Those who game together, stay together. Pretty common thought pool in the BG community, right?
Game nights are a staple of our week and an escape from the daily grind of work and school. My significant other and I spend a lot of time playing board games with our family friends. When we miss a week, there’s a little gap and it feels “off”. That game night has become a usual social gathering we can appreciate, but there are times where I wish we played more two-player games. We love our second family, but admittedly, we just don’t play board games at home as much as we could. We have a lot of fun games in our collection, ones that work better for 2 players as opposed to 4.
One of our goals for 2016 is to turn a social hobby into a more intimate one. No, I’m not talking about sexy times leading from board games (no strip Splendor here). I’m talking about deflating and unwinding with smaller sessions.
It wasn’t until recently that a reader reached out to me to discuss 2 player games and options that I started to think. How can I improve this? How can I get these games on the table? I’m still looking for the answers, ones that fit into our busy schedule, but in the mean time… you gotta get some games lined up. I’ve gathered my list of great games for two players and wanted to share them with you!
Max Players: 4
Why does it work for 2 players?: For a competitive game, there is minimal chances for “in-your-face” moments and obvious sabotage. You stay focused on your goals in the game without wanting to screw someone else over. We can appreciate the fact that we enjoy the experience just as much as possibly winning. The game is simple enough on set-up/clean-up but also great for a quiet night at home.
Splendor’s goal is to gain 15 victory points by using gems to claim point cards. The experience that Splendor offers is great for newcomers and veterans alike. What makes Splendor truly great with two people is that it’s calm – it’s a relaxing night with a glass of wine as opposed to endless dice rolls and health token monitoring. This competitive experience stands out among the rest of the list because it was totally, 100% relaxing. There’s an artistry about this game that goes beyond just game design – which are well worth the price itself – but the gameplay was thoughtful and provides ample amounts of replayability. It’s definitely a hit at our house!
Max Players: 8
Why does it work for 2 players?: Elder Sign, in my opinion, is just as enriching as Eldritch Horror with a much easier set up. I love playing this with 2 players because it bumps the difficulty up a tiny bit more. We opt to play two adventurers each, so a total of 4 characters are on the table. If you’re looking for the challenge of Eldritch but a quicker and condensed experience… you can’t go wrong with Elder Sign.
You don’t have to love Cthulhu mythos to appreciate Elder Sign. With card-based set up, you’re able to get this baby on the table fast and clean up just as fast. Using a great dice system (similarly to Eldritch Horror), you are tasked with going to different locations of a museum to prevent the rise of an Elder God. The mechanic of the game that makes this great for two players is the pure luck involved with the dice rolling. Many people say that there is no strategy and it’s truly up to the dice but I must disagree. Me and my SO choose characters that have skills to benefit the other and plan each move accordingly to tackle tasks with the least amount of moves. There’s ton of thinking, great risk opportunities, and fulfilling wins (or crippling defeats).
7 Wonders: Duel
Max Players: 2
Why does it work for 2 players?: 7 Wonders: Duel captures the beauty of 7 Wonders and bundles it in relationship-threatening competitive play. If you want something that offers a challenge, tactical thinking, and high chance of shit talking… this is it. Oh, this is definitely it. Partner this with a cold beer and you’re good to go for a casual night of warfare against your partner.
7 Wonders: Duel falls into the same civilization-theme as it’s flagship title. What truly separates (besides components and the 2 player limit) is how tense and involved the game is now. There’s a plethora of win conditions that make the interaction of players more combative and stressful. You are directly going against someone and the need to make every move count is great. This turns a relatively peaceful game of 7 Wonders into a warzone. This game is geared directly to a player vs player interaction, citing that every interaction has ulterior motives. It’s easy for your move to benefit you while also causing the downfall of your enemy. It’s fun and definitely more direct when you’re dealing with only one other player.
Max Players: 2
Why does it work for 2 players?: Out of this entire list, I feel that this is the definition of “casual competitive”. Kahuna is a gem of a game, but definitely a nice balance between too tense or not tense enough. This game particularly works well with families – I feel that it is a bit rudimentary, but serves as a great gateway game.
Focusing mostly on an area control game, this game uses simple tactics to enlist the interaction of the game. Controlling islands garner power and with that, victory points. It’s a simple enough concept that What I do like is that this game reads very balanced. There rarely is a drastic lead or usurping of a victory. While there are limited moments of actually screwing someone’s tactics up, it does have a calming experience worth checking out.