This topic came to me because of the Top 10 that Kristen and I did a little while ago. And I do promise that there will be more. It’s tricky during the summer, and we do want to do a little bit of light editing […]
Tag: Top 5
Alright, I said I was going start another top 5 list, these are games that can either only be played with two players or are best with two players. There are some games that might have 2-4 players, but are really two player games, because either 4 players makes the game too random or slow down to much, or because the higher player count just takes it and splits it into teams.
5. Dice Throne Season 1
It’s a bit low on the list because I haven’t played it with four players or with six players. And it probably is solid with those counts as well, but the game is a ton of fun when it is just two players. You face off in a dice battle against the other player being able to pick what sort of character you want to play. If you want to go for a longer more controlled game, the Monk might be a great choice, if you want to just do damage, the Pyromancer is who you want. The game is simple to explain and the actions you do make a lot of sense. It’s probably going to be a two player game that you could play with anyone, regular board gamer or not.
4. Akham Horror LCG
This one is low on the list, because I really like it as a solo game. It means I have zero downtime and the game moves around really quickly. But it is fun two player as well, and can go up to four players, but not out of the base box. It’s a good action management game where you always feel like you have more that you want to do. You might end up having to fight a monster when you wanted to be searching for clues. You might end have needing to deal with a situation that arises that causes you to lose a weapon or something else like that. Arkham Horror tells a nice and tight story and you feel like you get an investigation in each time you sit down and play the game.
There are a lot of potential abstract strategy games that could go on here. Chess could have even made the list, but I think that Onitama might replace chess for a lot of people. It’s a great strategy game where each player has two actions and there is one action in the middle. When you use one of your movement action cards on your turn, you put that one into the middle and take the one that was there. So not only do you have to think about how you’re setting up your pieces to capture someone else’s pieces, but you have to think about what you are giving them for an action. The game has an interesting addition to the normal chess style, capture the king, you can also win by making it to a certain space. Another game that is quite fast and it has a very nice app.
This works very well with two players because it’s a fast game with some interesting decisions. There’s no way to play it with more players, but that’s fine. You are trying to win the favor of some geishas, but when you are playing cards fairly often your opponent can pick some of the cards you play prior to you playing them. There’s also enough hidden information in the game that if you are a good card counter, it’s not going to work. It’s also easy to teach because there are so few options. It is a game that I generally want to reset and play once I’m done with it.
1. Star Wars Rebellion
Rebellion is one of the games that I mentioned at the top of the post where technically you can play with four players, the two players per side with them splitting up heroes. However, it’s really a two player game, because you can’t fully strategize when you have it split between two people. And depending on the actions that one person takes, it might be the case that the other player is much more involved on the rebel or empire side, while one person just does missions for their turn. Star Wars Rebellion is a really fun game, with two players, as it’s cat and mouse with the empire trying to find the rebels and the missions and building up of forces that you do. It’s the whole epic saga in a box.
There are a ton of games that are good with two players. Some of them require a bit more thinking and some of them are fast and easy. I should have actually started with my top 5 solo games, but more people are going to play two player games than they are solo games.
What are some of your favorite two player games? Do you like them to have more theme or do you really like abstract two player games?
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Between campaign building, I want to go back to some of the board game lists. And this is probably my favorite mechanic for a game, where people can do things just a bit differently than other players.
The lightest game on the list by far, but one that has a ton of different variable powers. In fact, every race and power is unique, and those combinations are randomly generated each game. So how you play is going to change each time. Add in the fact that you will have multiple different race and power combinations throughout the game, and this game is basically just about those variable powers. However, it works really well in this game, because you get that silly area control, but you also have some decisions to actually make in the game. I’d highly recommend this or my #2 on the list as options for introductory games with variable player powers, and then work your way up to the rest of them.
4. T.I.M.E. Stories
Not one that I have put on a list before, but T.I.M.E. Stories has an interesting way for unique player powers. Because you are traveling back in time or to other dimensions, and how they do it in this game is by sending your brain back into another person’s body, you now have all of that persons stats and issues. No spoilers for anything more than the base version of the game, but you might get sent back into the body of a cannibal or someone who is addicted to cocaine, so good player powers like you’d expect. And you can change it up between jumps depending on how you want to play through the scenario. The one thing I wish it would do a bit differently though is that you need a balanced party with mental stats and physical/combat stats. It would be nice to avoid combat more often if you wanted to.
3. Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
This one is great because not only are your characters different because of stats, such as lore, strength, agility and others, they also have different powers. You could go into a scenario with a character who can attack better, gain clues when monsters die, or maybe you have someone who can reroll when doing lore checks and has a great lore. There are support characters and there are attacking characters. While the scenarios might be the same, with the exception of slightly different generated rooms, the game can feel different depending on who you are playing each time you play a scenario. And how you go about solving scenario might change as well, because sometimes your investigators might prefer a more direct approach.
2. Pandemic/Pandemic Legacy
Both are rolled into one since I really shouldn’t spoil characters in the Legacy version, but even in the base version it’s great. The medic can do something different than the dispatcher, the scientist different than the researcher, and so on. Each role has something that they are better at, and people can pick to tailor to their playstyle if they want. Or you can just try and random combination to see how well they work. They do a really good job of balancing the characters in the main game. And in the legacy version you get to decide even more options to make your character feel even more unique which is great.
Each character in Gloomhaven plays differently. You might be the ranged character, a magic user, a healer, tanks, there are so many different unique options. Gloomhaven is a massive game, a huge story driven dungeon crawler, and because of the card play, the combat is less random than a lot of dungeon crawlers where you are just rolling dice. And from the start you feel like each character is unique in what they do. I’ve played three different characters so far, and while they have all kind of been support characters, they all feel different and support in different ways, they haven’t been just healers. Overall my favorite game, and just great variable powers that the player can then even customize themselves.
There are a ton of games that I haven’t listed with variable player powers. Most of the time they are in games it works really well. But there are risks that a certain combination might be too powerful in a game if not properly playtested.
A few for the honorable mentions:
Cry Havoc – Gives each race their own buildings and style for getting points. Definitely a fun option that allows people to go from Euro to Amerithrash in the game.
Imperial Assault – Each playable Star Wars character has their own stats and powers. See Mansions of Madness for how the game play works somewhat. Or at least how the variable powers work.
Arkham Horror LCG – Fantasy Flight does a good job of creating Lovecraftian games with variable powers through their investigators. This one is probably my #5, but it’s similar to Mansions of Madness, so I didn’t need a double up.
And there are so many more games that I love like this. Root, Star Wars Rebellion, Legends of Andor, and so many more that it’s hard to keep track. What are your favorite games with variable player powers? Do you find it confusing in some games or do you generally want it?
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