Boardgaming is an amazingly fun hobby.
However, as anyone who’s tried to organize a game night knows, syncing schedules and getting everyone together for a gaming session can be difficult.
Often times it comes down to Kendra and myself being the only people free.
Do we just not play games? Inconceivable!
A ton of designers have made some great 2-player board games and I’m not just talking about specifically 2-player games. I’m also talking about some big box board games that play just as well (if not better) with 2 players.
Some of the games you’ll see on this list are 2-player specific and others range from 1 to 6 players, but every game on this list will work really well with just you and your gaming partner.
So, grab your buddy and get ready. Today we’re looking at the best 2-player board games that we can’t get enough of.
🏆 Our Top Picks
In a hurry? Check out our favorites below.
Quick & Light
#1. Lost Cities: The Card Game
Channel your inner Indiana Jones and go on an archeological expedition.
Lost Cities is a quick and lightweight game that’s perfect for getting your gaming fix in about 15 minutes. It’s a simple card game that’s easy to teach and a breeze for non-gamers to jump into right away.
Players will go on expeditions by playing a color-coordinated card in ascending order or discarding it. The more cards in a stack, the more points it’s going to be worth.
It’s exciting, easy, and really fun for a shorter game. Although it’s brief in length, it can easily provide an hour of entertainment with rapid-succession games.
- Two explorers embark on research journeys to remote corners of...
- Explore Himalayan mountains, The central American rainforest, the...
- The expedition routes take shape and the explorers earn points
Morels is an adorable mushroom gathering game. Players wander into the forest to collect mushrooms and they can either cook them or trade them to villagers for info on where to find more mushrooms!
Morels is a very pretty card drafting game that offers players a nice challenge without any “Take That!” mechanics, making it a great game for 2 players looking for a friendly game together.
#3. 7 Wonders: Duel
7 Wonders: Duel is another 2-player only game that surprisingly feels pretty big for its small package and size.
7 Wonders: Duel takes some of the same concepts from the standard version of the game and recreates it by having 2 players lead opposing rival cities. It’s completely card-based and sees both players competing for technology, influence, and military might.
There’s actually a lot of strategy and depth hidden within the cards here. Players will need to juggle all aspects of running their city to avoid being left behind in the technological arms race.
If you’re looking for a lightweight semi-civ builder with some historical flair, 7 Wonders: Duel provides.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out our full review here.
- Similar style of play as the award-winning original, 7 Wonders
- Designed specifically for two-player, head-to-head battles
- Build a civilization that will crush your competition and...
#4. The Rivals for Catan
I love Catan, but you need at least 3 players to make the original work properly. There are a ton of house rules and even an official 2 player variant in one of the expansions, but I think it just loses its charm when you have to chop up the rules for 2 players.
Rivals for Catan is a different beast. It takes a lot of the familiar Catan mechanics but rebuilds them specifically for 2 players. It works incredibly well and most importantly, feels like a full Catan game.
If you only have 2 players and need your Catan fix, Rivals for Catan does a great job of scratching the itch.
- Updated version of the classic Settlers of Catan card game
- For 2 players
- Tons of replay value
#5. Battle Line
Form the battle line and get ready to charge the enemy!
Battle Line is a short card game in which players form up on either end of a battle line by placing 3 cards. The player with the highest value card combination wins that encounter.
Players need to take 5 out of 9 encounters or 3 adjacent encounters on the battle line.
It’s a nice quick game that reminds me of the old school war card game but adds a bit more thematic flair to the mix.
- For 2 players
- Takes 20-30 minutes to play
- 60 Troop cards, 10 Tactics cards, 9 red Plastic pawns, Rulebook
A 2-player game designed by Uwe Rosenberg?!
Color me intrigued.
Patchwork is a family-friendly game where players are working to make the best patchwork quilt imaginable.
Okay, that doesn’t sound that exciting but just like with actual quilt making, there’s a lot that goes into this. Players have to select proper materials and invest their time in order to make the most valuable (victory points) quilt.
