Board games are an entertaining way to pass the time — and a little more stimulating than staring at a screen. While many board games require groups of people to play, there are a lot of worthy ones that don’t. So, to find the best two-player games for couples or roommates to play together, we asked ten gaming experts about their favorites. Here is a list.
Four of our experts recommended Patchwork, created by accomplished game designer Uwe Rosenberg, as one of the best two-player games for beginners. The game challenges players to strategically collect different pieces to create a quilt. Greg May, owner of The Uncommons and Hex & Company, calls it “the perfect game for couples” that is sure to delight “fans of Blokus or Tetris.” Scott Cooper, owner of Blue Highway Games, says Patchwork is his retailer’s best-selling two-person game because, although the rules are simple to understand and it only takes about 15 minutes to play, the “subtle strategy keeps it interesting.” May agrees: “Games are usually quite close, and there are just enough layers to keep you coming back without dragging things out.”
Codenames: Duet – The Two Player Word Deduction Game
“Codenames Duet takes one of the best party games and tweaks it to make an excellent cooperative game,” says May. Three other experts also highly praised the word-deduction game as easy and fun. The rules are relatively straightforward: “Players make associations between words as they cooperate to identify targets with a limited number of guesses,” explains Cooper. And both May and Lauren Bilanko, a co-owner of Twenty Sided Store, note that there are versions of the game specifically geared toward fans of different franchises, including Harry Potter, Marvel, and Disney.
Santorini, which three folks told us about, is our experts’ second most-recommended two-player board game for beginners. Eric Yurko, an American Tabletop Awards committee member and game reviewer for his own site, What’s Eric Playing?, calls it his all-time favorite because the game “combines great art with very simple play.” Board game designer Rob Sparks is another fan, telling us you can “learn to play in just 30 seconds” and that the game “will have you building various domed towers its namesake island is famous for as you navigate the beautiful board.” Yurko also loves this building element, noting that “as players build up the board it mirrors the famous imagery of Santorini itself.” According to him, at the start of each game every player gets assigned a Greek god that grants them a different rule-breaking power, which makes “for a very quick and fun game” as the gods interact with each other. “It plays really, really well with two players,” promises board game enthusiast and Cartamundi tabletop games ambassador Sean Amdisen-Cooke, who adds that “it’s very accessible, so kids can also play.”
These are some of the best 2-player games to play.