Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Adaptations For Two Players
The few games I’ve been playing lately are 2-player games, just me and hubby, which led me to think of the different ways that games handle 2 players.
Reduce the playing area. Very few games simply shrink the playing area to force interaction between players. La Citta and Samurai are the only games in my collection that use this technique although Attika, with its build-the-board tile-laying style, starts out with fewer tiles to accomplish the same thing. No other adjustments are needed to retain the feel of the game.
Adjust the number of pieces. Many games use a different number of pieces for each player depending on the number of players but the purpose can differ: Torres gives each player more blocks to build castles which forces the 2 players to interact, while Hansa reduces the number of goods tokens to shorten game play to a reasonable player-to-time ratio.
Adjust playing area & pieces. Through the Desert combines a smaller board area with fewer pieces to keep the 2-player game tight and competitive. Medieval Merchants combines a truncated playing area for 2 players with a reduction in earnings and costs depending on the number of players.
Shadow player. Alhambra uses a 3rd player in the 2-player variant to add competition to this area-control game while Kardinal und Konig (Web of Power and China) has a 2-player variant which adds a shadow player that the 2 players fight to control.
Play 2 colors. When all else fails, each player can control 2 sets of game pieces to simulate a 4-player game. In some cases, the scores are added together to determine a winner and in others the winner is determined by comparing each player’s lower score.
No change. Often no change is needed for 2 players to enjoy a game but a more forceful style of play is required as in Magna Grecia and Tigris & Euphrates. On the other hand, maybe even these great games could benefit from a smaller playing area which would ensure confrontation between players.
It’s interesting to see the different ways that games accommodate the number of players; most of the time it works but sometimes it doesn’t. When a game plays as well with two as it does with four or five, for me, it’s like finding the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks.
Until next time, keep the flies out of the butter.