If you’re looking for something completely different and don’t feel like another dueling game, Patchwork hits the spot.
I would put Santorini down as a modern-day classic.
Santorini is a simple abstract game in which players control a builder and try to get their builder to level 3 by… building.
It’s super simple and you basically already know how to play from that one sentence alone, but it’s a lot of fun and requires quite a bit of abstract thinking to accomplish.
The newer version has added special player abilities through God cards which drastically change up the game.
- Santorini is a strategy-based board game that’s exhilarating...
- Play against an opponent or team up and play two against two.
- Race to build your way to the top of a stack of blocks! Use...
Hive is a very cool insect version of Chess. Okay, that may sound a little off, but if you’re looking for a 2-player game, it’s hard to not mention Hive.
Each insect piece moves in a different pattern depending on the type of insect and the object is to surround the opposing player’s queen. This is easier said than done.
There’s no board, just a handful of tiles that create the playing field as you play. It’s simple to learn, yet will keep you coming back for more the further into the hive you go.
With tons of strategy and replayability, not to mention portability, Hive is an excellent choice for 2 players.
- High quality
- Soldier ants and grasshoppers
- Made by Gen42 games Honored for excellence by Mensa select
#9. Star Realms / Hero Realms
I’m a pretty big fan of Star Realms. It’s not every day you can find a deck-builder that’s simple to set up, fun to play, and fits in your back pocket.
Star Realms is a Sci-Fi deck-building duel game designed for 2 players. There are a ton of expansions for it, but honestly, I really enjoy the base game all on its own.
Hero Realms uses the same awesome ruleset but gives it a fantasy flair. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either one if you’re looking for a 2 player game, especially if you want one that can be played on-the-go.
#10. Codenames: Duet
Duet is the newest offering in the Codenames franchise.
Codenames: Duet takes the original premise but scales it down a bit so that 2 players can still enjoy searching for their lost agents.
Players take turns trying to guess the location of their agents from simple 1-word clues. Codenames is definitely a mind game and it’s a great way to get to know someone too. There’s not a lot of actual talking in-game but it’s a nice glimpse into how your opponent thinks and problem-solves.
- 400 all new words compatible with original codenames
- New cooperative gameplay
- Campaign mode to record your progress
#11. Fox in the Forest
Fox in the Forest is a trick-taking game similar to Pinochle.
It’s a simple game to pick up and play and perfect for 2 players who are looking for a fun and challenging card game. It’s a great option to avoid playing anything generic like Go-Fish or Phase 10 for the millionth time.
I’m absolutely blown away by the artwork in Fox in the Forest. It’s very pretty and is a great game for kids.
- Familiar trick-taking mechanics with unique character powers
- Beautifully illustrated cards
- Compact size is perfect for travel
#12. Grand Austria Hotel
Compete to turn your dinky little cafe into the most exclusive hotel in Vienna.
Grand Austria Hotel has some serious table presence. It looks absolutely amazing on the table and it’s a lot of fun.
Players use dice to determine the actions they can take on a turn, all while juggling several different aspects of running their hotel in order to be successful.
Who you let into your hotel and what services you provide just scratch the surface on the road to becoming the Grand Austria Hotel.
Seasons is a really pretty game.
Players take on the role of wizards in a 3-year wizard showdown. That’s some serious wiz biz.
The winner of the tournament will, of course, become the new Arch-Mage!
At the beginning of the game, players draft a set of cards that they’ll be able to use throughout the game. This is where the strategy is developed. Players will set their cards in several stacks that won’t be available until later in the game. You’ll have to plan ahead to make sure you get the correct cards available when you need them the most.
- Features: Superior artwork, Tons of different strategies of game...
- Manage your energy between seasons and adapt your game play
- Mix cards to create unique combinations to give you more chances...
#14. Castles of Burgundy
Castles of Burgundy is a unique entrant on this list. Although it can be played with up to 4 players, it actually seems to work best with 2.
In this Eurogame, players are in charge of a princedom in the Burgundy region of France.
