The Best Games for 2 Players

 In General Geekiness

My husband and I enjoy playing board games. Trouble is, we don’t always have someone else to play with, or, we’d love to have a date night and play just the two of us. Finding a good 2 player game has become somewhat of an ongoing quest for us.

If you buy a game that’s solely for 2 players, it’s very limiting and isn’t always worth the investment and closet space. If you get a game that plays 2-X players, it’s quite likely the game won’t actually scale well for just 2 people.

If you’re in the same boat, check out the list below for great 2 player card and board game options. I’ve even rounded up some suggestions from my fellow geek blogging groups to give you a variety of opinion!

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

1. Tak: A Beautiful Game

Tak is the [no longer] fictional game from one of my favorite book series, The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. As the name implies, it’s a beautiful game that’s simple to play but full of strategy. The goal of the game is for one of the 2 players to connect 2 opposite sides of the board with their playing pieces. I like to think of this game as chess for people who don’t like chess 😉 Gameplay takes around 20-30 minutes, depending on how long you tend to mull your decisions before making a play.

Tak: A Beautiful Game

2. Patchwork

“I highly recommend Patchwork, a tile placement game for two players. In Patchwork, players are trying to complete their quilt by sewing together uniquely-shaped pieces. Quilts take time and strategy to create – and the player with the most pleasing quilt (the most buttons and the least missing pieces) wins the game!

Patchwork is a unique game because of the emphasis on spatial reasoning skills as well as resource management skills. It is a competitive game that takes about half an hour to play, and is great for families as well as couples.”

-Calli from Unfiltered Gamer

Patchwork board game

3. Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries

This version of Ticket to Ride takes everything you love about the original game and places it on the map among the Nordic countries. It is specifically designed for only 2-3 players which is what makes this game shine for me as a 2 player variant. The routes and the rules have been modified just enough to make it both still fun and challenging when playing with only 2 people.

For those who haven’t played Ticket to Ride, the goal is for players to complete train routes between cities based on their drawn route ticket and the colored train cars they draw. Players work to complete their routes as quickly as possible in secret from one another.

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries board game

4. Love Letter

“A go-to for me is Love Letter. The goal is to discover who is writing the princess love letters. You want to try to reveal your opponent and all of the characters have different abilities to protect yourself or reveal your opponent.

The game is played with multiple rounds, and whoever wins the most rounds wins the full game. I love this game for 2-players because there are no special rules, you play the game as it is meant to be played. It is also a microgame, meaning the game is small enough to carry all of its contents in your pocket. It’s a great introductory game for your friends that aren’t the biggest gamers.”

-Michelle from A Geek Girl’s Guide

Love Letter card game

5. Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island is a co-op game that’s playable by 2-4 players and takes roughly 30 minutes to play. The goal of the game is for the players to collect the 4 relics on the island before it sinks forever into the watery abyss.

I believe this game scales down well for 2 players. It’s a great challenge that my husband and I like to tackle when we’re in a non-competitive [against each other] gaming mood. The game has varying levels of difficulty and different characters with unique abilities to keep things fresh and interesting.

Forbidden Island board game

6. Castle Panic

“I love cooperative games, and one of my absolute favorite cooperative boardgames is Castle Panic. In it the players cooperate to defend their castle against a horde of monsters (goblins, orcs, and ogres) that are attacking it. The different areas around the castle are color coded and divided up into different distance ranges. The players draw cards that they use to attack monsters in specific areas around the castle and to boost the castle’s defenses. At the end of each player’s turn, the monsters advance. The goal of the game is to survive the horde with at least one castle tower intact.

The ability to trade one card per turn allows for a modest amount of strategy which creates a bit of challenge to work through together without becoming overwhelming for those who are less strategically minded. Also, there is just enough randomness and chaos in the game to keep it exciting without making it too hard to win. I’ve also enjoyed the expansion set that gives more magic and additional monster types, though it does add some complexity.

In my experience, this game is the most fun with a small group of 2 or 3 players. This is because having fewer players allows each player to have more cards in their hands, they get to take actions more often, and it is easier to work out strategy together. I don’t have much personal experience with children, but I suspect older children would enjoy this game.

I’d recommend this game to people who want a fun, cooperative, social game with a little bit of strategy and chaos that works best for smaller groups.”

-Fay from The Writing Alchemy

Castle Panic board game

7. Double Solitaire

“Double Solitaire takes the simplicity and fun of regular solo Solitaire and adds levels of competition as you play against someone else. The game stays the same but you both can add to the suit piles in the middle. This is a great game to play because all you need are two (different) decks of cards. It’s great for all ages! The rules.”

