The Best Two-Player Games

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Andrew and I are crazy about games. It’s probably our favorite thing to do when we have a free evening and Caleb is down for the night. Over the years we have collected a number of tried-and-true games that are really fun and successful with just two players. Usually this means they are games that are designed for two players. We find that most 2-4 or 2-6 player games technically work with two, but aren’t all that fun. That is not the case for these games! I am listing them in order of my favorites, which would differ slightly from Andrew’s order. :)


This game reminds me a little bit of Dominion, another game I love, but one that isn’t so fun with two people. Jaipur is played in three rounds that take approximately 10 minutes each to complete. Every turn presents multiple strategy options, and my favorite thing about this buying and selling game is that you really can’t tell until the end of each round who will come out on top! I’d say it took us about 25-30 minutes to master the rules the first time. We’ve played it on the ferry, in coffee shops, and at home…it’s always a winner.


Patchwork is so different from your mainstream board and card games. It’s fast and easy to learn (a huge plus for me because I hate rule books), and with a variety of options each turn, the strategy element is definitely there, with just a bit of chance. I enjoy the fun element of piecing together your “quilt” in a strategic way.

Lost Cities

Speaking of easy rules, Lost Cities is incredibly fast to learn but it’s surprisingly fun to play–over and over again. It is designed to be played in three rounds, and the scores from the three are added up at the end. This card game falls into the category of chance more than strategy, so it’s surprising that I love it so much, but we find ourselves returning to it over and over. It requires little brain power, so it’s great on lazy nights when you just want to chill.

Empire Builder

Okay, I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this game. Andrew has only played it once with me, so I’m not sure how much we’ll break it out together, but I play it with my brothers whenever I am back home. It takes a good hour to learn and 1-2 hours to play with 2-3 people, but it is seriously the best! You have to think ahead and plan out your turns, work efficiently and frugally, and pace your spending carefully. Definitely a fun one for Christmas break or a late game night with board game geeks…but not for your casual board gamer. :)


Designed for 2-4 players, Pandemic is fun with more but still really great with just two. It’s cooperative, so if you’re looking for an option that doesn’t make you butt heads, this is a good one. ;) I love the unique aspect of playing together against the game to eradicate diseases across the globe. It does take a little while to learn the rules at first, as it’s more complicated than the first three games I listed, but it’s worth the time you put in at the beginning!


A lot more fun than Checkers but less brain-intensive than Chess, this is a fun, old-fashioned-feeling game for two. We learned it on our one-year anniversary getaway and I still enjoy it whenever we pull it out, which is probably only a few times a year now. The rules are insanely simple, so it’s good for the people in your life who don’t like to read rule books.

Set Cubed

If you’ve played the card game version of Set, this is similar, but turn-based…none of that frantic, crazy yelling and grabbing for sets. I.e. it’s relaxing. It can be played by up to four people but is truly just as fun with two, an unusual characteristic that sets it apart.

Monopoly Deal

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of this game anymore, I burned myself out on it…but because Andrew still loves it so much, I had to include it. If you love Monopoly but don’t have the patience for hours of play time, this is a fun alternative that requires no setup and can be played in minutes. It’s just a pack of cards, so it’s easy to travel with, too!

I’d love to hear from you! I’m always on the hunt for good two-player games. Please share your favorites in the comments!

Five Two-Player Games You Might Love


My husband and I are big gamers, but we’ve struggled with finding two-player (non-word) games that we both enjoy. Slowly, we’ve accumulated a small but dependable list of go-to card and board games that are perfect for that free evening at home when we’re looking to enjoy something competitive together. =)

1. Ticket to Ride (2-6 players)

Our friends Woodley and ElizbSo far, we’ve played the Nordic Countries (2-3 player) and North America (2-5) versions of this board game. For two people, we prefer the Nordic map. This game is great because a) it only takes about 15 minutes to learn, b) it’s a good blend of strategy and chance, and c) you really have no idea who’s going to win until the very end. (Those last two put a big gap between Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan.)

2. Gobblet (2 players)

My family gave us this game for Christmas and it was a winner! Andrew describes Gobblet this way: it’s like a cross between Connect Four and Chess. I agree. The more you play, the more obsessed you get with figuring out a winning strategy. This game can be finished in five minutes or take twenty, it just depends on how quickly you can “checkmate” your opponent.

3. Golf (2-8 players)

Remember what I said about games that are mostly chance? Throw that out the window with this game. Despite the fact that it’s about 95% chance and is as basic as a game gets, for some reason it never gets old. There are several variations of this game, but we play a version similar to these four-player rules. All you need is a deck of cards, pen, and paper, and we usually play to 100 points.

4. Set Cubed (2-4 players)

We already liked the card version of this game, but my mom recently gave us Set Cubed, which we prefer for two players. It’s turn-based as opposed to “whoever’s the fastest to make a set”, so you can take your time and really think. A pair can finish Set Cubed in about 15-30 minutes. This game makes me feel like I’m working my brain, which is rewarding even though so far, I’m in the loser’s bracket. Andrew’s always got an edge at the brainy games.

5. Cribbage (2-4 players)

Like any card game, Cribbage involves a lot of chance, but the possible strategies are varied, so we haven’t grown bored with it. We own a travel version, which is convenient for places like the park or an airplane. It’s another one you can finish in less than 30 minutes, and the winner often can’t be determined until the very last turn of the game.