Players attempt to create an efficiently-run region by placing tiles on their own region and building up their economy. There’s a lot of strategy involved and if you’re looking to play a Euro with your gaming partner, Castles of Burgundy is a great choice.
- FUN PLAY EXPERIENCE – In The Castles of Burgundy, players...
- HIGH QUALITY COMPONENTS – This board game comes with 164...
- GREAT REPLAY VALUE – Playing time is 30-90 minutes, for 2-4...
#15. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
There’s a reason the world’s most famous literary detective worked as a duo.
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is a mystery-solving board game that will have you pondering clues and figuring out whodunnit. You may even find yourself staring off into the distance while playing the violin, contemplating the case.
Getting into the mindset and twists and turns of the case is perfect for 2 players. It can be played as a solo or group, but honestly, I think it’s perfect as a duo. You’ll be able to bounce ideas off of each other without the confusion of too many cooks in the kitchen. And when you finally solve the case, you’ll have someone right there to celebrate with.
As I said there’s a reason it’s Holmes and Watson. Detectives work best in twos.
The game is afoot!
If you’re looking for some 2-player dungeon-crawling, Claustrophobia will have you delving the deeps with a religious fervor.
One player will control a Redeemer (think: really angry Paladin) and several prisoners/mercenaries that have “volunteered” to delve the catacombs with the Redeemer to purge it of demons and troglodytes.
The other player gets to play as those troglodytes and demons.
It’s an interesting balance. The Redeemer and his flock are overall stronger than the waves of demons, but there’s a catch. There are waves and waves of enemies and the demon player has numbers on their side.
- Features: 17 finely sculpted pre-painted figurines
- modular board (36 tiles)
- Easy to learn and quick set-up game
#17. Star Wars: Destiny
Star Wars: Destiny is a fun collectible card/dice game. Players can easily pick up a starter pack and have a full set of fun characters to play with. It’s very simple to set up and play.
Star Wars: Destiny spans the entire canon and is filled with characters from all eras of the fandom. You can mix-and-match to create a deck using your favorite characters.
It does require booster packs, but there are also set boosters to pick up your favorite characters.
Initially, I didn’t like Destiny and I have no idea why. It just rubbed me the wrong way at first but after one game, I was hooked. It’s fast and competitive play that’s just plain fun.
You can also check out our full review of Star Wars: Destiny here.
- Control the heroes and villains of the Star Wars saga with two...
- Features sixteen unique and beautifully crafted dice used to...
- Easy-to-learn rules have you playing within minutes
#18. Exit The Game
I really like this series.
It’s described as an entire escape room in a box. There’s a series of games, each with a different theme and a different puzzle difficulty. Each one will have players attempting to solve various puzzles. Some components will need to be bent to fit the correct shape or even torn up to get the correct information to solve the riddles.
That, of course, means that the game is disposable and can only be played once. Even if you get a new copy, you’ll already know all of the answers.
This may immediately turn a lot of gaming duos off of the Exit series but keep in mind, the game retails for about $15. You can’t go out to the movies nowadays for less than that and $15 for a few hours of entertainment is a pretty solid deal.
If you’re into logic and puzzles, this is a good bet to bring to the table. It makes for a really fun date night.
#19. Akrotiri (Revised Edition)
I really like the concept of Akrotiri. It reminds me of being a little kid and drawing fake treasure maps that led to nowhere.
In this 2-player game, each player has hidden maps that they’ll use to find lost temples. Players lay down tiles to create the game board that aligns with their hidden map to find the hidden temples.
Finding a temple is only one part. Players then have to grab the loots and return it to Thera before the expedition goes bankrupt.
Surprisingly, there’s a lot going on in this seemingly simple tile placement game. It delivers a ton of strategy… as well as shiny temple loots.
- NEW EDITION Akrotiri Game from Z-Man Games.
- 2 Player Game. Recommended ages 13 to 105 years. Game Time...
- Bonus: 2 (two) gold-colored, cloth, drawstring storage bags for...
