Playing time: 30-45 minutes
Two-player games are at a premium for us, especially with a baby around. While lots of games can be played with a pair, you really want to look out for the ones designed for just two.
7 Wonders: Duel is one such game. A spin-off from the excellent (but seven-player) 7 Wonders, your aim is to build up your classical civilisation. It takes place over three rounds, during which your civilisation becomes increasingly prosperous and developed (you can buy baths in the first age, but an aqueduct in the second). In turn, players pick up cards that may give them resources or money, develop their scientific knowledge, strengthen their military might or build beautiful new buildings (for victory points). Each round has different cards and not all cards are played in each game, so there is constant variation. If you don’t have the resources to buy one card (because the other player’s taken all the wood resource cards, for example) then you can spend money to get it or even discard the card to gain money and prevent your opponent taking it.
The game is beautiful, both in its artwork and its mechanics. It encourages you towards generalisation: if you ignore some card types (most notably science or military cards) then your opponent can get an instant victory by collecting enough of these; if you focus too much on getting all the resource cards, you’ll find that you don’t need them all to buy other cards. The variety of things to do means that it’s rare for one player to be able to dominate. And each game is short enough – around 30-45 minutes – that there’s usually time for one more.
Duel is not the most baby-safe game going. The cards are fairly small, while the money coins are definitely a mouth-friendly size. However, everything is visible in the game, so there’s no need to hide hands of cards or spend ages thinking tactically about your next move.
Attractive, balanced, compact: Duel gets the Baby Plays Too seal of approval.