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The 16 Best Two-Player Board Games in 2021
Board games have been around for thousands of years. Throughout the centuries, these games have evolved from simple tabletop games like Senet and Hounds & Jackals to more strategic games like chess, checkers, and backgammon. Eventually, modern era games like Monopoly, Risk, and Dungeons & Dragons introduced storylines and cooperative elements to board games.
There are dozens of board games to choose from, whether you prefer to play alone, with a partner, or as a group. Games like chess and checkers only allow for two players at a time while Monopoly and Dungeons & Dragons can have a lot more.
If you are looking for a good game to play with a partner, check out our list of the 16 best two-player board games in 2021.
Azul is a modern board game that was released by Plan B Games in 2017. It plays around Portuguese tiles called azulejos. It allows two to four players and can last around 30 to 45 minutes per match.
Each player aims to fill a board of 5×5 squares with the azulejos. You will take all the tiles of the same color from the repository and place them in a row on the board. All the players will take turns until all the tiles have been taken. After that, one tile from each row will be transferred to the player’s 5×5 board while the rest are discarded. This is a fairly easy game to learn, especially when you are only playing with one other person.
2. Nova Luna
Nova Luna is an indie board game that can be played alone or with up to four players in total. This abstract strategy game focuses on placing tiles with corresponding tasks on the board.
Each turn, a player will choose a new tile from the moon wheel to place in front of them. After picking a tile, you must accomplish the task that it comes with. Place the tiles of the right color adjacent to the task you want to do.
After each accomplished task, you can place one of your markers on it. The first player to place all of their markers will win the game.
With the exception of ancient games like chess and backgammon, Monopoly is arguably the most popular board game in modern times. This economics-themed game allows for two to eight players and can last from 20 to 180 minutes per game.
All players start off with the same amount of money. Each player will roll two dice and move their token around the board correspondingly. Depending on where you land, you can buy the property, pay rent to another player, pay taxes, go to jail, and a handful of other possible scenarios. Monopoly can get very competitive, so it is best to play with friends or family.
One of the newest games on our list, Wingspan was released in 2019 by Stonemaier Games. This card-type board game allows one to five players and can last around 40 to 70 minutes per game.
There are 170 individual cards with birds illustrated on them. The players will assign birds to the forest, wetland, and grassland habitats. Each player will take turns putting birds in the three habitats over four rounds. There are a limited number of actions you can take each round, so spend them well among drawing new cards, playing cards, collecting food, and laying eggs.
5. Codenames Duet
Codenames is a very popular board game for groups. The original game divides all the players into two groups with a spymaster on each team to give clues to their teammates. In Codenames Duet, two players have to work together to find all 15 codewords before time runs out.
Layout 25 cards across a 5×5 grid on the table. Place the key card on the holder so each player can only see one side of the card. Nine of the cards will be green while one is black to represent the assassin. If either player taps on the assassin card, you will lose the game. This is a great board game to improve cooperation and chemistry between partners.
6. Imhotep: The Duel
Imhotep is a board game set in Ancient Egypt. In the original game, there are six rounds where players will move wooden stones by boat to build monuments. Each turn, you can choose between four different actions. Procure new stones, load stones on a boat, move a boat to a monument, or play an action card.
Imhotep: The Duel is the two player version of the board game. Each player will take on the role of Nefertiti and Akhenaten as they try to place pieces on the board and unload the most valuable tiles from the boats. You also have to build your own four monuments to earn points throughout the course of the game.
7. Sterling Games 3-in-1 Chess Chequers Backgammon Set
This Sterling Games 3-in-1 set provides owners with three popular board games on one board. Chess is one of the most popular board games in the world and has been for centuries. Checkers is a similar game with fewer unique characters, simpler mechanics, and more limited movements on the board.
Backgammon is another ancient board game that is still very popular today. It consists of two sets of 15 checker pieces, two pairs of dice, dice cups, and a doubling cube. Players race towards removing all their checkers from the board. In some competitions, the first player to reach a set number of points wins the game.
Carcassonne is a German board game released in 2000 by publisher Hans im Glück. The game is named after the medieval town of Carcassonne in southern France that is known for its high and fortified walls.
This card-based board game starts with a single board of the medieval landscape. There will be a single terrain tile face up with 71 others left on the drawing deck. Each player will take turns drawing a new tile and placing it adjacent to tiles on the board. The rule is that tiles must only connect to similar tiles, such as roads connect to roads, cities to cities, and fields to fields.
