Could it be Raptor? From BoardGameGeek:
Mamma Raptor has escaped from her run and laid her eggs in the park. A
team of scientists must neutralize her and capture the baby raptors
before they run wild into the forest.
Raptor is a card driven boardgame with tactical play and some double
guessing. Players use their cards to move their pawns (scientists on
Since players choose their next card it is a variant of Colonel Blotto game (unlike in War where players just pick the top card in their deck).
In Colonel Blotto, players are tasked to simultaneously distribute limited resources over several battlefields. The player devoting the most resources to a battlefield wins that battlefield. The player that won ...
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.
There is no official 2-player variant; the game just wasn't designed for it.
But as always, the internet provides. Various fans have proposed two-player rule sets.
The Roland Wood variant is probably the most commonly used, building on earlier suggestions by other players.
(There was another popular version in the "Shattered Expansion", but I can no ...
That doesn't sound too bad, except that the drawn cards could be really off.
Alternatively, you could try to play a cooperative variant.
These two are interesting:
The game is cooperative. Each player is the storyteller five times for
a total of 10 turns and you go for a high score. The highest possible
Neither player has a hand. Each ...
Werewolf is not playable by two, as you say.
But if you want modern boardgames for two with a small footprint and a guessing mechanism there are many.
Mr. Jack Pocket
Saboteur: The Duel.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (larger footprint)
It is a three to five player game according to the rules because the negotiation dynamics are integral to the rules. With two players there can be really no good negotiation and the game loses an essential element. Tweaking the game would definitely be needed, especially in regards to some items found in secret passages.
So in the end, since you would play ...
As far as breaking the game goes you'd have to experiment. Since those cards don't always come up it's hard to say with out play testing how early stone would affect a 2-player game with and without those cards.
My suggestion would be to as you say accept the limitation and use the draw 10 pick 7 method for Minor Improvements and Occupations. That way if ...
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.
What you describe sounds very similar to 'War' or 'Battle'. There seems to be many different versions of this game such as this here and other examples on wikipedia.
The basic rule in these games is player simultaneously reveal a card and the highest ranked card get a point/ cards added to their deck which is what you described.
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.