Valeria Card Kingdoms (Designer Isaias Vallejo, Artist Mihajlo Dimitrievski, Publisher Daily Magic Games): Keith Ferguson introduced me to VCK at Origins 2016, and I subsequently picked up my own copy. Kathy and I have always liked this engine-building dice-driven resource card game in a two-player format, but it turns out to be popular with our sons as a family game as well, which led us to pick up a couple of the expansions (to which the format is particularly well suited).
#8. Seasons (Designer Régis Bonnessée, Artists Xavier Gueniffey Durin and Stéphane Gantiez, Publisher Libellud): I picked this up from the vendor at UnPub 5 on Darrell Louder's recommendation. It took Kathy and me a few plays to get the hang of the Magic-style card drafting and combo-building, but now we are quite taken with the card play in combination with the dice drafting and "seasonal" resource availability.
Goa (Designer Rüdiger Dorn, Artist Oliver Freudenreich, Publisher Z-man): We received this neo-classic as a Christmas gift from a very good friend five years ago, and it has evidently disappeared from retail distribution since then. It features a unique bidding process for obtaining resource and scoring tiles, as well as a clever interaction of functions that motivates both diversity and specialization.
#6. 7 Wonders: Duel (Designers Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala, Artist Miguel Coimbra, Publisher Repos Production): This more recent Christmas gift re-formats the excellent multi-player drafting game 7W into a much better designed-for-two structure than the original's two-player variant with a dummy third player. We have yet to try out the Pantheon expansion.
Codenames: Duet (Designers Vlaada Chvátil and Scot Eaton, Artist Tomáš Kučerovský, Publisher Czech Games Edition): Like 7W:D, this recent release is a re-formatted two-player version of a multi-player game, and a brilliantly executed one at that. The only cooperative game on this list, C:D puts us on the same team to give each other clues using the same set of 25 options.
#4. New Bedford (Designer Nathaniel Levan, Artist Nolan Nasser, Publisher Greater Than Games): I fell in love with this game when its prototype first appeared at Congress of Gamers five years ago. It remains a favorite combination of worker placement with the Puerto Rico bilateral structure of town building and shipping (or in this case whaling).
Caylus (Designer William Attia, Artists Cyril Demaegd, Arnaud Demaegd, and Mike Doyle, Publisher Rio Grande): This grandfather of worker placement games deserves a special place among the neo-classic European games of our time. Although stronger at higher player counts, the game holds up well under its two-player variant.
#2. Puerto Rico (Designer Andreas Seyfarth, Artists Harald Lieske and Franz Vohwinkel, Publisher Rio Grande): Another neo-classic European game that belongs in a hall of fame, PR was never intended for two players. As I've mentioned several times in this blog, we did find a variant on bgg that we like.
Terraforming Mars (Designer Jacob Fryxelius, Artist Isaac Fryxelius, Publisher Stronghold Games): I picked this up on sale at our friendly local Island Games store, and it quickly became a favorite. I actually didn't expect Kathy to like it, but she gave it a try, and before I knew it, she beat me in the first three games we played. So I guess she picked it up pretty well. It's a solid favorite now.
Only one of these ten games - Puerto Rico - was on this list four years ago. Eight of the other nine games are new acquisitions since then. We still play all the games on the original list, except that 7 Wonders:Duel has replaced 7W as a two-player game altogether.