26 Two-Player Board Games for Couples

by | Feb 4, 2020 | Uncategorized | 14 comments

26 Board Games for Couples: Two Player Board Games that are Awesome
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Do fun games for two people exist?

Absolutely! Best of all–finding a board game for two players can build your marriage. And here at Bare Marriage, we’re all about fun marriages!

So I thought I would write a post on games you can play with your spouse that need only two players. I originally ran this post back in 2014, and it went really big. But since then, Keith and I have found so many more board games for couples that we love, and I thought it was time for a revised version of this post–especially right in time for Valentine’s Day!

When we were first married, most of the two-player board games that were around were the traditional ones–Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble, Boggle. Monopoly can be a dangerous game, because it tends to be quite vicious and cut-throat. And Risk just takes FOREVER, and can get vicious, too. And Scrabble? You just have to be really good at words, and often only one of you is (I’ll share my favourite Scrabble replacements below!).

But happily, there are so many more two-player board games available now, and just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share my favourites.

Chess-Substitute Board Games for Couples

Enjoy chess? Then play away! But chess can take a long time, and it’s often frustrating if one person is significantly better than the other. So here are some chess-like board games that are much faster–and easier.

 

1. Hive

One of my new favorites–really unique, really challenging, and really fun. Like dominoes, with Hive you build your own game by putting the tiles together in different ways. It can be learned in just a few minutes, and the matches are really quick. Keith and I often bring Hive with us when we go out to pubs to eat or to restaurants, because it’s very portable and fast.

I have a longer review of Hive here. 

Onitama Strategy Game Box

2. Onitama

We tried this one at a local board game cafe and were quickly hooked! Each game you draw five cards which each have their own movements. You have two cards in front of you, and one wild card. You have to make one of those two moves. But after your move, the card you used becomes the wild card, and you take the current one. So you have to think ahead and make sure you don’t give your opponent a card that can make them win!

Because you only use five movement cards each game, every time you play it’s like a new game, so you can’t just memorize a strategy that works. Makes it more fun for beginners, and for people who aren’t as strategic!

Board Games for Two that Use Spatial Skills

I am totally NOT a spatial-skills kind of gal. But I love games that help me think outside the box–literally–and help me see things in new ways. That’s why I love these games for couples!

Tiny Towns Game Box

3. Tiny Towns

This is a new one that Keith and I recently discovered at our board game cafe (and which is one of the hottest sellers this year!). It’s a spatial game, where you have to build different buildings on your grid, but each time you build a building, you use up space that could be used for more buildings. So you have to plan ahead.

But what makes this one awesome is that every game is a different combination of things that need to be built, so no one can “coast”. You have to adopt a new strategy each time!

It’s great for spatial skills, too. Tiny Towns gets harder the more people play it, so I actually prefer it with only two people. 

Sheila Playing Tiny Towns
Photosynthesis Game Box

4. Photosynthesis

This is one of our new ones for 2020!

Can be played with 2-4 players. Basically, you build a forest. But there’s only one problem: your trees need sunlight to grow. And the sun moves around the board–and bigger trees end up shading the smaller ones.

It doesn’t take that long, either. Plus it’s just really, really pretty.

5. Patchwork

Can you take the quilt pieces and fill up the blocks on your quilt?

Okay, that sounds really girly, but we actually quite enjoyed this game, and I’ve had other people tell me this is a great game for couples to play in the comments on Facebook! The quilt blocks fit in all different shapes, and you have to choose the ones that give you the most points–and the most ability to choose even more quilt blocks.

Blockus box

6. Blokus for Two

It’s all about fitting pieces in–but your pieces can only touch by the corners!

The four player version is one of our go-to family board games, because kids can play it when they’re really young. This two-player edition challenges your mind, but it’s also super quick. Another one we frequently take with us to date nights in pubs!

Cooperative Board Games for Couples

Does playing board games as a couple create more problems in your marriage than create harmony? Is one of you just too competitive? Then try these cooperative games–where you either win together or lose together!

Pandemic Box Cover

7. Pandemic

A pandemic has broken out–and it’s your job to prevent it from spreading! This is a really engrossing, challenging game for couples who want something to sink their teeth into. You can play with 2-4 players, and each of you plays one specialist who can help defeat the disease. You have to find the four possible cures before the game is over.

This is our absolute favourite. We play this one as a family all the time, but it works great with just two players, too–you each just choose two specialists to play. My daughter Katie bought this when she was engaged to play with her then fiance because they both love it so much (plus he’s a medic, so it fits)!

Codenames Duet Box Cover

8. Codenames Duet

It’s a cooperate card game that’s surprisingly challenging–and super fun! Based on the original party Codenames game, this two-player version is a whole new game that many find even more intriguing. Using only one-word clues you have to try to identify the “secret agents” on the board. And because it’s cooperative–this couple game won’t lead to couple fights!

