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Board games have been part of human fun and social activities for nearly our entire history as a species. In fact, the earliest documented board game was played by Ancient Egyptians in 3100BC.
In recent years, board games have surged in popularity, with more types of games and game play than ever before. We recently took a look at the best board games for couples on a date night, and today we are looking at some of the best two player board games.
Before we proceed, if you don't have the time to read the entire review, here's a quick look at our top choices for the best board games for 2 players
Benefits of Board Games for Two Players
We all know that board games are fun, and are a great way to enjoy time at home. But board games also provide a number of scientifically proven benefits for the body and mind. Here are just a few.
Games are a powerful form of relationship building, building social bonds and closeness.
Protects the brain and cognition
The recent results of a 44-year-long study of women discovered that cognitive leisure activities in mid-life reduce the long term risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
A similar 20-year study in France showed that board game players have a 15% lower risk of dementia regardless of age, gender, and other factors.
Reduces stress and anxiety
Recent studies have shown that board games fight stress and anxiety in multiple ways. By promoting positive social interactions, engaging in healthy play and laughter, and improving focus and concentration, board games help adults and children fight stress and anxiety
Best Board Games for Two Players
1. Best Collaborative Board Game for Two Players: Sherlock Holmes – The Thames Murders & Other Cases
The Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective board game series are great games for adult players who want to decipher clues and solve mysteries. These games tend to be quiet and detailed, with lots of close examination of materials, reading, and discussion of theories.
They have a collaborative playing style where two people work together to solve the crime, rather than having players compete with each other. These games have a beautiful art and writing style that will appeal to lovers of Sherlock Holmes, mysteries, and classic literature.
The Sherlock Holmes – The Thames Murders & Other Cases board game contains ten different mysteries, can be played by 1-8 players over the age of 12, and takes 90 minutes or more to play.
Although it can be played by up to 8 people, it is not a party game; the pace is slow and requires concentration. It's best enjoyed by two adults who want to take their time.
2. Best Portable Board Game for Two Players: Hive- A Game Crawling With Possibilities
Hive is a portable board game that has won numerous awards and recognition as an addictive strategy game that is friendly for players of all ages.
In Hive, every different type of insect tile is capable of moving in a different way, and the objective is to capture the Queen Bee.
The game is played with high-quality hexagonal tiles, which can be stored and transported in the included bag. There is no board, since the players build the field of play with their tiles every time.
Every piece moves in a unique way, and the game calls for long-term planning, like chess. It's a two-player game that is challenging, fun, and ultra-portable.
Hive is suitable for two players ages 8 to 108. The game comes with 22 tiles, the decorative travel bag, and the easy-to-learn rule book. The game takes less than 30 minutes to play.
Expansion sets are available, which will increase the range of possible moves and make the game more complex to play. There is also a smaller, pocket-sized version of the game available.
3. Best Board Game for Lovers of Pandemic: Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 (Blue Edition)
Board games are a great activity to do with friends and family at home and Pandemic is one of the most popular games in decades.
It's a cooperative game that has been hailed as one of the best games ever created. Pandemic is a survival game, where players have to survive and conquer in a demolished world.
For those who love Pandemic, but want an update that extends the story, refines the rules, and offers a whole new set of challenges, Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is a great investment.
Pandemic Legacy is a standalone game that engages and challenges people who loved Pandemic, and those who are new to the game.
In fact, the first scenario of Pandemic: Legacy is a slightly updated version of the classic Pandemic game, so that players can use it as a tutorial before advancing to the rest of the scenarios.
Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 is a game for 2-4 players who are 14 years old or older. It typically takes about 60 minutes to play the game.
4. Best Board Game for Endless Replay: Agricola
Board games are a great hobby for women to help them relax and enjoy the present moment, and Agricola is a game that a person can play alone or with a friend, and never get tired of the endless decisions and possible outcomes.
In Agricola, each player begins as a farming couple, who need to plant, grow, and harvest crops, while growing their family and working their land.
It's an award-winning game with high-quality wooden pieces, and tremendous variety in the ways it can be played and enjoyed. Agricola is a great game for people who enjoy classic board games like Risk and Settlers of Catan.
Agricola is a game for 1-4 players, and takes about 30 minutes per player to complete. It's rated for players 12 and over, but can be slightly complex to learn the first time.
5. Best Two Person Board Game for Frenemies: Claustrophobia
Being a good friend is a critical life skill but sometimes the even best friendships include a little competition. Claustrophobia is a gorgeous RPG-style dungeon crawling game, in which one player plays the demonic forces of hell, and the other player represents the forces of humanity.
It's an easy-to-learn survival game, that includes six scenarios with endless replay value. The game pieces and pre-painted figurines are beautiful to look at and fun to play with, and the modular board is unique every time.
Claustrophobia is for two players over the age of 13, and takes 30-60 minutes to play.
6. Best Deck Building Game for Two Players: Upper Deck Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
Upper Deck Legendary is a deck-building game in which players play as legendary Marvel heroes and compete against iconic Marvel supervillains. The game can be played cooperatively or competitively, and even includes rule variations for solo play.
Dozens of scenarios with scalable difficulty and adjustable levels of cooperation give endless options for replay and variation, and of course, there are expansions available if you want to add more complexity. The game has high-quality original artwork and more than 600 cards.
