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Old 28-01-2013, 16:39   #1
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Fantasy card / boardgames!

The other half recently got me Penny Arcade - Gamers vs Evil for my birthday, which I've really enjoyed.

It made me think about getting some more card games and/or boardgames, ideally that 2 people could play, not just 4+ but I have no idea where to start.

- I've played Munchkin and it was OK but a little repetitive
- I've also played Cards Against Humanity, which is an excellent party game but not much use for 2 people.
- Magic: TG looks good but I suspect caters more for people who want to spend hundreds of quid on rare cards and add-on decks. I'm looking for something more "out of the box".

Do any forumites have suggestions/favourite card and/or fantasy boardgames they could recommend?
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Old 28-01-2013, 16:57   #2
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There are loads of Table Top youtube videos where people play board games, gives you a good idea of how the game plays before you buy it.
Settlers of Catan is great, I haven't played it with only two, but I believe you can.
http://boardgamegeek.com has loads of reviews for different games.

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Old 28-01-2013, 19:42   #3
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Could get Magic: TG title on XBLA/PC/iOS etc?

Shadow Era is another fantasy battle game that is on iOS but you can actually buy now. Think it's a bit more restricted in terms of cards/decks than MTG but not entirely sure. Maybe just because it's new.
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Old 29-01-2013, 07:34   #4
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Fantasy as a theme is not really my thing, but I do like board games, so for what it's worth, here are some recommendations (links to Board Game Geek). This got a bit long.

Small World should play well with two, and has an interesting area control (think Risk) mechanism where you pick a fantasy race, expand on the map with it, then once it starts to decline, you abandon it and pick a new one.

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is best played with two. It's a co-operative story driven card game, and one of those new "living card games", which means that although it is playable with the basic set, you can buy more cards to add different cards and adventures.

The Lord of the Rings is another Tolkien inspired board game, by the famous game designer Reiner Knizia. It too is a co-operative game, but unlike the card game, it follows the story of the books closely. As all of Knizia's games, the mechanisms are fairly abstract, but it does work quite well.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork is a Discworld themed board game from Martin Wallace, one of my favourite designers. This is actually the first game on the list that I would personally be happy to play (the ones above are good, just not something that I usually enjoy that much). In it, you are all trying to take over the city of Ankh-Morpork. It is an area control game, but with the added twist that you don't really know what the victory conditions for the other players are.

Citadels shines with 4-6 players, but is fairly good also with two. In it, you are building a city by selecting a character (merchants, builders, wizards, thieves, etc) every turn who will help you towards your goals (or not, if they for instance get assassinated).

Additionally, if you are looking for something a little heavier and more strategic, both Runewars (which I have played and thought was quite ok) and Mage Knight (which I have not played but have heard good things about) should play well with two.

Other two player games that I would, off the top of my head, recommend:

Jambo, a game of African merchants, is the absolute favourite two player game for me and my wife. We've played it over a hundred times I think, and it still shows no signs of getting old. It's worth getting the expansion packs right away.

Saint Petersburg is another favourite and plays well with two. As the name suggests, you are building St Petersburg for the Czar. It's one of those games where you just never have enough resources to do everything you want to do, so you are constantly trying to balance things.

Alhambra plays well with two, although it is better with 3 or 4. In it, you build the palace of Alhambra. One of my personal favourites, when it comes to light games.

Race for the Galaxy is very good with two. In it, you build a space empire. There are better space empire building games out there, but this one is quick and easy to play, with plenty of strategy mixed in. If the theme is not for you, San Juan (on which Race for the Galaxy is kind of based) is a fairly similar game, just set in the colonial era Puerto Rico.

Carcassonne should need no introductions and plays excellently with two. But if it does need an introduction, let me just say that you are kind of building a landscape, with cities, roads and farms in it. More or less, it was for the 2000s what Settlers of Catan was for the 1990s.

Taluva is an excellent abstract but strongly thematic game in which you have villagers on a volcanic island. Your small tribe is trying to survive and build landmarks, while the island is undergoing constant change.

Twilight Struggle is currently ranked as the best ever board game at Board Game Geek and I don't wonder why. Although strictly a two player game, it is a heavier one, and may require some interest in cold war era politics to really shine. It is a great game, though not necessarily one to start with, if you are new to board games.

Through the Ages is another slightly heavier game, but since every board game list should always have at least one real civilization building game, and since Through the Ages plays so marvellously with two players, I thought that I would add it to close this list properly. It's my current default game when someone wants to play a board game.
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Old 29-01-2013, 09:23   #5
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Thanks for the recommendations. I've got lots of reading to do!

