Guest Author: Mark Sosbe
Instagram: Dice in the Dark
Mark is the guy behind the very entertaining Instagram account Dice in the Dark. On his profile you’ll find tons of board game reviews (worth checking out!), beautiful board game photography and, our personal favourite, his Photoshop board game box creations. We think he is a magician when it comes to these box creations and the photos alone are worth following him!
We asked Mark to write an article on his favourite two-player games. There are so many brilliant games available that it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to go for…so we thought let’s ask the guy who informs his 3,000 followers about board games on a daily basis! He may have an opinion or two 🙂
Mark Sosbe – I think that two player games can provide some of the best board gaming experiences around. Though there’s an undeniable joy to having lots of players crowded around a table, two player games offer an intimacy and level of back-and-forth that is hard to find at larger player counts. Whether you’re looking for a chess-like battle of wits, a tug-of-war power struggle or a cooperative game where you rely heavily on your partner, there’s a two player game to suit your needs. Here’s my picks for some games that work great with two players.
Have you ever wanted to build your own dinosaur theme park? Researching DNA to breed dinosaurs that might break free and eat the visitors? A bit like in that popular film? You know the one I mean. Well, then Duelosaur Island is for you. A two player spin-off of its bigger brother, Dinosaur Island, Duelosaur Island is a sleek, refined package that sees you drafting cards and dice in a head-to-head competition to build the best dino park.
You’ll have to balance your park’s needs if you want to be victorious. Carnivorous dinosaurs tend to be more spectacular and so draw more of a crowd, but they are also more dangerous to keep, so you need to ensure that your security measures are up to scratch. The vibrant 90’s aesthetic fits perfectly, and the game is replete with loving references to the aforementioned film, which will have fans chuckling as they play (there’s a barbeque restaurant called “Clever Grill”. What more do you need?).
Try it if you like: Dinosaurs, drafting, the 90’s, theme parks
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Onitama is an incredibly elegant game. Played on a 5 by 5 grid, each player has 4 pawns and a master pawn. Each player also has 2 cards in front of them, showing possible moves that they can make. A fifth card sits to the side of the board. When a player selects a card to use, they move their pawn according to the instructions on the card and replace their card with the card from the side of the board. As the card at the side of the board changes, so too do your options for future moves, forcing you to consider what card you play. You know that when you play a card, that card will be in your opponent’s hand before too long. Are you sure that you’re not giving them exactly the card that they need? The game is won when a player captures the enemy’s master pawn or moves on to their enemy’s temple arch space.
It’s simple to play, and the rules can be learned in around a minute or so, but there is a fantastic amount of tactical depth. It feels like a game that you could get seriously good at if you put in the time. Better than chess, if you ask me.
Try it if you like: Chess, tactical gameplay, strategy, abstract games
PARIS: LA CITÉ DE LA LUMIÈRE
Paris: La Cité de la Lumière is a lovely game that plays in two phases. In the first, you lay street tiles on to the board or draft building tiles from a collective pool. These street tiles either show your colour, your opponent’s colour, a mix of the two that can be later used be either player, or a streetlamp. Once all the street tiles have been placed, the game moves to the second phase. Here, each player takes it in turn to place one of their building tiles onto the board. You’re only able to place your buildings on to street tiles of your colour, or the combination tiles, so planning ahead is key.
Once no more buildings can be placed, the game ends and scoring begins. Buildings are scored by multiplying their size by the number of streetlamps that shine on to them, so clever positioning of your buildings around the streetlamps is vital for success. The game has a wonderfully evocative feel to it, helping to transport you back to the late 1800’s of the setting.
It’s elegant, it’s quick and it’s charming. Well worth a look.
Try it if you like: Tile placement, Tetris, puzzles
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Caper sees you controlling a band of thieves as they plan and execute a heist in a European city. It’s a great theme that’s brought to life with stylish artwork and fantastic graphic design which is reminiscent of 1960’s crime caper movies.
Caper is a card drafting game where you’ll be playing thieves to one of three locations and equipping them with a variety of fun gear (listening devices, suction cups, secret shades etc). Your opponent is doing the same, and you’re competing to control the locations and score the most points. It plays very smoothly. There’s three different cities, each of which adds its own locations and criminals, giving the game a good level of replayability.
A slick and stylish game that doesn’t outstay its welcome, Caper is a charming little experience.
Try it if you like: Card drafting, 1960’s crime movies, James Bond, elegance
Now, this is something really special. Although Marvel Champions can play up to four players, playing at two players is the real sweet
spot. Marvel Champions is a fully cooperative game where you play as one of the Marvel superheroes battling against a villain. The villain is trying to achieve some dastardly scheme and it’s up to the heroes to stop them.
There’s five heroes in the box: Captain Marvel, Iron Man, She Hulk, Black Panther and Spider-Man, and three villains: Rhino, Claw and Ultron. Each character is represented by a deck of cards that you’ll be playing to use special abilities, recruit allies and use equipment. Each hero feels hugely thematic and plays differently. Each villain acts as that game’s scenario, offering their own challenges. Rhino is blunt and straight forward whereas Ultron is constantly creating drone minions that the heroes must overcome.
There’s special joy to be found in cooperative games. Working together feels great and Marvel Champions is a great example of a cooperative game done well. It’s so fun that you don’t need to be a Marvel fan to enjoy it, either.
Try it if you like: Cooperative games, thematic games, Marvel, superheroes card combos
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