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As the holiday season rocks along and 2016 comes to a close I thought I would share my favorite 2-player card games of the year in case you need any last minute gift ideas for your nerd people.

1) Thunder & Lightning (ZMAN Games)

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Thunder & Lightning is a two player card game where one player is Loki and the other is Thor. Each player has her own deck of cards from which to draw. The art on the cards is wonderful, by the way. Somewhere shuffled in Thor’s deck is Odin’s ring and Loki’s deck contains Odin’s crown. Each player must protect his own item at all cost – since having it discovered costs you the game. The game feels epic in scope, even though it may take less than 30 minutes to finish a game. That is often difficult to accomplish! The immersive nature of gaming is one my favorite aspects of the hobby and T&L’s theme, combined with excellent strategic choices and a new narrative every time, means that it will remain solidly in my collection. I spoke to Zeus and he says you should check it out, too.

2) The Blood Of An Englishman (Renegade Games)

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The Blood of an Englishman pits one player as Jack (from the beanstalk fame) against the other player as The Giant (of the same fame). Both players manipulate cards from the same face up rows in order to achieve their goals. Jack is trying to build three beanstalks by using cards in ascending numerical order. The Giant is trying to arrange cards in rows or columns to spell out Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum! The game provides a puzzle like challenge and requires thinking well beyond the current turn in order to win it. For such a simple and compact game, you’d be hard pressed to find one with more brain burn. And I mean that in a good way. The art and theme are quite immersive. The Blood Of An Englishman is an asymmetrical game with players having actions that are unique to their side. Jack is nimble and quick, and The Giant is strong and slow, but the game is balanced nonetheless. Give it a try if you can get your hands on a copy!

3) 7 Wonders: Duel – (Asmodee)

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7 Wonders: Duel is a game where players develop their civilizations through three ages, taking turns either buying a card to build, destroying a card for money, or building wonders for various bonuses. At the end of three ages, the player with the most victory points wins. Each game seems to take a different course. Maybe I’m strong in civic buildings this game, due to the way the cards are revealed and uncovered. Next time it might be military and merchant. Duel has surprisingly smooth mechanics for such a meaty game and is streamlined to the point of genius. In conclusion, if you are looking for an ancient themed civ-builder that you can finish in under an hour, grab this game.

4) Brewcrafters Travel Card Game (Dice Hate Me Games)

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Brewcrafters Travel Card Game captures the feel of managing a brewery in a bout 30 minutes. While this game technically handles up to four players, it works great as a two player game. Each player takes turns drawing cards and either playing them into their own brewery for continued benefits, or discarding sets of them to brew batches of beer, trying to score 21+ victory points to win the game. For a quick game, there is a lot of different stuff (ingredients) in here to provide a solid gaming experience, especially if you like beer. The art in the game is interesting and the theme is ever present throughout. By the end of the game you should feel pretty proud of what you’ve built. Did you go worker heavy? Equipment heavy? Or did you balance it out? Maybe you specialized in ales. Maybe porters or special brews. Since I picked up my copy, I have played BCTC several times in my local beer garden and no one has been disappointed. I doubt you will be either. Cheers!

Well, there you go. If you enjoy gaming in pairs, try these excellent games out. Thanks for reading, and keep nerding on!

Rob Fenimore
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