Another friend also recommended Talisman - not sure if anyone here has played that and can comment?
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Old 29-01-2013, 09:59   #6
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I'll second the recommendations for Carcassonne and Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. Discworld is a ton of fun and as strong on theme as on gameplay (I posted some pictures from a play session here). Small World is entertaining too. Though I wonder if it doesn't play better with 3 or 4 players.

If we try and restrict the theme to fantasy or a bit of sci-fi (though there are excellent games we could recommend in other genres), I'd add a few of my favourites:

Starting from the most lightweight:

Castle Panic is a cooperative and competitive take on tower defense in board game form. Not super complex but fun to play once in a while. And the cooperative aspect can be nice.

Infiltration: More sci-fi this one. A netrunner card based game where you play thieves trying to infiltrate a high security building to steal data. It plays very fast and is a lot of fun. RPS has a great article on why it's such an entertaining game: Cardboard Children: Infiltration.

Finally, if you are not afraid of longer set up times (count 20 minutes or so to set up the board) and do not mind some Lovecraftian horror, you should consider Mansions of Madness. With 2 players, one player will be the Keeper (evil entity trying to take over the world) and the other Investigators trying to stop bad things from happening. The game is kind of a treasure hunt (the investigators go from clue to clue to find out what the Keeper is up to) with lots of storytelling, monsters and even actual puzzles to solve. It plays very well with 2 (I've played it with my wife) and excellently with more players (who then cooperate as investigators). Again, RPS has an article on it here: Cardboard Children: Mansions Of Madness

Or you can watch this video which does a great job of going over the various elements:

The board is superb too.

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Old 29-01-2013, 10:23   #7
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I'd also recommend Carcassone and Settlers of Catan. If you own an iPad then the iOS versions of these are really good and avoid the set up time and calculating of scores in the case of Carcassone (in addition to being much cheaper than the real game). Small World is also excellent, but I have a feeling the iOS app, while very good, only supports one player mode.

For iOS recommendations I'd also add Forbidden Isle and Eradicate (a Pandemic clone). They're slightly different in that they're co-operative games, so it's all the players vs the game.
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Old 29-01-2013, 10:38   #8
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Originally Posted by sparkyrob View Post
Another friend also recommended Talisman - not sure if anyone here has played that and can comment?
I really really really hate Talisman. It's not really a game, if you ask me. To exaggerate a little (but only little!), your only real decision in it is whether you want to move clockwise or counter-clockwise. The rest is just stuff that happens. For three to four to five hours, depending on your group. As a board game, it's no better than Monopoly.

But I do know many people who love the game, and as I said, fantasy itself is not able to maintain my interest. It could be that my originally milder dislike was enhanced to its current monstrous proportions due to someone giving me Talisman as a gift in the 1980s, and as it was the only fantasy themed game in my collection, someone always wanted to play it, and so I had to play it over and over and over again, never really liking it, until one day I just threw it out.

I tried the new edition a year ago, and it was just as horrible an experience as I remembered. There are much better games out there, with much more elegant and modern designs.

I share a similarly strong dislike for Mansions of Madness, which Wendelius suggested. Again, I know many people who love it, but for me it has always (I've played it three or four times) been a really long and boring experience, with very little "game" in it. But if you prefer theme over "game" (for instance if you want a board based role playing game), Mansions is definitely worth trying, as is Arkham Horror (which I think has a little more "game" in it, but I still dislike it a lot).

I have heard many good things about Infiltration, which Wendelius suggested. Hoping to get to try it at some point!
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Old 29-01-2013, 10:40   #9
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Small world iOS does support 2 players but thats all - They did start a kick-starter to add upto 5 players and online multiplayer but it got pulled as people thought they were abusing what kickstarter is really for (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...-world-2/posts)

Neuroshima Hex is another great iOS board game (and I think there is a physical version too)
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Old 29-01-2013, 10:46   #10
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A little old now, but I used to play and really enjoy the Star Trek TNG CCG - I still have all the cards (allbeit boxed up in the loft) along with the Star Wars CCG.
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Old 29-01-2013, 10:54   #11
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Excellent, someone started a board / card game discussion! Good work!

Having a quick skim through, I notice someone mentioned Talisman, and then someone said it is flawed. This is true, it is not as fun as many other fantasy board games and because of strange voodoo economics you cannot pick it up for cheap either.

In terms of fantasy board games, there are some obvious ones, mainly Games workshop, that are still fun today:
Hero Quest is still brilliant if you can find enough players,
The Dungeons and Dragons board game is actually not terrible either, and does things better than Hero Quest in many ways.

