Take the 2-minute tour ×
Board & Card Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who like playing board games, designing board games or modifying the rules of existing board games. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My wife and I enjoy playing board games (having gotten hooked on Settlers of Catan and expanded from there) but we don't often have the opportunity to play with other people. The question What cooperative board games are there that I could safely play with my wife? is similar but we're less concerned about avoiding conflict and more interested in gameplay. (The question Good board games for single player is also similar.) What board games are good for two players?

Edit: Having done a poor job in limiting the scope of my question, since there are clearly too many board games to list them all, let me try to clarify. I'm looking for games with similar scope, time requirements, cost, and complexity to Settlers of Catan that play well with two adult players. I'm not especially concerned by the level of cooperation or competition required, but I'd like to avoid anything especially blood-thirsty.

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by Pat Ludwig Oct 15 '11 at 16:48

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1  
Flagged for wiki conversion. See: meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/66/… –  Jon Hadley Oct 21 '10 at 11:33
    
-1 because you have given no real sense of what sort of game you would like - how long would you like the game (six months, two weeks, eight hours, two hours?)? What kind of price range / number of components? What level of complexity? –  Richard Gadsden Oct 21 '10 at 15:12
1  
@Richard I mentioned Settlers of Catan in passing but I'll make the comparison more explicit. –  Commodore Jaeger Oct 21 '10 at 15:23
1  
-1 removed, and my (pointless) answer removed also. –  Richard Gadsden Oct 21 '10 at 17:07
2  
have you considered accepting an answer? This question has been open for a few days now, and with 21 answers, one of them must be good. (Disclaimer: I'm not saying, "Hey, accept my answer"; I'm merely trying to get acceptance rates up as we've been discussing acceptance rates here: meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/138/…) –  LittleBobbyTables Oct 22 '10 at 11:57
add comment

28 Answers 28

up vote 18 down vote accepted

I would suggest Agricola. A deep, strategic game, which excels as a two player contest. There is plenty of interaction in blocking your opponents moves, plus the card sets ensure no two games are exactly the same. Should make for some good cut and thrust gaming fun!

share|improve this answer
    
I've upvoted, but this may not be the best game to play with your wife. A two player game of Agricola involves a lot of action/resource denial which may end up being too aggressive for some folks. –  Pat Ludwig Jan 5 '11 at 18:27
    
I love Agricola, but I didn't really love it with two. –  Robert Rossney Feb 4 '11 at 18:03
1  
I think it's great with 2. But even better with 3 or 4, admittedly. –  thesunneversets Feb 4 '11 at 19:36
    
Just one data point: my husband and I play this as a two-player game a lot and we find it very enjoyable without being too cut-throat. –  Monica Cellio Jun 17 '11 at 13:26
add comment

I've played a ton of games, and Battle Line is among the best two player games out there.

enter image description here

Battle Line

This is a game made by the great Reiner Knizia, so already you know it's good. The way it works is there are 9 columns. On your turn you play a card onto your side of any column. Once your formation on a column can't possibly be beat by the opponent, you take that column. If you get 5 columns total, or three adjacent columns, you win.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not really comparable to Settlers of Catan, but Blokus Duo is pretty good 2-player game. Price tag of $10 it's worth a look, I've played it dozens of times with my Brother already and it's pretty fun, simple, but challenging.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I can't recommend Stefan Feld's Roma (and its sequel, Roma II) enough. I can't think of many two-player games that I've played more than 100 times, but I'm sure I've topped that with Roma. First, its basic design is ingenious. The use of dice to activate cards is quite novel, and the fixed victory-point pool is such a good idea that I can't believe other games don't use it. Second, it's tense from the very beginning: both players start the game losing, and sometimes you win just by keeping your opponent from repairing his position faster than you repair yours. It has fantastically sharp gameplay. A phrase I've used to describe it is "like a knife fight in a phone booth." You don't have very much room to move, and you really don't want to make a mistake.

I also love Attika, a game whose reputation suffered badly by its being sold as a 2-4 player game. It's fatally flawed with 4, and not very good with 3. With 2, it's a deep and fascinating game of positioning, resource management, and timing, with two completely different ways to win. (If you have 4 players, divide the tiles and the cards into two sets and play two two-player games.)

And then there's Innovation, which I think is 2010's best game. It's pretty easy to learn its mechanics, but you'll play it a dozen times before you start getting good at it. It's going to top 100 plays for me before long. It's a game that you keep learning more about the more you play it. I'm beginning to believe that every single card in the deck can be crucial in the right game - I still haven't ever thought, "Oh, thank God, I drew Clothing," but I'm pretty sure that some day I will.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Ta Yü is one of my favorite 2 player games. It is a tile placing game.

