A very large proportion of my game-playing is with Mrs Meeple. The thing about getting older is that you’re more likely to see your friends at the funeral of a mutual than you are at a game night. Life just gets in the way. Kids, jobs, the sheer exhausting tiredness that comes from staving off death for yet another day. It all makes a good bout of communal gaming hard to fit in. Getting more than four people together in a room is a labour that would make it onto Hercules todo list in the modern reboot. Three is a challenge. Two, on the other hand… well, that’s something many people can manage on a more regular basis.
There are lots of great games out there, as we all know. Many of them claim to support two players, and sometimes it’s even true. However, finding games that work well at two players is a different thing entirely. Just because you can technically play a game with two it doesn’t mean you’ll actually have fun with it. Games can change dramatically at different player counts, and sometimes surprisingly abruptly. The two-player count is one that is hard to get right – it has to work in the absence of the buzz of social activity you get for free with larger groups. Good two player games are worth their weight in gold for some people.
The thing is though, it’s a hard requirement to filter around. If you do a BoardGameGeek search for two player games you’ll find things like Blood Rage (widely considered to be a snooze-fest at two), Root (likewise), 7 Wonders (with a two player mode that involves the use of an incredibly annoying automaton), and Coup (which honestly shouldn’t even advertise itself as working at two players). You can search for games that work only for a two-player count but then you miss out on fantastic experiences like Pandemic Legacy, Spirit Island and more.
That’s one of the reasons why I like doing these kind of lists – they rely on features of the game that don’t get picked up by algorithms. They need some human curation so you can synthesize observations in a whole pile of qualitative categories. While it might just be a list of games, it’s one that’s designed to precisely map onto a use-case about which cold, dispassionate computer software has little insight. When the robot apocalypse comes, it’s for stuff like this that some of us will survive in the form of the batteries that power our own VR dystopias. This site is my pitch as to why I should survive the cruel vicissitude implied by Roku’s Basilisk.
The question ‘What are the best games to play as a couple’ is really common on board game sites, and everyone has their own favourites. In this list, I’m going to give you mine. It’s a blend of two player only games that are especially great for couples or bestest buds, and games with larger player support that just so happen to excel at their two-player count. Every game on this list is one I would happily play without complaint and expect to have a great time. There are some tremendously good two player games I haven’t included, but I’ll mention why for some of them in the honourable mentions section at the end.
David Wiley, over on Cardboard Clash, has published his own excellent list of great games for two players and you should definitely check it out!
With that, let’s get started!
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