23 votes

2-person boardgames?

My girlfriend and I have had a habit of going straight to watching movies and tv-series when we hang out, because due to lockdown almost everything is closed, so we don't really have a lot of activities to choose from.

We also play games occassionally, recently scrabble on our phones. But what other boardgames work well when there are only 2 players?

Edit: Wow! I can't possibly respond to everyone but I didn't expect so many people to comment with help. Thank you so much!

35 comments

  1. [6]
    Adys
    Link
    In terms of strategy: Jaipur, Splendor, Cathedral. Carcassonne is also a great one to have. Previous thread:...

    In terms of strategy: Jaipur, Splendor, Cathedral.

    Carcassonne is also a great one to have.

    Previous thread: https://tildes.net/~games.tabletop/arc/recommended_2_player_board_games_under_60_minutes

    Article from 2019: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/02/our-favorite-two-player-board-games-2019-edition/

    9 votes
    1. KapteinB
      Link Parent
      I prefer Wingspan to Splendor. Though I haven't tried the tabletop version of Wingspan yet, just the Steam version.

      I prefer Wingspan to Splendor. Though I haven't tried the tabletop version of Wingspan yet, just the Steam version.

      3 votes
    2. [3]
      smithsonian
      Link Parent
      +1 for Carcassonne. It's one of our favorite go-to games for me and my wife. It's great because the basic rules and mechanics are fairly straightforward and easy to learn, but there's a lot of...

      +1 for Carcassonne.

      It's one of our favorite go-to games for me and my wife. It's great because the basic rules and mechanics are fairly straightforward and easy to learn, but there's a lot of strategy and nuance that takes a long time to really master. And, importantly to me, it's not as dependant on RNG/luck; there is some component of luck involved, but you can generally stay competitive with the right strategies.

      And there are a ton of small expansions that can be easily added (and mixed and matched) to introduce some new mechanics to the game and keep it feeling fresh and interesting.

      And it's plenty of fun with just two players as it is with three or four.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Tuna
        Link Parent
        We have the 2nd and 3rd expansion, which I can really recommend (roughly translated: bars and cathedrals, merchants and builders). We also have the 7th (the catapult), which I can not recommend at...

        We have the 2nd and 3rd expansion, which I can really recommend (roughly translated: bars and cathedrals, merchants and builders).

        We also have the 7th (the catapult), which I can not recommend at all. We removed it after a few tries, because it just does not fit in the with the rest of the game and mostly depends on luck.

        1 vote
        1. smithsonian
          Link Parent
          Yeah, the 2nd and 3rd expansions are great. The River expansion is also really good; it's an alternate start that makes claiming an early farmer/field more of a toss-up and less appealing until...

          Yeah, the 2nd and 3rd expansions are great. The River expansion is also really good; it's an alternate start that makes claiming an early farmer/field more of a toss-up and less appealing until the game gets a little farther along. The Abby and the Mayor (Expansion 5) are also pretty good and add some interesting mechanics.

          I've stayed away from the expansions that add singular features (like the catapult, princess and the tower, the big top, etc.) and go for the ones that add a different mechanic to the game meta.

  2. mat
    Link
    It's not a boardgame but Hive is a really good 2-player game. We take our Hive tiles travelling (when travel was a thing) and play when killing time waiting for trains and so on. I also like...

    It's not a boardgame but Hive is a really good 2-player game. We take our Hive tiles travelling (when travel was a thing) and play when killing time waiting for trains and so on.

    I also like Tokaido although it's not all that complicated and it's not hugely replayable, it is very pretty and very relaxing.

    The various Fluxx variants are all 2-playable and again that's a nice easy game to get into. Plays well with two.

    6 votes
  3. [5]
    whbboyd
    Link
    There are of course the three classic two-player board games: Chess, Checkers, and Go Of the three, checkers is by far the fastest and easiest to master; chess is probably the most popular, at...

    There are of course the three classic two-player board games:

    Of the three, checkers is by far the fastest and easiest to master; chess is probably the most popular, at least in the English-speaking world; and Go is the deepest, and probably my favorite, though I am extremely rusty at all three.

    6 votes
    1. [4]
      3d12
      Link Parent
      Seriously, once you go down the rabbit hole of Go your perception of board games will change forever. I admit that sounds pretentious, but there's something deeply humbling about comparing the...

      Seriously, once you go down the rabbit hole of Go your perception of board games will change forever. I admit that sounds pretentious, but there's something deeply humbling about comparing the strategic depth of the modern $70+ monstrosities that come with thousands of cardboard tokens and plastic bits and bobs to a game that can be played with rocks and dirt.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        streblo
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        To be fair to those monstrosities, the cardboard tokens and bits and bobs are there for a reason -- they are evocative. There is something to be said for games that can tell or share a collective...

        modern $70+ monstrosities that come with thousands of cardboard tokens and plastic bits and bobs to a game that can be played with rocks and dirt.