Forbidden Island Box Cover

9. Forbidden Island

This card game has tons of strategy, but the nice thing is it only takes 30 minutes. You can learn it quickly, but there’s a ton of different scenarios you can play. And it was voted Mensa Favourite Game in 2010! So you can tell your hubby that if you guys play it it means you’re super smart. 

10. Forbidden Desert

You’re stranded in a desert, and you have to get out before you die of thirst–or something worse. Another cooperative game that’s full of strategy, and takes only about 30-45 minutes. If you’ve mastered Forbidden Island, this game is one-step up, with individual resource management and a board that’s always changing.

11. Commissioned

Can you work together to spread the gospel–and write the New Testament? In this Bible based game, you all play different apostles, with different gifts and strengths. And you need everybody’s gifts to get the gospel around the known world, and get the New Testament written, despite trials and persecutions. 

We played this a ton last spring, and won about 50/50. What really surprised me was how accurate it was–you really do need the apostles’ gifts to actually get everything done.

I wrote a longer review of Commissioned in this family board games post.

Strategy Board Games for Couples

Maybe you don’t mind a little bit of healthy competition–and games that require a lot of strategy! Here are some great competitive two-player board games that we really love.

12. Wingspan

This was the game we couldn’t stop playing Christmas of 2019! Keith’s a big bird watcher, and the game comes with cards of about 180 birds, each with their own “action” or attribute that helps you along the game. Each turn you have to choose whether to get a new bird, lay an egg, get some food, or play a new bird. But to play, you need food and eggs. And watch out for the hawks!

We love this, and find that it’s actually BETTER as a two-player game than a 4-player game because it goes so much faster. But a great game all round! 

(And here’s a picture of four of us playing it at Christmas!)

13. Seven Wonders Duel

7 Wonders is one of our favourite board games–we play it every Christmas with the family! So last Christmas, when I saw that a 2-player version was available, I jumped at it and bought it for Keith. You play different eras in history, with the goal to build some of the 7 wonders of the world, while also advancing your technology. And the best part? I always win! A super fun game that you can play with your spouse in under half an hour.

 

14. Carcassone

This is my daughter Katie and her husband David’s go-to couple game! Can be played with up to 6 people, but works fine with 2. It takes about half an hour. Basically you each select a tile on each turn that you place, creating a medieval city with roads and monasteries and farms. It’s hard to explain on a blog, but easy once you see it. I like it when we have people over because it doesn’t take long to explain. And because you create the terrain each time you play, it’s different every time, too! Plus there are a myriad of super fun expansions that add more variety to the game. (In fact, if you’re an expansion person, I highly recommend the Big Box version that comes with multiple expansions. This is the one Katie & David have and we love playing it!).

15. Ticket to Ride

Your task is to build a railway connecting two cities. The hardest part? Choosing which routes to keep, and which to turn in. And then getting yours done before your spouse gets his completed! The original Ticket to Ride is North American based, but the expansions are for Europe, India, and Africa. Again, a game that can be played with many more players, but still works with just two–in fact, it’s harder to be mean to each other with only two people, so it may be a more peaceful version to use as a couple game.

This is another of our big party games for when we have other people over.

Card-Based Games for Couples

Some fun strategy games, played with cards (so it’s super portable!). 

16. Jaipur

My kingdom for a camel! This super fun game, which takes about 30 minutes, will send you trading and hoarding and figuring out which trader will be selected to go to the king’s court. It’s risky–but fun!

17. Rivals for Catan

Love playing Catan (or Settlers of Catan for those of us who were hooked early?). Well, there’s a two-player version where you just use cards. This one has been recommended in the comments section so often whenever I talk about games that I had to include it.

18. Exploding Kittens

It’s a card game about kittens and explosions and sometimes goats. And it’s hilariously fun! It was the #1 most backed Kickstarter project ever. And it can be played as a family, as well, so you’ll get your money’s worth! Distract the kittens with laser beams! Defuse the explosions! This is a lighthearted game, that doesn’t require a ton of strategy. But it’s good for those nights that you just want to unwind and not think too hard.

19. Cribbage

How about a card game for couples that actually involves real cards? 🙂 The best 2-player card game around! Comes with the wooden board with pegs and a deck of cards.

Couple Board Games for People Who Love Words

If you’re a Generation X person, you may remember the classic Family Ties episode where Alex and his dad play Scrabble to the death.

Maybe for you, Scrabble is death–too much competition and what do you do with the Q? 

Here are some Scrabble alternatives for couples who love words and who love board games!

20. Upwords

When our kids were growing up, this was our Scrabble alternative. Instead of getting points for individual letters, you get points for turning words into new words by stacking letters on top of each other–hence the “up” words!

Turn sound into bound, and then use the “B” to create a new word, like boy. Then score for both words! Tons of fun.

21. Bananagrams

Like Scrabble? Bananagrams is similar. You get letter tiles and form them into “crossword” type puzzles. But you don’t need a board, so it’s super portable. Going for a picnic with your husband? Take bananagrams along!

22. Quiddler

Start with just 3 cards, and each round you get more and more. The round ends when you can use all your cards to spell words. It’s like a cross between rummy and Scrabble, and you’ll love it.

