Monday, October 10, 2011

Top Ten Games for Couples

This is exciting.  I had a request that makes for a perfect blog post.  The request: from facebook: "Why don't y'all post up a recommendation list of fave 2-player games" 

The list of our favorite two player games would not really be for everyone.  For example Warhammer: Invasion and Cthulhu Rising would probably be on our list, but those games are not for everyone.  So what follows is not necessarily my favorite games for two, but the games that I think are best for couples.  These are ten games I would recommend to couples who were looking to get games beyond Scrabble to play together.  It is in descending order for dramatic effect.  

10.  Tank on Tank

I am going to assume that for the most part guys are more interested then girls than playing war games.  That is at least how it is for the two of us.  Tank on Tank is the perfect war games for couples.  The game has very simple rules so it is very simple to play.  The big plus is the game plays really quick, like 15-20 minutes.  That means that even if one person does not really like the idea of war games then the easy rules and quick play time makes it so that it can still be playable.

 9.  Pandemic
 I think a co-op game is a good pick for two players, because it can be fun working together.  I think this is a good pick.  This one about curing the world of diseases as the right mixture of theme, difficulty and replayability to make it a good pick.

8.  Roll Through the Ages
Rolling dice is fun, but traditional dice games like Yahtzee do not really a lot of meaningful choices or strategy.  Roll Through the Ages changes that.  The goal is to abstractly create a Civilization.  Players roll dice up to three time keeping results, and have to balance feeding their people between building new cities, building monuments or investing in technology.  It is quick, has great components, and for a game with all dice offers a decent amount of strategy and decision.  The game plays up to four, but I think it is most fun with two.

7.  Yomi
The theme may not be the most appealing to everyone (a fighting video game), but this is a great two player game.  The game is all about trying to get into the other player's head, read their intentions and get one step ahead of them.  This game is great for people who really know each other, because knowing how an opponent thinks, and having the opponent know how you think (and know that you know how they think) makes for a great game.  If the fantasy martial arts theme is a turn off, then Pecking Order, while not as fun, offers a similar experience.

6.  Ticket to Ride: Switzerland
PhotobucketTicket to Ride is a highly accessible game that is all about collecting colored sets of cards and then trading in those cards for trains that are used to complete routes, that score points.  The game is easy, fun, and has some depth to it.  Ticket to Ride  can in general work for two players, but the Switzerland map expansion is specifically made to be really good for two players.  The smaller map delivers.  This has been out of print and kind of hard to get, but before the end of the year it is suppose to be reprinted. 

5.  Campaign Manager 2008
Campaign Manager is a two player game that has the players heading up the presidential campaign for Obama or McCain as they compete over the 2008 battleground states.  Each turn a player has to decide to play a card or draw a card.  If they play a card then it will give some sort of advantage in a state, but passing a drawing a card is the only way to get the much needed card.  This game is all about balancing and making the right play at the right time.  One of my initial concerns is that the game would not stand up to multiple plays, but we have played it eight times since March, and thus far the game has really held up well and is still a lot of fun.

4.  Haggis
Haggis is a good "gateway" game.  Meaning this is a good game to transition someone from the standard fare of games into the wider world of awesome games they have never played.   even though it has it's own unique deck, Haggis has a lot in tradition with traditional card games.  Haggis is a "climbing game".  This means instead of following suit, the following player must play something higher than what was just played.  Without going into a detailed explanation it is hard to give more detail about the game, but it works really well for two players, and at the low $15 price point it is really worth getting.

3.  San Juan 
Our most player game together is Race for the Galaxy.  However, this game has a very steep learning curve and takes about a dozen games to really start getting a handle on it.  San Juan, which is very similar to Race for the Galaxy, is the game that got us into it.  In San Juan players are building various structures.  the structures are the cards.  To build, they have to pay for it by discarding cards.  They can also produce goods (which are done by using the cards), and then trade good for more cards, to build more things.  It is really neat how something that has the depth of a full board game has been replicated with cards.  We got rid of San Juan because after coming back to it after Race for the Galaxy, it did not compare.  However, it is still a good game and one I would highly recommend.

2.  Builder's Duel
This is a fantastic two player game.  Both players are trying to complete a building first.  To do so they must collect resources and refine some resources as well.  Each turn there are nine possible actions that a player might be able to do.  One player will get to do three of them, and the other will get to do two.  To determine who is who, the players essentially flip valued coins instead of rolling dice.  This game is perfect for a couple that is looking for a game that feels and delivers a Euro game experience, but has been specifically crafted for two people.

1.  Battle Line/Schotten-Totten
This game exist in two different forms.  One is themed as ancient battles and the other as a cartoonish drunk Scotsman theme.  The theme does not matter a lot to the game.  Battle Line may be the perfect game for a couple to play together.  It is quick, easy, and offers tons of agonizing decisions.  The goal is to win five "flags" and to win flags players play a card in front of one of the 9 possibilities.  Players are trying to form sets stronger than their opponents.  Since only one card is played a time, there is a lot of tensions as players get in a spot where they are hoping the next card drawn is 'the one they need."  The game plays quick.  It is engaging, but not a brain burner.   This makes it a great game to play while sitting across from each other and discussing how the day went.  Since it plays quick, of the game ends, just keep the conversation going, shuffle, and play again.


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