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Subject: Another "Help the couple find a fitting 2-player game" thread. rss

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Tyler DeLisle
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Hey guys! So like many couples, I'm finding myself stuck in the challenge of finding a few great games that really appeal to two different types of players.

For the most part, I'd say our interests are fairly cliche, Being the guy, I lean towards tactical strategy games with area control and direct player interaction. She seems to gravitate more towards games where you purchase things, tile-laying, non confrontational.

After many purchases, I've found a few games she likes, few she surprisingly didn't like, but I think the bigger challenge for me is finding a game that she likes, but also keeps me interested enough to have re-playability.

Rules have to be simple and easy to teach. We normally play after work and don't want something too engrossing. She gets turned off easily if there's too much stuff to explain. She can suffer from Analysis Paralysis pretty easily, so less choices the better.

Guess the best thing to go off is to list games we've played so far and how they've fared:

Carcassonne - We both loved, our initial big gateway game. Choices are limited, turns go quickly, and with the expansions there was enough strategy to keep me interested for a while. We've overplayed it now though.

Mr. Jack in New York - She hated it, I was intrigued. She shot this game down faster than anything else I've tried. She had zero interest in it, haven't quite nailed down what she disliked so much.

Dominion - She loved it, I think it's okay. She loved that the game was basically buying things, game felt repetitive to me pretty quickly. Also a lot of setup and take down for a pretty quick game.

Battle Line - It stressed her out, I liked it. She felt like she didn't have enough control, and got anxiety from "gambling" to get the cards she needed.

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small - She LOVES it, I like it. I like this game plenty, but without the expansion, I feel like there isn't enough re-playability once I tried every strategy once.

Small World Underground - She was completely turned off, I love it. It broke my heart how much she resisted this game, since I feel like it could have kept us plenty interested. Think it was too much stuff for her.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! - Both liked it. I'm not sure why this game bores me so much. The direct player-interaction was a bit iffy too. She makes me feel really bad when I eat her swimmers with a Sea Monster.

Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age - Both thought it was okay, little boring. She liked it a little more than me, I was hoping for 2-player King of Tokyo, but was bored with it.

Forbidden Island - Fell flat with her, I think it's okay. Playing this 2 player with her was pretty horrible, I pretty much had to tell her every move to make, and it wasn't fun for either of us. Was my first attempt at a co-op game, and so I think those aren't an option for us.

Jaipur - She loves it, I like it. I think it's a great game, but feels too samey for consistent play. One of the few hits I've found though.

Alhambra - Both sort of liked it. I was sure this game would be a hit, but didn't realize the play was pretty dull for just 2 players with an awkward dummy player mechanic. Felt like it went long also.

San Juan - She was iffy, I liked it alright. Tried this most recently, she felt like it took too long and it did drag a bit for a card game. She wasn't too into it but I think it was mostly because the strategies weren't immediately apparent.. Would like to try it again, since I think she might like it more as she gets the hang of it.


She's very open to playing games, but I've been getting disheartened as I keep striking out on game choices so far. Really just looking for a few games we can enjoy as much as we did originally with Carcasonne and Settlers of Catan. I'm thinking the answer lies somewhere in Euro's and Worker Placement games since All Creatures Big and Small was a surprise hit, but I'm worried that most of these games are too complicated for her tastes.

Oh, I should note that I have The Castles of Burgundy, I haven't tried it yet because I've been trying to get a better hold on the rules myself. Need to do a solo play I think, the yellow buildings worry me since the special buildings in San Juan are what kind of turned her off that one.

Games I've been heavily considering so far:

Carcassonne: The City or Carcassonne: The Castle - Not sure if there's enough new here to reignite our love for the original game.

Carson City - Seems sort of like Carcassonne, but with worker placement and combat. Which sounds amazing to me, but I worry if there's too much going on, or how it fares for 2 players.

Homesteaders - Auction/Building game, sounds like something she may really like, have to look into more.

Jambo - Was going to be my next purchase, seems like a mix of Jaipur and San Juan.

Puzzle Strike (Third Edition) - High on my wishlist, think it may appeal to me more than Dominion, the direct player interaction may turn her off, but I think with the way it's presented in this game, she'll be fine.

Through the Desert - Not sure if it has enough to it for me, but may be a hit?

Kingsburg - I already have to try Castles of Burgundy, and have Alien Frontiers and Euphoria pre-ordered from kickstarter, so I'm hesitant to get a fourth dice/placement game, this one almost seems like an easier point of entry though, and she'd like the setting.

As I said earlier that the answer may lie in worker placement games, I'm hesitant to take the big step towards Agricola. Her love of the 2-player game would make her much more open to it, but it seems like a lot of fiddly bits going on. I've been looking heavily between Stone Age, Lords of Waterdeep, and Viticulture.

