It’s not often that I get to play 2-player games. Because my game nights are few and far between, when I DO have them, it’s usually a larger affair with quite a few people.
However, I had the pleasure of digging into a game that’s been sitting on my shelf: The Blood of an Englishman by Renegade Game Studios.
The Blood of an Englishman is a true 2-player game; it’s not for 2-4 players with a sweet spot at two, it’s not a solo game with rules for an extra player, it’s not a big co-operative game that can be played with two people taking multiple roles, etc. One person against the other. Mono e mono.
What I love about The Blood of an Englishman is that it handles its own asymmetry very well. One player takes the role of Jack, trying to climb the Giant’s beanstalk to steal the Gold, the Goose, and the Harp; while the other player takes the role of the Giant, who’s trying to shout, “Fee Fi Fo Fum!” before Jack can steal his loot. Each player has their own unique set of actions that allows them to move cards around between five different rows of beanstalk cards. Jack can make three actions on his turn that allow him to either 1) move a single card from the front of any stack to the front of another stack, 2) move a single card from the back of any stack to the front of the same stack, or 3) move a single card at the front or back of any stack to his “Beanstalk” (a separate scoring area where the player needs to collect a sequence of beanstalk cards before grabbing one of the three treasure cards). The Giant, on the other hand, can make only a single action on his turn that allows him to either 1) move the front four cards on any stack to the front of another stack, 2) move a single card from the front of any stack to the front of another stack, twice, or 3) remove any single beanstalk card from the game.
While the theme is well-done, The Blood of an Englishman is–at its heart–an abstract game of cat-and-mouse. The asymmetry in actions means Jack is able to do a lot on his turn to re-arrange the cards so that he can nab the ones he needs while blocking the Giant; whereas, the Giant can do only a little bit on his turn to make one BIG move – in an attempt to arrange his “Fee,” “Fi,” “Fo,” and “Fum” cards for the win, while simultaneously blocking Jack’s moves.
The Blood of an Englishman is a lot more mind-bending than it lets on. While it only takes a couple minutes to learn, it’s quite difficult to master. It’s similar to other cat-and-mouse style 2-player games (such as Santorini… which I’ve also talked about here) in that you’ve got to be able to see several moves ahead of your opponent. It’s almost chess-like in that way, and because of that, it can be frustrating to play against an opponent who’s better than you. Still, The Blood of an Englishman is simple and quick enough that it’s not very difficult to improve your skill. It makes a great 2-player game that’s unlikely to lead to too many sore feelings… hopefully!
Until next time, gang! Keep it plucky,