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Games of the Year 2020: Hellboy and Devil May Cry: The Bloody Palace designers Sophie Williams and James M. Hewitt

The co-founders of design studio Needy Cat Games run through their top two-player picks.

Together, Sophie Williams and James M. Hewitt comprise Nottingham-based tabletop design studio Needy Cat Games, which has designed games including Hellboy: The Board Game, Devil May Cry: The Bloody Palace and the upcoming League of Infamy and Robot Fight Club. Former Games Workshop alumni, the pair also have credits on titles such as Blood Bowl, DreadBall, Adeptus Titanicus and Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower.

Well, what a strange year this has been. We've not picked up a lot of new games, because we've not been in a position to play anything with other people. (Cryptid - with its three-to-five player count - still sits forlorn and unplayed on the shelf, and that was a Christmas pressie last year.) Instead, this year we've been spending a fair bit of time revisiting old two-player favourites.

We've played Ganz Schön Clever more times than just about any other game ever, and it's still going strong. It's the perfect way to get a bit of gentle brain stimulation after a long day of, uh, designing games. There's something so satisfying about having a combo pay off in the late game; "I'll take that green, which gives me a blue, which lets me put a 6 in here..." We've tried Doppelt So Clever, but that one's just a little bit more complex, to the point that it stops being gently engaging and becomes a real brain-burner, so it's never quite grabbed us in the same way.

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Patchwork fits a very similar niche. It's just complex enough to keep you thinking, without being so intense that a pair of lockdown-addled brains can't dig into it, and it's got a nice, zippy play time that invites you to play two or three rounds in a single sitting. That's not to mention the gentle, relaxing theme, which belies the amount of swearing we do whenever the other person takes the piece we were holding out for.

Finally, for something completely different, we picked up Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion at the start of Autumn. As people who design a lot of games with a similar theme, we'd been meaning to get our hands on the original Gloomhaven ever since it came out, but it was always a bit out of our budget. Jaws of the Lion manages to cram an awful lot of game into a much tighter, more affordable package, and the way it drip-feeds information to new players is fantastic. We've just got through the tutorial scenarios and we're setting out on our own - we can't wait to see what else is in store!

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