The first player plays a tile in the middle of a large square gridded board. The tiles are 2x1 blocks that have a river section on them with 3-4 outlets on each tile. Each player in turn plays tiles which have to match the river flow. The object is to direct river outlets to opposite sides of the board. One player controls the top and bottom of the board, the other controls the left and right.

The score at the end is the product of the number of river outflows on each side. This forces each player to work in two directions for themselves while frustrating their opponent on two directions as well.

Nearly anyone can pick up the basics of the game quickly and it rewards repeated play.

There is also a really good three player version, but it requires that all 3 people have some experience with the game first as the players need to bid at the start of the game.

share|improve this answer
add comment

(I posted this on another question about 2-player boardgames which was closed as a duplicate. I appreciate that someone has already suggested Lost Cities to this question, but my answer does go into some extra detail, so I hope you won't begrudge me reposting it here!)

Lost Cities

I bought this game for my wife for Valentine's Day and totally got away with it - she loves it!

It's not to be confused with the Lost Cities boardgame - I'm talking about the 2 player card game. Essentially players are archaeologists setting out to discover the Lost Cities of the title. There are 5 different Lost Cities (each of a different colour), and the deck contains cards from 2-10 in each colour, and three multiplier cards. You can play a card to an "expedition" or discard one to a central pile, and then pick one up from the deck or from a central pile; the problem is, once you play a numeric card to an expedition you can no longer play a multiplier, and you can never play a lower number onto a higher one. At the end you total the value of each expedition, subtract 20, and times by the number of multiplier cards plus one (plus there's a bonus for an impressive 8-cards+ expedition).

Obviously you can lose mad points as well as gain them from starting an expedition you can't follow through with! There's a lot of strategy for a simple game, deciding when you can afford to play, when you can afford to discard, and when you just have to cling onto cards for dear life in your hand! A game takes only 5 minutes, and a match is meant to be best of three games. It's got a colourful theme, attractive (oversized) cards, and quite a lot of depth for a game that's so simple to get started with: it's a real couples game in my opinion.

The only thing I don't like about the game is that there's allegedly a 4 player variant - but to play it you're encouraged to buy a second copy of the base game just so you can add it about 20 duplicate cards to your deck. Yeah, right. This fact is not a problem if you just want a game to play as a couple though, thank goodness!

share|improve this answer
    
I regretted losing your answer on the other question and was considering merging the questions but I see you've taken care of the issue yourself :) –  Pat Ludwig Feb 3 '11 at 21:55
add comment

Tikal is a great board game for 2 to 4 players, and it plays very well with two.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I recently had fun playing The Merchant of Venus 2 player, after not having played it for a few years.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Hive is a great abstract game for two players.

alt text

The goal of the game is to completely surround your opponent's Queen Bee. There are several different types of pieces; each is a bug of some sort, and each has unique rules governing how it moves around the board. This game is very quick to teach, it's fast to play, and there is a world of depth to the game.

It's a good game for a couple to learn together, as they'll get to discover the best strategies and tactics as they play - each game evolves a bit based on what the players learned in the last game.

share|improve this answer
    
+1: we played Hive twice at Essen 2010 - great game! –  Christian Specht Oct 26 '10 at 18:09
add comment

My 'group' is almost always 2 players, here are some of our favorites:

As mentioned on the co-op question, my wife and I really enjoy Pandemic. It's quick to setup, quick to play, and co-operative.

alt text

The Munchkin games are also a lot of fun for two players. They're also really quick to set up, it's not too competitive and the tone of the game makes it a lot of fun.

alt text

A recent favorite has been Thunderstone, it's a deck building game similar to Dominion (as mentioned in other answers)

alt text

Through the Ages is a great resource management game, especially if you like the Civilization video games.

alt text

Finally if you're looking for something a bit more 'hard-core' I'd recommend Arkham Horror. It's tough, and it's brutal but we have a lot of fun with it two-player.

alt text

share|improve this answer
1  
Upvoted for TtA and Pandemic. I can't really recommend 2 player Munchkin, myself. –  gomad Oct 26 '10 at 18:37
    
I enjoy Thunderstone and Pandemic as two-player games. I didn't care too much for Munchkin (I've only played it with 2 players). I've never played Through the Ages, and I've never played Arkham Horror with two people, so I can't comment on those. –  Matt Dillard Oct 27 '10 at 13:33
    
Instant downvote for munchkin: not only it is a very poor game in general, but in two players is even more pointless, since its only value (besides humor) is in the interactions between lots of players. If the players are only two it becomes only a very very very poor completely luck-based race. –  Lohoris Nov 16 '10 at 16:57
1  
You can play Arkham Horror in the time it takes to play Settlers? –  Monica Cellio Jun 17 '11 at 13:28
    
Agree on Pandemic; we play this with two players a lot and it works well. Some of the roles behave differently with two players than with four, so be aware of that. –  Monica Cellio Jun 17 '11 at 13:29
add comment

I'm going to recommend Puerto Rico. My wife and I play the 2-player variant (official variant from the designer) all the time and find it quite satisfactory. Since it's the top rated game on BGG, I think it will probably appeal to both of you.

