Lately, we’ve all been trying to think up inventive ways to while away the hours. After we’ve finished our chores, tried not to sleep through a Zoom meeting and stared out the window, many of us opt for more screen time.
That’s all fine and well. But 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 25 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.
There you have it the 25 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 25 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