If you’re looking for something to entertain you and give your brain a little workout, board games are a great way to go. And because there are so many great two-player games out there right now, you don’t need a big group of people to play.
Our list of favorites includes everything from role-playing, fast-paced strategy games and resource management games. And there’s a little something for all ages.
So strap on your thinking caps, people. It’s game on!
Here are the 50 best board games for two players.
In this addictive, fast-paced game (approximately 30-minutes), your goal is to build a railroad track across the country. To rack up points and extend your line, you’ll have to build through cities and other areas. You can get Ticket to Ride on Amazon with or without Alexa, depending on what type of gameplay you are going for.
Be warned that this two-player board game can get highly competitive. Try not to rip the head off of any of your competing robber train barons.
In the two-player version of this popular party game, you have to give the other player one-word clues so that you can eventually guess the names of the targets (or codenames) in as few tries as possible.
You’ll have to use word association and get into the other player’s head to advance in Codenames Duet. This word game is great for bonding and possibly training your psychic abilities.
In this movement and strategy game, you use hexagonal tiles with different bugs on them to surround your opponent's queen bee. Hive is a little bit like chess, but it’s supposed to be easy to learn and quick to play.
As a confirmed chess lunkhead, this game for players 9 and up sounds more up my alley.
This is a popular role-playing game, and you’ll need to commit for at least an hour or two. In the role of a wandering adventurer, you’ll take on tasks like clearing dungeons and fighting sworn enemies.
Gloomhaven is a great game to live a couple of hours in someone else's shoes/combat boots.
Yes, this game is actually about foraging for mushrooms. Which is a lot more fun than it sounds. You have to find them, cook them or sell them for money to best your opponent.
Billed as a 30-minute strategy game for players 10 and up, Morels is also good for playing with kids.
Just beware of the poison mushrooms.
Like Civilization, this is a historical battle game. To steal the thunder of all other competing nations, you’ll need to build wonders and gain the edge in things like science, culture and military prowess.
In 7 Wonders: Duel, each game is a different version of the rise of one nation and the fall of another. Let the oppressing begin.
Your mission in Archaeology is to find hidden relics that you sell to the highest bidder. Although hunting for buried treasure may sound laborious, this game is actually exciting and quick to play. Put on your Indiana Jones hat and start digging.
This is another game you’ll need to set aside a couple of hours for playtime. Scythe is set in a bleak, post World War I Europe. The players take on the role of various Eastern European countries.
The goal is to build up your arsenal and make your way in this dark, war-ravaged world. And you’ll have to do plenty of scheming to do it.
Star Realms is a strategy card game with a low time commitment. You’ll have to build up your military if you want to crush your opponent in trading-card-style combat. Make sure the deck isn’t stacked against you.
Each decision in this tactical game is crucial as you only get 15 to 20 moves. To win Imhotep: The Duel, you have to unload docked ships and collect six different kinds of goods. Both speedy and fun, you’ll have to think quickly and strategically in this two-player game.
In this game, you’ll have to project yourself 400 years in the future as man is attempting to make Mars habitable.
In the guise of a corporate player, you’ll need to manage water and oxygen resources as you build cities and industries in Terraforming Mars. May the best interplanetary exploiter win this two-player game.
For those of you suffering from cabin fever, Parks may bring some relief. This beautiful board game will have you hiking through America’s National Parks. As you explore different trails, you’ll collect mementos of the sights you see.
The game features beautiful illustrations and carved tokens that represent animals. Ahhh, the great indoors!
If you’re looking for a simple but fun card game, Sushi Go! should satisfy your appetite. Collect cards to create dishes with different point values. The chef with the highest score wins.
Warning: It may have you craving California roll.
Lovers of the creep factor, this is for you. You’ll have to imagine you’re in a small New England town. Over the course of a couple of hours, you’ll have to survive terrifying encounters with the ghosts and other ghoulish creatures that await you in the deck.
The character you play will have both strong and weak points. But that makes things in this otherworldly game of Arkham Horror even more interesting.
