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Author Topic: Help a board game virgin!  (Read 4350 times)
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Huw the Poo
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« on: May 04, 2008, 05:40:21 PM »

OK, I've played board games before - but we're talking Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit etc.

What I'm looking for is a game my girlfriend and I can play in an evening.  To that end, we're looking for about an hour and a half to two hours of play per game.  Deeper than Cluedo!  But not incredibly deep so that it would take all night.  We've played a fair amount of Warhammer 40K so complex rules are not a problem, but WH40K can take way more than two hours to play.

Genre isn't really an issue as long as the game is good.  Something maybe specifically designed for two people is probably best, but we're open to more than two players for when friends visit.

Thanks muchly for any advice!
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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2008, 07:27:32 PM »

As far as 2 player games go, I would recommend Lost Cities and Aton, two of my favorite two player games.  Both can be found at www.timewellspentgames.com as well as other online vendors.  You can read about them at www.boardgamegeek.com.
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2008, 10:23:02 PM »

Tikal is a lot of fun and scales well for two to four people.  You lay down hex tiles to develop the map as the game goes along, so you're never seeing the same layout twice.  The players compete with their archaeological teams to reach the most treasure or explore temples the deepest.

Ticket to Ride is a ton of fun and also scales well for as few as two people and as many as five.  It's not as complex a game, but it gives a good feel for the German style of board games.

Settlers of Catan is oft recommended but you need 3 or more players.  For 2-player variations there's either the Settlers Card Game or Starship Catan.  Both are a lot of fun but they do sort of play like racing solitaire games--not a ton of interactivity.
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2008, 02:30:02 PM »

Some more recent games that I've really enjoyed:

1960: The Making of the President is based on the Kennedy-Nixon election in 1960 (duh).  Each side plays a candidate and you spend seven weeks campaigning across the nation trying to win the vote.  It's card driven, so you play cards each turn to perform various actions or cause certain events to happen to either help you or hinder your opponent.  Similar to Twilight Struggle, which is US vs. Russia in the cold war.  Probably an even better game although it can run 3+ hours.

Mr. Jack is a simple and clever little deduction game.  One side plays Jack the Ripper and the other side plays the detective trying to catch him.  It's very easy to learn but has some surprisingly good strategy to it.  Games are a little shorter than your goal (maybe 30-45 minutes) but it's a great game.

Last Night on Earth is a recently-released zombie game that is just ridiculously fun.  Works with 2 to 6 players (and I think it does 2 pretty well) and games take 1-2 hours.  As long as the theme doesn't turn you off (my wife, for example, refuses to play solely because she doesn't like the box images  Roll Eyes) this one is great.  Huge favorite of our game group.

War of the Ring exceeds your time limit a bit and isn't recent, but for THE best Middle-Earth wargame there is none better.  Fantastic game.

I'll second the suggestion of Tikal from above, that's another good one.  Lost Cities is alright but only takes about 20 minutes to play.  Ticket to Ride is a good intro game but I think it sucks for two players. 
« Last Edit: May 05, 2008, 02:32:40 PM by Boudreaux » Logged

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Huw the Poo
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2008, 02:52:31 PM »

Guys, thanks very much for all the suggestions, I really appreciate it.  Until now I've been poking around on boardgamegeek.com but getting completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content.  These suggestions are really going to come in handy.  I'm going to spend the afternoon researching this list - but more suggestions are always welcome of course!
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2008, 03:11:47 PM »

Quote from: Boudreaux on May 05, 2008, 02:30:02 PM

War of the Ring exceeds your time limit a bit and isn't recent, but for THE best Middle-Earth wargame there is none better.  Fantastic game. 

Does that game work well with just 2 players?  I've been eyeing it off and on due to recommendations on other threads, but like Huw I need something that'll work with just me and the wife and hopefully also scale well to having some friends over.  How complex is it to introduce to board game beginners?
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Boudreaux
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2008, 04:33:07 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on May 05, 2008, 03:11:47 PM

Does that game work well with just 2 players?  I've been eyeing it off and on due to recommendations on other threads, but like Huw I need something that'll work with just me and the wife and hopefully also scale well to having some friends over.  How complex is it to introduce to board game beginners?

Well, it's a 2-player game, so I would say yes, it works well with 2.   icon_wink  I believe it is playable with 3 or 4 by using a team arrangement, but I have not played it that way.

