My Favourite 2 Player Board Games
Updated: Sep 23, 2019
- For when you only have one friend
A night in with your significant other? Game night that you can't seem to wrangle enough players together to throw down a big box game? Or simply a go to game when you find yourself with some rare free time? There's so many amazing two player games to fit the bill whatever your needs are. With all of this in mind, I have put together a list of some of my favourite two player games that I can't seem to get enough of.
Playing time: 20 minutes
Designed by: John Yianni
Published by: Gen42 Games
Hive is a fun, quick game that revolves around strategy. A lot like chess but without a game board and instead of Knights and Bishops you control Spiders and Grasshoppers. The one common piece is the Queen, which in both is the most important piece. The game ends if your Queen gets fully surrounded by either your opponents or your own pieces. All of the bugs have special abilities to help you achieve this. Players take it in turns to place pieces and use their bugs ability only after the Queen has been placed, which has to be placed within the first 4 moves.
The beauty of Hive is that because it doesn't have a game board, it can pretty much be played anywhere (especially the pocket edition) such as waiting rooms, lunch time at work or even family days out at the beach. The replayability is endless and adapting your strategy depending on your opponent is key.
There are a few different versions available including standard edition which comes with 11 bug pieces , pocket edition (pictured above) which includes 11 smaller bug pieces plus the Ladybug and Mosquito expansion and the Carbon edition which is a cosmetical difference from the standard (black and white). All of the expansions are available to buy separately for the standard edition plus a new Pillbug expansion which is available for all editions.
Hive: Carbon Edition - Buy it on Amazon here!
Playing time: 15 - 30 minutes
Designed by: Uwe Rosenberg
Published by: Lookout Games
In Patchwork, players are competing to build the best patchwork blanket. The gameplay is very easy to learn which means that it can be picked up and learnt in less than 5 minutes. Though Patchwork is a light 2 player game, it does involve a lot of strategy. During their turns, players will have to balance a mix of spatial organisation and money.
Players start with an empty board (blanket) and a limited amount of money (buttons). During their turns they are tasked with spending their money to gain new patches to put on their boards. It sounds so simple and in some ways it is, but the patches are all oddly shaped which means fitting them together will be quite the task. Patches that might be easy to place on your board may not be worth a lot of points and vice versa so weighing up the pros and cons each turn is usually a must. Players also need to make sure they have enough money to pay for tiles as they only recieve money at certain times in the game so you don't want to fall short and stitch yourself up. The first player to fill a 7x7 grid also gains 7 victory points to add to their score at the end of the game.
All of the patches are placed in a circle around a board where you and your opponent will place a game pawn. To move your pawn will take time and the amount of time is found on the patches. If the time taken to stitch the blanket is 2, then the player will move their token 2 spaces. The end of the game is triggered when the last player reaches the end of the board. The player who is further behind on the board always get to take a turn, so 1 player could have a couple of goes in a row. It is encouraged to take awkward to fit patches with a low time value so you are able to take more goes than your opponent. At the end of the game add up all of your victory points, including a point for each button you have left over, and crown your winner.
Patchwork - Buy it on Amazon here!
3. Lost Cities
Playing time: 30 minutes
Designed by: Reiner Knizia
Published by: KOSMOS
Lost Cities is a card game that has only recently joined my collection, but already I'm addicted. I find I'm wanting to play this game back to back because of it's fast paced nature.
The theme of the game is that each player is an explorer going on expeditions to find ancient ruins. Although, I feel like the theme is less important in this game as I'm focused on the card numbers and colours rather than the actual art (which is lovely by the way) during gameplay.
The game comes with one game board that is placed between you and your opponent and five different sets of cards each in a different colours (yellow, red, blue, white & green) and numbered from 2-10. The same colours are also displayed on the game board and the aim of the game is to create stacks of decks of the same colour going in ascending order. For example, if I was going to place down a yellow 2, I would put it on my side of the divide underneath the yellow section on the board. Then I would want to work on that stack until I had 9 yellow cards. Each expedition that you try to complete will cost you 20 points, so you want to make sure that the cards you have in each stack equal 20 or more so that you are not at minus points. There are also wager cards available, which multiply your score depending on how many of them you have. There are 3 available for each colour and have to be placed down before you play any number cards. These can really help boost your score but if you have minus points then they will also multiply these as well. So be careful, you don't want to find yourself between a rock and a hard place.
Each player is dealt 8 cards to begin with and they can choose to either play a card or discard a card. When a card has been discarded it should be placed on the game board in the matching colour slot, this can then be picked up in a later turn or by your opponent. After every card you use from your hand, you can pick up one, either from the board or from the face down draw deck. Once there are no cards left to pick up, the end of the game is triggered.
Lost Cities - Buy it on Amazon here!
4. Exit: The Game
Players: 1 - 6 (Best with 2)
Playing time: 45 - 150 minutes
Designed by: Inka Brand & Markus Brand
Published by: KOSMOS
Exit: The Game is a wonderful two player game, coming in a variety of different themes and difficulties (ranging from beginner to expert). Testing your problem solving and memory skills with clues and riddles to solve, but most importantly, your cooperation skills. The Exit games allow for up to 6 people to play but I find that they are more enjoyable with 2 as you're not fighting to look at the clues.
Players' ultimate goal is to work out all the clues to unlock the door that they are trapped behind. This means a lot of trial and error and thinking outside of the box, some riddles may require folding, bending or even cutting of the cards to reach an answer. This means that Exit: The Game is technically a legacy game and can only be played once. I know this can be off putting for some people but they are inexpensive to buy so the one time use is justified. Plus you wouldn't do an escape room again because you would know all of the riddles and where's the fun in that!
I've played quite a variety of these games and most of the time they really impress me, they always come up with new and exciting ways to make you think. My all time favourite theme is The Abandoned Cabin (winner of the 2017 - Kennerspiel des Jahres award) and I would highly recommend this one if you haven't done it. Some of them include different elements as well, in the Horror On The Orient Express rather than trying to escape you are trying to figure out who has been murdering passengers on the train. At the end you choose your suspect and depending if you chose right or wrong the ending will play out differently. There is also a companion app, which includes a stopwatch to time your progress and thematic music to play while you try to escape.
Exit: The Abandoned Cabin - Buy it on Amazon here!
Exit: The Catacombs of Horror - Buy it on Amazon here! (two in one adventure)
5. Zombie Dice
Playing time: 10 - 20 minutes
Designed by: Steve Jackson
Published by: Steve Jackson Games
Zombie Dice is a ... dice game, where you're a zombie trying to catch and eat the brains of your victims while also trying not to get shot by wild zombie poachers.
In the pot is 13 custom dice, each face shows brains, a shotgun shot or footprints in either green, yellow or red (each colour changes the probability of rolling brains, green being the highest). At the start of your turn you take three dice from the pot and roll them, if you roll a brain that's one point for the end of the round and one brain closer to winning. If you roll footprints this allows you to reroll that dice but if you roll a shotgun shot you lose a life! Rolling three shotgun shots during your turn means it's over for you and you're out of the game. The first player to 13 brains wins!
Should you push your luck and keep rolling, hoping for brains? Or should you take your brains and pass the pot to the next player? Maybe you will encourage your opponent to keep on rolling and gleefully wait for them to roll three shotgun shots? Zombie Dice is great fun and has a competitive element to it, you don't want to give your opponent the chance to eat more brains but if you're already on two shots for your turn it's not looking good. It's fast paced and a load of fun. Zombie Dice also works well with more players but if you can't gather that many people together, it's still just as great with two.
Zombie Dice - Buy it on Amazon here!