Looking for something fun to play with your spouse or that one person in your family who likes tabletop games? Ten years ago, it’d be difficult to find a game that’s designed for two players. But now there’s a whole market for two-player games out there! Here’s my list of favorite games that either work well with two players (but can support more) or are designed specifically for two people to play.
You control two of five different persons of influence—each with their own unique abilities. Your mission? To kill both of your opponent’s persons of influence before they can kill yours.
A great buffing game becomes an intense interrogation in a two-player setting. Coup is a lot more difficult when you have to look the same person in the eyes and claim that you have the Duke, the Captain, and the Contessa all in one match. It’s more fun to play a few games in rapid 10-15 minute successions.
My internal torment includes:
- Do you really have the Duke this time around?
- Should I call your bluff, you lied last game?
- What the fuck am I supposed to do?!
Coup is a game that provides a thrilling setting of hidden identity politics whether you have 2 players or 8 players. Most importantly, it doesn’t seem like you’re getting a reduced version of the game when you play in a 2 player setting. We have the Reformation expansion and swap out the Ambassador for the Inquisitor for extra flavor.
Despite what she keeps telling me, my partner is a master at bluffing. I’m on to you! (I think.)
9. Boss Monster
As a famous dungeon-crawling hero, have you ever wondered what it was like to be that grotesque villain with impeccable interior design instincts? Wonder no more with Boss Monster: the game where you play the boss at the end of the dungeon that you’ve built! Create dungeon rooms and use spell cards to lure entirely suspecting adventurers to your crib and kill them before they can reach you directly. In Boss Monster, souls are currency, and it takes ten to win and be the best bad guy-girl-thing in town!
This game is built for two- to four-players. I think this game is more fun with two, as you can reduce extra layer of having to pick your indirect spell battles against your opponents and just focus on trapping more souls than one other person.
Grow and sell beans in this fun game about…well, bean counting. The more coins you get at the end of the game, the better off you are as a farmer. Bohnanza takes the tried-and-true mechanics of the classic commodities game Pit and adds the nuance of balancing what’s in your hand versus what you plant in your field versus what you sell to the market to support your rich farmer lifestyle.
7. Machi Koro
Be the first to activate the attractions that will put your city on the map. Machi Koro is all about playing the odds. Compete with your opponent to purchase buildings from a market area which will give you coins or other benefits depending on how you (or sometimes how your opponent rolls).
I typically dislike games that rely on a luck factor, but I think that as long as you can spread everything out enough to the point that you’re collecting money for most of your rolls, you’ll be swimming in metropolitan tourist money for days.
The reason that I like this game in a two-player setting is due to the amount of things you need to keep track of in the mid- to late-game stages. I think it’s just right with two players.
6. Welcome to the Dungeon
This game is quick and hilarious. Welcome to the Dungeon is a “push your luck” style game where you fill a dungeon with monsters, destroy buffs from a dungeon crawler, and then ultimately decide whether you’re going to make your opponent run the dungeon with that crawler. If the dungeon crawler dies, the person who had to run it takes a wound. If they survive, a victory point is awarded. Two victory points and you win. Two wounds and you’re out.
I think that Welcome to the Dungeon is fun with two, three, or four players. The game was designed so well that you don’t have to entirely change your strategy (if you even have one) to accommodate for the extra players.
5. Century: Spice Road (or Golem Edition)
I blogged about this one awhile back. I love this game. It’s a delicate balance of holding gems, upgrading gems, and trying to claim those golems!
This is another game I blogged about. I appreciate modern life being breathed into a classic card game like Hearts or Spades. The artwork is lovely—something that I’d frame and hang on my wall if I didn’t need the cards to play the game!
3. 7 Wonders Duel
Are you starting to see a pattern here? This is one of two games on my list that was actually designed as a two-player only game. I love 7 Wonders Duel. It gives me all of the open strategy and theme of Civilization, but it doesn’t take three years to finish.
Ah memories…this was my first review! (I should experiment with more frozen lasse, that stuff was delicious.) Jaipur is the other game on this list that is designed just for two. My partner and I are so familiar with this game that when we play it, we fall dead silent so that we can focus on getting into the good graces of that Maharaja. (That merchant looks so excited and worried at the same time.)
This isn’t just number one on my two-player list, this is my number one of all time. Period. Out of all of the games on this list, Carcassonne always finds it way onto my table—and into my heart. I have fond memories of playing this game with the people that I love. It has everything you need from a tabletop game: strategy, rivalries, city planning.
Not to mention the expansions, of which there are like eleven. Each one weirder and more fun than the last. Playing with five or more expansions makes my brain explode with madness! (In a good way.)