As far as complexity, it's up there.  The rules make logical sense once you get through them, but there are a lot of rules and options during the game.  Depends on what you mean by "board game beginners".  For someone who has either a) played strategy games on PC/console or b) is a big LOTR fan, it's manageable.  Their enthusiasm for the setting or concept will override the complexity.  For someone who is a non-gamer and can't tell you why Gandalf the Grey dying could be a good thing, I wouldn't recommend it as their first experience with gaming.  Too complicated.

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kadnod
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2008, 06:22:43 PM »

Quote from: Huw the Poo on May 04, 2008, 05:40:21 PM

OK, I've played board games before - but we're talking Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit etc.

 . . .  We've played a fair amount of Warhammer 40K so complex rules are not a problem, but WH40K can take way more than two hours to play.

Genre isn't really an issue as long as the game is good.  Something maybe specifically designed for two people is probably best, but we're open to more than two players for when friends visit.


You might like Battlelore.  The base game is designed for 2 players and it's cheaper, faster and easier to learn than the Games Workshop mini games.  It's certainly not as detailed as the GW games, but it's a great way to play with toy soldiers quick & easy.  icon_wink
« Last Edit: May 05, 2008, 06:25:48 PM by kadnod » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2008, 06:31:30 PM »

Quote from: Boudreaux on May 05, 2008, 04:33:07 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on May 05, 2008, 03:11:47 PM

Does that game work well with just 2 players?  I've been eyeing it off and on due to recommendations on other threads, but like Huw I need something that'll work with just me and the wife and hopefully also scale well to having some friends over.  How complex is it to introduce to board game beginners?

Well, it's a 2-player game, so I would say yes, it works well with 2.   icon_wink  I believe it is playable with 3 or 4 by using a team arrangement, but I have not played it that way.

Ah ok.  I always saw the 2-4 player bullet point and assumed it was another one that's better for 4 but works ok for 2.  Nice to see one that's the other way around.  I'll have to take a closer look at the complexity and see if it'd be a good fit for my wife.  She's a big enough fan of the movies, but she's never touched a PC strategy game.

If I can add in one more question, how's the setup time?  If it's long, is it something we both need to take part in or can I set it up beforehand so she can just sit down and start playing?
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wonderpug
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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2008, 06:38:11 PM »

Quote from: kadnod on May 05, 2008, 06:22:43 PM

You might like Battlelore.  The base game is designed for 2 players and it's cheaper, faster and easier to learn than the Games Workshop mini games.  It's certainly not as detailed as the GW games, but it's a great way to play with toy soldiers quick & easy.  icon_wink

You know, that's another one I've eyed in the past.  Its system is similar to Memoir '44 but with knights and wizards, right?  I've been dying to try Memoir but I don't think my wife could get into a WWII setting.  Battlelore's world, however, might be a possibility.
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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2008, 06:50:47 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on May 05, 2008, 06:38:11 PM

You know, that's another one I've eyed in the past.  Its system is similar to Memoir '44 but with knights and wizards, right? 

Yep.   

Quote
Battlelore's world, however, might be a possibility.

The setting is a hoot.  Sort of a pseudo-Europe, but certain peoples/nations have been replaced by Fantasy races.   IIRC, one of the expansions revolves around English vs. Scots, but William Wallace & Co. are all dwarves.
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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2008, 07:12:22 PM »

Quote from: kadnod on May 05, 2008, 06:22:43 PM

Quote from: Huw the Poo on May 04, 2008, 05:40:21 PM

OK, I've played board games before - but we're talking Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit etc.

 . . .  We've played a fair amount of Warhammer 40K so complex rules are not a problem, but WH40K can take way more than two hours to play.

Genre isn't really an issue as long as the game is good.  Something maybe specifically designed for two people is probably best, but we're open to more than two players for when friends visit.


You might like Battlelore.  The base game is designed for 2 players and it's cheaper, faster and easier to learn than the Games Workshop mini games.  It's certainly not as detailed as the GW games, but it's a great way to play with toy soldiers quick & easy.  icon_wink

Excellent suggestion.  Wish I would have thought of it!
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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2008, 07:34:15 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on May 05, 2008, 06:38:11 PM

Quote from: kadnod on May 05, 2008, 06:22:43 PM

You might like Battlelore.  The base game is designed for 2 players and it's cheaper, faster and easier to learn than the Games Workshop mini games.  It's certainly not as detailed as the GW games, but it's a great way to play with toy soldiers quick & easy.  icon_wink

You know, that's another one I've eyed in the past.  Its system is similar to Memoir '44 but with knights and wizards, right?  I've been dying to try Memoir but I don't think my wife could get into a WWII setting.  Battlelore's world, however, might be a possibility.