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9. Agricola: All Creatures Big And Small
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a European-style farm game created by Uwe Rosenberg. Players will take on the role of farmers, tasked with having to sow fields, buy and take care of animals, build stables, collect resources, and feed their families. Each game can have one to five players and typically lasts around 30 to 60 minutes.
Players start off in a hut with two rooms. Each round, they will place their family members in action spaces where they can gather resources and improve their households. Each game lasts 14 rounds where players will compete to earn the most points.
Kero is a board game set in the far future. In 2471, kerosene has become an extremely scarce resource. Two rival clans are competing to survive by exploring new territories in the hopes of finding kerosene to sustain them. Real Mad Max vibes with this one.
Both players will play as clan leaders that manage their camps, tanker trucks, and a team of explorers. During each turn, players will fuel up, roll their dice, and draw cards or send out their explorers to new territories. Fires can occur at any point and will force you to discard burnt cards. You can also claim any new territories that you have won after each round. After three rounds, the player with the most earned points wins the game.
11. Star Wars Imperial Assault
Star Wars is one of the most popular movie series of all time. It has produced an entire media franchise that includes animated series, video games, musicals, and board games. Star Wars Imperial Assault is a strategy game that allows two to five players and can last around one to two hours.
You will join the Star Wars universe in the middle of the Galactic Civil War between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. This takes place right after the Death Star was destroyed.
Players will work together to defeat the Empire and its limitless resources by helping Rebel operatives complete missions. Live out your Star Wars fantasies in this tactical board game with your friends.
Clue is a classic murder mystery board game that can be played by two to six players. Each game can last anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes. Clue has inspired a number of games, books, and other forms of media like movies, television series, and musicals because of its popularity.
There will be three cards that represent one suspect, one room, and one weapon. These are hidden while the rest of the cards are distributed among the players. Players will roll the dice and move around the board accordingly.
The goal of the game is for the players to deduce the details of the crime. Each player will present their suggestions and the others will try to disprove them. Clue is a great competitive game to play with friends and family, especially during Halloween.
Patchwork is another creation by famous game designer Uwe Rosenberg. Released in 2014, this game centers around the idea of creating beautiful textiles using fabric blocks on the board.
Basically, players compete against each other by trying to create the best quilt using patches that sometimes do not fit together. You start by laying out all the patches in a circle and each player takes five buttons.
Each turn, you can either purchase a patch by using a button or pass. You can then add that patch to your game board as long as it does not overlap with other patches. After the timer runs out, the score is computed by counting how many buttons each player has. They also lose two points for each empty square on the board.
14. Pandemic Hot Zone: North America
Pandemic Hot Zone: North America puts players in a world where disease threatens the North America that we have come to know. Players have to cooperate and find cures for three deadly diseases that are looking to destroy the continent.
You will travel around the continent to visit and treat local populations, try to stop outbreaks before they happen, and find a cure with your team. There can be two to four players and each game will last an average of 30 minutes. In the time of the COVID-19 Pandemic, this strategy board game is a great way to spend your time at home with friends and family members.
15. Getaway Driver
This new creative game combines elements of classic board games and racing movies like The Fast and the Furious or The Italian Job. You will be put right in the driver’s seat of a dangerous chase out of town. For this two-player game, you can choose to be the Driver or the Police.
The Driver is a daredevil who has to evade the Police and get out of town quickly. The Police have a number of resources at their disposal to try and capture the Driver before they complete their escape.
Each turn, the Police will try to build and position their vehicles to funnel the Driver towards the Police Force. The Driver, on the other hand, tries to avoid that and pulls stunts to get away after the last city tile is placed.
16. Memoir ‘44
This historical board game puts players in the middle of World War II. There are 17 different scenarios you can play, including Omaha Beach, Pegasus Bridge, Operation Cobra, and the Ardennes.
Players will deploy troops using Command and Tactic cards, make use of the units’ unique skills, and try to defeat their opponents. There are infantry, paratroopers, tanks, artillery, and resistance fighters, each with their own set of skills.
Memoir ‘44 lets players experience the strategic and tactical aspects of World War II in the different theaters of war. While this is a two-player game, it can also accommodate team play if you wish to do that.
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