12 of the Best 2 Player Board Game Must Haves

Get ready for date night or a quiet evening in with the top board games for 2 players. 

Board games for 2 players aren't a consolation prize if you're short on people; they're some of the best and most rewarding tabletop experiences out there. Plus, many 2-player board games will fit into a backpack. That makes them very handy if you're looking for something to take with you on vacation. 

To get you started, we've gathered up what we think are the best 2-player board games right here. These suggestions are perfect for everything from date night to a competitive head-to-head with friends. They're flexible, too; most board games for 2 players can be scaled up to suit a larger group. 

Find your next 2 player adventure today! 

Disney Villanious

What happens if evil wins? You get to find out in Disney Villainous. Allowing players to mess about with a Disney-themed toybox, it's all about giving classic baddies their happy ending... and screwing over anyone that tries to stop you. Crucially, playing it as a head-to-head board game for 2 players is better than battling it out as a group. It's a more focused experience.

Don't be fooled by that family-friendly theming, either; Villainous is hiding layers of strategy and duplicitous plotting beneath its gorgeous artwork. That's because each character has a unique objective, board, and play style inspired by their movie, so your experience only improves as you uncover new tactics to utilise.

What's more, clever opponents can activate heroes specifically designed to scupper their foe's plans. You see, the title isn't just a name; it's a mindset you'll need to embrace if you want to win. The quickest path to victory is throwing a wrench into another player's schemes, and the same is true of the (equally good) Disney Villainous expansions. That leaves us with one of the best 2-player board games, and we can't get enough of it.

7 Wonders Duel

Despite rewinding the clock to a time of antiquity, this board game for 2 players isn't some dusty old relic. A more focused version of the eternally popular 7 Wonders board game for families, Duel drills down into what made the original excel whilst cutting back its runtime.

Challenging you with raising a city to greatness by steeping it in culture, developing military might, or focusing on technology, there's no shortage of options when it comes to tactics. Want to invade your opponent's stronghold and snuff out their civilization through force of arms? Go ahead. Would you prefer to lead the charge on scientific discoveries? That's no problem either. This take on 7 Wonders gives you ownership over its mechanics in a way few other games do.

You'll have to keep an eye on what the other player is up to, though. Because the cards you need to progress are drawn each turn from a central pile, it's possible for them to grab ones you need if they suss out your plan. That means you can't lose track of what they're doing while devising your grand strategy - not unless you want to fall behind, anyway.

Patchwork

There's something oddly soothing about this 2-player board game. A serene exercise in fitting Tetris-like tiles together, it's the sort of distraction that's perfect for date night or a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's not overly competitive either, so fallings out will be kept to a minimum.

Your aim is simple: build a quilt before the timer runs out. Fortunately, that process is a little easier in Patchwork than it would be in real life. Players buy patches to slot onto their board with buttons, and this earns them buttons in return. They can then buy more patches that earn them even more buttons. Whoever collects the most buttons at the end will win. 

However, there's a catch - certain patches cost more to buy, and each one advances the timer forward a set number of spaces. That means splashing out on a lucrative tile now might limit what you can do later. It's an engrossing push-and-pull that draws you in quickly, and you won't want to put it down once you've got a taste for its smart yet simple gameplay.

Radlands

Do you like CCG/LCG games? Sure, we all do. But between games there's all this deck building you have to do, and the base game is always lacking without spending hundreds of dollars on expansions. Well forget all that!

After turning Yahtzee into a Battle Royale with the new classic Dice Throne, Roxley Games decided to make a neon-color post-apocalyptic two player card game that plays like a CCG/LCG, but minus the crappy game in the core box, and building of decks from expensive card packs. What you get is a game kind of like Key Forge... if Key Forge came with 10 decks.

Now don't get me wrong, there IS no building of decks at all in this game. Instead, you are building a tableau of fighters with different abilities, burning cards for instant abilities, and launching Events on a timer track to damage your enemy's base and take them out. Now you might think this would get repetitive but...

The game comes with a HUGE variety of base cards to play with, and that's what makes the game interesting. While you can lay out and use those cards and abilities and launch events (and the Raid event almost puts the game on a timer to prevent deadlocks), those base abilities play more like an ace in the hole than anything, since you can ALWAYS perform those actions unless the card is destroyed. The huge variety of those actions based on what base cards you use can (and should) completely change your tactics if you play with different cards every game.

So really, yes, this game, out-of-the-box, plays like a game that requires paying for a bunch of cards packs...but you don't. So if you enjoy LCG/CCG games and don't have an offshore account you need to empty, this game is your new best friend.

Jaipur

Jaipur is the poster child when it comes to good board games for 2 players; even though it's the definition of 'accessible', there's a hidden depth beneath the surface that allows you to experiment along the way. It's delightfully moreish, too.

Putting you in the shoes of a trader from the Indian city of Jaipur, you're challenged to become the best businessperson around and earn an invite to the maharajah's court. How you get there is up to you, though; players have room to test a variety of different strategies, and there are no wrong answers here. Should you buy and trade cheap items quickly, or is it better to chase expensive goods that get you a larger payout in the end? 

