10 Great Games for Two Players

#1 – 7 Wonders Duel

7-Wonders-Duel-contents

Taking a page out of the very popular, and much larger 7 Wonders, this 2-player counterpart could have very easily just been “7 Wonders, but for 2 people.” In fact, the base version of the original game has a 2 player variant. Don’t play it. Play 7 Wonders Duel instead. This combines many elements from the original (including multiple paths to victory and the theme of constructing the Wonders of the world) with a unique pyramid drafting mechanic whereby players take cards from the location, slowly revealing better and more valuable ones above.

Players: 2
Time: 30 minutes

#2 – Carcassonne

Carcassone

Taking its name from the real city in France, Carcassone is a 2 to 5 player game where players will take turns, one at a time, pulling a tile from a shared stack and collectively building out the city. It has elements of a puzzle, where you’re trying to fit the pieces together in a way that continues the structures shown, but you’re still playing to win, and you do this by using your meeples to claim certain roads, cities, or other landmarks. Any time one of your claimed establishments is completed, you’ll score points based on what it is, and how many tiles were used to make it.

Players: 2-5
Time: 30-45 minutes

# 3 – Hive

hive02

Hive is a 2-player Chess-style game where each person controls either the white or black faction of insects, both containing the same type and amount of units. Each unit – a different insect, from Ants, to Spiders, to Grasshoppers – behaves differently, and like Chess, the object is to essentially force the other player’s Queen Bee into a position where they are trapped. There is no board, and no other pieces besides the units. making Hive a very portable and very strategic little game.

Players: 2
Time: 20-30 minutes

#4 – Lost Cities

Lostcities_001

Not to be confused with the Lost Cities Board Game by the same designer, the Lost Cities card game is designed for 2 players and features a shared discard location placed between the players. On their turn, players will either draw a single card from the deck, or take a card from that center discard – designated by the fold-out board and the five colored locations on it – and then play a card from their hand. The idea is to play cards sequentially to score points, which are then added up and totaled at the end of the round. But once you play a card of a specific value toward any color, you cannot play a card of a lesser value for that same set. There are special multiplier cards, and the game uses a unique deficit-scoring system, wherein each player is basically playing from a negative score and must accumulate points to break into the positive, and the final scoring can get a little mathy, but it’s otherwise an exceptionally strategic and deceptively complex little card game.

Players: 2
Time: 30-45 minutes

#5 – Neuroshima Hex!

NeuroHex3IN

The 3.0 edition of Neuroshima Hex! refines and perfects the formula of the previous versions into a tight, clever little tile-laying game for 2 to 4 players (although it’s damn near perfect with only 2). Players control two military factions with varying degrees of powers and units, and one at a time will lay their units on the field. Each unit is – as you might have guessed – a hex-shaped tile, and will have different numbers or symbols on some sides designating what actions it can perform, and in which direction. Players do this until there are no spaces left, or until someone plays a combat tile, which will immediately resolve all potential combat scenarios on the board, thereby wiping it of most of the units and allowing each player to continue placing more. The first player to destroy their opponent’s base wins. BONUS: Check out Neuroshima Convoy, a specifically designed 2-player game set in the Neuroshima universe that plays differently from Hex.

Players: 2-4
Time: 30-45 minutes

#6 – Splendor

Splendor-setup

The 2014 Spiel des Jahres nominated (German award for Game of the Year) game Splendor is a trading game for 2 to 4 players. Each player will assume the role of merchants of the Renaissance attempting to buy gems and other valuables from the various markets. On your turn you can collect gems of a specific color, buy a card with your accumulated gems, or reserve a card for future purchase. The cards you buy will then, in turn, act as additional gems for future rounds, allowing you to expand your collection without having to waste turns taking more gems. The first player to 15 prestige points, as represented by the cards, is the winner.

Players: 2-4
Time: 30 minutes

#7 – Risk: Star Wars

Star Wars Risk

Not to be confused with another version of Risk: Star Wars (which actually plays identically to the original Risk, with a Star Wars theme), this version is in the vain of the classic Star Wars game The Queen’s Gambit. Each player will assume the role of either the Rebels or the Empire, and will fight on three fronts: controlling Luke and Darth Vader in their fierce lightsaber duel; the units on the ground of Endor, and the space battle between the Rebel forces and the Empire fleet as the Rebels attempt to blow up the second Death Star. The game works as a 4-player cooperative variant, but is realistically best (and more fun) with 2 players. Also, there are two versions of this game. The regular edition and the Black Series. For all mechanical purposes they are the same, but if you can afford to spend a few extra bucks, get the Black Series (pictured above): higher quality pieces, more durable board, better component insert, and a very stylish box.

Players: 2-4
Time: 30-45 minutes

#8 – Jaipur

jaipur01-1024x769

Jaipur is small enough to fit in a bag and carry around, making it an excellent game to have handy in most situations. It’s a 2-player trading style card game where players complete sets of rare goods and materials to acquire points. Also, there are camels. Between both players is what’s considered the marketplace, a mutually shared area where you can trade with or purchase whatever is on sale. There are point chips with set values on them for each good, as well as bonus chips for selling sets of goods of three, four, or five. The person with the most camels also receives bonus points for that. At the end of a round, the player with the most points wins, and whoever wins two rounds first is the victor.

Players: 2
Time: 30-45 minutes

#9 – Mr. Jack

mr jack

In this 2-player game, one player assumes the role of Jack the Ripper and selects one of the character cards from the supplied deck, all of which have specific abilities and movement actions, and keeps the identity of this character a secret. On each of your turns, you are both allowed to control and move any character you wish, and sometimes it’s in your best interest to move characters that aren’t Jack so that the other player does not get suspicious. The object of the game is to escape the city before the other player can detect you, but the trick is that sometimes he or she may be moving your character in the wrong direction without even knowing it.

Players: 2
Time: 30-45 minutes

#10 – Specter Ops

specterops

One player takes on the role of the Agent while the others control the Hunters as they sneak their way through a top secret Raxxon corporation facility. As the Agent, complete your three objectives and escape the building before being killed. As a Hunter, use everything at your disposal to stop the Agent from leaving alive. The Agent’s movement is kept hidden from the hunters until spotted, tracking their position on a scaled-down version of the map provided. It’s an interesting game of hide-and-seek with a ton of replayability and additional rules for a fifth player. While four players will control the Hunters, one of them will secretly be working with the Agent to help them escape. However, this game is best with 2 players, with the Hunter-player controlling 2 characters and the Agent having a broader range of movement without fear of being spotted.

Players: 2-5
Time: 2-3 hours