        To be fair to those monstrosities, the cardboard tokens and bits and bobs are there for a reason -- they are evocative. There is something to be said for games that can tell or share a collective story with its players -- be that clearing a dungeon or managing a farm or whatever.

        7 votes
        1. 3d12
          Link Parent
          That's fine if your aim is to tell a story. I was only remarking on the strategic depth (or lack thereof) present. Then again, I've been telling stories with various RPG systems for years without...

          That's fine if your aim is to tell a story. I was only remarking on the strategic depth (or lack thereof) present. Then again, I've been telling stories with various RPG systems for years without needing little cardboard punch-outs, so I probably have no idea what I'm talking about. :)

          1 vote
      2. MonkeyPants
        Link Parent
        There is also something deeply humbling about attending a Go meetup (pre pandemic), explaining that you have learned all the rules of go, and being assigned to play a nine year old on a 9x9 board....

        There is also something deeply humbling about attending a Go meetup (pre pandemic), explaining that you have learned all the rules of go, and being assigned to play a nine year old on a 9x9 board. Who then wipes the board with your ass. Because although the rules are incredibly simple, the strategy is incredibly complex.

        2 votes
  4. streblo
    Link
    The Pandemic Legacy board games are great story driven two player games. Basically you play through the game for ~20 sessions, slightly modifying it each time and opening hidden information and...

    The Pandemic Legacy board games are great story driven two player games. Basically you play through the game for ~20 sessions, slightly modifying it each time and opening hidden information and new mechanics when prompted. I've played through them with just my wife and I and we quite enjoyed them. It's also a co-operative game which is a nice break from competing against your partner as well.

    6 votes
  5. Thra11
    Link
    If you want good recommendations for games to play together, it may help to know a bit more about how you get on playing games together. Are you both very competitive, both more casual, or one...

    We also play games occasionally, recently scrabble on our phones. But what other boardgames work well when there are only 2 players?

    If you want good recommendations for games to play together, it may help to know a bit more about how you get on playing games together. Are you both very competitive, both more casual, or one competitive, one casual? Do either of you get grumpy when they lose too often? If not, great! If you do, cooperative games such as Pandemic can be great for couples, in that either you both win, or you both lose (If you still squabble about whose fault it was you lost, then you might need to reconsider playing board games together, ...or your relationship).

    Another coop game which we enjoy is the discworld-themed The Witches. Quite hard to beat, but not too complex to learn how to play.

    I'll also second Tokaido as a nice, pretty, relaxing game, although there's still plenty of scope for being a dick if you want to, deliberately blocking the other player or buying the cheap meals just because you know they're the only ones the other player can afford. The expansions are also good for a bit of variety if you play the original a lot.

    One final recommendation: Mr. Jack. Designed as a two-player game. One of you plays Jack the Ripper trying to flee the area, the other needs to identify which of the characters on the board is the murderer and arrest them. It can get surprisingly tense/stressful.

    5 votes
  6. arghdos
    Link
    Ars typically has a section on two-player games in their yearly boardgame roundup, here's 2019's: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/02/our-favorite-two-player-board-games-2019-edition/3/ We've...

    Ars typically has a section on two-player games in their yearly boardgame roundup, here's 2019's:

    https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/02/our-favorite-two-player-board-games-2019-edition/3/

    We've also enjoyed Kahuna quite a bit during the last year. Easy to learn, but very re-playable.

    4 votes
  7. Gaywallet
    (edited )
    Link
    On the cooperative end of things Sentinels of the Multiverse is a fun one that's pretty easy to get into and lends itself to smaller groups. You can also play multiple heroes if you're finding it...

    On the cooperative end of things Sentinels of the Multiverse is a fun one that's pretty easy to get into and lends itself to smaller groups. You can also play multiple heroes if you're finding it too difficult (each person playing 2, for example).

    Gloomhaven is also absolutely fantastic, but be warned, it's a fairly complex game. They recently released an expansion titled Jaws of The Lion that is also a standalone and comes with a redesigned introduction and better tutorials.

    4 votes
  8. ChuckS
    Link
    Okay, my wife and I have a ton of games, so I'm not going to list them all. Here's a medium-length list of games roughly from most replayed/fun to least, where the bottom of the list is still...

