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Popular Abstract Board Games (Category)

These are the board games with the Abstract category.
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ReviewA Power Struggle of Abstract Proportions – Settler of the Boards ( [Hierarchy - An abstract game of order and power]Like| 0 comments | [+]
5 Must-have Abstracts for Your Shelf | A Pawn's Perspective image
5 Must-have Abstracts for Your Shelf | A Pawn's Perspective ( [Skud Pai Sho]Like| 10 comments | [+]
Gekitai Abstract Strategy Game Overview image
ReviewGekitai Abstract Strategy Game Overview ( [Gekitai]Like| 0 comments | [+]
10 Best Abstract Strategy Board Games [Patchwork, Ingenious, Hive, Yinsh Board Game, Santorini, Azul, Tiny Towns, Torres, Photosynthesis, Onitama]Like| 4 comments | [+]
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Do you mean 2-player exclusive games? Or any games that work well/best at 2 players? I guess I can give my opinions for both categories.

Favorite 2-player exclusive games

  • #Santorini - ok, technically there is a 3 and a 4 player mode, but they're essentially tacked on. This is a 2 player game, and it's great.
  • #Baseball Highlights: 2045 - I love this game. Super quick, very thematic, and really fun strategy. The box says 4 players, but that's if you're playing in a tournament. An actual round of this game is only played with 2 players.
  • #7 Wonders Duel - this game has been lauded enough, so I won't get into it.
  • #Hive / #Hive Pocket - excellent, quick-playing abstract game
  • #Onitama - see above comments
  • #Targi - I have only played online but it is excellent!
  • #Jaipur - fun, quick, 2 player only market game

Favorite games to play at 2 players (that also play at higher counts)

  • #Everdell - this game is arguably even better at 3 players, but I've only tried that like 2 times, and I have like 30 plays at 2 players. It's my wife's and my favorite game to play together!
  • #Paladins of the West Kingdom - I'd argue that this game is just too long at anything higher than 2 players, but it is excellent at 2.
  • #Azul - we sold this a while back as it just wasn't making it to the table, but I would still happily play it. Great game!

2-player games I'd love to try:

  1. #Colt Super Express
    I was very surprised by this one.  I played it at 3 and 4 players and it was a blast.  Very quick, very funny, very chaotic.  We were all laughing at some of the situations that arose during this game.

  2. #Wingspan
    Great medium weight game.  I usually play this one just me and my wife.  It's one of her favorites.

  3. #Diamant
    The only reason I love this game is that it's one of the few that I have that my 4-year-old can fully play with us.  We turn it into a semi-RPG game where we describe what we have for breakfast each day and how each hazard affects our group.

  4. #Empires of the Void II
    I wanted to like this one more than I did.  Part of the problem could have been that we learned and played this one way too late at night.  Hopefully we will get another shot at this one soon before we forget how to play.

  5. #Azul 
    Played this at 2-players.  It was a fine game, though a bit abstract for my taste.

For me it is pretty simple...If I enjoyed the base game enough to keep it, I'll get any expansion for it. Some don't turn out so great, but mostly, I've had great luck with expansions enhancing the fun!

Some of the best expansions I've bought have been:

  Just about every expansion for Carcassonne. Our favorite is the one that adds in The Builder that allows for a second tile draw/turn. On a down note though, The Tower is too brutal for our tastes.

  There a several different maps for Castles of Burgandy that we have REALLY enjoyed also. The down side has been the latest edition of is a visual mess and it is collecting dust in the attic now.

  I can't think of the name of the expansion for Feudality (by Tom Wham!), but it is a ton of fun and well worth tracking down.

  There are 3 expansions for Tash Kalar and I consider them "essentials". The base game is top 10 material for abstract lovers and the expansions really add to the fun.

  I really enjoy Bunny Kingdom, but I would caution folks to cast a critical eye towards the expansion. It changes the tone of the game dramatically and I don't like it as much as the base game.

  Most of the expansion content for Alien Frontiers is worthy. Some of it is just 'ok', while most really improves on the choices availble...the core of a dice worker placement game!

  Ascension... I would NOT recommend any expansions for this game. The heavily dilute the game play and even start to unbalance things. Pick one version (most are very good), and stick with it.

  Same goes for Race for the Galaxy...every expansion diluted the game too much. We got rid of RftG after JumpDrive came out. Jump Drive is FAR superior to RftG and really gets to the (fast) heart of the game. Multiple strategies are viable for the win also (unlike RftG).

  Dice City... all the expansions are amazing and should be purchased!

