Board games are great fun, and the vast majority of them are great in an entertainment emergency. Power outage? No problem, break out some candles and a board game, and you won’t even mind that your ice cream is slowly melting in the freezer. In this guide, we will run through some of the best two-player board games on the market. I have resisted the urge to include card games in this list and might do a separate article for them in the future.
Best 2 Player Board Games
Bananagrams is a game of wit, wordsmithing, and speed. Consisting of 144 tiles, each with a letter on it, both players choose 21 starting tiles from the main Bunch, which should all be face down. You begin by turning your tiles face up, then arranging them into words to form a crossword. Words need to be actual “in the dictionary” words and must be read from left to right and top to bottom. You need to try to get rid of all 21 tiles, and if you can, you then take a new tile from the Bunch. Upon doing so, you shout Peel, forcing the other player also to take a tile. You can also shout Dump, to put one letter back, face down, but you then have to take three new ones. Once the number of tiles in the Bunch is fewer than the number of people playing, the first person to use all their tiles wins the hand. It’s frantic, and a fun time, and is an excellent game for two players.
Pandemic is a game about stopping viruses from wiping out the planet. You need to both stop the infection, and find a cure for the viruses before it is too late. It also fosters strategy and cooperation between the players, which is nice. It is vitally important to work together to try to overcome the random nature of the game, and fans of cooperative play should enjoy this one a lot. Each player manages a hand of cards that will match the colors of the four diseases, and collecting five cards of the same color will allow you to cure a disease. You have to travel the map, doing your best to deal with the various outbreaks. As you travel, you set up a network of research stations to work on cures, so carefully planning your strategy is essential.
Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Escape: The Curse of the Temple is another frantic, quick hit of a game. The main idea is to explore the temple before your time runs out. The temple itself consists of tiles laid out on a table. You roll the dice to see how far into the temple you can get, and how well you do the various actions you need to take there. It is another cooperative game, as players in the same part of the temple share dice rolls. As such, if you play together to you can stack the odds in your favor. The pressure stems from the pace of the game, and clear communication between players is essential. The game even comes with a soundtrack, a CD you can listen to while you play the game, upping the tension even more. It’s less about skill and more about embracing chance, making this one good time for people who like to take a relaxed attitude to a game from time to time.
Netrunner might be on the ropes, but Android: Mainframe is still going strong. Mainframe offers a tactically deep game of zone control that is sure to keep you coming back again and again. You need to place down access points and lock off areas of the board, stopping the other player from getting access to them. Not only is it strategically deep, but it also lacks any real elements of luck that can turn some people away. This is really about skill, understanding the mechanics, and quickly being able to devise and refine strategy.
7 Wonders: Duel
7 Wonders: Duel is an incredibly well-regarded board game. With rounds clocking in at around 30 minutes, it is perfect for lunchtime fun. As you play the game, you try to build your civilization and smash your foes. You will be trying to prove your supremacy by building Wonders as you develop into the dominant civilization. People who enjoy the Civilization video games will find a lot to enjoy here, as they strive for victories that can be military, scientific, or cultural. It is also designed for two players, so there is no cutting down on the fun here, this is how the game is meant to be played.