If you’ve been following us for awhile, then you know how big of a deal that it is for games to have a well-implemented 2 player mode for us to purchase them. Sarah and I do most of our gaming just the two of us, so we often have strong opinions about whether or not the 2 player mode of a game is worth the effort (I’m looking at you, 7 Wonders).
I can’t tell you how many requests that we’ve had to put together a list of our favorite games that play best at 2. Now that we’ve been doing the blog for 9 months, I guess it’s finally time to do it. Even though we do most of our gaming together – we do have different preferences! Check out our top 5 lists of two player games!
7 Wonders Duel: If you remember when I put together my list of favorite games early on in the blog’s history, you likely aren’t surprised that this is one of my favorite two player games. They took the concept of drafting from 7 Wonders and put together a lovely system that actually works for 2 player drafting. I love that there are multiple paths to victory and that it’s challenging as well.
Kingdomino: Is anyone surprised that I put this on my list? We love Kingdomino, and I feel like it really shines at 2 players, when you get to make a 7×7 board. I still really enjoy it at the other player counts, but the 7×7 board adds complexity and spatial reasoning and all that fun stuff as well. Will Queendomino replace this? Not sure yet, it literally came in the mail 2 days ago, so it likely won’t hit the table until next week.
Capo Dei Capi: We got this game for a steal from the Origins online flea market on BGG, and I absolutely love bringing it out. This prohibition, mobster-themed game from Dr. Finn’s Games is only for 2 players, and it combines press your luck and area influence so that you can determine whether or not your gang is running the city or not. Great little game, really unique in its mechanisms.
Dominion: Yes, I’m aware I just talked about Dominion, and I actually believe that the game is best at 2. Why? Because some of the fun of the game is seeing how big your combos can get, and that can get really tedious when you get up to three and four players. It lets you play your turns quicker, it decreases the downtime, and it helps you see how far you can push your victory point pushing potential.
Codenames Duet: Duet is just a great game where the mechanisms of Codenames go from being a fun little party game to a word game that challenges your mind and pressures you to work together with one another to find all of your agents within a limited about of time. This was my best demo at Origins, and it’s just gotten better with more plays. Need to get this to the table more. But, if you like old style game shows like Password, then you really want to make sure that you check out Codenames Duet.
Bohnanza: The Duel
Star Realms / Hero Realms: These two games from White Wizard games are among my all-time favorites. I greatly enjoy the system & I love the artwork on all the cards. The Star Realms app is where we play this most often, but we always like throwing down with the physical games, too.
Carcassonne: The Castle: This is a stand-alone reimplementation of the beloved original, Carcassonne. This version was designed by Reiner Knizia and published in 2003 by Rio Grande Games. You are building the city Carcassonne within the city walls. Before you place any tiles, you lay out the city walls, which is also your score track. The best twists that this version provides are the bonus scoring tiles you can acquire on the score track and the “keep,” where the person with the largest completed house gets points for the largest continuous empty area.
Onitama: This game is an abstract strategy game very reminiscent of chess. You have a 5 x 5 grid, with 4 pawns and 1 sensei per player. You win the game by either capturing all of your opponents’ pieces or by getting your sensei to your opponent’s sensei pedestal. For the duration of the game, you have a total of 5 movement cards to use: the two you are dealt, the two your opponent is dealt, and the one card in between each player. The cards rotate around between you and the other player as they are used during the game. This game is a battle of wits from start to finish.
The Fox in the Forest: A very well done trick-taking game that was built for only two players. It has both excellent artwork and gameplay. The best thing about this game is balance – you don’t want to be super dominant and take all the tricks, because if you take 10 – 13 tricks you receive 0 points. You can read and see more about this lovely game in my review.
Raptor: This wonderful 2 player game was designed by Bruno Cathala & Bruno Faidutti, artwork by Vincent Dutrait, and published in 2015 by Matagot. One player is the Mama Raptor, who is protecting her babies, and the other player is the Scientists that are trying to capture the baby raptors for experimental purposes. The mechanisms of Action Point Allowance, Hand Management, and Variable Player Powers work very well together in this unique game.
Bohnanza: The Duel
Blood of an Englishman
Tides of Time/ Tides of Madness
What are your favorite games to play at 2 players? Let us know in the comments or tag us on Twitter – we’d love to see your suggestions!
Marti and Sarah