Legendary is designed for 1-5 players over the age of 14 and takes about 30-60 minutes to play.
7. Best Board Game for Two Players Who Love Epic Adventure: Flying Frog Fortune and Glory
Flying Frog Fortune and Glory is a fantastic game for lovers of classic adventure and cliffhanger stories like Indiana Jones, taking place in the 1930s and set against the rise of Nazis in Europe.
Players choose one of eight heroes who travel the globe seeking powerful artifacts to fight evil and has exiting, edge-of-your-seat action. There are dozens of variations for endless replay, and the high-quality pieces and artwork are incredibly engaging.
It's a fun game for a wide range of players and is fairly easy to learn.
Fortune and Glory can be played by 1-6 players who are 12 years old or older. It takes at least 90 minutes to play and may take several hours.
8. Best Board Game for Two Players Who Love Classic Video Games: Brotherwise Games Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game
Video games are a great rainy day date activity, but sometimes it's good to put the devices down and give your eyes a break. If you love classic, 8-bit games, but always wanted to be the monster rather than fight the monster, this is the game for you.
In Boss Monster, you build a dungeon to lure hapless adventurers into your clutches, adding monsters, traps, and spells to your deadly dungeon. The fun game cards and artwork are full of Easter-egg references to classic video games, and since there are 8 monsters to choose from, and every dungeon is unique, it has fantastic replay value.
This game is easy to learn but hard to master and has a number of available expansions.
Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game is a game for 2-4 players who are 13 and older. It typically takes 20-40 minutes to play a game.
9. Best Board Game for Two Adult Players Who Have Children: 7 Wonders – Duel
7 Wonders – Duel is a reprise of the legendary 7 Wonders deck building game, devised specifically for two players in a head-to-head competition.
Each player tries to build an epic civilization in the ancient world, trying to build the seven wonders. It's a game with complex decisions and multiple victory conditions, so no two games are alike.
This game has been awarded as not just one of the best board games in recent years for general strategy, but it's also been repeatedly recognized as one of the best two-player board games of all time.
Having multiple victory conditions makes the game competitive and unpredictable, and it's less competitive than some games, so there aren't any hard feelings.
It's fun, challenging, and fast to play, so parents can have a few moments of fun and playful time together in the small amount of free time that parents have.
Because there is so much variety in gameplay and victory, the game remains unpredictable even when playing with the same partner over and over again. And it's fast to set up and put away, without a lot of complex pieces that clutter up a surface.
7 Wonders – Duel is for two players over the age of 10, and takes about 30 minutes to play.
10. Best Board Game for an Adult and a Child to Play Together: Fasttrack
Play is an underrated life skill, but there aren't many board games that an adult and child can both enjoy playing together.
There are a lot of things a parent will do for a child, but there has to be a limit to Candyland. Enter Fasttrack, a fun hockey-style game with no reading, no setup, and no delicate pieces to damage or lose.
In Fasttrack, two players use an elastic band to try to aim and fire their wooden pieces zipping through the “goal,” where their pieces may collide with their opponent's.
It develops fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and the wooden board and wooden playing pieces will stand up to years of use.
It's fast-paced and fun for kids and adults alike, and we love that it's sustainably made. Fasttrack has been awarded as one of the best toys for kids, but it's fun for the whole family.
Fasttrack is for two players, ages 5 and up. It comes with the board, 10 discs, and a drawstring pouch to keep the discs in.
11. Best Board Game for Two Players Who Love Cyberpunk: Fantasy Flight Games Android: Mainframe
If you were a 90s kid who loved cyberpunk, Android: Mainframe is the two player board game for you.
In this game, players act as hackers, infiltrating the mainframe of a megabank. Every player has unique skills and programs to deploy, and the player with the biggest haul at the end of their hacking run wins.
This game is easy to learn, fast to set up, and fun to play. There's a great balance of strategy and variety, for high replay value where no two games are alike, but without relying on random factors like dice rolls.
Fantasy Flight Games Android: Mainframe is for 2-4 players who are 14 or over, and can be played in about 30 minutes.
Final Thoughts on the Best Board Games for 2 Players
Our top pick for the best board game for two players is 7 Wonders – Duel.
This game has been widely praised and recognized as one of the best two-player games of all time, with fantastic complexity and huge replay value.
The variety of winning conditions means that the game is never predictable, and either player can win right up until the last moment.
For couples and people who play the same game together over and over again, the complexity and variety in 7 Wonders – Duel prevents players from “settling into” a single strategy that makes gameplay predictable.
As great a game as 7 Wonders – Duel is, we also really appreciate the importance of cooperative games, where players work together instead of competing against each other.
Competitive games can sometimes cause emotional stress that board games are meant to alleviate. For that reason, our second pick is Upper Deck's Legendary.
We love that this game can be played cooperatively or competitively, with rule variations for different degrees of collaboration. It's also a game that can be played solo or enjoyed with up to 5 players, so it's more versatile than 7 Wonders – Duel.
Board games are a fun, healthy way to relax and build closer relationships with people you care about, and our top board games for two players include fantastic options for people of all ages and preferences.
And if you're looking for more games, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 41 Best Board Games for Couples to Play on Game Night
- 23 Best Card Games for Couples
- 9 Best Memory Board Games for Adults