The Re-Review: Two Player Game Day Edition

Blood Rage

Blood Rage

I only recorded one play here, but really there were one and a half. We called off the first game midway through the second age after myself and another player realized we’d never catch up to the other player. Frustrated, we reset and had a much more balanced game (that I ended up winning after trailing for much of the game).

The first play, the aborted one, makes me worry a bit about this game. I love the play style of going around and destroying everyone, but there seems to be an ability for one player to develop an almost unstoppable machine. On the other hand, there are cards that can directly counter these strategies (combat cards that destroy all but one unit) and I suspect a four player game would have fewer of these issues. It’s not going anywhere, but I’m a little less enchanted with it at the moment.

Tentatively recommended.

Concordia

Concordia

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • Played before

I have a list of games that I’m trying to teach my wife so I can further whittle down my game collection. Concordia was a game I had been seeing plenty of, in particular Shut Up & Sit Down had a very positive review recently and it made me want to bring it back out and try it again.

We sat down and I taught her the rules and in what felt like less than an hour, we were done. The game was a very close one and I feel like all of my decisions matter. There’s never a time where I’m just doing something because I have a turn and I’m waiting on something else. There’s a bit of an efficiency puzzle here, but it’s more about dealing with the cards you have and the spread of cities.

Recommended.

Twilight Struggle

Twilight Struggle

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • Played before

And so begins the games that were played at the two player game day I just held at my house. A friend of mine asked to play Twilight Struggle so I set it up before he came over figuring this was the most complicated game to setup. We sat down, me as the USSR and him as the US and went over the rules real quick (he had already read the rulebook).

Europe was a bit of a battleground for the first turn or so, with me losing my hold over it in the beginning and pulling back ahead once De Gaulle took France. Nassar showed up in Egypt early, but never amounted to enough, as the US scored points in the Middle East. I think it was around turn 4 or 5 when I managed to get a very good hold on Africa and managed to score 6 points winning me the game.

Now, this isn’t fair. I’ve played the game before and had a handle on what cards were coming out, so I knew what to expect and how to best handle the cards coming my way. Still, I’m pretty sure my opponent enjoyed himself and would play again.

Recommended, but understand it’s a three hour game about The Cold War and, thematically, it has very little conversation.

The Duke

The Duke

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • Played before

I’m not big on chess. I understand the mechanics, but I don’t enjoy the static setup or the lifestyle game nature of it. I’m also not big on abstract games, most of the games in my collection have some sort of theme, no matter how pasted-on it might be. The Duke on the other hand, feels like an abstract game made for me:

  • Variable setup dependent on the players
  • Random draw to determine the pieces each player gets (besides their starting pieces)
  • Changing movement for each piece, clearly printed on the piece

In this game, my opponent did a great job of boxing me in and making sure my Duke (sorta like the king from chess) couldn’t get away from his pieces. A great little game.

Recommended.

Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • Played before

Alright, now for something completely different. We’re out of the Cold War and the medieval battlefields and down under the city in the catacombs fighting troglodytes and demons. Oh and there are a lot more dice involved.

Claustrophobia is asymmetric, two-player, dungeon crawler where one person is the good guys and the other player is the bad guys. The human side has to be wary of taking damage because it severely limits his ability to move (to get out of the dungeon and complete quests) and attack. The demon side on the other hand, has to figure out how to best spend his resources in order to stop the human side, and how to best deploy his troops to get them to the human characters as fast as possible.

This is a game that rewards repeated play because given a solid understanding, the game shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to an hour, and at that length it’s a great little game.

Recommended.

Raptor

Raptor

  • 2 plays with 2 players
  • New to me

Raptor completely surprised me. It’s a two player, asymmetric, card game with a board where one player represents the scientists and the other side is a momma raptor with her five baby raptors. The scientists are trying to either capture three baby raptors or tranquilize the momma raptor five times (all for science of course). While that’s happening, momma raptor is trying to help her babies escape (maybe eating a scientist or two along the way). Each turn you have a hand of three cards from a deck of nine cards number 1-9. Each card has a number and an action. Both cards are revealed simultaneously and the low card’s action happen while the person who played the high card gets a number of actions equal to the difference between their card and their opponent’s card.

The game had a lot of tough decisions with a real economy of rules, choices, and pieces. The fact that it’s a 30 minute (or less) game doesn’t hurt matters either. In my mind, this game is nearly as good as 7 Wonders: Duel and Battle Line for short two player games (good for the new parent crowd).

Highly recommended.

Battle Line

Battle Line

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • Played before

One of the folks who came to the game day was interested in learning Battle Line so we sat down to play while waiting on dinner to arrive. I decided that for teaching, we’d remove the tactics cards and play with the rule where you can claim flags right away instead of at the beginning of your next turn (which is mostly irrelevant if you don’t have tactics cards anyways). I felt like those rules made it a lot easier to teach and grok the rules, but the strategy of it is still a hard nut to crack. When do you play which cards and on what flag? Do you spread out your strength or go for the three-flag push?

Recommended.

BattleLore

BattleLore

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • Played before

Oh man, I don’t play nearly enough BattleLore. It’s such a great two player game and I had forgotten how quick it is. When you’re earning 1-2 points per turn and you play to 16 points, the game is over in 8-12 rounds.

In this particular game I played as Uthuk Y’llan and my opponent was the Daqan Lords. My army was strong, but few as I went for one of the setups that had fewer, but stronger troops, while my opponent went for a more balanced force of cavalry, archers, infantry, and the big flying unit. I started off and immediately went for the victory point marker close to me and also went for the victory point condition that my scenario card dictated: one point per turn where I occupy and forest, hill, and clear hex. From there on out, I was earning at least two points a turn and sometimes three when I pushed into my opponent’s side of the board.

With some lucky rolls here and there and some good lore cards, I managed to win. I really do like the changes they’ve made to BattleLore, it’s just a quicker game, with a reasonable end goal in mind, and a much smoother system for handling lore (yay for no more council!).

Recommended.

Risk: Star Wars Edition

Risk: Star Wars Edition

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • New to me

This was the last game of the night and it was perfect for that. Risk: Star Wars Edition is basically a dice-fest, but it’s not quite what you’re expecting when you hear Risk. Instead of just tromping over a map of Earth, you’re looking at a three sectioned board:

  • On your left you have the Battle of Endor, where the Imperials will be defending their shield generator and the Rebels will be pushing further and further in, in order to destroy the generator.
  • On your right you have the battle between Darth Vader and Luke, as you both struggle to destroy (or redeem) the other.
  • In the center, you have a map of space with the Death Star in the middle surrounded by sectors containing TIE fighters, X-Wings, Y-Wings, and B-Wings.

At the beginning of each round you’re going to pick three of six cards in hand and play them into a stack. These cards show 2-3 symbols: ships (move and then attack), a lightsaber for the fight between Vader and Luke, a symbol representing the fight for Endor, a Death Star (which can destroy entire sectors containing ships), force lightning (which just damages Luke), and Darth Vader (which can be used to redeem Vader if he’s hurt enough). From there, players will alternate and reveal cards, playing one of the available actions.

The Rebels want to take down the shield generator and attack the Death Star, destroying it on a roll of 6. The Imperials want to destroy every ship the Rebels have available to them.

I think this is a solid game, nothing heavy, just a simple dice-chucking game that’s over in 45 minutes or less. It’s almost filler weight in it’s mechanics, but you do feel some meaning in your decisions.

Recommend.