It's a question that is often raised in the board game forums - be it by a couple, or by someone who simply only has that one friend (aka me :'D)
These are the 7 best games that were specifically designed to be played by 2 players - No More! No Less!
1. Star Realms
Approx. 15 mins playtime
If you know anything about me by now, you'll know that Star Realms is my all time favourite game so it's not shocker that this 2 player game went straight to the top of my list.
How I choose my favourite games I will discuss in a future post, but this game is so simple, quick and really is just maximum enjoyment for me!
It's the type of game where when I teach it to someone, you do almost need the first game to count as a practice whilst your new opponent learns the cards and how they work together.
It is a deck builder pure and simple. You have 4 factions available to you throughout the game and it is advantageous to collect cards of the same faction as they compliment each other when played together.
Each player starts with 50 Authority points which is essentially like Health and the player to destroy the other first wins!
Don't ever feel too confident in this game though. The game that I will never forget and that really sealed my love for this game was one where I was on 64 Authority and my opponent was on 3. I had the game won. It was mine. I was going to 100% destroy him in my next turn and then he comes out and does 64+ damage!! It's never over until it's truly over.
(Challenge me on the app! - Aloli)
Approx. 30 mins gameplay
A game I used to recommend a lot in my game guru days!
The game plays over 3 rounds and is SUPER simple.
You are traders trying to make money in the markets of Jaipur. There are a number of different goods available which are worth different amounts depending on their rarity.
On your turn, you can either trade cards from your hand into the market, sell one type of good or take all the camels from the market (which count separate to your hand limit which is fairly limited with 7!)
It's a tricky balance as the quicker you are to sell your goods, the higher they are valued but at the same time you get some great bonuses if you sell a high number of them so you're constantly wondering, should I hold out to collect more or sell up and make sure I'm selling at a high price?!
The camels are an interesting aspect too as they are not goods you can sell but DO come in handy for trading and also come with a bonus attached at the end each round for the person with the most number of them so they can be game changers!
Probably the best app version of a board game I've come across so far also!
Approx. 30 mins gameplay
A very beautiful and potentially very satisfying game!
Who knew that a game about quilting could be so frickin' good?! But yet again, Uwe Rosenberg knocks it out of the park by making another incredible game using a seemingly super boring theme.
In this game each player is given a blank 9x9 board and you need to try and fill it as much as possible using patches of varying shapes before the end of the game (no one wants holes in their quilts! especially when they count as minus points!)
The way you acquire patches is where an element of strategy comes in - they are laid in a circle around the board and a pawn is placed in between two of them. You now get to choose between any of the three upcoming pieces (the pawn moves clockwise).
Different pieces will cost you different amounts of buttons (THE CUTEST PART OF THE GAME IS THAT THE CURRENCY IS BUTTONS!) and will also cost you time, of which you don't have a huge amount. Some tiles also give you buttons in future so it's weighing up paying a lot of time and buttons to get something good back in return down the line & still wondering if that shape even works on your quilt!
Your time is counted using little tokens on a time tracking board. The person who's token is behind is who's turn it is, meaning that you might be able to take several turns depending on how far ahead your opponent is and how much time your patch costs!
The potential in pure satisfaction in this game comes in being able to fill up your whole board. When THAT happens - if ever - it truly is a feeling of pure blissI
(Another one that has a fairly decent app version!)
4. Kamisado Max
Approx. 20 mins gameplay
This is another super simple but incredibly inventive game by UK game designer Peter Burley who generally makes very clever games!
It almost has a Chess like feel about it but perhaps a bit more simplified and the really interesting part of this game is that you are very much influencing what your opponent does next, making every move carry a massive consequence with it.
Each player starts with their own towers lined up on their side of the multicoloured board. Each tower is assigned a colour so even though my pieces are all white for example, I have a brown one and a red one and an orange one etc.
The aim of the game is to get one of your towers to the other side of the board, past your opponent's!