Sorry this ended up so monstrously long. So many games, so many options, and so hard to find the right one.

Really appreciate any feedback you could give on the games I'm looking at, or games I haven't looked at yet.
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I find it hard to determine which aspects exactly you both like in games, but here's some games which you might consider, in order of decreasing suitability based on how I judge that (which could be quite off).

Fresco - has a dummy player, but quite unlike Alhambra, this one is controlled by the players, and thus becomes quite strategical. The game itself scales nicely in complexity from very simple/elegant to quite a bit more involved if you include 2 or more of its optional modules. Lovely theme and components.
Glen More - a "reminiscent of Carcassonne" game (though not very much so with actual gameplay, as you build your own landscapes). Good mix of strategical/tactical gameplay. There's a dummy "die" player which does nothing but take away semi-random choices, thus making the game speed along nicely with 2 (and 3).
Fjords - lightweight, almost filler, but lovely landscapes; a bit reminiscent of Carcassonne, but with a twist.
Taluva - might be getting too abstract / brainburny, but you do build up lovely landscapes.
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Thomas
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Yedo

Seasons

Takenoko

Arena: Roma II

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
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Vivienne Raper
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It sounds like she likes modern euros, especially economic games.

How about:

At the Gates of Loyang - seems like this game is made for you guys. It's completely non-interactive and involves buying and selling vegetables for as much money as possible. It's also gorgeous looking.
Glen More - lots of tile-laying and purchasing. Works brilliant with two with a dummy player.
Agricola can be pretty anxiety-inducing because of the need to feed your family, but might work.
Village - Agricola without the stress. Help your villagers travel, progress in the church, and buy and sell carts.
Jambo - Jaipur on steroids.
Traders of Carthage - this is about to be reprinted with a Japanese theme, and is about buying cards at market and reselling them in Carthage
Palaces of Carrara - lots of buying marble to build buildings.
Le Havre - heavier than Agricola, easier to learn (you can only take one action each turn) and less stressful. It's basically another business simulation, but is more fun than At the Gates of Loyang
Seasons - I fear this may meet the same reception as San Juan, but worth a try.

Yes to:

Kingsburg (you mention this - seems like a strong choice)
Stone Age

Also:

Takenoko - a gentle game of tile-laying and completing mission cards.
Finca - a great gentle two-player game of selling fruit for points
Hanabi - probably the simplest, but best, cooperative game ever invented.
Augustus - Roman bingo with special powers. Extremely easy to learn, works well with two, and is pretty crowd-pleasing.

I'd recommend the entire Kosmos two-player line except Babel, which is extremely vicious. Think about Lost Cities, Pinata, Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League, and Morels - honorary member of the Kosmos two-player line.

Arena: Roma II can be pretty vicious - you're killing the opponent's characters all the time. Yedo is also pretty nasty - it's two hours of trying to complete missions while everything is going wrong.
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Mathue Faulkner
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First thing that came to mind was Kingdom Builder. She seems to like straight forward games without a lot of unknowns, and you seem to enjoy depth of play and variety in strategy. Kingdom Builder has a variable setup with straight forward play. The decisions are interesting for a game of its depth, and it plays well with two. The first expansion freshens the game a bit more, and the next expansion seems like it will add quite a bit in terms of strategic decisions.

If San Juan was too much for her in terms of special buildings, then Homesteaders is definitely going to be too much. The entire game is developing a town with special buildings that you use for resource conversion to gain points....centered around an auction. Great game, but probably not the best fit.

Through the Desert has some similarities to Kingdom Builder, but I think you'll enjoy Kingdom Builder more due to the variety of strategies. Through the Desert is a tight abstract, but there are more tactical decisions within a couple strategic routes than anything else.

Kingsburg has a bunch of special buildings like Burgundy and San Juan, but they don't change from game to game. I really enjoy it, but it's very easy to get into the same strategy each game. It just doesn't have a lot of variance without the expansion. She'd probably enjoy it, and you probably would for a 5-10 games.

Carson City isn't at its best with just two, and I think it's a bit tricky to teach as some things are super intuitive.

Agricola is a great game, but you'd definitely have to play with the Family rules until she was completely comfortable. It seems like the cards would be too much for her right away.

Maybe Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar? Plenty of strategy for you, and relatively straight forward without unknowns for her.

Village is another one that you should take a long look at. Great depth of play. Good theme. No special buildings, etc. Plays well with two.

