Double Trouble

Walter from California writes…

Father Geek! Help!

I have a boy and a girl and cannot find a game that both want to play. My problem is unique because my son and daughter are twins! At eleven years old, they are very interested in playing games, but cannot decide on which ones to play which makes Family Game Night into a Family fight night for which game to play.

My son loves fantasy, but my daughter loves more Euro-style games. My son’s current favorite game at the moment is Runebound and plays it a lot with his friends. My daughter’s favorite (and mine) is currently Alhambra.

Do you have any suggestions on games that could meet both my son’s and my daughter’s interests?

Looking forward to your answer!

Well thanks for the question, Walter. Are your children identical twins? (Boom-tish! Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Don’t try the veal, it’s hideously over-priced.)

Compromise is a integral part of being a good boardgamer, and family game night is a great place to start. Finding a logical compromise between Runebound and Alhambra requires an appreciation of the reasons behind each player’s gaming preferences. I have never played Runebound (blast, there goes what little credibility I started with), but I am familiar with Alhambra, as it is one of my favorites also (and Cyrus’s also).

For the purposes of this article, we shall assume that the appeal of Runebound comes from exploring, acquiring items and “leveling up” characters, and that Alhambra is favored for its elegant Euro mechanics, especially in limiting the number of options available on a player’s turn. Also, we shall prefer games that can be played in 90 minutes or less, ideal for family game nights.

I have four suggestions that fit the bill:

  • Entdecker: Exploring New Horizons is a tile-laying game in which players explore uncharted waters, create outposts and charm the natives. Like Carcassonne, the playing area begins as a blank canvas and players collaborate to create a visually appealing archipelago as the game progresses.
  • Tobago is a recent game (published in 2009) with innovative and elegant mechanics, in which players move around an island searching for hidden treasure.
  • Small World, a remake of the Euro-style classic Vinci, is a fantasy-themed diceless game of conflict between races with random special powers.
  • Race for the Galaxy is a (non-collectible) card game in which players build a space empire through simultaneous actions, mechanically similar to San Juan.

Another game that may suit both your children is Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation, a fantasy-themed diceless conflict game for two players by Reiner Knizia. While not an ideal main attraction for a family game night, it could serve as a filler while waiting for others to arrive.

Walter, let us know how you fare in your quest for mutually-agreeable family night games.

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About Meng

Board Game Fanatic, and Father of Two, Meng is an Australian who became hooked on board games at high school, with such classics as Talisman and Diplomacy. Years later, he rekindled his interest while living in the United States, both immersing himself in the local gaming scene and also taking advantage of mail-order to expand his collection to some 300 items. After returning to Australia in 2008, and with little time left after work, study and travel, the majority of his gaming nowadays is with his two young children. Hoping one day in the distant future to teach them to play a rollicking game of Die Macher, in the meantime he provides more age-appropriate fare and tries to discuss some life lessons along the way. Meng goes by the handle meng on Board Game Geek.

2 Responses to Double Trouble

  1. Nate says:

    I would also suggest Candamir: The First Settlers. It’s based in the Settlers of Catan “world”, but it focuses on single adventurers that are moving around the land (like in Runebound), having encounters, gathering resources, fighting wild animals (bears, wolves), leveling up, and helping to build up the town. It’s mechanics are simple and elegant, like a good Euro, yet it maintains the feel you get from adventure games like Runebound.

  2. Brian says:

    Also, got to mention the co-op games. What better way to agree on a game than choosing one where they work together:
    2 on the shorter side are Pandemic and Castle Panic
    Dig in for 4 hours with Battlestar Galactica, or Arkham Horror

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