I’ve written about St. Valentine’s Day a lot in my life. Something about this day sticks in my craw. I’m a romantic but like New Year’s Eve, every Valentine’s Day I’ve tried to make special usually fell flat. The expectations of certain events are difficult to meet and exceed. I really do think of myself as romantic, but I’m also very closed and cautious. Romantic gestures can also turn into really cheeseball moves if the person on the receiving end isn’t on the same level.
Normally, this time of year, I pimp out a piece I wrote a long time ago called Valloween (read my anti-Valentine’s Day rant).
This year instead of just pushing cynicism, I’m doing something different and fighting the banality I hate about Valentine’s Day. Think outside the box regarding what you do with your loved one on the 14th. What I’m going to suggest is play a game. The following are games perfect for two people to learn and play together. Some are quick, some are strategic, some are luck based, and some will end in flipped tables and angry words, but this is Valentine’s Day, that was bound to happen to someone anyway. Sorry, I just can’t keep my cynicism at bay.
Instead of Seven Deadly Sins, this year, you get Seven Fun Games For Two People. See? I’m capable of change!
You know how the song goes, right? Each game of chess means there’s one less variation left to be played. Of all the games listed here, I find chess to be the most romantic. Oh, the longing looks of all those women as I captured pawns en passant during lunch at high school. Yeah, I was pop-u-lar! Hold on… those weren’t longing looks! They were laughing! I’m sorry, you shouldn’t have to witness my sad revelations. Moving on, I still think Chess can be romantic. Why is chess a great Valentine’s Day game? The struggle between two sides, each trying to get each other in a position where there are no moves left that don’t result in the King being captured. That’s love!
The Game of Thrones: The Card Game
Two houses, both alike in dignity, in fair Westeros where we lay our game. Published by Fantasy Flight, the game focuses on House Lannister and House Stark as they vie for power in the battlefields of Westeros and around the Iron Throne of King’s Landing. This game is an introduction to the bigger version of The Game of Thrones Living Card Game and helps create an intimate experience. Nothing says Valentine’s Day like two people, at a table, plotting to destroy each other.
Perhaps the medieval setting of Westeros doesn’t sit well with you as a couple. You both are linked in to the datasphere and you need a high-tech setting to express your true feelings for each other. Another Fantasy Flight game, Android: Netrunner pits a runner against a megacorporation. The megacorp tries to complete it’s dastardly agendas while the runner tries to liberate the agenda. The game takes awhile to learn, but that is also part of the charm of it and why you want to play it over and over. Really, if you can’t be charming, maybe the game will pick up the slack.
Magic: The Gathering
One of the original collectible card games, two players enter, one player plays a Black Lotus and wins. Wait, no, well yes, but luckily those cards are so rare… the truth of this game is it is a lot of fun. Published by Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering has grown up a lot over the past decades and now players can buy introductory packs with pre-built decks saving a lot of time trying to figure out how to create a deck instead of playing the game. Settle in and start summoning creatures and attacking each other. Just like when one of you bought a guinea pig and the other erected a giant wall of thorns.
If I’m Going Down…
Zombies. Nothing says romance like zombies. Nothing says, “I’m going to stick by you to the very end” then standing side-by-side killing zombies before the inevitable moment when death comes. Easy to set-up, easy to play, difficult to play well. I struggle with this game, I enjoy it, I hate it. It is a perfect metaphor for love. Published by Van Ryder Games, it is billed as the first Dying Card Game (in contrast to all the Living Card Games.. get it? ).
Star Wars X-Wing Miniature Game
When people reflect on the nature of romance, I can only harken back to the most romantic love story of all… the love between Luke and Leia. Am I right? Well, okay, that falls apart so might as well focus on the real reason Star Wars is great – X-Wings fighting TIE Fighters. Fantasy Flight has created a great miniature game played on a table surface as each player guides fighters in a fast paced action filled space opera battle sequence that ignores the third dimension. With hearts a-racin’ the action on the table should have no problem translating into action elsewhere. Just remember to activate your shields before launching your proton torpedoes if you know what I mean.
Back in the forests of whatever, there is a castle. That castle is under attack and it is up to you and your partner to defend the castle. Turn by turn, direct your archers, knights, and swordsmen to kill the orcs, goblins, and trolls marching out of the surrounding forests. Published by Fireside Games, Castle Panic plays quickly, is fun, and even though it is a cooperative game, there is a winner in the end. Just like a real relationship. The title Master Slayer goes to the person who killed the most monsters, but you both lose if the castle falls. Part of the game rests upon the subtext of whether you will lose to your partner in order to save the castle or if personal pride is too important to cede the honor of winning. I can’t think of a better metaphor for love and relationships.
Change the script for Valentine’s Day this year. Get your Valentine a board game the two of you can play together. Sure you can take up other hobbies like rock climbing or limbo skating but transitioning from activity to romance is easier when moving from a game to the bed, floor, ottoman, or where ever romance occurs these days.