My recommendations: Kingdom Builder, Tzolkin, or Village.
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meepleonboard
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That division of interest sounds very familiar to me. I'd say that there's definitely a Glen More shaped hole in your collection, and that The Castles of Burgundy should also be worth consideration. They are both games which hit the sweet spot for my SO and me.
 
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Mathue Faulkner
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nickster1970 wrote:
That division of interest sounds very familiar to me. I'd say that there's definitely a Glen More shaped hole in your collection, and that The Castles of Burgundy should also be worth consideration. They are both games which hit the sweet spot for my SO and me.

Though, if the yellow tiles of Burgundy are too much for your wife, then I'd avoid Glen More. Glen More does have some neat mechanics around tile placement and building activation, but most of the tiles are unique. I actually think Homesteaders is a bit easier to grasp in terms of building abilities because positioning isn't important. I really like both Glen More and Homesteaders...unfortunately my wife is just luke warm on both. She loves Burgundy though...but I'm luke warm on it.

Of course, if you think San Juan was an anomaly, then I wouldn't worry about it...
 
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TannaBanana!
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Tyler, I don't post much on BGG so I apologize that I can't link things like the 'pros.'

With that said, my boyfriend and I are always looking for GOOD two player games. He has even developed a quick 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down' icon on his games as he rates them so you can easily scroll through them and see which ones we liked (or didn't) and why. His name is Thoia on here and the link is here http://www.boardgamegeek.com/collection/user/thoia?own=1&sub...

I'm not familiar with Lords of Waterdeep but I can say that for us, Viticulture didn't play well as a two player (despite many reviews saying it did). We just felt there was NO tension in the start player turn order track, and didn't care for the bonus action spaces not being available at all. Stone Age plays well 2 player, and Jambo pretty much stays in our car and is often played at restaurants while we wait for our food.

Others I really enjoy 2 player
At the gates of Loyang
Yspahan
Bison
Wildlife
Caylus magna Carta
Clans
Zooloretto
Hanging Gardens (really like this one)
Homesteaders
Welcome to Walnut Grove
Sylla
Ys
Trajan (my current fav although might be too many bits?)

Hope this list helps you guys find some games that work for you.
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Walnut Grove or Suburbia.

If you go for Jambo, there are some attack-y cards that you may want to take out, if you want to keep the direct confrontation low.
 
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Brant Benoit
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Here's a few to take a look at. Some might be too confrontational, but they might fit the bill. They all work well with two players, and aren't too detrimental to spouses.
My wife likes all of these, but she sounds a bit more open to confrontation that yours. A lot of these are older, as I haven't bought too many newer Euros.

Domaine
Entdecker: Exploring New Horizons
Arkadia
Chang Cheng
Elasund: The First City
Fjords
Tobago
Pandemic
The Pillars of the Earth
Samurai
Thebes
Tikal
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David B
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Avoid Carcassonne the City. It won't fix the issues that made you bored with Carcassonne. It's just way more fiddly.


Stone Age is a great 2 player game that I think you will both enjoy.
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Nate Edwards
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My wife is not a "gamer," but she'll play games. Sometimes. For instance, I'm loving the FF LCGs and we've played LOTR a couple times, which she did okay with. I think she'd do it again, at least. But she refuses to play A:NR or Star Wars because they're "too nerdy." >:[

We play a lot of 2p Castles of Burgundy, so that was going to be one of my recommendations.
She took surprisingly well to Lords of Waterdeep (without any prior D&D interest or experience) and wanted to play the day after I taught it to her.
Other popular worker-placement options like Stone Age and Tzolk'in are also good choices but, you probably don't need all three of these.
Other lesser recommendations that could work are games like Tobago and Thurn and Taxis. They're okay once in a while.
 
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Tyler DeLisle
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Wow, way more suggestions than I was expecting this quickly, I really appreciate the help!

Some of these have been on and off my radar, some I haven't heard of at all before, so I'm looking through the messages now.
 
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David Napier
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My wife enjoys:

Morels-Easy to teach, quick to play, and I like it too.

Ticket to Ride-One of her favorites. The Europe version has a little more depth to it.

Stone Age: I didn't play this with her but she played it with friends and really liked it.

Lords of Waterdeep-She really likes this game. Also quick and easy to play. Mildly thematic.

Through the Desert-I just played this last weekend and I am interested in getting it because I enjoyed it and it is the kind of game my wife would like. Limited amount or rules (no variable player/card abilities that jam her up for games I love like Sentinels of the Multiverse), tough choices, different paths to victory.

Takenoko-I watched a game of this. If your partner likes Carcassonne she would probably like this as well. Tile laying game, cute theme, nice components.

Hope you pick something you both like!