    Okay, my wife and I have a ton of games, so I'm not going to list them all. Here's a medium-length list of games roughly from most replayed/fun to least, where the bottom of the list is still stuff that we play regularly:

    1. Phase 10 - Card game - Probably the game we play the most. Kind of like Rummy, but with different win conditions for each of 10 rounds.
    2. Uno - Card game - it's Uno lol.
    3. Sushi Go! - Card game - Adorable card game where you repeatedly swap hands with your opponent and try to make matches without getting screwed (or while trying to screw your opponent). Super fast, too.
    4. Azul - Board game - build a mosaic while screwing your opponent lol.
    5. Quiddler - Card game - Kind of like a card game version of Scrabble.
    6. Kingdomino - Board game - Make a kingdom, domino-style. Everyone's board is visible but the upcoming tiles are a mystery.
    7. Morels - Card game - Build matching sets of mushrooms.
    8. Castles of Mad Kind Ludwig - Board game - build a castle by linking rooms.
    9. Patchwork - Board game - Make a quilt, tetris-style. Everyone knows what everyone else has.
    10. Pandemic - Board game - save the world. All the variants/legacy editions are great.
    11. Abalone - Board game - Chinese checkers meets othello/reversi meets sumo wrestling. Push your opponent off the board.
    12. Gobblet - Board game - tic-tac-toe meets concentration/memory lol. Great fun.
    13. Eurorails - Board game - Epic railroading in Europe. Lots of fun, takes kind of a long time to play, though. Lisboa? More like Lis-no-ah.
    14. Ticket to Ride - Board game - what I would consider a "beginner" version of EuroRails. Link cities together and score points.

    We've got quite a lot of other games, too, but these are the ones we keep coming back to.

    4 votes
  9. [2]
    Parliament
    Link
    Never played online, but Stratego was always our family's favorite 2-player game. My brother and I used to play it constantly.

    Never played online, but Stratego was always our family's favorite 2-player game. My brother and I used to play it constantly.

    3 votes
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Stratego is one of my favourites too, and is such a tremendously underrated board game. Risk is a household name for whatever reason (despite being kinda terrible, IMO), but this is the first time...

      Stratego is one of my favourites too, and is such a tremendously underrated board game. Risk is a household name for whatever reason (despite being kinda terrible, IMO), but this is the first time I have seen Stratego mentioned by anyone in decades.

      2 votes
  10. bkimmel
    Link
    Innovation is a really fun 2-person card game, but really Dominion is probably the best 2-player game I've ever played. I tend towards card games because with kids they're just easier to clean up.

    Innovation is a really fun 2-person card game, but really Dominion is probably the best 2-player game I've ever played. I tend towards card games because with kids they're just easier to clean up.

    3 votes
  11. Good_Apollo
    (edited )
    Link
    We like Flashpoint and its expansions and Mice and Mystics is a good entry point to complex co-op fantasy games. I think these games are very good entry level things to jump into if you’re new to...

    We like Flashpoint and its expansions and Mice and Mystics is a good entry point to complex co-op fantasy games.

    I think these games are very good entry level things to jump into if you’re new to the world of board games beyond your basic toy store variety. Flashpoint can start easy and be made pretty hard and complex with expanded rules and expansions, Mice and Mystics is a very accessible way to get into the realm of the big box fantasy games without getting overwhelmed as it is fairly simplistic.

    They’re very playable with just 2 people but if and when you get friends over again they’re extremely fun with more people as well so you’re not limited by player count at all.

    3 votes
  12. zonk
    Link
    I'm a big fan of the Dice Tower reviews, and they have plenty of "Top 10 2 player games" videos, see here. Otherwise, Boardgamegeek has a vote by users which player number is the best for a game....

    I'm a big fan of the Dice Tower reviews, and they have plenty of "Top 10 2 player games" videos, see here. Otherwise, Boardgamegeek has a vote by users which player number is the best for a game. I'm sure there are pages/lists of "the highest rated games which are rated best with 2 players". That will include games that are not limited 2 two players exclusively.

    3 votes
  13. kfwyre
    Link
    It's meant as a party game and isn't really a standard board game, but my husband and I have had a lot of fun with Wavelength as a two-player game. The premise is that there's one clue-giver and...

    It's meant as a party game and isn't really a standard board game, but my husband and I have had a lot of fun with Wavelength as a two-player game.

    The premise is that there's one clue-giver and one guesser. The clue-giver is given a spectrum (say "cold <-> hot") and some quantity along that spectrum (say, 75% -- though this isn't given as a number in the game and is instead represented visually on a dial). The clue-giver then has to try to give a clue that gets the other person to think of something that would be roughly 75% of the way along the spectrum from cold to hot. So, something that is definitely hot, but not THAT hot. They might say something like "a cup of coffee" or "the month of May". The guesser then has to move a dial to where they think that clue lands on the spectrum.

    The game is meant to spark discussion between people, so that they can debate whether a cup of coffee would be very hot, or less hot because it could be iced, or cold when compared to more extreme temperatures like the surface of the sun, etc. Given that this can't really happen with only one person guessing, my husband and I instead "narrate" our thoughts, having a sort of internal discussion out loud where the guesser talks through all the different ways of interpreting the clue and then ultimately gives their conclusion for why they've chosen their specific and final guess.

