Finding great 2 player board games can be such a chore sometimes. So here’s a list to get you started!
If you’re a couple who loves board games, then you know finding great 2 player board games is difficult. Most 2-player games are made so that you can play with only 2 people if you need to, but it’s best if you have 3-5.
When Zach and I started getting into board games, this was a HUGE pet peeve of ours. Especially before we moved to Atlanta, because we didn’t really know anyone who wanted to play games with us. We could get a couple people interested every now and then…but it wasn’t often enough to warrant buying some of the games we wanted. (If you haven’t noticed, board games can get expensive.)
Since moving to Atlanta, our knowledge of board games (as well as our collection) has grown. We have tons of 2 player board games and the growth of our collection is mostly due to being in an area filled with other people who are also addicted to board gaming. And we’re going to share our list with you!
For the sake of time, we’re not going to talk too much about the games. This list is just a place for you to start in your hunt for new 2 player board games. 🙂
(Note: Chelsey wrote this post, but Zach came back later to add his thoughts. The parts that were added by him have been indicated.)
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Great 2 Player Board games
1. The Duke
Of course, it has to be good with 2 people, because only 2 can play it.
The Duke is a lot like chess. Each piece does its own thing, but the piece also tells you what it does, so there’s no memorization involved. In fact, I find this to be way more interesting than chess, but that’s just me.
We’ve done a review on The Duke, so I won’t bore you with more details. But if you’re into competitive strategy games, give this a try.
Zach: The Duke is THE archetypal 2-player game for our group right now. It’s easy to teach, easy to play, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s also not too long, so it can be a decent game to play while waiting to do something else, as well. Set up and tear down are both very quick, as well.
This one surprised me, to be honest. The game plays 4 people, and I thought it couldn’t possibly be any good with fewer than 4. But then Zach and I took it on a long weekend trip and we loved it for 2 players.
Zach: Castles of Mad King Ludwig scratches a lot of itches. You have the fun element of building your castle. You have the competitive scoring system. You have some deeper strategy with the “master builder” mechanic. It has it all, and I’ve found Castles to be a hit with a lot of people, not the least of which being Chelsey and me. We’re very excited for the expansion that’s coming out later this year!
Carcassonne (kar-kuh-sone) is one of those games that plays well, no matter how many people you bring into it. I have never not had fun playing Carcassonne.
Zach: When we got married, this was our go-to 2-player game for a long time. Chelsey fell for it very quickly, even though she usually ends up getting beat by me 🙂
4. Machi Koro
This is especially good with 2 players if you have the Harbor expansion, because it randomizes the game.
Zach: Machi Koro is a really light but fun 2-player game. I like both the original and the expansion for the different styles of play they provide.
This game is like Carcassonne–great no matter how many players you have. It was also another that shocked me. No way could Hanabi be any good with only 2 players. But it is, I absolutely love this game.
Zach: This is one of my favorite cooperative games to play 2 players. I might add Sentinels of the Multiverse or Marvel Legendary to that list, but Hanabi is probably on top. It plays quickly, and it’s quite challenging. Having only 2 players makes for a much different experience, because there is less information to work with, but the game is no less rewarding.
Another game that’s pretty great no matter how many you have playing it–as long as the people you’re playing with are good at telling stories. Zach and I have a similar sense of humor, so we always have a good time paying this.
Zach: As I mentioned in my review, I think having people on the same wavelength, people who can tell some kind of story, is important for enjoying Gloom. So I enjoy playing this with Chelsey as just 2 players. It gives you less to concentrate on, and it makes you wait less time between your turns!
This is a fast-paced game no matter how many people play it. So it’s great if you want to get in a few quick games together. It’s another one that is easy to set up and tear down.
Zach: Not my go-to 2 player game, but it definitely fits in a pinch! King of New York tends to play better when there’s more craziness going on. It’s not a terribly strategic game, so chaos is great. With two players, though, it makes for a quick and simple play.
This is a game that sounded awful when Zach brought it home. It’s also something that I’ve found is easier to learn if you just dive into it. The instructions aren’t difficult, they’re just a bit weird. The first time I played, all I could think was, “Why are we doing this?” But by the end, I finally understood it. 😛
Definitely a great game!
Zach: Biblios is stunning in its simplicity. The card drafting then auctioning go together really, really well, and I am always trying to get people to play this with me. With two players, it’s a lot different than with 4. You have a good idea of what your opponent is going for, so your decisions become simpler. With more players, the colors of cards get thrown around a lot more, so you don’t know who has what. 2-player Biblios is the fastest, deepest way to play.
When we got married, this was the only game we owned for a while. It got played a lot and it’s great fun. It’s is absolutely simple to learn, but winning is a challenge. Especially if you play against someone who is a very skilled strategist.
Zach: This one is very cool. We need to play it again soon!
10. Ghost Stories
I hated Ghost Stories the first time I played it. It is an extremely difficult game to beat and it felt like we just had no chance (since it’s co-op). I don’t mind when winning is hard–I don’t like to win too easily–but I do mind when winning seems impossible. Turned out, we were playing the game wrong. 😛 But playing it correctly is still really difficult…which only makes it so much sweeter when we win.
Ghost Stories is a lot of fun with the recommended 4 players, but I also enjoy playing it with only 2.
Zach: Oh, did I say Hanabi might be my favorite 2-player co-op? Ghost Stories is better. Special powers. Terrifying ghosts. Teaming up to beat back the undead hordes! This game is tough, tough, tough. But man…it’s rewarding to win! It’s also one of the few games on this list that changes almost nothing by adding more players. You always use all 4 monks in this game. Fantastic, but not a well-known co-op!
What are your favorite 2 player board games? Is there anything you expected to see on this list and didn’t? Let us know in the comments!