We also have been enjoying Dungeon Lords lately. It is quite a bit more complex than PR, though.

We love Roll Through the Ages, though admittedly, we have both only ever played the version on the iPhone. The full-on Through the Ages is a great game, but it's a long one. You'll spend your whole afternoon on anything but the introductory version of the game.

As far as games designed expressly for two players, I recently traded in a couple of games that were fairly highly rated, Dracula and Mr. Jack, because neither of us particularly liked them.

The game I put the proceeds towards is Claustrophobia. It's a 2-player asymmetrical game built on direct conflict and interaction between the players. Tons of fun though, we both like it more than the two we sold put together!

share|improve this answer
    
Do you have a link for the two-player rule variant for Puerto Rico? –  Commodore Jaeger Oct 23 '10 at 15:21
    
Yes, I added the link a couple of days ago - but forgot to tell you! –  gomad Oct 26 '10 at 17:30
    
@Commodore Jaeger - I only recently found out that you'll only get a reply if I "@" you. I thought commenting AFTER your comment triggered a reply. So this is just to let you know that the link to the 2 player variant is, and has been, there. –  gomad Feb 9 '11 at 18:26
add comment

I'm a big fan of the Kosmos 2-player series; not all of the games are great, but most of them are solid, and they're all geared specifically for two players, they come in small and easily portable boxes, and they're generally reasonably light while having just enough strategic depth to keep them interesting.

My favorite is Kahuna, as I find the gameplay a bit more strategically interesting than most, and my girlfriend likes Odin's Ravens best. I've heard good things about Lost Cities, but never had a chance to play it. There are many good games in the series; you can try sorting them by rank on BoardGameGeek, and look through the first few pages to find the best ones.

Kahuna box cover; an aerial view of verdant tropical islands, arranged in the shape of a handprint. Lost Cities box cover; two adventurers stand in the gate of a ruin, with sunlight streaming from above. Odin's Ravens box cover; An old bearded man with a spear and horned helm stands, with two ravens flying past

share|improve this answer
    
My favorite games in this series (in order): Flowerpower, Lost Cities, Times Square, Jambo, Hera and Zeus, Tally Ho!, Odin's Ravens. Also, technically, the two-player Settlers of Catan card game, which was actually the first game Kosmos published in this format. –  Robert Rossney Feb 4 '11 at 18:07
add comment

OGRE can be a good two player game. One player gets an army, the other gets a giant cyborg-tank. It's a pretty even match-up. There are some strategies that are pretty quick to learn, but you can use a variety of scenarios too.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The Awful Green Things from Outer Space is a great two player game, that is always a little different thanks to the unpredictability of what each weapon will do each game.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Besides a few mentioned above I like Dominion as a two player game as well as Ascension (so far). Dominion Ascension

share|improve this answer
    
Dominion is superb 2 player. Make sure you replay your set of 10 cards a few times to really explore the two player interactions –  Mark Withers Oct 20 '10 at 12:02
    
Is Ascension a CCG or not? I can't quite tell from the marketing text, and since it trumpets how it was designed by champion Magic players, I can't help but wonder. I don't do collectible anything. –  gomad Oct 26 '10 at 17:33
    
@gomad - Ascension is not a CCG. It's more on par with Thunderstone, in that it's a deck building game. Pretty good game at that, although I've only played the 2 player version, it's marked as 2-4 players. Still I would play this with 2 players, and Thunderstone with 3+. –  My Turn Yet Oct 29 '10 at 18:12
1  
I've played Ascension with 2 and 3 and it's an fun game. It's reasonably fast and has enough diversity to be played again next week. –  Don Oct 31 '10 at 15:44
add comment

San Juan is a really fun game that works well with two players (although it plays up to 4). Puerto Rico is a very popular and highly acclaimed board game; San Juan is its card-driven little brother.

alt text

In short, you are responsible for developing the city of San Juan by growing crops and building buildings. There are many viable strategies, so the game changes from one play to the next, and it's a lot of fun to discover just what those viable strategies are.