    We've really enjoyed it as a couple and are looking forward to when we can meet back up with friends to try it out with a group. We actually keep the box on our kitchen table and often play a few rounds following dinner most nights.

    3 votes
  14. cstby
    Link
    My spouse and I play these and have had a lot of fun: 7 wonders duel Hanabi Pandemic Legacy Viticulture (with Tuscany expansion)

    My spouse and I play these and have had a lot of fun:

    • 7 wonders duel
    • Hanabi
    • Pandemic Legacy
    • Viticulture (with Tuscany expansion)
    3 votes
  15. [2]
    herson
    Link
    Why is no-one talking about Othello/Reversi? It's so easy to get into it and fun to play.

    Why is no-one talking about Othello/Reversi?

    It's so easy to get into it and fun to play.

    3 votes
    1. krg
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Oooh.. I remember playing this as a kid in daycare! ... Don't think I've played it since, though. This is the game I was thinking of when others were talking about "Go."

      Oooh.. I remember playing this as a kid in daycare! ... Don't think I've played it since, though. This is the game I was thinking of when others were talking about "Go."

      2 votes
  16. [3]
    krg
    Link
    Some of these games mentioned (Stratego, Othello) are bringing up memories of my youth in various daycare systems where we kids played all sorts of board games... One of which is Mancala. I think...

    Some of these games mentioned (Stratego, Othello) are bringing up memories of my youth in various daycare systems where we kids played all sorts of board games...

    One of which is Mancala. I think this was the ultimate "duel" game that we played. So, I recommend that!

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Thra11
      Link Parent
      Looks like Mancala has a lot of variants. Was there a particular set of rules which you used/would recommend?

      Looks like Mancala has a lot of variants. Was there a particular set of rules which you used/would recommend?

      1 vote
      1. krg
        Link Parent
        This video explains how I remember playing it, more or less.

        This video explains how I remember playing it, more or less.

        1 vote
  17. [3]
    Tardigrade
    Link
    Blokus 2 person edition is good fun. I've enjoyed ticket to ride before when you get half of a shared colour at the start and are forced to make routes you can both use until you run out and use...

    Blokus 2 person edition is good fun.
    I've enjoyed ticket to ride before when you get half of a shared colour at the start and are forced to make routes you can both use until you run out and use your own colour.
    Ligretto is a fast card game but also is good as a two.
    Battle sheep is a little childish but can still be a fun short one
    There's risk which has a 2 player setup variety.
    Hope this helps.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      KapteinB
      Link Parent
      Hmm, intriguing. Personally I think Ticket to Ride works well as a two-player game, but that variant sounds very interesting. Do you use the full amount of wagons from your regular colour? If so I...

      I've enjoyed ticket to ride before when you get half of a shared colour at the start and are forced to make routes you can both use until you run out and use your own colour.

      Hmm, intriguing. Personally I think Ticket to Ride works well as a two-player game, but that variant sounds very interesting.

      Do you use the full amount of wagons from your regular colour? If so I imagine the game will take a bit longer to finish?

      1 vote
      1. Tardigrade
        Link Parent
        This is of the europe version and I don't know if it makes a difference but I found with only two colours you don't get in each others way as much. It does take roughly a third longer but then...

        This is of the europe version and I don't know if it makes a difference but I found with only two colours you don't get in each others way as much. It does take roughly a third longer but then since there's less of you it's similar to a three person game. It does add another strategic element though as you can try to choose the perifery routes you think they don't need when placing the shared wagons.

        1 vote
  18. crdpa
    Link
    Me and my SO played a lot. We got burned out lately and i've been playing once a month tops. Just grew tired of boardgames, but here are the boardgames i kept in my collection that are for two or...

    Me and my SO played a lot. We got burned out lately and i've been playing once a month tops. Just grew tired of boardgames, but here are the boardgames i kept in my collection that are for two or works really well for two:

    • Jaipur
    • Schotten Totten
    • Hive Pocket
    • Dale of Merchants
    • Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries
    • 7 Wonders Duel
    • Targi
    • Castles of Burgundy
    • Grand Austria Hotel
    • Brass Lancashire
    • Barrage
    • Lisboa

    It's somewhat in order of complexity/size/price.

    1 vote
  19. Apex
    Link
    My SO and I truly enjoy Spirit Island and have only ever played it two-player. It's like a reverse-Catan where you play as island spirits to defend an island from being settled by invaders by...

    My SO and I truly enjoy Spirit Island and have only ever played it two-player. It's like a reverse-Catan where you play as island spirits to defend an island from being settled by invaders by building out influence and working together to use your chosen spirit's powers in conjunction to drive out the settlers.