A lot of excellent suggestions here, but I have to give my vote to Battlelore, it may very well appeal to your wife. If my daughter's any example she likes it a lot, especially when battling with the Giant Spider, Hill Giant and Earth Elemental creatures. The lore element and the war council are what take the game above the standard war-strategy genre; giving it almost an RPG-strategy flavor.
However, one thing about it that may not be in your favor is that it has a fairly lengthy setup time. There's an expansion named Call to Arms that lets you avoid a lot of setup via a proxy system. So if you go with it and get comfortable with the gameplay, you might want to look into getting the CoA's expansion fairly soon.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 02:38:55 PM by kronovan » Logged
Boudreaux
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« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2008, 05:04:54 AM »

Quote from: wonderpug on May 05, 2008, 06:31:30 PM

If I can add in one more question, how's the setup time?  If it's long, is it something we both need to take part in or can I set it up beforehand so she can just sit down and start playing?

It's another thing that gets quicker with familiarity.  The first couple of times it will take awhile, because you're trying to figure out all the minis and what goes where.  Once you get used to it it's not too bad.  I can set up the whole game in maybe 10-15 minutes.  And you can do it entirely yourself, there's no reason for you both to be involved.

The Battlelore suggestion is a good one, I'd look into that as well.  Gamewise it's a purely tactical combat game and much simpler than War of the Ring.  I like War of the Ring more, but Battlelore is probably a game that (if I had it) would get more play, just because it's less complex and shorter to play.
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2008, 05:47:51 PM »

Heroscape

Get Magic the Gathering Theme Decks (preconstructed)

Cooperative: Lord of the Rings http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/823

All of the above can expand into more than 2 players.

Hera and Zeus is a good one for just 2 players

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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2008, 06:35:43 PM »

What CR, no heroscape rec? biggrin
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Huw the Poo
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2008, 07:48:46 PM »

This is a fantastic list, thanks again to all who contributed.  When it stops receiving replies I'm going to print it out and refer to it often.

In the meantime, though, I think the first game we're almost certainly going to go for is Last Night on Earth.  It seems to tick all the boxes, and - not to put too fine a point on it - it's ZOMBIES! biggrin
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« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2008, 09:07:03 PM »

Quote from: coopasonic on May 06, 2008, 06:35:43 PM

What CR, no heroscape rec? biggrin

What do you mean?
Other than being First on my list?

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« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2008, 11:18:40 PM »

Quote
In the meantime, though, I think the first game we're almost certainly going to go for is Last Night on Earth.  It seems to tick all the boxes, and - not to put too fine a point on it - it's ZOMBIES!

good choice.  ive never played battle lore and last night on earth was the first recommendation that really jumped out at me.  seriously for downright fun factor, ease of play and nice ruleset (not too tough, but not super light) it was the best game of the bunch.  it really met all of your criteria perfectly.

and this is coming from someone who absolutely LOVES war of the ring (still a great game, but i think the complexity and definitely the playtime made it something different than what you were looking for)
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2008, 11:21:33 PM »

as a side note - ive been considering 1960 as my next boardgame purchase- feel free to shoot me a pm to let me know what you think of it and give a (very - i dont want to bother you too much!) quick overview of its plus sides - obviously you like it - please feel free to tempt me more!
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« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2008, 04:20:07 AM »

Quote from: Huw the Poo on May 06, 2008, 07:48:46 PM

In the meantime, though, I think the first game we're almost certainly going to go for is Last Night on Earth.  It seems to tick all the boxes, and - not to put too fine a point on it - it's ZOMBIES! biggrin

Yeah, this is seriously one of my favorite games to come out in a long, long time.  It can be fairly hard for one side or the other to win occasionally, there are some really, really nasty cards that can be played, and the dice...the dice can be fickle.  Actually, the dice can destroy you. 

