Friday, 8 February 2013

Winterton’s Fridays: Things Two People Can Do Together

by Ben Winterton

So, picture the scene: you, and someone else, are in a situation where you have several hours to kill, and no form of electrical stimulation. Conversation, whilst flowing, is starting to ebb. What do you do? You look through your collection of board games and realise both “Monopoly” and “Settlers of Catan” will be pretty dull with just one opponent. What do you do?

Well, I’ve got three suggestions, varying in both cost and complexity, but all being fun and engaging.

1-      Yu-Gi-Oh
This absolutely huge trading card game recently became the biggest in the world, surpassing even the mighty “Magic: The Gathering”. Weirdly, Yu-Gi-Oh is ostensibly marketed at children, despite being far too complex for most children to be able to grasp. Even if you never play the game itself and only trade the cards, the rarity system alone is almost totally impenetrable. I still genuinely don’t know if an Ultimate rare is better than a Secret rare.

This costs way more than a rabbit in a hat should.

The “Yu-Gi-Oh” game, whilst admittedly dense and complicated, is hugely enjoyable once you’ve got the rules down; indeed, most rules do not apply in most situations, and the basics can be picked up in ten minutes. I would, however, say that it is due to the huge, almost limitless, number of combinations of rules and card effects, that this game will always keep me coming back. My advice? Pick out around 200 interesting and playable cards, randomly distribute 40-60 to both players and allow 15 minutes to build a deck. This way, you are forced to try new things and think on your feet.

The two main downsides to “Yu-Gi-Oh” are the aforementioned rule complexity, and the cost. The former can be dealt with by playing one of the many, many “Yu-Gi-Oh” video games, which allow you to play with many different cards and have the rules gradually explained to you. The issue of cost is harder to deal with, but the “Yu-Gi-Oh” structure decks are generally cheap and highly playable, and thus serve as a good starting point. Also, the release of the “Battle Pack” sets give easy access to very playable cards from the games 13 year history. A third option is to buy a box of booster packs and sell off the rarer ones via ebay to make back some of your spending.

2-      Stratego
“Stratego”, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a stone-cold board game classic, specifically designed for two people. The game works in a similar way to chess, if chess pieces were ranked in order of danger levels. The big twist, however, is that your opponent’s pieces are totally unknown to you, and are only revealed when any given piece is directly engaged with. This tests your memory as well as your strategic thought.

Similar to this.

The game can be picked up on ebay for less than £10, and is really simple to get your head around, meaning if “Yu-Gi-Oh” is a tad too intimidating for you, “Stratego” may well be the way to go.

3-      Spit
At the start of this article I was discussing how to deal with boredom, and you likely don’t want to wait until your ebay order arrives before you and your equally bored friend have something you can do with just the two of you. “Spit” is a card game that I was taught at college, and is undoubtedly the best one-on-one card game I’ve ever played, save for maybe a high-stakes “Texas Hold ’em” game.

The rules would take longer than a 103 article explain, but they can be found here. The game is a card game that is based around reactions, and can become very intense, particularly after a few rounds and when both players have become skilled at the game.

So there you go. Three suggestions of what you can do next time you want to do something exciting with another person.

Or I suppose you could have sex.