Based on certain world events, it appears a lot of my gaming is going to be done at home for the next little while. Luckily I have been preparing for this, amassing a lovely little collection of quick, yet also fulfilling 2 player only games. The only obstacle standing in my way now is convincing my wife that her time will be better spent playing with me rather than sleeping or binge watching The Bachelor. So, let me highlight some of my favorite 2 player only games that any non-gamer spouse might enjoy.
7 Wonders: Duel
This game had some pretty big shoes to fill after the hugely successful 7 Wonders. While it hasn’t quite gained as widespread appeal, it is still looked at as a very good 2 player game. Unlike the original 7 Wonders the card draft in 7 Wonders: Duel is performed with cards played out on the table as opposed to the traditional passing of a hand of cards. The cards are played out in such a way that only certain cards are face-up and available, but once taken more cards will be revealed and become available for drafting. Another highlight within the game is the two possible early endgame triggers. Either player can end the game prematurely with a victory by either completely dominating the military track or collecting a full set of science symbols. Don’t let the small box fool you, thematically speaking there aren’t many bigger 2 players games out there.
Just like many have wondered whether the chicken or the egg came first, gamers have wondered what came first, Patchwork or A Feast for Odin. Designer Uwe Rosenburg has become widely known for his selection of “polyomino” tile laying games, including Cottage Garden, Indian Summer, Spring Meadow, and his behemoth A Feast for Odin. His first published “polyomino” game was Patchwork. While quilting may not be the hottest theme on the market, the games design has kept the game a classic for many years now. The game uses buttons and time to create the economy necessary t0 craft a lovely quilt. This is a very good abstract game that will make time at home feel a little more cozy.
I honestly don’t know why this game is so good. I’m pretty sure it’s the camels. Mechanically speaking the game is almost too simple. Collect cards, create sets, exchange for points. What makes the game interesting is the open “trading” area that both players will utilize to get the cards they need. You will need to keep a close eye on your opponents and the which sets of goods they might be trying to collect, carefully timing when you trade or don’t trade these cards into the market. The game plays quick and will leave both players wanting another go at the game, if only to see how many camels you can get.
As a tried and true euro gamer, this is probably the most robust and fulfilling 2 player game on this list. At it’s heart the game is a worker placement game, with a pinch of both engine building and set collection. Players will utilize a 5×5 grid of cards to both take actions and collect cards. Each round players will place workers on the outer cards, providing actions, and collect the intersecting cards of these locations. The gameplay feels novel and interesting and when taking into account all the different options available, including blocking your opponent, the game can become quite tricky. If you wish you were able to play something bigger and more complex than your traditional 2 player games, Targi is sure not to disappoint.
This is arguably one of the most classic 2 player only games in existence. Reiner Knizia is a master of using numbers and colors to create a compelling game. Players are explorers seeking funding and heading out on daring adventures seeking riches and, well, lost cities. Along the lines of Jaipur, players are seeking to create sets of cards while also depriving their opponent of the cards they need. In Lost Cities you will be forced to make tougher decisions though, as you are only allowed to play cards in ascending order, with penalties if you are unable to play enough cards. And don’t even get me started on Vincent Dutraits artwork in the latest edition.
One of my favorite 2 player games of all time is Twilight Struggle. Unfortunately after a good couple plays I decided to let the game leave my collection. The tension that game presented was just phenomenal but I quickly of teaching the game and then proceeding to hold opponents’ hands for the next 3 hours each game. Watergate, while not quite as epic in scope, does a great job replicating the tension and tug of war while keeping the theme historical and asymmetrical. One player is Nixon fighting to coverup his scandal, while the other player is the press, fighting to uncover the truth before it’s too late. Players will be fighting for momentum while also battling for control of key individuals on the board. The game is chocked full of real life events and individuals and a whole section of the rulebook going into historical details, you know, for the extra time when you aren’t playing games.
The Fox in the Forest
For some reason I have come to love the simplicity of a good old fashioned card game, especially trick taking games. It’s easy to see why old women like my grandmother and her sister would stay up late at night playing games like Hearts. While there are a lot of trick taking games in the market, few work well at only 2 players. The Fox in the Forest is actually a trick taking game designed for strictly 2 players only. What makes the game work so well is two things; the unique abilities of the odd numbered cards and the unique scoring mechanic that sees players trying to either win hardly any tricks or just over half of them. This game is truly a classic reborn for today’s crowd.
There are plenty of other great 2 player games out there, so I’d love to hear what you’ll be playing these coming weeks as we may or may not be able to attend normal gaming functions. In the meantime stay safe and incase you need some toilet paper, the Deseret Industries always has plenty of copies of Monopoly, Scene It, and Scattegories.