There is not a whole lot of direct interaction with your opponent in the game, although the decisions you make are certainly heavily influenced by what your opponent is doing.

share|improve this answer
1  
More info on the difference between Puerto Rico and San Juan :) boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/2266/… –  Gordon Gustafson Jan 22 '11 at 16:35
add comment

My wife and I really enjoy Lost Cities.

alt text

It's a pretty simple card game, but there is a fair amount of depth to it, and only takes around 30 minutes to finish 3 rounds.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 A friend called it "mind candy" when teaching it to me. –  eswald Oct 20 '10 at 19:38
    
I found the video game adaptation to be a lot of fun; if it's true to the card game, this would definitely be a good choice. –  Dave DuPlantis Jun 20 '11 at 20:46
add comment

Small World

This is a game for 2-5 players and is very enjoyable at each size. Two player games go very quickly and I've been known to play several games of this in an evening. The gameplay rarely gets stale, too, because of the nature of the game.

Pandemic

This is a cooperative game for 2-4 players where each player assumes a role that grants them abilities throughout the game. Each game has the roles randomized, giving each player a chance at a different play style. A two player game is especially challenging, but still a very good time.

share|improve this answer
add comment

No one mentioned the great Project GIPF series yet.
It's a series of six abstract games for two players. I played three of them, we own two of them (DVONN and TZAAR) and they are our favorite two-player games. We play them a lot.

share|improve this answer
    
The only issue is you have to be evenly matched. I played DVONN with my neighbor a bit, and I was better at thinking ahead, so after he had gone a few weeks (playing once a week) without a win, he insisted on playing something else. –  Joe Jan 25 '11 at 15:12
add comment

I and my gf loves Race For The Galaxy. This game is still very interesting when playing 2, 3 or 4 persons.

alt text

share|improve this answer
add comment

Knizia's Lords series (Minotaur Lords & Scarab Lords) is a lot of fun for a 2 player head-to-head card game.

It incorporates elements from area domination, as well as deck customisation (as you would in a trading-card-game). Easy to learn, hard to master!

share|improve this answer
add comment

There's an entire list of lists of games to play with your loved one on Board Game Geek. My wife enjoys the Settlers of Catan card game, but some people hate it. I recommend the Kosmos two-player games, particularly Odin's Ravens and Balloon Cup.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Two variants of games that are originally better suited to 3+ people:

share|improve this answer
    
I'd add the TtR: Nordic Countries as well - it's also a 2-3 player map. –  Eclipse Jan 5 '12 at 16:23
add comment

My wife's favorite game is Balloon Cup. 2-player only, plays quickly, nice components.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I'd suggest Ticket to Ride. (BoardGameGeek link) The rules are simple, and the game can move fairly quickly with two experienced players. Since your trying to get to different destinations each time you play, it also provides diversity when playing with two people.

share|improve this answer
    
In particular, the Swiss expansion is built for 2-3 players. –  Allen Gould Jun 22 '11 at 21:31
add comment

I happen to love Memoir '44 and the Battlelore system by Days of Wonder. Now Fantasy Flight owns the rights to Battlelore and has also released a Westeros version based off George RR Martins A Song of Ice and Fire series. It's pretty quick and easy to set up and the system itself is very versatile. With many different games/scenarios/expansions using roughly the same rules you can pick and choose the setting and the exact game in the set that's right for you. The basic premise involves two players coordinating small units in a single battle on a hex grid based map.

I'm also a fan of classic card games including cribbage, which is played with a board, but probably not what you were going for.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I'm a big fan of Carcassonne -- the game is better with more people, but you can certainly play it with two people, and since it's a tile-laying game, the board will always be different.

In my opinion, the game bogs down with expansions, but the core set (with or without the River Expansion), is a lot of fun.

share|improve this answer
    
Agreed...although the Princess and Fairy expansion is a worthwhile investment for the introduction of the Dragon... –  Albort Oct 20 '10 at 10:34
    
@Albort -- hah, that's funny, I won that at as a prize at a game store, and gave it away. Good thing it's inexpensive! –  LittleBobbyTables Oct 20 '10 at 11:21
1  
I'm surprised this is winning so far, since despite is popularity and quality, two really isn't the best number of players by a long way. And yes, I downvoted. Carcassonne is a good game, but isn't the answer to everything, especially this particular question. –  Mark Withers Oct 20 '10 at 12:04
1  
@LittleBobbyTables I've made an answer myself, and upvoted Dominion. I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of the original poster. Lets say he makes one purchase on the back of the recommendations here, I'd like him to end up with the best available 2 player experience! :) –  Mark Withers Oct 20 '10 at 12:11
1  
+1: Carcassonne is one of the few board games that's actually fun with two players –  Joren Oct 26 '10 at 20:57
show 3 more comments

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.