If you venture in to space, then Space Crusade, Advanced Spaced Crusade and Space Hulk are all good fun.

Also though Munchkin is a bit silly as a card game, the board game version improves it very slightly, though may not be worth the expense.

Though you do mention that MTG is expensive, this is only technically true if you want to play it in competitions. This is because Wizards of the Coast are evil and only want your money, meaning you have to get the latest sets to compete. If you are just playing with friends then the game is excellent fun if you order a huge amount of old cards on ebay for virtually no money (try to find one that is not a trader, but a random who is just getting rid of all their cards). Building decks from these random cards is sometimes more fun than actual playing. So long as you don't get addicted and NEED the newest (often deliberately better) cards it's not an expensive hobby.

Other board games that I think have been mentioned that I would recommend:
Settlers of Catan is fun, but needs a fairly large group and considerable time. Also the expansions are almost a necessity and cost a fair chunk.
Carcassonne is entertaining for a short period. It is great on iPad too.
Powergrid we play fairly often and is a bizarre game of economic power management which is somehow fun.

That's all I can think of for the moment. Let us know how you get along?
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Old 29-01-2013, 21:45   #12
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I know it's not a fantasy game exactly, unless you count the Alvin and Dexter add-on I suppose, and I know some may say it's a little basic being a gateway game, but I absolutely love the Ticket To Ride series. Bang! is also a fun western themed card game if you have four plus players to make it worthwhile.
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Old 29-01-2013, 22:18   #13
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PLayed most of the games mentioned, Settlers of Catan is my favourite, a great fun game, not sure how well it plays with two (I'm sure its fine). A good two player only game is Lost Cities.
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Old 30-01-2013, 22:15   #14
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Also try San Juan (it's Puerto Rico's card game brother, and excellent with two).

Tigris & Euphrates is great as a board game, and iOS.

Another vote for Lost Cities - fun, but a little simplistic.

While I'm here, I'll throw out a game that's great for LOTS of people (9 is brilliant!). Saboteur. Easy to teach, and will have your gran plotting against your niece in no time at all. Even if it only comes out at christmas, it'll be better than any of the crap that the monopoly fans try and roll out
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Old 31-01-2013, 00:12   #15
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Ticket To Ride, in both tabletop and IoS/PC versions is one of the best tabletop games ever.

No magic though...
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Old 31-01-2013, 00:22   #16
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I love TTR. I play it most days on the iPhone and have the Europe & Nordic sets in physical.
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Old 31-01-2013, 13:10   #17
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Warning boardgaming can be addictive. So far this year theres been a lot of cheap stuff, as mentioned before boardgamegeek is the place to go, under their hot deals forum there's a smaller europe deals folder.

Bought Merchant of Venus for £40 - bascially Elite the boardgame
Bump in the night for £15 - a puzzle style game, you play the monsters trying to scare the girls out of the house.
Cthulhu Gloom - was mispriced on Amazon at £5.49 for a while, card game.
Game of Thrones the card game from HMVs blue-cross sale

thoguht I've bought enough this year and then saw Infiltration last night, which is a card game under timer emulating breaking into a building and stealing stuff and getting out before your times up.
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Old 31-01-2013, 22:04   #18
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Can't stand Carcassone, I think it's rubbish.

Catan is great, though.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:12   #19
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Originally Posted by LordoftheDance View Post
Can't stand Carcassone, I think it's rubbish.

Catan is great, though.
I have noticed that Carcassonne can divide opinions very sharply. I wonder if it's the ultimately quite abstract design coupled with the deceptively family game looking style in a game that can get really cut throat nasty when people start blocking other people's actions.

I would say that Catan, which many here seem to love, is quite ok, but every year as new games and designs are released, Catan feels increasingly outdated and frustrating to play. I haven't played with many of the newer expansions though, and maybe they have modernised it somewhat.

In any case, I personally wouldn't suggest starting with Catan if one is new to board games. There are friendlier and more streamlined designs out there. But it is definitely something that one needs to try at some point, if only for historical reasons. And it's not by any means a bad game.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:45   #20
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I think the two are polar opposite in terms of they work with numbers of players.

Catan - either play it with 4, or don't bother playing it. At its heart its a trading game, and the interaction works brilliantly with 4; less than that and I've always felt it boring and random - if the trades never get going, you're left at the mercy of the dice rolls.

Carcassonne is a 2 player game, and a great, nasty, cutthroat one as well (you can play it 'nicely', but where's the fun in that?). Any more than 2 players and the downtime between turns completely kills it, and can also make it feel rather random
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