Our (Current) Favorite Board Games for Two Players!
- Posted on
- By G. Carlson
Be it with a spouse, roommate, or good friend, we've got a short list of awesome games you'll want to try out!
Some of the best tabletop gaming experiences are on a Friday night where we gather friends around an oversized table and put a lot of small pieces on top of bigger pieces until somebody wins. But sometimes, we would much rather pull a smaller game off the shelf and enjoy it with just one other person. Whether it's with a partner or spouse, roommate, or a board game bud on a night neither of you have to work, two-player games are an opportunity to enjoy the fun and strategy of games without the crowd.
Here are some of our current favorite two-player games, both new and old.
Beer & Bread
Let's start with a new one! Beer & Bread is a fantastic strategy game that leans into the fantastic tug-of-war tension that only two-player games can offer. Players will alternate play cards that either get them ingredients or expand what recipes they know. You'll use those resources to make - get this - beer and/or bread.
What makes B&B great is the connection between players. You will draft cards to play from a hand, and then pass that hand to your opponent, so you will need to decide not only what you want to play but what you want to deny the other player. If one player makes more ingredients than they can store, they have to give them to their opponent. Players will total up their points from either all their bread or all their beer, whichever is lesser; so you can't neglect one in favor of the other. All of these factors add up to a tightly-woven board game experience that is sure to appeal to fans of other resource-management games like 7 Wonders, Catan, or Wingspan.
Fox in the Forest
Definitely an all-time favorite of Fair Gamers, Fox in the Forest takes classic trick-taking card games like Hearts, Spades, or Euchre and terns them into delightful two-player gems.
If you're not familiar, "trick-taking" describes a game played with regular playing cards where each person will lay down a card from their hand into the center of the table. The first person "leads" with a card, and each person after lays a card from the same suit if possible. The person who laid the highest-value card of the led suit wins all the cards laid, called a "trick". There's also a "trump" suit that will always beat out cards of any other suit. The strategy of these games revolves around when to use the various cards in your hand to win the most tricks.
Traditional trick-taking games are usually designed for 4 people (or at least 3), so Fox in the Forest offers a unique opportunity for fans of the genre. Not only can it be played with only two, but each of the odd-numbered cards have an added game effect. For example: normally, the person who won the last trick gets to start the next one (which gives them control over which suit the trick will be). However, playing the 1 lets you lead the next, even if you lose the trick.
In addition to the original, Fox in the Forest Duet turns the head-to-head nature into a cooperative teamwork experience. Players will work together to win specific tricks and achieve goals, but one player cannot win too many trick in a row or else earn negative points. It's a fun team puzzle to solve and removes the competitive intensity.
Because of its roots in classic card games, Fox in the Forest makes a great choice for a game to play with folks who have card games but haven't made the leap to modern tabletop offerings. Or just a good time for fans of Cat in the Box or The Crew.
A Little Wordy
Word games are always a popular choice in our stores because you don't need to be a big board gamer to play - you just need to know how to spell! In A Little Wordy, players will try to guess their opponent's word from a selection of letter tiles. You'll have to give the other player points in exchange for clues, like if a specific letter is in the word or what their word rhymes with. This simple exchange makes the game great; it would be REALLY helpful to know which letter starts their word, but do you really want to give them 4 points for such a telling clue? Maybe you can just get by with a lesser clue that only gives them a point or two...
Going on 10 years old, Hanamikoji strikes at the heart of what makes two-player games great: the direct connection between you and your opponent. Each of your moves makes it harder for your opponent to win some of the cards, while making it easier for them to win others. It is a core tension that rewards your ability to predict the other player's moves.
In Hanamikoji, there are 7 geisha in the middle of the table. You are trying to win the favor of the majority of them by offering gifts (in the form of cards). Each player plays cards from a set of 4 specific actions, and each action is available only once, so you have a pretty good idea of what your opponent might be able to do on the coming turns. With only four actions in a round, you won't be able to play cards on all 7 geisha, so you'll have to make the most with what you have and play around what your opponent does.
Hanamikoji feels a lot like a fencing match, parrying and striking at just the right points to tilt the scales in your favor. We love how quick the game is - just 5-10 minutes - and how you can play it a few times after dinner before moving onto the rest of your evening.
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