Holy cow. Whenever we write these Co-op pieces where we ask our readers to help pick the best products, we always get wonderful insights from the comments, with some cheekiness mixed in for good measure. But I was not prepared for how passionate the response would be when we asked people for their favorite two-player board games. I found myself curious about the question as the pandemic continues to keep roommates, families, and partners locked up together. I figured our readers would have something to say on this and they did not disappoint.
There were so many excellent responses that it’s hard to pick just a few. Our readers brought everything from the table from old standbys to deep cuts. We found sincere nominations for games like cribbage and backgammon that did a wonderful job explaining why they work so well in a two-player setting. We also got some truly inventive games that I’d never heard of, but immediately wanted to order.
What’s especially nice is that there was quite a bit of crossover in our reader responses, with a lot of general consensus around certain games. That made it easy to bring you some clear favorites in this roundup. So if you’ve come here looking for some great two-player board game recommendations, make sure to thank your fellow reader. Perhaps we can all get together and play some games when this is over. And I mean ALL of us. Who’s hosting?
7 Wonders Duel | $25
I nominate 7 Wonders Duel. Not only is it a great distillation of the original 7 Wonders game into a bespoke 2-player version, but the mechanics are tight, the artwork is beautiful, and due to the multiple ways to win (especially with the expansions!) every game seems like it’s entirely new. - syzygy
Interesting card-selection system and progressive economy. Multiple victory paths. Replayable with different strategies and different civilizations. - Fauxcused
Santorini | $23
Santorini is a fun game for two players where you’re fighting for position trying to build and stand on the tallest tower. The board looks amazing and the rules are very brief. Unlike other abstract games, the rules get tweaked every game by unique player powers giving you lots of replayability. - eliot
Go | $19
If you’re looking for something that’s deep enough to become something you can pursue casually for decades, I suggest Go (otherwise known as Baduk in Korean or Weiqi in Chinese). Super simple to learn but mind numbingly deep. I got back into it after watching Queen’s Gambit and briefly flirting with chess before rediscovering Go. It’s great in that there is a robust handicap system so that games don’t always feel one-sided. And depending on how serious you get into it and how much the austere aesthetic appeals to you, you can get a super cheap and/or super portable set or beautiful sets made of hundred year old trees and slate and shell stones and everything in between. - jobias
Patchwork | $32
It is simple and genius. Perfect symbiosis of jigsaw puzzles and Tetris. - Alex Nigmatulin
Innovative and easy to pickup! - CanadianRyGuy
Cribbage | $23
It’s a classic game enjoyed by generations, helps teach some basic math, and strategy. My kids have been playing with me since they were 5-6.
LOTS of options out there for boards (which is not really required) and only takes a standard playing card deck to play. - DazVeere
Simple, easy to learn, a true classic. Both a card game and a board game in one! - JF47