The way the pieces move is quite simplistic, you may only move straight or diagonally forward - never backwards!
The colour space you move your piece to, is the colour piece your opponent moves next.
Eventually, towers get blocked by other towers and it all becomes trickier!
There's also more advanced rules you can bring into this version regarding the silver and gold pieces which makes this game super versatile & always fun!
I play this with my boyfriend who doesn't really do board games and even he enjoys it!
5. Xe Queo!
Approx. 20 mins gameplay
This one is probably the obscure choice in my list as I've never met anyone who knows it, but it definitely exists! :D
The aim of this abstract strategy game is to get one of the seven coloured pieces on the 7x7 grid inside a golden ring which will have been placed on the board at the beginning of each round.
Each player is in possession of 7 coloured discs that match the colours of the pieces. At the beginning of each round, you secretly choose which colour piece you believe will end up in the ring.
You then take it in turns to move ONE coloured piece, ONE space.
The tricky bit is, that your opponent can call you out at any time if they suspect they know which piece you've bet on so you don't necessarily just want to move your chosen coloured piece each time.
On top of that, if you have BOTH chosen the same colour and you then go ahead and place the colour in the ring, your opponent wins so it's all a big bluff and double bluff and triple bluff and brain melt type of situation.
Although it stresses me out, I do love a game where I really need to get inside someone's head! Highly recommend this one if you can get yours hands on a copy! (The German name for this game is "Der Isses!" btw which seems to be a bit more readily available)
6. 7 Wonders Duel
Approx. 30 mins gameplay
I actually learned and had been playing 7 Wonders Duel for a long time before I ever played the OG big version and I have to say they are equally good!
They share a theme obviously and they are both card drafting mechanics but they still feel quite different from each other which is something I really appreciated when looking at 2 player only version of big games. It's the type of game where once you know one version, it's easier to learn the other but there are still enough differences to keep it interesting and make you want both versions!
Playing over 3 Ages (rounds), each person is trying to build their 4 wonders, but only 7 can be built in total so if one of you builds their 4th wonder, the other person can only ever build a maximum of 3 of theirs!
Building your Wonders is not the be all and end all of the game, however. There are a few ways to snag that victory -
Science victory, if you collect six of the seven science symbols that is game over.
Military victory - each time you build a military building you advance forward on the military tracker. If you get all the way across the board to your opponent, that is an instant victory.
Civilian victory - If neither of the other two occur, the person with the most points at the end of the game wins!
My fondest memory of this game was early days when I had learnt this and I managed to snag a SWEET military victory against my fellow game guru Ben even though a part of me still suspects that he let me win...
Approx. 10 mins gameplay
As I'm writing this, I'm aware that I am about to head to the UK Klask Championship Finals being held in London today, the winner of which will get sent to Helsinki to compete in the World Championships! What a time to be alive!
Klask, for anyone who doesn't know, is a dexterity game which is often described to be like table foosball with magnets.
Each player is simply trying to score by getting the little yellow ball into the other persons goal (which is a hole on their side of the board).
There's a few tricky things to watch out for though! Firstly, you need to control your playing piece from UNDERNEATH the table as it's connected by a magnet to the piece on top.
There are also 3 little white magnets in the middle of the table which act as obstacles.
Essentially, if one gets attached to you it's all good but if a second one attaches to your playing piece, you're giving a point to your opponent!
The third way to score some points (or give away points in this case), is to fall inside your own goal. This sounds really silly but actually happens quite a bit especially when you're starting out and sometimes even when you've been playing a while and get caught up in the heat of the moment!
The final way to gain a point is if your opponent loses control of their playing piece and again, this can happen when playing too vigorously.
It's a fun, fast game of skill & concentration and I would highly recommend watching the World Championships on the 31st August as those guys have some skilllls!!
There are of course more 2 player only games which are fairly decent but these 7 would be top of my list when recommending or choosing what to play myself!
Now run free little ones & stay tuned for my next blog post!