Asynchronous gaming has its challenges; not every game adapts well to the format. Certainly nothing where players are directly negotiating with each other, though at least that mechanic is rare in two-player games. The most fitting games are ones where:
- One player can take an entire turn without any interaction with the other.
- Turns are on the longer side, or at least have some interesting decisions.
- Strategies are either obvious enough or non-existant enough (i.e.: pure tactics) that there isn’t anything to forget between play sessions.
Stone Age is our favorite of the games that Yucata has available, so we went with it first, but we gave up after trying a round or two. The game has so much back and forth each turn as you alternate placing your meeples. Since your actions over the course of the turn tend to be pretty coordinated, we couldn’t imagine playing it effectively with so much time between each move.
Thurn and Taxis was the next one we tried, and it fit the playing model perfectly. You have enough to do on each turn, you can play independently, and your current route is always there reminding you of what you were trying to get done from the last time. Unfortunately, playing asynchronously just highlighted how much Thurn and Taxis is multiplayer solitaire, a race to the end without one player affecting the other. Being non-realtime actually exacerbated this: at least face-to-face you can see your opponent take the card that you really wanted. With hours between turns, you tend to forget which cards were face up the last time you played, so you tend not to miss any that were snatched away before you could get them. We played two games of this, but didn’t think it worth starting another. There was no feeling of actually playing against the other person.
Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers was the best of the games we played. Though Carcassonne has low interaction (at least when we play it we don’t do too much stealing), the amount that it does have survives online, unlike with Thurn and Taxis. Though it requires many short turns to complete a game, each of those turns is nice and discrete: you look at your tile and play it. You know it won’t take you very long, and there’s nothing to keep in your head for when you next go back.