Monday, 24 March 2014

Two Gamers Seek Three-Player Board Games

Should we just stick to two
player games? Pictured: Confusion
As most people know from talking to me, my gaming life is chiefly two-player and this is what drives our game purchases. Catan has no purpose in our lives, I desperately tried to explain to my fiancé: we cannot play it regularly. He disagreed and it's sat on the shelf ever since.

I'm so glad he disagreed. It's amazing to have the perfect game around when opportunity strikes. I'm typing this after five days of gaming with various friends - all having completely different interests and complexity thresholds. It was amazing.

We played four games of note and only one is specifically playable for two players:

The Resistance: there is little more exciting for me when somebody comes into work (Rules of Play, an independent board game shop) and tells me they have only played Monopoly. The thrill of being able to show them a sparkly, plastic-wrapped universe for the first time is very special. When friends tell me the same thing, on a day when I have bagfuls of games - well there's little hope for them to leave without murmuring to each other about the next time they can play *that* game. In this case it was The Resistance - an evening of it being requested over and over again, "I'm not a spy!" being protested loudly and regularly. Playing multiple games strengthened the laughter and doublethink - 'Well last game you said exactly that, and we all know you were a spy then!'

Survive: Escape from Atlantis

Survive: after playing the Resistance high-interaction was a must and there is little more entertaining than depositing your opponent in the sea only for them to be devoured by a shark. I sat out at this point and helped clarify rules and strategy points as they arose. Watching a group desperately swimming for safety with the banter and jollity carried over from the Resistance was amazing. It also allowed the new gamers to both play a board game (as opposed to card-based, party game The Resistance) and be introduced to the meeple. I strongly believe meeples are a board-gaming essential!

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan: the next day was a pub-day. We usually bring something along (Resistance is a staple as is DixitLove Letter and Cheaty Mages are also very welcome) but felt as a few had enjoyed Survive so much the day before that we'd introduce them to the modern classic that is Settlers of Catan. Having sold over 18 million copies since 1995, in over 30 languages, it is the most well-known modern board game, and is sold alongside Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk in most retailers. The simple ruleset (and the "wood" puns!) charmed the players and as time had ticked on, we brought it the next day as well - and this time, having practiced the game the day before, strategies began to roll out and a new victor was crowned.

Twilight Imperium (Third Edition)

Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Yesterday was the other side of gaming, we'd been invited along to play something different, never before played by us (it's three players and up and blossoms with a high player count), something that when people come into Rules of Play and talk to me about it I hang on their every word because it has always looked so incredibly exciting: Twilight Imperium. Despite having only the smallest of understandings of the actual rule-set pre-game, we managed to get into the game quickly (I built the strongest ships, War-Suns, on turn 1! It was so daftly unexpected and brilliant from my perspective) and delighted in weighty political discussions, intrigue, back-stabbing, quickly made reparations for fear of worse to come, distrust and uneasy alliances, trading and threatening our way out of situations. It was an interactive game at its finest, and my only regret is that I couldn't have played it again immediately (it was 9pm by that point - this game is long even if it doesn't feel like it!)

Opportunity struck and I've had several amazing experiences in quick succession because of it. I no longer regret having games on our shelf that will only come out every couple of months (and perhaps even less often!) because the joy a game can bring cannot be expressed in mere words: it's an intensity of feeling that I will do my best to continue grabbing whenever the moment offers itself. Next time I'm going to prepare better: the expansions for adding extra players for Settlers of Catan, Survive and Carcassonne are next on my to-buy list, and I never thought I would be saying that!