One thing many players love about Trekking the National Parks and Trekking the World is that they're just as much fun with two players as a whole crew! After all, sometimes you're in the mood for a game, but not a party. Or maybe it's a rainy afternoon and two siblings need something to keep them busy. Plus, gaming has become a very popular pastime for couples, who love to find new options for date night. So, we asked the Underdog Games Advisors team and our Facebook fans to recommend their favorite 2-player board games. We've rounded up 12 of their top choices, all of which are designed especially to maximize the two-player fun!
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"Othello has to be one of the best 2-player board games," says Underdog Games Advisor Joshua G. "Simple rules, easy set up, but the strategy can go really deep." Players attempt to flip tokens on the board to their own color, turn by turn, until the last chip is played and the one with the most of their color showing wins. (30 minutes, ages 7+)
Many of our Facebook fans recommended this as one of their favorite 2-player board games. It's the classic code-breaking challenge, in which one player sets a pattern and the other attempts to break it. Turn by turn, the player tries various patterns, while the code-setter lets them know if they have any pieces of the right color in the right place. If they manage to deduce the pattern in 10 turns or less, they win. With more than 2,000 possible combinations, this game has endless replayability. (20 minutes, ages 8+)
Here's another game that our Facebook fans highly recommend. This deck-building game is an outer space adventure, with a trading card game style of combat. Acquire new ships and bases to use in combat, striving to reduce your opponent's Authority score to zero and win the game. The original game is for two players, but expansion packs allow you to widen the fun to include up to six people. (20 minutes, ages 12+)
If you love Scrabble (another of our favorite 2-player board games), check out A Little Wordy. In this fast-paced game, two players set mystery words for each other from randomly selected tiles. Each player tries to deduce the other's word through a series of clues, such as the length of the word, or what the last letter is. The first to guess the other player's word wins. This game seems simple at first, but there's a lot of strategy involved, and the player with the biggest vocabulary doesn't necessarily have the advantage! (15 minutes, ages 10+)
Hive is sort of like a combination between chess and Othello. Each player has a set of 11 tiles, representing 5 different insects, and each insect has its own move set. Players attempt to surround their opponent's queen bee, while protecting their own. Simple to learn, but you get a different game each time. (20 minutes, ages 9+)
The original Codenames is a party game, best played with a crowd. This version boasts the same type of cooperative gameplay, specifically for two. Each player must "contact" (choose) 15 agents from an array of cards on the table. You know who your partner can safely contact, and they know who you can contact. By giving each other one-word clues, you work to contact all the agents before your turns run out. (15 minutes, 11+)
This unique twist on a trick-taking card game is perfect for fantasy lovers. The fairy tale characters give you the chance to change the trump suit, lead even after you lose a trick, and more. The lush illustrations make this one a joy to play. (30 minutes, ages 10+)
Mancala has been around for centuries, making it one of the oldest 2 player games. It's extremely simple to play: Players take turns scooping up stones and counting them out into the pockets on their board. When you drop a stone into an empty pocket on your own side, you also get all the stones in your partner's matching pocket on the other side. It sounds easy, but experienced players know that the strategy involved makes this a compelling game for anyone and everyone. (10 minutes, ages 6+)
Here's another duo game that's inspired by a party game classic. In this version, two players go head to head in a struggle for supremacy over the Ancient world. Choose the Wonders you want to focus on, then guide your city through three ages as you try to build your Wonders and block your opponent from making theirs. 7 Wonders Duel has some rule changes from the original game, making it even more intense and cut-throat, perfect for two ambitious players! (30 minutes, ages 10+)
Clue is one of our favorite mystery games, but it's not really as much fun with only two players. That's why Mr. Jack is such a nice option to have on your shelf. One player in this whodunnit game represents Jack the Ripper, who disguises himself as one of eight characters on the board. The other player is the detective who must track Jack down before 8 turns are up, while Jack attempts to escape detection. Gameplay is fairly simple, but logic and intuition play a big part in determining the winner. (30 minutes, ages 10+)
Not all games are about conquering the world or tracking down a killer! Patchwork is a sweet and quiet puzzle game where each player competes to build the most beautiful quilt. Draw cards and plan out your pattern, but be careful: not all patch cards fit together. In addition to creating a pleasing pattern, your goal is to fill as many squares on your board as possible, plus hang onto the "buttons" used as currency. This is the perfect cozy game for a rainy afternoon, paired with tea and scones. (30 minutes, ages 8+)
A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backwards as forwards (like, say, "Tacocat"). In this virtual tug-o-war game, players play palindrome-themed cards (rather like the card game classic War) to move the Tacocat back and forth on a board. At the end of the game, the winner is the one who manages to bring the Tacocat closest to their own side. Simple, silly fun for all ages! (15 minutes, ages 7+)
Looking for more? Other popular 2-player games our Advisors and fans recommend include Battleship, Guess Who, and Jaipur. Many multi-player games work well with two players too, like Disney Villainous, Dominion, Munchkin, Ticket to Ride, Viticulture, Land vs. Sea, Kingdomino, Lost Cities, and Five Tribes.