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Subject: Through the Desert or Alhambra? rss

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Greg Gresik
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Bolingbrook
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Basically, I'm looking for a game that is a solid 2 player games for my wife and I. We've played Settler's 2 player variants, but find that they simply are too dependant on die rolls (without trading and robber decisions (you always play him on the same person) it looses too much of strategy. We play chess occasionally and have played Ticket to Ride: Europe (she likes Catan much better) We also have a 10 and a 9 year old who play Settler's, Seafarer's, Loot, Epic Duels, etc. with us. I like the idea that both Through the Desert and Alhambra would work as a multi-player as well. We will be buying Carcassonne with whatever else we decide to get.

Here's what I'm looking for in a nutshell: a game that is good as a 2 player (first), upscales fairly well (second), can be played in 60 minutes or less and has a decent amount of strategy. Was even considering Citadels or A Dog's Life. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks in advance.
 
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Nick Fisk
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Stoke on Trent
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That's weird. This bit used to mention Shire Games, and tell you all how wonderful we are. But it seems to have got deleted. Let's see what happens this time ....
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Of the two you mention, I would say that Alhambra makes the nicer 2-player game and scales well up to 4, whereas Through the Desert is better with 4, and less so with just 2.

My first thought was Carcassonne, then noticed you;re getting it anyway.

St Petersburg scales well from 2-4.

Attika scales nicely to 4, and is an excellent 2 player game

Around the World in 80 Days wouldn't be a bad choice

Palazzo is a nice 2-4 player game

.... they're off the top of my head.

Sorry to cloud your choices

N.
 
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Greg Gresik
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No - I like clouds

Thanks for the suggestions - an excuse to spend more time researching games.
 
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Kane Klenko
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Ridgeway
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For me, the answer would unquestionably be Through the Desert. They are very different games though.

Through the Desert is an excellent 2 player game that scales well to 5 players. I think it loses a little at 5 players, but it still plays fine.
Alhambra is a good 2 player game that scales well up to maybe 4 players.
Not much difference there.

Through the Desert plays in about 20-30 minutes and has you engrossed the entire time. Alhambra plays in about an hour (in my experience, even a little longer) and doesn't give you much to think about when it's not your turn.

Through the Desert has some randomness in the water hole setup, but in the actual game there is no luck. Alhambra has luck in both the cards that are available to you on your turn as well as the tiles that are available. In the 2 player game you also play against a ghost player (Dirk) and his hand of tiles are randomly drawn.
Luck in games is certainly not a bad thing, but you certainly have much less control in Alhambra than you do in Through the Desert.

Overall, I think Through the Desert is just a better game. It plays in a fraction of the time while giving a much deeper gaming experience. It has simple rules that are very easy to learn but has multiple paths to victory.

I would rate Through the Desert as a 9 or 10 and Alhambra as a 6.5 or 7.

As a side note, Palazzo is a game sort of similar to Alhambra, but in my opinion much much better. Again, it plays faster and gives you more options on your turn without sacrificing any of the simplicity or elegance. Alhambra was one of my wife's favorite games (although she would prefer Through the Desert too), but after playing Palazzo she said that she would never want to play Alhambra again. Palazzo offered the same type of gaming experience in a much better package.

So, I'd say get Through the Desert and then get Palazzo. Alhambra is a good game though, so I don't think you'll be disappointed with it...it's just that the other 2 are better.
 
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Michelle Zentis
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I'd recommend both Through the Desert and Alhambra -- both have been huge hits with my extended family, which includes an almost-10-year-old niece.

Another game you might consider is something from the 10 Days in Africa/Europe/the USA series. All of them are cheap, fun to play (although the USA one marginally less so, for my taste), scale well from 2-4, and are quick to learn and play. There's definitely luck in the tile draw, but there's quite a bit of strategy as well. Africa and Europe have been popular with my extended family (again including my niece) and have the added bonus of teaching geography.

You might also consider Blokus or GemBlo, both of which are abstract, zero-luck games. Blokus is cheaper and easier to find and works great with either 2 or 4 (but not 3). GemBlo is more expensive and harder to find and has a weirdly shaped box that may cause storage issues, but it scales well from 2 to 6. My niece adores Blokus but hasn't gotten to try GemBlo.
 
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Jim Cote
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While Alhambra does play with 2--and we do enjoy it that way quite often--it is a slight stretch. Through the Desert is fine with 2.

Moviebuffs wrote:
Around the World in 80 Days wouldn't be a bad choice


Althought I really like this design, I think it is not optimal with 2.
 
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(The Artist formerly known as) Arnest R
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get both.
 
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Doobermite
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That's an easy question.

Alhambra is a good game but somewhat dull. Not everyone connects with the theme or majority scoring aspect.

Through the Desert is a great game and always fun! Everyone seems to easily understand this one and gets involved. Also it plays great with 2. (Alhambra calls for a dummy player.)

(This is just my personal opinion from playing these games with different groups.)

 
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james napoli
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I haven't played either of these games in two player form, but have played both with 4-5 players.

Through the Desert is a classic and fan favorite in these parts. I can recommend it. I would never shy away from playing it.

Alhambra on the other hand is one of my least favorite games. It's almost entirely luck driven. If you get good cards and the right pieces are available you'll be successful, otherwise you are in for a long evening. I have heard that the two player game can be more controlled and is better experience.

For two players, you may want to look into mystery rummy, there is a somewhat recent geeklist about it, and how well they scale...

One of my favorite two player games is hera and zeus, it's pretty much stratego played with cards, and the theme makes it female friendly.
 
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T. Rosen
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Alhambra is okay. Through the Desert is outstanding! I think you should go with the latter. It involves much less luck than Alhambra, gives you more options for what to do, and is much more enjoyable. See my recent review of Through the Desert for more on what I think of the game: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/91323
 
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Greg Gresik
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Thanks for all the input - Throught the Desert looks to be the odds-on favorite. Judging by the forums on Alhambra (i.e. the 2 Alhambra or Palazzo threads) that's a whole different discussion.
 
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John Farrell
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Through the Desert. It reminds me of Go. Alhambra reminds me that I have a great book I could be reading.
 
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