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Face-off: Interactions in Two-Player Games
I love playing board or card games with my wife. Spending a little, or a lot of time together focused on the same activity is a wonderful way to connect. It started as a date night, but now we might play a quick 5-10 minute game or two over lunch or we play a longer game. Co-operative games tend to be our favourite. Working together to solve the puzzle that the game presents is a lot of fun. That's why we also love solving the Sunday crossword puzzle together. There are very few two-player competitive games that we enjoy and in this article, I want to explain why.
If we are going to play a 2-player competitive game, then I want there to be a lot of interaction, not some 2-player solitaire snoozefest. But I generally prefer my direct interaction games to be multi-player. Actually, I prefer all of my games to feature direct interaction unless I am playing a solitaire game.
If I'm playing with an experienced player it's gloves off. But with a novice I find dropping some helpful hints, or at least suggestions, about mitigation strategies can go a long way towards making the game more challenging for myself while also still fun for them. Of course I also get accused of pushing the other player into a position advantageous for me, so it isn't my fault if they fail to listen
But I think there is a reason that lots of newer 2 player games are short and sweet. They are more of a "best out of 3" deal rather than a 4 hour slugfest like the old MB or AH wargames.
When you have three or four players the choice of the person you attack isn't merely about beating up on the leader. It could be more based upon improving your own personal position in the game by picking on someone who iss weaker thanyou, or just because they're close enough to you that you can do it. The result is that your intentions can be misunderstood by the other players at the table, especially if they're struggling.
But lately my eldest son has become my primary two-player opponent, and he's far more on my wavelength. We play everything from War of the Ring to 7 Wonders Duel, to Mystery Rummy, and he's good at most of them. With him direct interaction and complex rules are much more in the mix. It's been pretty rewarding for a lot of these games I've bought to finally see some action.