I introduced a colleague to Pandemic. He liked it and asked if I could recommend a similar game that:

  • Plays well with two people, and
  • Will be a bit more approachable for his partner, who's new to games (and might find Pandemic a bit fidgety or overwhelming to learn).

The first thing that came to mind is Forbidden Island (which I own and like) or Forbidden Desert (which I've been been hearing great things about).

Before I recommend it though, I've never played either with just two players. Does does (one or both) hold up well with two players?

3 Answers 3


I would probably, between the two, suggest Forbidden Desert, as one thing it brings that Island lacks is specific balancing based on the number of players in the game. Desert's analog to the "Flood Meter" from Island has different tracks based on the number of players. Also, unlike Island, Desert supports up to five players as designed.


Forbidden Desert does play well with two players, and is a bit less intimidating than Pandemic. Just be warned that it is hard, even starting at the lowest difficulty level. In comparison Forbidden Island is pretty much a cake walk as long as you know what you're doing.


Forbidden Island can be a bit tough with 2 players, mainly because of the hand limit restrictions. I've had mostly close calls at normal difficulty level.

So if you're playing with 2 players, I advise to just play 2 characters each.

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