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 To Love, Honor and Vacuum, 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!
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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)!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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!).
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!).
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.