My partner and I tend to fall into the same old routine of dinner and a movie on these cold n’ dark winter week nights. There’s not many activities that will break us out of our habits, but playing a board game is a suggestion that always excites us. Over the years, we’ve amassed a collection of games that we both love, many of them designed for two. We’ve steered clear of games like Battleship and Guess Who?, opting to instead explore games by independent designers who create experiences from a fresh perspective. After a heated deliberation, we compiled our favorites!
You can find all of our two player selections below, starting with the ones we first recommend to those new to the world of board games. As the two player list goes on, the games get more complex and more fun (I think)! But don’t worry single ladies and fellas, we’ve got something here for you, too. When I can’t convince my partner to join me for a match, I’ll take out a solo game. Here are two of my faves to begin the list:
Games for Solo Play
Onirim \ 1 player, 15 min
This game is on the table when I want to practice my shuffling skills.
In this abstract solitaire card game, you’re trapped in a labyrinthine dreamscape searching through endless gardens, libraries, aquariums and observatories. Discover the 8 oniric doors and escape the dreamscape to win. The catch? Run out of cards before the final door is unlocked, and you will fall into limbo for eternity! This game is more peaceful than its theme leads you to believe. Beautiful art and simple mechanics make Onirim fun and thoughtful. I always want to play one more game! The latest edition also comes with all of the expansions, allowing you to make the game fresh and more complex for endless replayability.
Friday \ 1 player, 25 min
This game is on the table when I am in the mood to watch LOST.
You’re a regular guy washed up on a deserted island, in this deck building card game. Your goal is to survive by gaining skills to defend against the hostile environment. Starting the game with a rubbish hand of cards, challenges will be thrown at you that will be difficult to overcome. Fail them, and you’ll bring yourself closer to death. Learn from your mistakes and strengthen your hand of cards, and you may just conquer the island. This game is quite difficult to win – I personally have yet to beat the game and make it to the end. But hey, the journey is what matters, right? Friday is a game you’ll want to play again and again to beat your previous best score.
Games for Two
Patchwork \ 2 players, 15 – 30 min
This game is on the table when we want to scratch our Tetris itch.
Uwe Rosenberg is the Quentin Tarantino of the board game world. He has designed many successful games – Patchwork being one of his simplest and most accessible. In this game, you compete with your opponent to make a quilt with as few holes as possible. Each player starts with their own blank board and a few buttons (the currency of this game). A ring of different shaped patches sits in the center of the table. Place patches on your board to fill in your quilt’s gaps and earn buttons along the way, with the end goal of making a flawless quilt and destroying your opponent!
Hive \ 2 players, 20 min
This game is on the table when we’ve got a score to settle.
Most of the two player games we are suggesting are quite meditative… this one is not. In this combative strategy game, one slip up could mean game over and a loss of bragging rights till the next match. Beware, the game of Hive can get personal. Can’t wait for your next chance to play? You’re in luck. This game is on-the-go friendly and comes with a carrying pouch! Inside, you’ll find lovely, clacky honeycomb inspired pieces with bug engravings. Decide who’s black and who’s white, then start the game by each placing a tile – this creates the hive. From then on, you can only place bugs next to tiles of your color, each with their own special move ability. The goal is to surround the opposing player’s queen bee to end the game and claim your victory!
Morels \ 2 players, 30 min
This game is on the table when we’re dreaming of spring.
In this game of foraging and cooking mushrooms, you find yourself walking down a shaded trail in the woods represented by a row of beautifully illustrated cards. At the end of the row, you’ll stumble upon mushrooms right at your feet, ripe for picking. But what about that Chanterelle card deeper in the woods that you could add to your already foraged stash? The deeper into the woods you go, the more resources you must spend. Not to mention, you only have so much space in your basket. Points compound in Morels, as you collect multiple of the same mushroom and/or cook your gatherings with butter or cider. Player with the highest points wins in this game of strategy and luck. I must warn you, don’t play on an empty stomach!
Photosynthesis \ 2 – 4 players, 30-60 min
This game is on the table when we’re looking to play something visually stunning.
Photosynthesis is a breathtaking game inspired by the rhythms of nature. The game begins with a barren plot of land, soon to be filled by trees sprouting from seeds. You and your opponent/s each possess a tree species, with the motive of nourishing your saplings to maturity. Be strategic with your seed placings to harness the power of the evermoving sun and block your opposer’s trees. Deeper in the forest, the soil is richer, resulting in a richer reward – just like in nature, there’s many elements that can hurt or fuel your trees’ growth. When trees reach maturity, their seeds will spawn a new wave of fresh foliage prime for future point collecting. Photosynthesis is that game with the perfect balance of style and substance.
Caverna \ 2 – 4 player, 30 – 60 min
This game is on the table when we want that extra layer of complexity.
Designed by Uwe Rosenberg of Patchwork, Caverna is one of his more elaborate games. The premise sounds simple: you control a family of cave farmers who are trying to survive and flourish. Mining for resources and developing a farm are a couple of the tasks that will earn you points. However, there are many avenues to explore within these tasks, each with their own risks and rewards. You have a finite amount of people on your farm who are available for work. Do you choose to sow a field or build a pasture for livestock? The choice is yours! Because of the many choices you can make throughout, this game is more complex than our other recommendations. The deep gameplay keeps Caverna fresh with each new play!