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Face-off: Interactions in Two-Player Games

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29 Sep 2022 12:00 #335808 by oliverkinne
Let's start by talking about the handful of competitive two-player...

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.

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29 Sep 2022 12:33 #335809 by Shellhead
My favorite type of 2-player game is cooperative, especially if I am playing with a significant other and/or an inexperienced player. I don't want there to be hard feelings after a game with my partner, and I don't want to either crush or coddle an inexperienced opponent.

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.

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29 Sep 2022 12:47 #335811 by jason10mm
Definitely gotta pick your partner carefully if it is going to be a direct head to head conflict game, even more so if it is an hour+ game. It helps if the game has a lot of luck so you can offload animosity to the dice or whatever but almost no one likes seeing their demise turns away and having to watch themselves get crushed. Realizing this and being able to call the game is critical, but agree beforehand because some folks will (somewhat paradoxically perhaps) get mad that they CAN'T play out your destruction.

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 :P

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.

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29 Sep 2022 15:29 - 29 Sep 2022 15:37 #335818 by Sagrilarus
Boy, I gotta disagree with you on this one. There's a distinct diplomatic advantage to a two-player direct conflict game, because quite simply there is only one way to win. If that's not your thing that's fine, but there's little (and in some titles no) confusion on the matter -- you win at your opponent's expense.

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.
Last edit: 29 Sep 2022 15:37 by Sagrilarus.
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29 Sep 2022 20:48 #335824 by Jexik
I kinda agree with both of you. Sag is right that direct confrontation is often best in 2-player games, but I also agree that if your main 2p game playing partner is your… partner, it might be best to play something less confrontational, especially if they’re less into games than you are.

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03 Oct 2022 10:14 #335894 by san il defanso
For years my wife was also my primary two-player opponent. She's always enjoyed multiplayer stuff more than two-player games against me, unless it's Patchwork, which she can beat me at pretty regularly. So for a long time two-player games were a big ol' waste of money for me.

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.
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03 Oct 2022 11:39 #335908 by Jackwraith
Completely aside from my "don't need more games" current mentality (John Company, 2nd Ed just came in the door!), I so want to pick up Prospero Hall's The Rocketeer. I was friends with Dave Stevens, back in the day, as his work had really (ahem) taken off around the time we were running our studio and he'd show up at all the small press shows. But I just don't have a regular 2-player opponent these days. (And I don't need anymore games-!)

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