as long as the theme doesn't put either if you off.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Josh Bodah
United States
Cambridge
MA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Battle Line - The conflict is fairly tense, but the gameplay is simple and enjoyable

Jaipur - Great 2 player trading game

Lost Cities - I prefer Battle Line here since it is more thinky

Dominion - Okay, a lot better with expansions (Intrigue, Prosperity, Seaside)

Pandemic - Really interesting coop. You can play it out if you play too much, but I still find it very fun. Easy to hook new gamers with this one

Carcassonne - Simple concepts, but I agree that the game's scoring is difficult to remember. Can be fairly cutthorat
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David B
United States
Chesapeake
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think the reason I steer people away from Carcassonne is that I never liked it very much. I also tried Casrcassonne: The City and found it to be worse than Carcassonne. My judgement may be unfair as I have never tried the base game with any of the expansions, but I do not like Carcassonne enough to buy any of the expansions.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Leonard Moses II
United States
Hixson
Tennessee
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Innovation
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Neil Maher
Ireland
Dublin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nearly all of my games have been 2 player with my wife (who would not classify herself as a gamer despite being the victor in most games we play). We own Citadels, Dominion, Carcassone and Lost Cities from your list and if I could pick only 1 of these to recommend to you it would be Lost Cities.

Reasons: 1) It was our gateway game as a couple into the world of non-monopoly, Scrabble type games.

2) Easy to learn

3) Quick set-up time

4) You can play a number of games in a row.

The other games I feel haven't always lived up to their billing or lasted over time, whereas we still enjoy taking Lost Cities down. I also think that Citadels, Dominion and even Carcassone would play better with more than 2 players.

One game which you could also consider is Samurai (same game designer as Lost Cities). Again we have only played as 2 player but we have enjoyed every game. It is easy to learn and you could get a couple of games in at a time. Set-up time is quick but fiddly.

Good luck!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark L
United Kingdom
Belfast
Northern Ireland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
I haven't played most of these games, so can't really talk about them, but I'll comment on Carcassonne, since I know it well...

It's a great game with 2 players, and also plays well (if differently) with 3 or 4. There is a lot more strategy to it than may at first appear, and there can be a great deal of conflict in blocking other players from completing features, or manoeuvring yourself into those features to steal points.

Some of the expansions work better with more than 2 players. If you're going to be playing it mainly as a 2-player game, the only expansion I'd strongly recommend is Inns & Cathedrals, which increases conflict and smooths off one or two rough edges without majorly altering the gameplay. I always include it when I'm playing Carcassonne, and the game feels "flat" to me without it.

If you'll be playing it with multiple players as well, Big Box 3 is excellent value. It includes both Inns & Cathedrals and the second-best expansion, Traders & Builders.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
I would suggest you consider Dominion & Citadels. Citadels is only really a game for two or three players and with two it is a great bluffing game. Dominion meshs perfectly with his enjoyment of Backgammon. The game has a key driver of luck but you make decisions with that luck to improve your likelihood of having better luck. It plays quickly but actually provides a contrast to his usual game choices with lots of theme and artwork.

Carcassonne is a good game of conflict but is not all that deep. If you'd like to avoid buying expansions for it, buy the Hunters and Gatherers version.

Ticket to Ride, Lost Cities and Jaipur are more suited to people very new to gaming of any sort rather than an experienced backgammon player.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
I wanted to get him something more modern, that could still be considered a "classic" game.

The game that springs immediately to my mind is Tigris & Euphrates. Although it's only 15 years old, it feels like it could have been excavated from a Mesopotamian tomb. I think of it as the perfect marriage of the spatial strategy of chess and the risk management of poker.

It has a significant random element (tile draw), huge replayability and works well with 2 (though maybe a little better with more).
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason
Canada
Pickering
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'd go with Carcassonne or Jaipur.. but I agree Carcassonne can get a bit cutthroat if playing with certain people.. it's easy to learn though, and can be a relaxing game. Just remove farming scoring if it's too much (my parents hate playing with farmers).
I agree with xipuloxx, Inns&Cathedrals is a must have expansion, and I also really like adding the Rivers in.

Jaipur I can't say anything bad about. it's great.

I've heard Ticket to Ride: Nordic countries is best one for two, as lacreighton also mentions.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stefano Tine'
Italy
Genoa
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
+1 Lost Cities

For something a little fancier which works best with 2 players let me suggest an unknown gem: Africana. It is a pick-up & delivery game, it is easy to learn, it involves tactical decision and a bit of strategy. With 2 players it quickly becomes challenging and tense, with luck playing a small (but not null) part. You can try it online for free on www.boardgames-online.net, just send me a msg (user: barbanera) if you cannot find any other playing partner for a quick game (most games are played asynchronously).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Life is a lamp-flame before a wind.
msg tools
badge
mu
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My gut feeling tells me your father might enjoy Samurai. Comparatively simple rules, classic board game feel, quite strategic, plays well with two players.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Butsudoka wrote:
My gut feeling tells me your father might enjoy Samurai. Comparatively simple rules, classic board game feel, quite strategic, plays well with two players.

Good call.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tea or Coffee?
United States
Ellisville
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Butsudoka wrote:
My gut feeling tells me your father might enjoy Samurai. Comparatively simple rules, classic board game feel, quite strategic, plays well with two players.


Or in the same vein, Through the Desert.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
industrial strength wrote:
Butsudoka wrote:
My gut feeling tells me your father might enjoy Samurai. Comparatively simple rules, classic board game feel, quite strategic, plays well with two players.


Or in the same vein, Through the Desert.

I almost said that too, but the OP wrote:

Quote:
The game must have some element of random luck involved, whether it's a small element or a large one. (This rules out games such as Hive and Blokus.)
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
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.