10 of the Best Two-Player Board Games
Planning a games night for two? Check out the best two player board games for older kids, roommates and cooped-up couples alike.
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The best two-player board games on the market
If you’re anything like me and my 10-year-old son, Ben, you’ve probably spent the last winter playing the same dusty board games and dog-eared UNO pack approximately 8,736 times.
A lot of games are meant to be played by three or more players, and even if you can play them with two people, they’re not as much fun as they would be with a larger group. So to help liven up those dreary winter days, I set out to find some of the best two-player games for beginner (me) to intermediate (Ben) players. While this isn’t a list of “family games” per se, they’re certainly all PG-rated and can be played by older kids, crabby roommates and cooped-up couples alike. Game on!
Santorini’s tagline is “Build like a Mortal, Win Like a God.” I have yet to know what that feels like. It looks simple enough at first glance: players use their best chess skills to build, block and climb their way to the top of an ancient Greek building. But strategizing for a win gets trickier with the addition of god cards, which give players special abilities, like playing bonus building pieces or swapping spots with their opponent. You can play with up to four players but it’s just as fun with two.
Santorini (Spin Master), $21, Toys R Us
Many games favour the math-minded, with an emphasis on numerical strategy and pattern recognition, but Codenames is aimed squarely at word nerds. This two-player version of the popular party game is all about co-operative word deduction. You and a partner work together to reveal the secret identities of 25 agents.
Codenames: Duet, $25, Amazon
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Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
If you’ve ever dreamed of breeding horses (I mean, who hasn’t?) then this two-player version of Agricola, an award-winning farming game, is for you. In this version you don’t have to plant any veggies or plow any fields—it’s all animal husbandry, all the time. To win, you must play farmer and strategically acquire the most horses, cows, sheep and pigs while also trying to build fences and stables.
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (Lookout Games), $53, boardgames.ca
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I’m a sucker for a good-looking game, and Parks is a born pageant winner. The hiking-themed game was created in partnership with the Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series and features illustrations from more than 35 artists, taking players on a trip through the U.S. National Parks. Players trek across a new park trail for each season of the year, visiting iconic landmarks and picking up pretty wooden resource tokens along the way. While you can play this with up to five hikers, it’s just as fun with two. It’s a longer play-time (up to 70 minutes) than most of the fast and furious picks on this list, so get ready to sit back and enjoy the view.
Parks (Keymaster Games), $68, boardgames.ca
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Flex your puzzle-solving skills as you race to build the prettiest and highest-scoring quilt in this award-winning tile-placement game. Players use the game’s currency—buttons—to purchase patches for their quilt. Tiles are set up randomly at the beginning of each game so it’s a different experience every time, and the whole thing only takes about 30 minutes to play.
Patchwork (Lookout Games), $37, Board Game Bliss
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Imhotep: The Duel
In this competition of master builders, players take on the roles of Nefertiti and Akhenaten, one of Ancient Egypt’s most famous royal couples. To win the game, players must strategically place their “meeples” (game talk for pawns representing players) to unload the most valuable tokens from their six boats while also building monuments to their greatness.
Imhotep: The Duel (Thames & Kosmos), $20, Game Shack
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Using both a “day” deck and a “night” deck, players forage for different types of mushrooms that they can cook for points (using cider, butter and pan cards) or sell for cash in this quick math-based card game.
Morels (Two Lanterns Games), $25, Board Game Bliss
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Hive: A Game Crawling with Possibilities
Hive is made up of 22 glossy resin tiles that represent a variety of bugs, each with their own unique way of moving. It’s kind of like chess, but with no board and grasshoppers and beetles instead of queens and rooks. The object is to use tiles to totally surround your opponent’s queen while trying to block your opponent from surrounding your queen. Bonus? The weighted playing pieces are light enough to transport easily, but heavy enough that they won’t blow away if you’re playing outside.
Hive: A Game Crawling With Possibilities (Smart Zone Games), $42, Amazon
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In this popular, fast-paced card game, players battle to become the Maharaja’s personal trader in Jaipur. To win, a player must earn the juiciest profit by strategically buying, selling and trading goods at the market.
Jaipur (Space Cowboys), $35, Chapters Indigo
It’s the brainiacs against the brutes in this civilization-building card game. Players fight to acquire cards that represent military, scientific, cultural or economic achievements in this two-player adaption of the classic 7 Wonders board game. At the end of the game, players add up their victory points (each achievement has a different numeric value) and the player with the most points wins. (Bonus: The pretty illustrations on the cards almost make you feel like you’re on a vacation in Ancient Egypt. Sigh… A girl can dream.)
7-Wonders Duel (Repos Production), $32, 401 Games
Now that you know the best two-player board games, find out the crazy UNO rule most people don’t know about!