- MP games add elements of collaboration and manipulation, which I like as a change of pace, but not the norm. Similarly, in 2-player (2P) gaming, you don’t have to worry about a third player being “responsible” for you losing to the eventual victor (although, in these circumstances, I primarily blame myself for failing to effectively collaborate with or manipulate this other player).
- I won’t lie – I like to win. One would expect to win more often in 2P matches on average. However, I think that my ability to collaborate and manipulate is better than my ability to analyze; in fact, in the first half of 2004 (when I last tracked games played), my winning percentage for MP games was actually higher than for 2P games by a few percentage points! I’m not sure why, but I usually get more satisfaction out of winning 2P games. I guess it just feels more “honest”.
- Less downtime. ‘Nuf said.
- The fewer the players, the easier it is to find games that all players are enthusiastic about playing. I would expound on this, but it is deserving of its own article. Given the current mix of players in our gaming group, this is no small matter.
- I prefer the more intimate social setting of 2P gaming. Adding even just a third player to the mix drastically changes the interpersonal dynamics. I don’t observe this as much in other social settings (e.g., eating lunch with colleagues); I think that the competitive setting of MP gaming, with its shifting, fragile alliances, forces a layer of reservedness and/or dishonesty even in the casual conversations.
- Magic: the Gathering: We like opening our sessions with 1 or 2 matches using the pre-constructed theme decks. With two more Ravnica sets being released this year (the next set’s guilds are B/W and R/G and R/U – I’m in heaven!), we will get plenty of play out of this most enjoyable block.
- Roma: For now, it has become the standard “closer” for our sessions.
- 7th Sea: I used to play this a lot with my wife, and supported the game up to the point when they changed the graphic design (soon after which the game died). My friend recently bought a ton of cards on eBay, and we’ll continue to throw decks at each other. Not sure this game would get played if it had a different theme…
- Dungeon Twister: My Game of the Year for 2005 would continue to get a lot of play even if there weren’t several expansions in the works, including a Dungeon Twister card game. Speaking of, I see that the local game store now has the Paladins & Dragons set in stock!
- Crusader Rex & Twilight Struggle: I’m usually not a fan of block games and card-driven wargames, but my first play of both of these was a real blast, and they played well under 3 hours each. It probably helped that I played the “favored” faction in each instance, but, in any case, I found the designs extremely accessible.
- Empire of the Sun & Pacific Victory: Because, y’know, now I have to achieve my resolutions.
- City of Heroes CCG: We have been playing the demo decks, and we like what we see so far. I do have some concerns about the rock-paper-scissors aspects of the matchups; after all, the City of Heroes MMORPG is built around teams of heroes working together, not one-on-one fights. I plan on reactivating my account for 1 month just to capture screenshots of all of my heroes and make custom tournament-legal cards out of them.
- Spycraft CCG: Putting our trust in AEG, we bought a modest amount of cards and gave this a try in 2005. It seemed promising during deck-building, but playing out the game was literally headache-inducing for both players.
- A Game of Thrones CCG: My most-played game for 2005 is likely headed for retirement (especially if the final version of City of Heroes CCG turns out to be a winner), what with the local tournament scene ending as of last summer. That’s just as well; I wasn’t very pleased with the direction the game was going in the new Winter Edition.
- Jambo: Replaced as filler du jour by Roma. Will see play once or twice a year for the foreseeable future.
Now, as much as I love 2P gaming, I still very much cherish having the larger group. To prove my dedication to MP gaming, I will start a monthly series which profiles a gaming group (inspired by the reading group profiles that appear in bookmarks magazine). I hope to have my first article appear next week or the week after that. I don’t think anyone else is doing this – please let me know if I am wrong about that – and I best get moving on the idea before Tom Vasel beats me to it. If you are interested in having your group profiled, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.