Five Games I Thought My Wife Would Love- But She Didn't
As a board game enthusiast, I could easily play a board game every day. Not everyone I know and game with feels the same way. But I do my best to find games that my friends and family will enjoy. This is especially true for my wife. She is the one whom I play with most often, so I definitely seek out games that I'm sure she will like. However, for every Arboretum, a game that she will sometimes ask for, there are those that she'd prefer to never play again. Here are the top (bottom?) five games I thought my wife would like, but didn't, arranged in order from barely tolerable to absolute mega-loathe.
My wife enjoys the game Pandemic quite a bit. It is one that she will happily play and even request from time to time. I thought that she would appreciate the fun, light-hearted theme of Horrified and it's similar-yet-simplistic set of actions. Nope.
This is one where she understands the rules just fine, but doesn't care for battling the monsters, which is my favorite part. She much prefers the straight-forwardness of Pandemic. I say it's because I taught her Horrified while a friend of mine introduced us to Pandemic. She says that I'm wrong, but I feel that my theory is valid. What else could it be?
4) Tiny Towns
Remember that friend who taught us Pandemic? He also showed us Tiny Towns at our couple's game night over at his house. By the end of the game, I knew that I wanted a copy of my own and my wife won. Between the victory and the cute aesthetics, I knew it would be a hit. Easy rules, adorable look, and a previous win certainly equaled a game my wife would want to play time and time again. Wrong!
Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower, in his review of Tiny Towns, said something to the effect of- the game is simple, but difficult. He meant that while what you do is quite understandable and easily comprehended- take a color cube that is called out and place it on your four-by-four grid which represents your town, where to put that cube as you manage your limited space trying to construct different buildings in areas to score the most points can be excruciating. It's that part my wife doesn't like. The part that some gamers refer to as "brain burning." Luckily, I love to play this one solo using the deck of cards to randomly select resources, and my six-year old likes to play, too.
3) Railroad Ink
Most games that my wife and I get to the table are those that can be completed in a short period of time. Small card and dice games are regulars (see my last blog). I thought the roll/flip-and-write formula that has proven successful with games such as Silver and Gold and Second Chance would make the dice-rolling, route-building of Railroad Ink and easy win. Fail.
The main reason why she doesn't care for Tiny Towns rears its ugly head here, too. The rules are not complicated, but the decisions are many. My wife doesn't like not knowing what to do in a game. And unlike Tiny Towns, which has a bit of player agency when it's your turn to call out a resource, Railroad Ink has players relying on pure chance. You can have a massive road section almost complete, prepared to score you a truck load of points, only to roll all railroad tracks leaving your road incomplete and costing you points.
This is another that I enjoy playing alone, but I can agree with my wife on this- it is difficult to do well.
Growing up, I wanted to be an archaeologist and a baseball player. If my time riding the bench was any indication, baseball wasn't my calling and the desire to explore ancient civilizations waned. Still, I love the ancient Egyptian lore. Imhotep appeared to tap into that fascination, plus it was designed by Phil Walker-Harding, the king of creating fun, engaging, and accessible games. There was no way this could bomb! *Shakes head sadly*
My wife found this about as interesting as the muted color pallet. Collecting stones into a sled, loading them onto boats, and then strategically sending those boats to the different ports to build and score points wasn't exciting for her. It was one-and-done.
Imhotep holds the undesirable distinction of being the only game from this list of five that no longer has a home on my shelf. It has long been shipped off to someone who might love it and appreciate it more than my family. Everyone I played it with had the same opinion- boring. So, like the great Egyptian civilization itself, this game is buried in the past. Not like a pharaoh, but a nameless peasant.
1) Fox in the Forest
I didn't play a lot of trick-taking games growing up. An occasional game of hearts or spades was the extent of it. Still, the concept of trick-taking was fun and fairly easy to understand. Fox in the Forest was also a two-player only game, and I have a somewhat romanticized fascination of spending a quiet evening engaged in that type of game with my wife. I envision a fire crackling softly, casting light on my wife's smiling face while I'm desperately trying to find a path to victory. That's never what our gaming looks like, but it's a nice thought. Such an intimate ideal, but will she play this game? No.
She hates this game! It's not the concept of trick-taking. It's not the special powers that some cards possess. It is one hundred-percent the fact that you are punished if you win too well. That little trick this game pulls is one that my wife simply can't take. The box is on my shelf, but it will never be on the table again if she is player-two.
Those are the top five games I thought my wife would enjoy, but she simply didn't. They can't all be winners, I guess. What are some titles that you thought your gaming group/partner would enjoy, but they hated?