-Victoria from Cool Beans 4 

playing cards

8. Odin’s Ravens

“Odin’s Ravens is a simple cunning game for 2 players. Each player will need to move a raven across the different realms of Midgard through the cards. However, each player can play tricks on the other thanks to the help of Loki. Beware, though, because depending on how you play your tricks, they can be against you! It’s a game of cunning and mischief.

The first raven that brings back the news of all the realms back to Odin wins. It takes around 30 minutes to finish a game. The artwork is beautiful, the game quite simple, but it makes your get thrilled easily. It’s perfect for two players eager to have fun and try to outwit the other.”

-Pepi from DePepi

Odin's Ravens card game

9. Jaipur

Jaipur is a 2 player card game that’s set in a Middle Eastern market place. The goal is for players to collect and sell goods for the most profit. I enjoy this game because it’s an enticing blend of strategy, risk and luck. The game is played as the best of 3 and requires you to time your moves well in order to beat out your opponent.

This game takes about 30 minutes and is it a great quick option if you’re trying to squeeze something in before dinner or at the end of the night.

Jaipur card game

What’s your favorite 2 player game? Let me know in the comments below!

Did your choice make the list? If not, please share a couple sentences about it to entice us to add it to our collections. 😉

Here are additional recommendations made by my wonderful readers in the comments below:

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Showing 16 comments
  • Reply

    Jaipur is on my list of games to get. Looks like a really fun little game and I’ve heard nothing but good things.

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)
      Reply

      Like i mention above it’s one of those ‘just for 2 players’ games that I really dig!

  • Mariah Kaercher
    Reply

    This post is perfect! I’m looking for smaller games to bring to breweries for me and my friends to play. These are all perfect.

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)
      Reply

      Great! Love Letter, Forbidden Island, and Jaipur all pack up pretty small. For a lack of table space, Love Letter would probably be the best of the best.

  • Sally-Ann Smurthwaite
    Reply

    Tak is now a real game? That’s awesome, may have to get it! Great list of games here, Castle Panic sounds like it could be fun as I want to find more 2 player co-op games, and I’ve wanted to try odin’s ravens for a while now! Forbidden Island is always a great one to play.

    I’d also recommend Seven Wonders:Duel, best 2 player game I’ve ever played, Codenames:Duet, a co-op word game, and Hive is also a lot of fun, another one that could be described as chess for people who don’t like chess! My and my bf recently tried out Star Wars X-wing at a boards game cafe which was a lot of fun with all the joy of Star Wars battles!

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)
      Reply

      I’ve been eyeing Castle Panic myself for a while. With one of my fellow bloggers recommending it for 2 players as well, I don’t see a reason for me not to pull the trigger now.
      I’ve heard really good things about Hive but didn’t know they made a 2 player variant of Codenames. Thanks for sharing these other options!

  • Kayla Cox | Epicfied
    Reply

    TAK looks really neat. Do you stack pieces?

    I wish I knew about double solitaire when I was a kid. I would ask to play cards with my sister and some of the responses when she didn’t want to were “52 card pick up” or “solitaire”.

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)
      Reply

      52 card pickup – classic. Haha.
      There are 2 main piece types in Tak. You have the primary piece which can be laid flat or upright (aka as a wall). You then have a very limited number 0f capstone which are kind of the like the queen -very special in their play ability. Pieces can be stacked, except on top of walls or the capstones. Capstones can be used to flatten walls. The stacked pieces can then be shifted too.

  • Julie
    Reply

    I enjoyed Forbidden Island.Would recommend Pandemic and Spector Ops.

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)
      Reply

      Pandemic is another fun one. I find that 2 players can be especially challenging unless you both get certain character abilities though.

  • Pepi
    Reply

    I have Odin’s Ravens! I love it! I also have a variant of Love Letter (LOTR) 😀

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)
      Reply

      I have not yet seen the LOTR version of Love Letter. That’s awesome.

  • Abby
    Reply

    Love this list! Jaipur and Odin’s Ravens are two of my favorites. I didn’t love Patchwork. My ultimate favorite 2-player game is Morels. What a gem. I’d like to check out Castle Panic and TTR: Nordic Countries. Thanks for the ideas!

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)
      Reply

      I think I’ve heard of Morels, but know nothing about it. Is that the mushroom themed game?

  • Robert Hanna
    Reply

    Thanks for the list!

    Tak is one of my favorite 2-player games! It truly is “A Beautiful Game”. I’d like to add another favorite of mine to the list, and that is Onitama. If you aren’t familiar with the game, check it out at http://www.arcanewonders.com/game/onitama/

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)
      Reply

      Tak is, isn’t it.
      I have not heard of Onitama. I always enjoy checking out a new recommendation, so thank you!

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