I have a whole pile of games that almost made the list but didn’t. So let’s talk about some of the near misses!
First up was Once Upon a Time which is a game I love, and enjoy a lot at the two-player count. I find it’s a less stressful experience with fewer participants and it lets people really double down on in-jokes and personal references. It becomes more intimate – more quixotic – and frequently funnier and more endearing as a result. However, that’s a minority view – most people think it only works at three players and many say it needs at least five to really come into its own. I’m usually not swayed by the fact people disagree with me – if I did I’d never write anything ever again. I’m willing in this case though to say that my affection for Once Upon a Time as a two-player game may not be a reliable enough experience to include it.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective was a strong candidate for the list, but I decided in the end to not include it because I have it in mind for another special feature. I want to make sure that those of you struggling through these self-indulgent exercises in subjective ranking at least get novelty from the lists you read. I’m not saying I won’t include the same game in different lists, but if I’m already struggling for enough spaces for everything worth discussing then an over-exposed game probably won’t make the cut.
I wanted to give Mr Jack Pocket a bit of love, but in the end its puzzle is just so aggressively opaque that it doesn’t work well unless everyone is as invested as everyone else in mastering it. It’s a game that plays like Judo – mostly it’s about recovering from the way your own momentum was used against you and it’s unsatisfying until you really start to work with the rhythm and not against it. As such if you were planning to spend an evening with someone with the intention to introduce them to a fun game, Mr Jack Pocket might not be the one. Similarly with Twilight Struggle – it’s a game that really needs someone to do their homework before playing and that’s not an easy sell.
Finally, Memoir 44 is an excellent two player game but the World War 2 theme is a little bit off-putting for a lot of potential players. Much as how a lot of people go instantly cold when presented with a movie about D-Day or a television series about infantry in France, some people just recoil from playing a wargame. Even one as intuitive, slickly produced and fun as this one. Still, if you have someone interested in the setting you can’t go far wrong with putting this in front of them. For some people, it might just be the thing that leads them to a life of fruitful, fun and happily unproductive gaming.
That List in Full
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|8||Oh My Goods|
|7||One Deck Dungeon|
|5||Exit: The Game|
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