#20. Ascension: Deck-Building Game
It was designed by former Magic: the Gathering champions so you know that they understand card games. It’s a very technically-sound card game that’ll give you and your gaming partner a serious showdown with cards.
- The hit deckbuilding game with over 50,000 copies sold worldwide
- Designed by Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour Champions Justin Gary,...
- Combines with any other Ascension sets for unlimited...
Haven has a really cool concept. In this 2-player board game, players are on opposing sides, trying to gain control of a mystical forest.
One player controls the forest and its creatures, looking to preserve nature in all of its glory, and the other controls the encroaching city using technology to master nature.
I’ve never seen a theme quite like it and the gameplay is a fluid tug-of-war battle.
- Compete against a friend in a tense, one-on-one battle.
- Command the forces of the city, intent on domination of the...
- Each side has unique powers and strengths!
#22. Twilight Struggle
Recreate the entirety of the Cold War from the comfort of your own living room.
Okay, that’s a little dismissive for an important period in world history when we were constantly on the verge of nuclear annihilation.
That being said, Twilight Struggle is an incredible game that recreates the tension the world felt as two world superpowers postured, threatened, spied, and backstabbed to gain power.
Keep in mind, if you do end up going to a full thermonuclear war, you lose.
#23. Star Wars: Rebellion
Star Wars: Rebellion is a strategic dance. Each side controls one faction either Rebels or Empire and they both play completely differently. The empire, of course, has the numbers and economic advantage, and in a straight fight, would wreck the Rebellion player. The Rebels, on the other hand, are sneaky and hard to find.
This galactic conquest game of cat and mouse will have players maneuvering all over the board, triggering events from the iconic movies. The caveat here is the win conditions. The Rebels need to survive long enough to rally the galaxy to their cause and trigger a full-scale rebellion to overthrow the Empire. The Empire simply needs to find the Rebel hidden base and destroy it.
Thematically, the game works beautifully and really has players relying on their strengths which makes the exploitation of their weaknesses all the more sweeter.
It can be played with multiple players but as a galaxy-wide duel, it plays amazingly well.
Click here for even more Star Wars board games to sink your teeth into.
- A board game of epic conflict between the Galactic Empire and...
- A classic Star Wars experience, in which the actions of a few...
- Contains more than 150 plastic miniatures to represent your...
#24. Battlelore (Second Edition)
Battlelore is a fantasy skirmish miniatures wargame. What makes it unique is that instead of leaving miniatures unpainted on your shelf for years at a time, everything comes ready to play right out of the box.
If you’re looking for a mini wargaming fix, Battlelore will have you set up and swinging swords in no time.
- A board game of tense, squad-based battles for two players
- Command armies in the heat of battle
- Create new scenarios in every game, or engage in a narrative...
#25. War of the Ring (Second Edition)
War of the Ring is one of the most EPIC games I’ve ever seen. In it, each player takes control of either Sauron’s Armies or the Free People of Middle Earth. The drama and strategy that unfolds on the board are tense and nerve rending.
The Free People have limited troops but strong fortresses, whereas Sauron has an unending army that slowly moves across the board. Hope always rests with the Fellowship of the Ring.
Every game is different and it allows players to relive and retell Tolkien’s classic tale.
- For 2 4 players
- Takes about 2 hours to play
- A massive 70 x 100cm Game Board in two sections, 16 Action Dice,...
#26. Android: Netrunner
Android: Netrunner is one of my favorite Sci-Fi games of all time. This living card game has since been completed, but it’s still widely available.
In Android: Netrunner, two players face-off with opposing ideologies and means. One player takes control of the megacorporation of the future. They’ll have a ton of resources and power.
The other player takes on the role of a Netrunner which is basically a super hacker. It’s an incredible game of cat and mouse as both players strike at each other through their card-based powers.
- New life for the classic card game by Richard Garfield
- High-stakes futuristic gambles and intrigues in a cyberpunk...
- Exciting asymmetrical game play pits a corporation player against...
There you have it. There are, of course, thousands upon thousands of 2-player board games out there and your favorite may not have made the list.
If you have a favorite 2-player board game, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.