Board games and card games are great for parties and large groups. However, what if there is just two of you? My husband and I have been searching for the past two years to find games that are perfect for just the two of us. After all this time, we like to think we've found some of the best two-player board and card games out there.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people have pulled out some of their old board games to play with their families, and Amazon saw a huge increase in sales of board games and puzzles. While there are games out there that many people know – like Scrabble, Yahtzee, Farkle, and Hearts – there are many that are not so well known. So, my husband and I compiled a list of our favorite two-person board and card games.
1. Codenames Duet
Codenames Duet is our favorite game that we both grab first. It has become our go-to so much so that we keep a running tally of games and dates. While there are other Codenames games out there, Duet is designed specifically for two players and is actually a cooperative game.
In this game, you lay out several cards with one word each on them. You each have a separate “mission map” showing which cards are secret agents, which are enemy assassins, and which are innocent bystanders. The two of you take turns giving one word clues which can lead your partner to multiple words on the table. The goal is to find all the agents on both of your maps without triggering any of the enemy assassins.
If you’ve ever played Dominos (also a good game), Kingdomino is a twist on the classic with a bit of kingdom-building. Each turn you can connect a tile that has two sections to the existing set of tiles on the board. You must make sure at least one of the sides of your tile matches the terrain on the tile you are connecting to. Secure your terrains with crowns to grow your kingdom while trying to cut off your opponent from growing their kingdom. (Bonus: there is an expansion to this game too!)
3. Monopoly Deal
Monopoly Deal is a great quick card game. It’s an easy way to experience some of the Monopoly features in a simplified fashion. Essentially you are racing to collect 3 complete Property Card sets of different colors. Action cards can mix things up with having to give up properties, trade, or pay (or charge) rent. Can be played with up to 5 players, but we find it is just as enjoyable with two of us.
As a quilter, the game Patchwork appealed to me for several reasons. In this quick game you are competing to build the best patchwork quilt on your personal 9×9 game board. The patches are all in a random circle with a spool showing where to start.
On your turn, you can purchase one of three patches in front of the spool using buttons as currency. After you purchase a patch, the spool gets moved to that location and you must place your patch in your quilt. If you can completely fill in a 7×7 square on your board, you get an extra 7 points. The patches all have assigned point values, and at the end of the game the winner is whoever has the most points. Or I say whoever has the prettiest quilt (house rules).
5. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
You may have heard of the popular game Agricola. Well, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a version of that which is specifically designed for two players. It does this by simplifying it down to only focusing on the animal husbandry aspect of the original game.
You play as farmers raising sheep, pigs, cows, and horses. You have three workers who help you take care of the animals and each turn you place your workers on action spaces to build stalls and stables or upgrade your farm. The player who has earned the most points by enclosing spaces with fences or acquiring the largest number of animals will be the winner. There are also digital versions of this game available, but I haven't tried them.
The hardest part to learn about Santorini is how to get all the pieces to fit back in the box when you are done. Seriously, this game is so easy to learn and fun to play. It is a strategy game focused on building a beautiful village. You are racing against your opponent to build and climb towers of blocks. The first person to get their person to the top is the winner. If you want to play the game at a more advanced level, you can add in a deck of cards referred to as “God Powers.” These cards can really mix things up!
Rummikub has actually been around since possibly the1930’s and definitely the 1980’s. It’s not new or unknown, but it’s one of our favorites so it had to be included here. Similar to the card game Rummy, you are trying to get rid of all your tiles by forming numbers into runs of 3 tiles or more of the same color or groups of 3 to 4 of the same number in different colors.
8. Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle
If you are a fan of Harry Potter, this Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle game is a must-play. A cooperative deck-building game which has you and your partner securing Hogwarts and defeating He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named! While it is suggested to be played with four people, my husband and I have still had a lot of fun playing just the two of us.
Also, the game actually evolves! You have 7 games that should be played in order (not all at once, don’t worry) which essentially follow the books in the Harry Potter series. Bonus: the characters images on the cards actually get older with each game that you unlock!
9. Tiny Towns
Tiny Towns is another building type of game. You are the mayor of a tiny town where you have to use resources to build up the town. You are given a 4×4 grid as your town. On this grid you place resource cubes to build new buildings and score victory points. In the end, the player with the most victory points wins.
10. Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is probably one of the most popular family games around right now. If you aren’t already familiar with it, the goal here is to compete to build the best train routes across the continent and connect cities. Interestingly, Ticket to Ride is now integrated with Amazon Alexa and she will either play the game against you or just offer sound effects, music, and guide players through the game.
There were a few games which were great but for one reason or other just didn't quite make the above list. Here's a few of those games for your consideration.
H1. Megaman Pixel Tactics
Megaman Pixel Tactics is in the honorable mentions because although it is a fun game… it is also quite difficult to learn and confusing. If you have patience and want a challenge, it’s great though.
H2. Love Letter
Love Letter is a beautiful game. You are essentially suitors trying to send a love letter to a princess while not getting caught. It’s a very fun little game, but it does have some issues when played two-player. Therefore, it is relegated to the honorable mentions. However, it is still a great game.
H3. The Fox in The Forest Duet
Fox in the Forest Duet is on this list because I have heard so many wonderful things about it from so many people. However, it only made honorable mentions because, sadly, I have yet to play it!