I was supposed to get married in April 2020, which coincided with the beginning of lockdowns in Houston for the pandemic. So, instead of a big wedding, we had a tiny one at my in-laws’ backyard, and we got to experience being newlyweds without being able to travel anywhere. Good news: we’re still married! Here are some of the best board games for two players, couple or not!
Fox in the Forest: Duet
What the fox says: a simple cooperative trick-taking game with clever ways to manipulate the tricks
Fox in the Forest: Duet does a great job of not going overboard on tweaking the trick-taking genre. Players move a piece along a track together; winning a trick moves the piece towards the winner based on the number of footsteps on the winning card. There are some unique powers on the cards (such as allowing players to exchange cards, or change the trump suit).
Keeping the rules simple keeps the brainwork engaging but not overbearing. It’s more of an exercise of teamwork than complex planning, and that makes it something easy to pull out for a lazy date night.
Fog of Love
What’s this? As a couple, role play as… a couple
Often described as “Romantic Comendy: The Board Game”, Fog of Love tasks players with creating new lovers with quirks, insecurities, and goals, and place them into various dating scenarios and see how they fair. These scenarios can be mundane (like leaving the toilet seat up), to nerve-wracking (like meeting the parents over the holidays), to awkward (like disagreeing about who should pay for dinner). Placing yourselves into these other people lets you reminisce with your partner about those same milestones, laugh at what goes differently, and cringe at what might hit a little too close to home.
Fog of Love is hilarious and I can’t think of a game that plays just like it. It’s also great for a double-date, where two players control each person.
P.S. is this the best-looking board game? I think it might be up there.
Patchwork is: competitive quilting
In Patchwork, players take from a randomly assorted set of patches shaped in different polyominos, adding them to their quilt, and scoring based on coverage. Patchwork has great turn-order manipulation, as going for along the track to get a good patch allows for the other player to scoop up patches behind it.
It’s great for couples, with a good amount of friendly competition without extremely cutthroat moves, especially at the beginning of a game.
Pandemic Legacy Season 2
Why: Because Pandemic is great and legacy games are easier to get through with two players
Pandemic Legacy Season 2 is great fun at two players, and at this player count your characters get tons of abilities rather than sharing the wealth amongst a group of three or four. You also don’t have to wrangle everyone for game night, just your significant other.
If you like Pandemic, be forewarned that this is a lot of it. But the design of the legacy components is fantastic and really clever if you’ve never played a legacy game before.
…and then, we held hands.
The concept: a cooperative abstract game that symbolizes patience, empathy, and listening.
You might wonder how a game that doesn’t allow you to talk to your partner showcases listening. I think that the game’s showcasing that true listening is oftentimes wrapped up in anticipating the needs of your partner, thinking about their path rather than solely focusing on your own.
This game has simple mechanics, but if would like something contemplative, quiet, and subtle, this is a great choice.
Ganz Schön Clever
What’s up with the dice: roll and write at its purest
Ganz Schön Clever doesn’t mess around with extraneous things like theme or artwork. You’re rolling dice to cross off numbers that combo to cross off more numbers. Does it sound boring? Yes. Is it addicting and challenging and exciting to push your luck, see chain reactions, and come up with a strategy to get the most points? Absolutely.
GSC plays great at two, allowing for higher point totals than when more players are fighting over the dice.
The big idea: Quick two-player deduction game, Battleship meets Guess Who
With two hidden boards that evoke a complex version of Battleship, players take turns asking about squares on the opponent’s board. Players must answer if one of the characteristics matches the target or not, and play continues until someone deduces the correct target.
Though not much of a game, Battleship is at least nostalgic for many people. Telepathy adds a deduction element that is very solid. Getting a big clue from your opponent feels great; I see this game played at the local board game café all the time.