Review: A pair of two-player co-operative board games

Guest post from William Kavanagh

I’ve recently had the opportunity to review some games kindly sent in by Kosmos to the Games and Gaming lab. Here I’m going to discuss two games: Aqualin and Targi, both competitive 2-player games. Perfect for anyone locked inside with a loved one who can’t face to ask for the one hundredth day in a row, just how their partner’s day went, knowing full well that they were on the computer in the other room worrying about how pale Zoom made them look, for about eight hours.  

Briefly on my credentials as a reviewer, I am a PhD student with precious little time left before his funding runs out, certainly not enough to take on frivolous extracurricular activities. Which should attest to just how important I think board games are. My fiancé and I co-own a single piece of furniture, a large shelving unit to store board games. Also, my research is on game design and whether or not rigorous mathematics can be used to prove that a given game is fun. But that is quite enough about me, onto the games.

Aqualin is a beautifully simple tile-placement game. 36 tiles, each a unique combination of one of six different sea creatures and one of six colours are placed on the board, one player attempts to group the creatures together, the other to group the colours. Each player has six tiles in their hand and can slide any tile on the board before placing a new one, games take about 10 minutes and the whole thing packs away into a tidy little box with nice aquatic artwork in pleasing pastel colours. We have so far been unable to play just a single game of Aqualin. There is undoubtedly some hidden truth to the game, some winning strategy, but I am yet to find it. That being said, as defeat is clutched from the jaws of victory yet again, it is at least some compensation to mutter under my breath about how, had I not slid the pink eel quite so far, I would have undoubtedly won and next time I will do better, or if not next time certainly the time after that. 


Targi is not a simple game, but beyond some peculiarities with the way the game plays — 3 tokens are placed on the edge of a 5×5 grid and a further 2 on the intersections between those on the edge every round — lies a delightful, weighty puzzle. What makes Targi stand out though, is its theme. The game is based on the Tuareg tribes of the Sahara desert or “The Blue People”, so called because the indigo dyes from their robes and turbans rubs off to leave a bluish hue to their skin. So many games involve armour-clad men with swords who hit goblins with varying degrees of success based on some dice, Targi offers pleasant respite from the well-worn tropes of the gaming world. Similar to Aqualin, Targi has you constantly adapting to your opponent. Every round you can read your opponent’s intentions and block them from picking up the tribe cards they’ve had their eye on. Whether you can both laugh during these moments is likely a good indicator of whether Targi is for you. Games of Targi take about 45 minutes and learning the rules from the manual will likely take a further 15. Targi’s large decks of tribe and goods cards are supplemented in an expansion which should make the game more replayable if you do pick it up.


It is a testament to both these games that they have spent so long out on the kitchen table rather than neatly tucked away on the shelf. Thank you again to Kosmos for sending them. Sadly I can’t quite run the numbers on these games to prove mathematically that they are fun, but I’ve certainly had a good time playing them.

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