S03E11 – 2 Player Games

Today on Save Vs. Rant, we’ll be discussing two player games – tabletop duels! These games let you focus exclusively on the other player, be they an ally or nemesis, and make for very personal gaming experiences!

A quick rundown of the games we discussed this episode:

Fog of Love is one of our favorite roleplaying lite games. It’s basically playing a mini romcom, and it’s a lot of fun!

Monophobia is a collection of 2-player roleplaying adventures for the Call of Cthulhu system. It’s been said that it’s a bit unforgiving (kind of the nature of only having access to a single player character, though).

Morels is a fun game of amateur mycology that now has an expansion called Foray that permits more than two players.

Jaipur is a card matching game. Meant to be played in a series of best-of-three, the game plays quickly, maintaining tension throughout.

Onitama is a chess variant that starts with the only random element – the selection of martial arts forms – and, from there, is a deterministic game of trying to corner your opponent’s master.

The Duke is a chess variant that starts with the only deterministic elements of setup and from there introduce only random elements to the game.

Mouse Guard: Swords and Strongholds and Tak are two player abstract games that I completely forgot to bring up in this episode, but bother are delightful inasmuch as they were introduced in fiction and then brought into the real world!

Tash Kalar is a sort of Go variant where players create patterns to summon creatures to do battle with one another. It kind of brings to mind, in that sense, The Stars Are Right, which is also a pattern matching game, but without Go.

Hive is a gorgeous game involving weighty ceramic hex chips that you use to try to surround your opponent’s queen. Very deep but fast gameplay.

Patchwork is so much fun! Not only is the quilt aesthetic adorable, but the resource management and direct competition gameplay is reliably enjoyable. The game is simple to pick up, but difficult to master.

One great reason to have two player games at your usual game night – ESPECIALLY the ones that play quickly – is that they can give players who aren’t participating in the current game something to do between rounds. Any game that features player elimination – especially fairly early game – can leave players out of the action for a long time. Having games permitting two players to play can give players something to do while they wait for a larger game to open back up.

Beyond that, gaming with a single other person can be a very personal and even intimate experience. You can learn a lot about someone by how they compete with you and what sort of experience it creates. Games that have truly personal touches (deck customization in Magic the Gathering, for example) can give you insight not only into a person’s thought process, but also their sense of aesthetics and how they approach competition.

Many of the oldest games known to man were designed to be played by two players, and even in our ever changing world of complexity and interconnection, I believe we will continue for the foreseeable future to create and player these games.

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