Despite all this, our game group cannot stop playing this game.  Every time we meetup this one comes out, and every time it is a blast.  I've said before that if the number of cheers and groans during a game is a measure of its greatness, then this is an all-time classic.
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« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2008, 06:44:42 AM »

 icon_biggrin

I can't wait to get hold of LNoE now.  It won't be for a couple of weeks yet but it sounds like it'll be worth the wait!
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« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2008, 06:51:13 PM »

The wife and me also want a new boardgame. Would any of those mentioned in this thread be good for us? We are casual board gamers...as in we play one maybe once or twice a year and its the simple old Monopoly or Scrabble or something. We want something cooler though and more complex but not overwhelming to novices. We like horror and mystery and strategy.  Also theres just us 2 ..no one else ever.
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« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2008, 11:17:24 PM »

If you like mystery and horror, then Arkham Horror is probably something you could look into.  I haven't played it, but it seems to be pretty highly regarded, and is playable with 2.

Another 2-player only game is Mr. Jack, sort of a stylized deduction game where one player (the detective) is trying to catch the other (Jack the Ripper) before he escapes from the city.  It has some brilliant strategy to it, but it's shorter (maybe 30 minutes) and probably doesn't have the longevity of Arkham Horror. 
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« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2008, 03:23:56 AM »

The cooperative nature of Arkham, along with the variation within the game (which characters you are, what events occur, what you run into, etc) should keep the game attractive for some time.

Another coop game is Lord of the Rings by Fantasy Flight Games which is worth playing.

If you prefer competitive, there's a 2player Settlers of Catan that isn't bad.
Hera and Zeus and Lost Cities are also decent.

Strategy in Hera and Zeus is much like Stratego, Lost Cities is more rummy like.

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« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2008, 05:01:44 PM »

It's hard for me to think of any board games for 2 players since Mr. Jack has been mentioned, Arkham can be done with 2.  Card games give you a lot more choices or war games or their board game equivalents like the Memoir 44 system that is used in many different themed games.  If your wife doesn't mind fantasy themes, war themes or sports themes I can name a bunch but other than that take a look at the board game Carcassonne: The Castle, or some other card games not mentioned like the Mystery Rummy games or Battleline. 

Actually you could play Fury of Dracula with 2 but one person would have to take 4 turns in a row controlling the 4 hunters.  I like playing the game with 3 so that two people each control 2 hunters.  The game is designed so that the hunters play co-op against the player controlling Dracula.

There are some real popular games that can be played with just 2 but just aren't as fun, even great gateway games like Ticket to Ride I don't like playing with less than 4 people.
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« Reply #26 on: June 02, 2008, 06:48:48 PM »

Quote from: Rich on June 02, 2008, 05:01:44 PM

There are some real popular games that can be played with just 2 but just aren't as fun, even great gateway games like Ticket to Ride I don't like playing with less than 4 people.

I've played Ticket to Ride with both 5 players and 2 players and I still think it was enjoyable with 2, not as good as with more, but still a solid game.
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« Reply #27 on: June 02, 2008, 07:48:08 PM »

Quote from: coopasonic on June 02, 2008, 06:48:48 PM

Quote from: Rich on June 02, 2008, 05:01:44 PM

There are some real popular games that can be played with just 2 but just aren't as fun, even great gateway games like Ticket to Ride I don't like playing with less than 4 people.

I've played Ticket to Ride with both 5 players and 2 players and I still think it was enjoyable with 2, not as good as with more, but still a solid game.

I've played with 2 before when I played some games against my mother and it didn't go over that bad but she isn't the screw over the other person type of player.  3 works ok since you eliminate the double tracks and can still screw some people over but playing with the guys at work in a 4 player game and all of us being very screw the other guys kinds of players made it a much better game.  I just don't enjoy playing that nice guy type of game where you try to win your game without messing with the other players strategy, to me part of the strategy is to hinder their strategy.  I just bring this up because I hear it talked about so often on podcasts and on the Geek.
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« Reply #28 on: June 05, 2008, 03:26:22 AM »

Download the rules to Arkham Horror from the Fantasy Flight games website (www.fantasyflightgames.com) to be sure that it won't be too complex for you. I would second the recommendation for Lost Cities and Aton, both are fun games with some strategy too.
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« Reply #29 on: June 05, 2008, 04:14:17 PM »

Quote from: Lorini on June 05, 2008, 03:26:22 AM

Download the rules to Arkham Horror from the Fantasy Flight games website (www.fantasyflightgames.com) to be sure that it won't be too complex for you. I would second the recommendation for Lost Cities and Aton, both are fun games with some strategy too.

That was my biggest concern with the Arkham Horror suggestion.  Its a pretty complex game for beginners.

Carcassone: The Castle is a good abstract 2-player strategy game, with easy rules.  I've played this one a bunch.
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