Thanks for the replies! After giving it some thought, I snagged a copy of the vanilla game for play with the lady... It was an absolute hit! The basic mechanics were simple enough for her to grasp without having to memorize a MtG style rulebook, and the abilities provided by the different cards were spelled out so well it gave depth without obtuse complexity. Just a stellar game to for some marital nerdy bliss!
My own thoughts after a play session:
- My wife played the overlord while I tackled 4 heroes solo, which was bass ackwards from what I anticipated. Having done it, I would absolutely recommend playing this way in a two-player game where one player is less experienced.
- I 100% agree this game is designed for, and absolutely shines with, four heroes. There is never a dull moment, and someone is constantly attacking someone else. Thinking of how a two hero game would play, I imagine there is a lot more walking and other drudgery.
- That said, learning to juggle four heroes at once is a challenge and a half! Not to brag, but I'm great at tactical games, yet there were more than a few times I was kicking myself for screwing something up. That's a rare occurrence in my book. This isn't a knock on the game by any means, but I guarantee my lovely lady would have struggled mightily.
- In contrast, each monster in a group plays roughly the same, so there isn't the need to remember 8 different abilities (at a minimum) to reach a synergy. My wife, who is nowhere near as experienced as myself, found an easy flow with her monsters and the overlord cards.
- On top of that, the overlord's objectives for the first few quests (we played the intro and "A Fat Goblin") are relatively simpler to complete with four heroes (the increased # of goblins make the "move/grab" objectives easier). At least for newer players, there seems to be a higher chance of Overlord victory in those quests, and thus a lower chance your spouse will rage quit and kick you to the couch for the night.
- Bottom line, I recommend the experience player takes the heroes.
- Last but not least, I love that this game makes even losing fun. I pulled off several spectacular moves that snatched victory away from my wife... for a turn. But just being able to pull that off had me grinning even as she crossed the finish line. That's a great sign.
Again, thanks for the advice and happy gaming!