Dave
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Mystery McMysteryface
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Morels
Aton
Arena: Roma II
YINSH
Traders of Osaka
Saint Petersburg - often referred to as a shopping game
Hive
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Tyler DeLisle
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a_traveler wrote:
Fresco - has a dummy player, but quite unlike Alhambra, this one is controlled by the players, and thus becomes quite strategical. The game itself scales nicely in complexity from very simple/elegant to quite a bit more involved if you include 2 or more of its optional modules. Lovely theme and components.
Glen More - a "reminiscent of Carcassonne" game (though not very much so with actual gameplay, as you build your own landscapes). Good mix of strategical/tactical gameplay. There's a dummy "die" player which does nothing but take away semi-random choices, thus making the game speed along nicely with 2 (and 3).
Fjords - lightweight, almost filler, but lovely landscapes; a bit reminiscent of Carcassonne, but with a twist.
Taluva - might be getting too abstract / brainburny, but you do build up lovely landscapes.


I had looked at Fresco and Pastiche for a while, we both went to art school, so I think these would be appealing. I'm wary about what my first real worker-placement game should be though. Would you suggest this over Stone Age?

I've never heard of the others, but definitely looking into them. Glen More in particular has piqued my interest.

Taluvia looks like it has some really cool bits and pieces, I'll have to look into that more also, see if it's something my girlfriend would be interested in.

Thanks!
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Rick Teverbaugh
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I would suggest Le Havre: the Inland Port and Lost Cities and second or third the idea of Kingdom Builder. I would also mention Guildhall.
 
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Tyler DeLisle
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Lot of great suggestions Vivienne, thanks!

I've never heard of "at the Gates of Loyang" checking it out now. At first glance, it definitely looks great, could alternate really well with All Creatures Big and Small.

I've heard about the stressful part of feeding families in "Agricola," and it's probably the main thing that's turned me off from the main game. Sounds fiddly and annoying and distracting from the main strategy. I'll definitely check out "Vllage"

I have to leave work now, been a really busy day, but I'm really excited to look into all of these, I thought I had looked over most games, but apparently I"m missing a lot, thanks so much everyone!
 
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+1 for Morels

And + a lot for Puzzle Strike 3rd - it's pretty much *the* deckbuilder for folks who don't find Dominion to their tastes. May be worth trying a out the online version before purchasing.

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If the special buildings in San Juan were a turnoff, I don't think you'll have good luck with Jambo. I'd recommend giving San Juan a few more chances before throwing in the towel on it though.

I'd also suggest giving Morels a close look. It's quick to learn but not a game you just turn off your brain to play... although you can and still have fun. It's runs about the right length of time for what it is and doesn't encourage AP.

Sounds like she might like Modern Art the Card Game/Masters Gallery too although its better with more players.
 
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TyDeL wrote:
I had looked at Fresco and Pastiche for a while, we both went to art school, so I think these would be appealing. I'm wary about what my first real worker-placement game should be though. Would you suggest this over Stone Age?
Yes, very much so. Stone Age is a very abstract and mathematical worker placement. Absolutely lovely components, but they can't disguise the complete lack of meaning between the resources. The only thing distinguishing wood from gold in there is how many pips you need on the dice to produce it.
Fresco isn't really a classical worker placement, but at least there the colors on the cubes make sense, and you really feel as if you're mixing paint.

Stone Age is also purely strategical (to win, you pick a strategy at the start of the game, and stick to it until the very end, hoping to execute it better than your opponent does), while Fresco has both strategical and tactical aspects, which means that you have new and interesting decisions to make every turn, depending on what the other player does. (Actually, I think this might even be part of the difference between the two of you? She loves Dominion (pure strategy), you love Small World (pure tactics). Games in the middle work well for both (modulo other factors)...)
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Darren Belcher
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Claustrophobia seems to go over well with other halves. Especially if they play the Demon. My wife also loves Escape Curse of the Temple, Ticket to Ride, and believe it or not , Twilight Struggle. Zombicide might be another good co-op to try?
 
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Peter O
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Definitely give Morels a try.
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Kai Mölleken
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There's not much I could add here except for one overlooked game that might interest you if you loved Carcassonne and that is El Caballero.

It's an older one and you probably have to look for a used copy. But as far as I know a reprint has been announced. It shares the tile laying mechanism but has a lot more to offer than Carcassonne. So this might be worth to think about if you burnt out on Carcassonne.
 
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Hardy
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What about Targi?
Also a Kosmos 2-player game, and I think replayability and variety is higher than in Jambo.
Also worth a try, if you can get it: Rapa Nui.
Also in the Kosmos 2p-box, but with the advantage that it can be played with up to 4 (yet very good with 2, too).
 
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