This fantasy card game has beautiful artwork and an approximate playtime of 30 minutes. To best your opponent, you have to win more tricks by drawing the highest card in each round. But if you win more than 10, you’re branded as “greedy” and have to start again from zero.
Apparently, this game has morals and the fox is pretty dang cute.
This is a super fast-paced game that you can finish in 30 minutes. Carcassonne combines strategy, city building and more.
To win, you need to connect rivers, buildings and paths by placing your tiles in the right spot. Think fast, or your urban planning is screwed.
If you have a lot of time on your hands and like to challenge your brain, this mystery game should be up your alley. You’ll have to sift through newspaper accounts and other clues if you want to figure out whodunnit.
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is a thoughtful and slow-paced game, so don’t expect to be shouting, “By George, I think I’ve got it!” right off the bat.
This game teaches you to use your resources wisely. Forest creatures (that would be you) have to construct their own town to escape the dreaded predators. But you’ll have to think smart as you can only use the cards and pieces available on the board.
To win Tiny Towns, you’ll have to construct buildings. If not, you’re out in the cold. And a potential snack for predators.
Fans of medieval history and fantasy will dig this card-based game. You’ll have to go head to head with other monarchs to gain control of the kingdom.
Along the way, you’ll need to build castles, higher a band of thugs to do your dirty work and find a way to fund your grand schemes. And it all plays out in about 30 minutes. Dominion is like Game of Thrones express.
In this playful card game, you’ll have to hire a crew and then pull heists across famous sites in Europe. The artwork is great, and the wacky capers add a sense of fun. If you like intrigue, but like to keep it light, this is a perfect game for you.
For those players looking for a strategy-heavy game with a longer time commitment (at least 3 hours), this historical board game will have you enmeshed.
As you travel back to the Cold War between the USA and Russia, you’ll plan covert military actions, attempt coups and try to win the space race. It’s your chance to rewrite history with Twilight Struggle: The Cold War, 1945-198. Will the iron curtain fall again? That’s up to you.
This hands-on game is played on four different boards with river stones. In Shobu, you’ll have to use strategy to push your opponent’s pieces off. If someone loses all the stones on any one of the four boards, it’s game over. That’s what you call rock and whoa, baby!
Hey Hobbit fans, this non-competitive LOTR card game is a chance for you to band together with a traveling companion and face the dangers of Middle Earth as you try to complete quests.
Think Sam and Frodo reloaded.
Build your own Wild West boomtown by collecting cards that you have to place strategically to build large blocks. This is another great one to play with kids as it’s for ages 8 and up. Just try not to let the wee ones get between you and your development plans.
This marathon game, Kingdom Death: Monster is for hardcore gamers and fans of role-playing. Finishing can easily take 60 hours, so you definitely have to be all in.
The action plays out in three phases. First you have to build your settlement and prepare for an attack. In the hunting phase, you get card events and more storytelling. In the final phase, you come face to face with the monster.
Winning sets you up for even more advantages for the next game. Which hopefully happens sometime this decade.
If you don't necessarily want something that's going to be difficult and not a game that will take up hours and hours of your time, try Patchwork.
This game is a good fit for those who like pattern and block-building games. The rules are easy enough for just about anyone, the game takes less than a half-hour to play and the game differs enough each time you play so you'll always come back for more.
However, suppose you do like fantasy-based, immersive games that might take a bit longer to play, Runebound might just be your next favorite game. Suitable for teens and adults, you can play with just two people, and each game will take a few hours to play — perfect for an empty afternoon.
Gameplay includes a lot of leveling up via weaponry and allies, with card decks, dice and a "boss-like" battle at the end.
You can also buy expansion packs for the game if you find yourself growing a bit bored.
If you like tile-placement games, you'll want to check out Kingdomino. The game requires building your own kingdom using tiles that you take from the middle of the board and stack around your playing space.
While some tile-placement games are lengthy and take quite a bit of strategy to master, Kingdomino is more straightforward and doesn't take as much time.
It's also an excellent introduction to tile-placement games if you've never played one before and you want to see what all the hype is about.