  Garden Dice. There is a small expansion for this fun "filler" that pumps up the gamer factor. Highly recommended.

Innovation. Jury is still out on this one as I simply enjoy the base game soooo much, I've only dabbled with the expansions.

  I'm sure I could come up with a few more, but to end this with an answer to your "regret" portion...

7 Wonders Duel. One of my favorite games of all time and we play it often. BUT... the expansion "Pantheon" is amazingly horrible. I LOATHE this expansion and it ended up in the trash. I promise I gave it a fair shake with about a half dozen plays, but it just wrecks an otherwise stellar game. Avoid this at all costs UNTIL you get to play someone else's copy and evaluate it yourself.

Great topic and I'm curious to see what others have to say!




Abstract strategy games tend to fit this description, but I recognize that that's probably against the spirit of the question. Still, I'll list some of those in case anyone else is interested. #Chess (duh), #Go, #Santorini, #Hive, #Tak, and to a certain extent, #War Chest.

Other games I own that can fit this: #Innovation, #Concordia, and (much to my delight), #Baseball Highlights: 2045. One that I think fits especially well that may not come to mind immediately for this is #Inis. The rules are fairly simple, but the strategy around drafting and timing seems very deep after my few plays so far.

Out of your list, there is no question: #Now or Never is at the top! My memories of playing #Above and Below and the campaign for #Near and Far with my boys are great memories, lots of laughter and competitiveness and storytelling.  Can't wait to see what the next chapter brings.

On my personal list, I've got a bunch:

But the two that are on top of that list, if I had to rank them, would be #Legends of Sleepy Hollow and #Mandala Stones.  Sleepy Hollow has been so long in the making, and I adore the American look and story. Can't wait to play. As for Mandala Stones, it has been a while since #Azul and #Reef and #Sagrada got me as abstracts, and I haven't played one that really caught me since then (although #Shobu came close). Mandala Stones is the next great classic abstract, a game you will swear you've played before and forever. 

I don't know how long it takes to master it, but #Santorini certainly has the feel of a game that can fit into this category. It does only take a minute to learn. It seems like many abstract strategy games can fit into this. #Tak could be another one, though I haven't played it.

Awesome :)

This gives me an impression of a compact game that I'd really appreciate. One where it doesn't fall in an awkward spot of being too simple, short, or pared down to a point that it's too abstract or leave me wanting a fuller experience. I'll have to tackle the solo mode soon!

Many old/traditional abstracts very much fit this... But, for modern games, I don't have quite as many. I would say that #Dominion can be that way. You could also check out #Shobu. I have played it only once.... but, it seems like it would fit this criteria.

#Onitama is a very neat little game, the rules are very simple but the ever changing options and the fact that you give the options to your opponent forces you to think in a very different way to a lot of abstract games. I am very bad at it but it is wonderfully clever.

Certain games work better with minis, but in general, I definitely prefer meeples. Price is a huge factor, but I also prefer how meeples feel to hold. Meeples tend to be easier to store, as well. I guess if I was into the adjacent hobby of miniature painting, I'd prefer minis.

Here are the games I have that use minis and my opinion on each of those:

  • #Western Legends - I think the minis work in this game. It helps give each player a different look, and since the game is a sandbox style game where you're making a name for yourself, it works better with the theme.
  • #Inis - could be meeples. I don't think the minis are necessary. It could even be cubes or other tokens. I may be in the minority with this game, since it's such a beautiful production overall, but literally all you do with the minis is move them back and forth through territories. I guess they do probably look better on the table than meeples would, considering the rest of the art choices in the game.
  • #Horrified - there are minis in this game for the monsters only. The player characters and other NPCs are cardboard standees. The monster minis absolutely elevate this game, and I'm glad they're included.
  • #Santorini - this isn't really a mini-heavy game - it's an abstract game, but it uses miniatures as the player pieces (2 each). They definitely do not need to be minis, but since there are only a few of them in the box and they're easy to hold (not pointy or flimsy), it doesn't really bother me.

I think I'm pretty free with my ratings.  I have a lot of 9.5's but only 4 10's:

#Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 - one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had.  Have discussed this at length elsewhere lol.

#Mechs vs. Minions - for the component quality as well as the fun we had playing through the campaign

#Puerto Rico - I think this was my first heavier game and I loved how balanced it was.  Also, I have never had a question come up that the rulebook didn't answer and after playing other games (looking at you #Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island) this is more and more impressive to me.

#Tak - I really do like this game and I think its a great abstract.  But if I'm being honest I probably pushed it to a 10 because I'm an unabashed Rothfuss fan.