No matter what you do, be sure to keep tabs on your opponent - the sooner you trade an item, the more points you'll get. That means your foe could beat you to the punch if you don't cash in your wares fast enough. The result is an engrossing balancing act, and Jaipur ranks amongst the best card games as a result.

Cosmic Encounter Duel

Cosmic Encounter Duel is a new game in the ever-popular world of Cosmic Encounter. In this game, 2 players vie for control of planets, in a race to land ships on 5 of them. It keeps many ideas from the original Cosmic, but modifies a number of others to make the experience accommodate 2 players.

This version keeps some of the ideas from the original game, but adds a few new ones, as well. The goal remains the same: be the first to land ships on 5 planets. Players still use ships and cards to fight each other, and of course they still have wonky alien powers, but the flow of play feels a little different than before.

Overall, Cosmic Encounter: Duel is perfect for people who can't gather enough of a group for the original but want the zany flavor and fun gameplay. 

 

Bodega Brawl

Do you love old school martial arts movies? Do you also love fast 2 player games? 

Bodega Brawl is a action packed two player adventure where you become the martial artist and attempt to take down your foe! This game is super fun and a blast to play quick one-on-one matches against friends. 

 

 

 

Kompromat

In this one-on-one game, take on the mantle of rival spies competing by undertaking daring missions and trying to remain undercover.

The two players compete using blackjack hands to win missions and collect special abilities. To complete a mission successfully, overtake your opponent but be careful not to go over 21 or you will collect notoriety tokens! Being famous is great, but being too well-known might bring you down... The game is played in 6 rounds unless one spy loses their cover.

Ready to push your luck to be the most successful and elusive spy in the world?

 

Tacocat Spelled Backwards is Tacocat

Those Exploding Kittens are at it again, and this time they're messing about with board games for 2 players. Which is a good thing, of course. The result - Tacocat Spelled Backwards - is just as ridiculous, easy to pick up, and fun as its predecessor.

The aim of the game is to get Tacocat on your side of the board, but this isn't an exercise in spelling. Rather, it's a battle of wits. Each round starts with someone playing a number card, and their opponent puts down one with the same or greater value. If they don't have anything suitable, they must then sacrifice the lowest-value card in their hand and the process starts again. This duel keeps going until you only have one card each, and whoever's left with the smallest number overall gets to move Tacocat a space toward them. In other words, it's a fast-paced tug of war. 

Things really kick into gear when you start thinking about the long game, too; sometimes it's better to put down a smaller number in order to trick your opponent and surprise them with your best card later. That offers an opportunity to test your poker face and really mess with your foe.

Hocus Pocus

In spite of appearances, the Hocus Pocus board game isn't just for families; in fact, we're surprised by how difficult it is. A challenging board game for 2 players that'll keep you hooked, it's a test of your perception, non-verbal skills, and ability to pivot on the fly.

Based on the 1993 Disney movie, it challenges you to banish all three Sanderson sisters - the witches who return to life one fateful Halloween - by dawn. However, that doesn't mean you need to be familiar with the film to enjoy this adaptation. The mechanics alone are strong enough to carry you through. 

To defeat the witches, players will need to brew a potion powered by foul ingredients (dead man's toe? Check. Oil of boil? Double check). These fill five slots of your cauldron, and your aim is to match the same color or ingredient type for all of them. Unfortunately, you can't communicate with your teammate about what to put down. Actually, you can't even show them what ingredients you've got in the first place. Instead, you have to ask whether the other player has a specific type or color of card. Seeing as they're only able to answer with "yes" or "no", that leaves a lot of reading between the lines. It makes coming up with a plan tricky as well; your allies might accidentally undo your hard work along the way, so figuring out their next move could be via those questions is crucial. That's why we'd say Hocus Pocus is best played in a pair, particularly if you're looking for good Halloween board games - it's slightly less chaotic, allowing you to enjoy the ride.

Love Letter: Princess Princess Ever After

Love Letter: Princess Princess Ever After is…wonderful. It’s cute, it’s well made, it’s straightforward enough to grasp fairly quickly but deep enough to grab even the more invested card players. Those who are fans of the comic from which it draws will be delighted to have something else from this series, while those who aren’t will still have a cute, queer card game.

I concede that that bias might be part of the draw for me. It’s a WLW card game, how often do you see one of those? However, even without that part (because it’s really just present in the box art and the ‘plot’ of the game), I still highly recommend this to anyone who wants to add something on the light and fluffy side to their collection. Give it a look, you won’t be disappointed.

 

The Fox in the Forest Duet

As a sequel to The Fox in the Forest, comparisons are necessary. Duet has a new artist, but Roanna Peroz’s art is just as charming as the artwork in the original. The rulebook is just as nicely laid out, the cards are the same quality, and the board is really nice and durable. The real reason to buy this is for the tense cooperative play. This game is not just good for couples but also good friends, there is a level of strategy from this game that is not delivered in other silent cards games. I would highly recommend grabbing both this and the original for a good time frolicking in the forest.