If you prefer deception-based games, you've probably noticed that it can be challenging to find ones that are suitable for just two players. But, with Mr. Jack, that's precisely what you get.
As you may have guessed from the title, the game revolves around notorious murderer Jack the Ripper, and, when playing with only two people, one of you plays as a detective, while the other plays as Jack in a cat-and-mouse game that's sure to delight.
Are you a fan of lore and legends? Then you'll love Unmatched, which brings in various iconic tales from international folklore and sets them out on a board for your playing pleasure. Characters include Medusa, Alice in Wonderland and even Bigfoot.
This is another tactical game, but it adds a little more fun for those who would rather play with characters they already know and love versus try to immerse themselves into a brand-new fictional realm.
Yes, like that Santorini. This game brings in the Greek isle's gorgeous white architecture and blue domes and challenges you to build a tower before your opponent.
The game is easy enough to play, and the concept is simple, but once you're pitted against your significant other or friend and both of you are trying to make the most of a small board (with little room to work with), you'll see just how difficult and frustrating (in a good way!) this game can be.
Disney fans will love this game, which is suitable for two to six players ages 10 and up. At an average of one hour of gameplay, the game is long enough to keep your attention and take up some time, but not so long that you grow bored or restless.
This is, though, a game that can be a bit difficult to learn, depending on which Disney character you play. You'll have a different goal and different way of playing than your opponents.
However, once you've got the differences down, this is one game that you'll revel in mastering.
There's nothing wrong with the classics. Take Crokinole, which has been around for literally centuries. If you like shuffleboard but want a game that's a bit smaller, more portable and more budget-friendly, Crokinole is the way to go.
It follows many the same basic principles, with discs that you're trying to push into a target while knocking your opponents out of your way.
Love history-based strategy games? Add Hammer of the Scots to your collection. It follows William Wallace and the English through a few hours of gameplay, as each player attempts to achieve their respective goals: either control the Scottish lords or obtain your freedom.
A favorite war game, it's a good pick for anyone who likes similar tabletop, history-based games.
The game requires you to go through typical couple challenges that most of us are probably pretty familiar with (like a meet-cute or a stressful trip to the grocery store).
There's more than one way to win the game, but one thing's for sure: if you play this two-person game with your significant other, you're sure to have a great time and maybe learn a few things about the other person in the process.
If you've already played Betrayal at House on the Hill or Pandemic and are looking for a new challenge, you may love The Captain is Dead. With a randomized board, it's always different, no matter how many times you play, and it gets increasingly harder the longer you stay in the game.
Though it is rated for teenagers, it can be pretty brutal in terms of mental challenges, and it can last a few hours. This is a game that's a perfect fit when you're ready to push yourself.
Tried Patchwork and ready for a similar, but new, challenge? Try Nova Luna, which is much the same in concept, but a little more complicated. However, you don't need to have played Patchwork to understand Nova Luna.
You can start with either and still have a fun time with one before moving on to the second.
Ingenious is a family-favorite, as it's easy enough for even kids to play, but it's also unique enough that you could really play as a solo adult and still have a good time (that's right, you don't even need a second person for this game!).
The tile-based game requires you to stack your tiles on a board and pay close attention to your strategy as you do. The game only takes half an hour to an hour to play.
A little like Mr. Jack, Fugitive is a cat-and-mouse game between two players, but rather than a board game, this one is a card game — ideal for taking on the go as needed. One of you plays a criminal, while the other plays the law.
The game features some fun illustrations and requires a bit of mental agility as you try to guess your opponent's next moves.
If you're a fan of the classic movie, try your hand at this two-player strategy game based on the shark by the same name. Jaws is suitable for preteens and up and two to four players.
It takes roughly an hour to play and is very similar to other cat-and-mouse, one-player-against-the-other games, in that it's shark against swimmer and only one person is going to win.
For fans of classic card games with a bluffing element, like "Bull" or poker, Cake Duel is a new card game to try out. Very quick to play and simple to learn, Cake Duel pits you and your fellow player against each other, as you battle it out for — what else? — cake.