23. Boggle

I’m dangerous to play Boggle with because I’m just so good. 🙂 Really. I haven’t had anyone beat me since my Uncle Steve when I was 9. But it’s a fun one, if a loud one (especially if the kids are trying to sleep).

Classic Board Games for Couples

And, of course, we can’t forget the old faithfuls!

24. Dominoes

A classic game available in all kinds of versions! Play the double 9s (or even double 12s) for added challenge. I always loved Dominoes as a kid. And my mother, who hates competitive games, claims that Dominoes is the only one she can play without breaking out into a cold sweat. So it’s a good two person game option when there’s an ultra-competitive spouse and a not-so-competitive spouse. This one doesn’t hurt as many feelings.

25. Jenga

I love this game! Yes, it’s loud, so it may not be ideal if you’re trying to get school aged kids to sleep. But it can be fun. Who is going to knock it over?

Basically it’s a tower with three blocks per level, with each level rotating 90 degrees. On each turn you have to remove a block from the lower levels and deposit it at the top, creating a higher and higher tower until gravity eventually takes its toll. I like it.

26. Backgammon

Always one of my favourites! This game’s been around for over 7000 years, so it must be good!

Here’s a lovely version with a great case.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, why not choose one of these games to pick up and make a regular ritual for your at-home date nights? Turn off a screen and have some fun together!

There’s still time to order the games in time for Valentine’s Day, especially with a prime membership.

Two Player Board Games for Couples: 26 Awesome ones!

Now let me know in the comments: what are YOUR favourite couple board games?

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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14 Comments

  1. Anon

    My fiance & I recently found a 2-person version of Cluedo which we loved, although we think it is a little harder to play than the original version.
    I’ve also bought Jenga to use as our wedding ‘guest book’ after seeing it in an ‘alternative guestbook’ article – the idea is that each guest signs a Jenga brick (and adds a message if they want to) and then every time we play it, we will be reminded of the people who came to our wedding!

    Reply
    • JS

      I have found the game Shut The Box to be super fun. It is a dice and numbers almost puzzle game. Super simple and only takes a few minutes to go through a round.

      Reply
  2. Ashley

    You’ve included many of our favorite games! We’ll have to check out the others. We recently discovered Stomple. It’s been great as a 2 player game (but can play up to 6). It’s simple, but still has strategy involved.

    Reply
  3. Kya

    My husband and I bought ourselves Sagrada for Christmas–it’s a game where you make stained glass windows. It isn’t hard to learn, and it’s pretty. (1-4 players)

    Reply
  4. Kate

    We recently found and love the wallet sized games from Button Shy. These have a lot of game for the small size, particularly TUSSIE MUSSIE (designed by Elizabeth Hargrave of Wingspan fame), CIRCLE THE WAGONS and SPRAWLOPOLIS (cooperative game). Also we’ve had nail biting fun with FUGITIVE and word building fun with PAPERBACK (no need to know a dictionary), both from Fowers Games.

    Reply
  5. Merrie

    We recently picked up “Monopoly Deal” which is a card game for 2-5 players. It’s takes 15-20 minutes per round and has been a pretty fun favorite.
    We got code names duet for Christmas and it’s awful how bad we are at it!!! Wow. After 5 years of marriage I thought we would speak more of the same language….😂

    Reply
  6. Melissa

    Labyrinth, scattergories, scrabble slam, sorry, skipbo are some other great games for just two people.

    Reply
  7. Mary

    We tried Duel on your recommendation. It was very complicated and frustrating to learn. It made my husband cranky and we gave up. He is not a games person but I am dying to play something together with him or with ANYONE. I did purchase a few others to try but I feel like I am the only one interested in trying. 🙁

    Reply
    • Tammy Arseneau

      If you have a game cafe in your area, that can really help. I know with my husband he wasn’t interested in trying games because there was so much to figure out. By going to a game cafe, or even often local game stores have nights where they feature new games, and they teach you how to play. This was a “Game changer” for my husband and I. It wasn’t so much that he wasn’t interested, as opposed to that he needed to feel prepared enough to play.

      Reply
  8. Steph C

    We play cribbage & banangrams. We took bananagrams on a cruise last year & our games got lots of interest from fellow passengers. Both are fun & very portable.

    Reply
    • Ann

      I agree with you Steph! I love cribbage & banangrams

      Reply
  9. Megan B.

    My husband and I love to play battleship together and now there are free apps you can download to play against one another on the go! We are both moderately competitive and have a lot of fun with that classic game 😂 Slamwhich, Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza (weird name but promise it’s good) and Mastermind are others that we enjoy quite a bit.

    Reply
  10. Jeremy

    Do you regret putting pandemic on here? 😛
    We’re looking at the list, sounds like some good ones.

    Reply
  11. Cheryl

    Check out Wizard card game for two! We love playing Wizard as a family so when we found the two player game we just knew we needed it. It does not disappoint.

    Reply

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