It’s always an exciting time when board game night comes around. However, sometimes you don’t always have a chance to play with a group of five or six people. There are times when you either want to or are only able to play with your significant other, your roommate, or one other friend. Where most board games require a larger group in order to play or just aren’t fun with only two players, it can be tough to find the right ones for your dynamic duo. Luckily, there are games out there that are perfect for two players. Here’s a list of some of the best two-player board games around.
Best 2-Player Only Board Games
Star Realms is a head-to-head deck-building game where both players compete to assemble the most powerful fleet of spaceships and bases to battle it out. It blends the fun strategy of other deck-building games with the intense combat of trading card games. It’s quick and easy to play, but can get surprisingly competitive and suspenseful.
The outstanding artwork immerses both players in this science fiction world as they each expand and command their fleet. If you like thinking ahead and destroying your buddy, then this is the game for you.
Codenames: Duet is a two-player version of the popular party game Codenames. Like it’s predecessor, players use one-word clues to get each other to correctly identify their agents on the table. However, this version has both players working together as a team. Each player gives the other hints until all your agents are found or you both lose to the assassins.
It’s an exciting spy-espionage themed game with clever thinking and brilliant wordplay. If you’re close enough to your teammate that you can almost read their mind, this game will put that to the test.
If you and your gaming partner are fans of mind games and messing with each other, then you’ll have a blast with Quarto. It’s a simple enough concept, but will make you think hard and your heart race. The game has a 4×4 board and sixteen pieces. Each piece has defining features including height, color, shape, and if it’s hollow or solid. In order to win, a player must simply place four pieces in a row that contain at least one matching feature. However, your opponent chooses which piece you get to put down.
This game requires a lot of thinking ahead for both your turn and your opponent’s. It can be a lot trickier than you may think.
In Patchwork, both players compete to build the most aesthetic and highest scoring quilt. It may sound a bit lame, but it’s actually quite entertaining. Buttons are used as in-game currency to purchase patches that are then placed on your 9×9 game board in a Tetris-like fashion. Spend buttons, obtain patches and place them strategically, earn points, and create a quilt!
They’ve found a way to blend a relaxing, cozy experience with an exhilarating head-to-head strategy game. This is one of the most unique two-player gaming experiences out there.
Jaipur has both players become the most powerful traders in the city of Jaipur competing to be the only merchant to be invited to the Maharaja’s Court. It’s a fast-paced card game that uses both skill and luck as you buy, sell, and exchange goods to prove you’re the best merchant in town.
This is another game that requires thinking ahead, but the luck-factor added by the card draw balances it out while creating an air of suspense around what will be added to the playing field. If you think you’re more trade-savvy than your gaming buddy, then put that theory to the test.
Rivals of Catan
It’s safe to say that most people have played, or at least heard of, Settlers of Catan (or Catan since it’s been rebranded). It’s become a tabletop gaming staple. Rivals of Catan is the two-player card game version of that. If you’ve played other versions of the Catan card game, then you’d get the gist. Players expand their provinces by building settlements that are connected by roads to earn points and eventually win.
The pool of cards has been adjusted to fit the lower player count to make the gameplay balanced for two players. This classic brand of Catan can now be played with just you and your partner, which is perfect for tabletop fans who don’t always have a large group.
Best Games That Can Be Played Well With 2 Players
Monsters in the Elevator
As one of the best cooperative tabletop games, Monsters in the Elevator is incredibly fun to play, even with just two players. Players work together to ensure monsters get to work without the elevator crashing under their weight (which is listed on the monster cards). It’s centered around math, but there’s no reason to be intimidated by that. It’s a cute family game, but proves to require a lot of strategy and teamwork in order to succeed.
Action cards can be used to change up the gameplay a bit. Plus, there is a luck element that can always throw a wrench into your plans which makes for an incredibly fun challenge. See if you can get the elevator to the top floor after getting each monster to their desired destination.
As stated for Codenames: Duet, the original version of the game also follows a spy-espionage theme and requires players to use one-word hints to help their teammate guess which agents belong to them. The main difference here is that all of your agents must be found before the other team finds all of theirs. You may be asking how this competitive team-based game could work with just two players, and the answer is a simple one. Two-player mode is essentially the closest thing the original Codenames has to a “Solitaire” mode. One player acts as the “spymaster” giving the clues while the other player uses those hints to find their agents without accidentally uncovering the assassin.
It’s a blood-pumping cooperative experience that requires both players to understand how each other thinks. It’s a brilliant word game that will put your relationship to the test as you put a lot of trust in your gaming partner to choose the correct agents.
Sushi Go!, otherwise known as the game my wife schools me at, is a truly delightful card game that has players choose which sushi they want and pass their hand to the next player, repeating this process until each hand is empty. The score is then calculated, and the draft-and-pass process is continued for a couple more rounds. It’s a very simple game that anyone can easily pick up and enjoy, but uses a lot of thought and planning (and hope that your competitor doesn’t take the cards you’re aiming to grab).
Deciding which combinations of sushi you wish to snatch takes a lot of strategy as well as trying to remember what cards are in each hand as they’re passed around. Plus, the artwork of little sushi characters is positively adorable. The game may be playable with up to five players, but it functions perfectly with just two.
Fans of The Addams Family and Tim Burton films are sure to love the card game Gloom. Gloom has a sad but simple goal: make your family of characters as miserable as possible before they die. Each player plays as an eccentric family illustrated in an incredible gothic design and uses cards of horrible events and mishaps, like getting a disease or being attacked by poodles, to ruin their lives in order to make them suffer. The sadder they are, the more you score when they die.
A fun twist to this already twisted game is that you can play cards of positive experiences on your opponent’s family in order to make them happier, scoring less as a result. Any fan of dark humor and gothic artwork is sure to have a great time with this one.
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game
The Scott Pilgrim IP was introduced with the graphic novels, then expanded with the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie and video game. Fans of Scott Pilgrim will be happy to know that there’s a deck-building game based on the franchise they love. It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to know or be a fan of Scott Pilgrim to enjoy this exciting game. Each player chooses a character that comes with their own unique starting deck and specialties. They then collect upgrades, take part in epic combat, and fight evil exes to obtain victory.
This is an accessible deck-building game that’s easy to learn, so there’s no need to worry if you’re not too familiar with the genre. It also stands out from other deck-building games because of its unique combat mechanics. Plus, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s artwork is something to marvel at. The player count technically goes up to four, but it can be played just fine with a player two.
Labyrinth may not have anything to do with the 1986 fantasy film starring David Bowie, but it’s still extremely fun to play. In Labyrinth, players navigate an ever-moving maze to collect treasures before their competitor does. With the use of detachable tiles, players move part of the maze each turn. They could use this to either open a path for themself or to block off their rival. Whether you want to play to frustrate your gaming partner or to win the treasure-hunting race is up to you.
The artwork immerses players in a classic fantasy world as they move their wizard through the labyrinth. It takes a lot of thinking and planning ahead to win without it ever feeling like a daunting task. Do you have what it takes to nab the variety of treasures before your rival?
There are countless other outstanding games meant for two players. Keep an eye out to see what you and your tabletop gaming partner can find.