The whole game is about bluffing and trying to get your opponent's cake before they get yours.
If you love Magic: The Gathering, you'll love Keyforge, which just so happens to be from the same creators. A two-person card game, Keyforge requires you to buy a deck of cards to play with others, and then you're off.
Unlike other card games, you can't (or aren't supposed to) trade or buy specific cards, so you're stuck with what you get, and you must merely use your whits to figure out how to win, compile precious resources and fight off your opponent.
Another good option for Disney fans, this game, based on both the Disney ride and movie by the same name, is suitable for two to six players, ages eight and up.
The game is easy to learn and only lasts about a half-hour. The goal is to "collect" ghosts as you go through the game.
This one is an excellent option for parents who love horror-based games but who don't think their kids can handle something like Betrayal at House on the Hill just yet.
Yet another Disney favorite, this game for two players is also on the spooky side, but not the scary side. A very easy-to-learn game for kids, this card game is a quick diversion that will take up some extra time on those fall afternoons while giving your brain a gentle workout in the process.
Related: The Complete Guide to Disney+
Prefer your games to be a little more physical and a little less mental? Klask is a mix between air hockey and tabletop soccer.
The raised board features handles on the bottom that allow you to move your piece around the magnetic board, so you can score goals and block your opponent's moves. If you've tried similar games, Klask is a new alternative that takes very little time to learn and play (and is a much cheaper alternative to a foosball table).
Mandala is a card game that features gorgeous artwork and is interesting enough to provide a challenge to most adults, even if it is on the simpler side. Explicitly made with two players in mind, you're out to collect different card designs while ensuring your competition doesn't end up with the same.
For those who love Paris or city-building board games, this option is a fun choice that also includes some beautiful artwork. The goal is to build up your city streets and then light up the city, creating The City of Lights.
Love Shobu, but need something new? Push Fight is similar, with an added challenge. The two-player game gives each person five pieces, with which you can move around a small board. The idea is to push your opponent's pieces off the board until you're the last person standing. It's simple to learn but challenging to master.
If you like civilization-building games, Roads & Boats is a smart choice. The game gives you a few animals and materials to work with at first, and then you have to compete to build up your new civilization as the other players around you are vying for the same resources and tools.
You win by becoming the wealthiest civilization on the board, going from a poor farmer with a donkey or two to a fat cat with piles of gold and coins.
If it's aesthetically-pleasing games you're after, though, you may want to look into Moon Base. This simple, pretty game requires you to stack rings to build a tower on the moon while thwarting the efforts of your competition.
The Japanese game isn't always easy to find, though, so if you do see a copy, you'll want to grab it quickly.
There you have it the 50 best board games for two players. Scroll through Amazon, and you'll be set for game night. Whether the world is in a pandemic or not, at least you know you can stock up on the best two-player board games and make an evening out of it. From word games to strategy games, there is something for everyone on this list! You aren't just stuck playing scrabble, Monopoly or Go Fish with a deck of cards anymore.
Grab your significant other, your sibling or your friends, clear off your tabletop and get your game on, gamers!
You might also be interested in: 9 Things To Do During Quarantine That Don’t Involve Screens
The 50 best two-player board games:
- Ticket To Ride
- Codenames Duet
- 7 Wonders: Duel
- Archaeology: The New Expedition
- Star Realms
- Imhotep: The Duel
- Terraforming Mars
- Sushi Go!
- Arkham Horror: The Card Game
- Fox In The Forest
- Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
- Tiny Towns
- Twilight Struggle: The Cold War, 1945-1989
- Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
- Circle the Wagons
- Kingdom Death: Monster
- Mr. Jack
- Unmatched: Battle of Legends
- Disney Villainous
- Hammer of the Scots
- Fog of Love
- The Captain is Dead: Dangerous Planet
- Nova Luna
- Cake Duel
- The Haunted Mansion: Call of the Spirits
- Hocus Pocus: The Game
- Paris: La Cité de la Lumière
- Push Fight
- Roads & Boats
- Moon Base