My wife and I really enjoy playing board games IF we can find the right game. Seems to be that there is a love it or hate it reaction from my wife (I'm pretty game for anything). My wife likes the "classic" board games like Monopoly, Scrabble, and such. I myself typically enjoy a strategic game with a few elements of chance of which my wife (says she) generally dislikes.

However I was recently surprised to find out that she absolutely loves Dominion, and is in fact one of her favorite board games to play. Excited by this, since I too love Dominion, I attempted to play Carcassonne with her as I thought it would be of similar taste but found that she doesn't care for it at all. Intrigued, I tried Pandemic with her thinking she might like a co-op game better and she had mixed feelings about it.

My wife is certainly not afraid of competition, and I think games we play that put us on a level playing field are the ones she enjoys most. My question naturally is does anyone have any recommendations of a game/games that they believe would be enjoyable by both of us, given this history? I am pretty open to anything, although do slightly favor a more "strategic" game. Thank in advance!

  • A game similar to Dominion that gets more widespread acclaim (in my gamer group) is DC Deck Builder. However, you'll need 3 people.
    – riv_rec
    Jan 9, 2014 at 22:58
  • I assume that you're playing standard Carcassonne, and not Carcassonne: The Castle? Jan 9, 2014 at 23:34
  • 4
    When I first read the question I thought it was a man seeking woman add.
    – Pow-Ian
    Jan 10, 2014 at 12:47
  • For recommendations, try posting to the boardgames subreddit or a forum at Board Game Geek. You'll get much better help if you can identify what game elements she likes and doesn't. You said not too strategic, maybe with a good bit of chance, which is a good start. We can, e.g., rule out most worker placement games. But what doesn't she like about Carcassonne? If you can identify that, you'll get much better help. Jan 11, 2014 at 1:23
  • Star Realms is a relatively inexpensive 2-player game very much like Dominion, but slightly more straightforward. If you like Dominion, you'll probably enjoy Star Realms.
    – YoungJohn
    Sep 5, 2014 at 21:46

3 Answers 3


Some recommendations follow. First though, here's how I would think about this. What your wife will enjoy playing will depend on a variety of factors (theme, mechanics, play time, competitive intensity, etcetera). As you try different things, hopefully you'll get a feel for some of those factors. For example, my wife prefers historical, fantasy or modern settings of sci-fi, having kids skews us toward shorter play time, and she likes competition, but disengages when she's frequently way ahead or way behind. I like most strategy games (and hate most party games), but I've found I dislike Citadels because it is too easy for someone to fall far behind early, and it plays incredibly slowly as you add more players. You'll probably also notice that I link to boardgamegeek pretty frequently. It's a great resource for getting more info about a particular game before you buy it. Some games you can also try online to get a basic feel, for example on brettspielwelt or octgn

The first thing I would recommend is to try some Dominion expansions. The base game is actually fairly boring compared to Intrigue. There are some good questions in here about in which order to try the expansions, like this one. For a really close relative of Dominion, try Ascension. It is so similar I almost didn't mention it, but it has a few interesting differences, simpler here, more complicated there, and a very different theme.

I second the Android: Netrunner recommendation. There are some terminology hurdles, and I think my first 5 games with my bro-in-law we hadn't figured out the rules yet, but it bears a lot of similarity to Dominion in that it depends heavily on card text, and you can have a lot of diversity within the game framework because there are so many combinations to play with. I feel like in Dominion you play to build an awesome deck and then suddenly the game is over...in A:NR you build an awesome deck before the game starts, and then play with it. That setup bit is a bit heavy, though.

7 Wonders is a good option to try. It doesn't have quite the diversity of Dominion, and it plays much better with 3-7 people than with 2, but it's fast and fun. Not a lot of downtime per player. Also note: this is a tableau-building game, not a deck-building game.

Race for the Galaxy is another good one to try, and it plays very well with 2 people. This is another tableau-building game, but with a bit more variety (I think) going on than 7 Wonders, and it has a role-selection mechanic that adds a very cool layer of strategy. And it plays well (better than Dominion) with up to 6 people. If RFTG looks too sci-fi or too complicated, check out San Juan.

You should also check out Infiltration. It's by the same designer as Dominion, and similarly has a basic ruleset with components you randomly swap out between games. It has a little bit of Uncle Wiggily in it, but also some strategic elements. And 3 out of the 4 times I've played it the player who won did so with a last-minute hat trick strategy, which is quite exciting.

Cooperative games can be fun, but I think of them as risky business. Check this out. My wife and I have had good luck with Elder Sign, which gives individual players a good degree of autonomy.

The Ticket to Ride series (e.g.)is another good idea to check out.


If she likes Monopoly, she might like Power Grid, which is Monopoly without most of its terrible attributes (PG is weighted such that the folks in the lead have the fewest advantages as a means to keep everyone in the game, for example), and might be a good way to ease her into Eurogames.

More in the card game realm, the folks in our group who like Dominion also generally like Android: Netrunner, so that might be another option to look into.

  • 2
    While generally a good game, I would have to say that Powergrid is about as unlike monopoly as you can get. Then too, its not a great choice for 2 players (Robots is a must for 2P)
    – Chris Dodd
    Jan 10, 2014 at 0:11
  • PG may, on reflection, not be great for two players, but I assert that it may be more like Monopoly than you think. It's still about property (read: city connection) management, control of your money, and outmaneuvering the other player(s). It just strips out the die-rolling, doing laps around the board, and the runaway snowball effect that makes Monopoly no fun once you notice it- that once you get a lead, it's easier and easier to pull further and further ahead of the other players. For me at least, PG is "Monopoly That Doesn't Suck, With Elements Of, Say, Risk Or Other Territorial Games"
    – DopeGhoti
    Jan 10, 2014 at 0:15

I suggest the following:

The two-player card-based version of Settlers of Catan.

Like the original multiplayer Settlers of Catan, there is scope for both mutually beneficial card trading, as well as rather more aggressive competitive play. I expect that you and your wife will be able to strike a mutually acceptable tone for your games.


This game works quite nicely with two players. There is less scope for attacking play, but there is a good deal of strategy.

Best of luck!

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