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Contrary to popular games, board games aren’t only just for big parties or gatherings! Sometimes, you only need one other person to have a great time! Whether you’re looking for a game with your friend or someone special, our top pick is Jaipur. It’s fast-paced, accessible, and perfect for fans of strategy-based games.

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But it doesn’t stop there! We’ve compiled a list of the best 2-player board games out there, so you and your companion can hunker down with a good game on any night of the week. Want to know how we curated our list? Read our selection process here.

1. Best Overall: Jaipur

Available on
  • Player count: 2 players
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 10+

This trading game tops the list because of its elegantly-designed economic system. In Jaipur, you and your opponent compete to be the most successful Indian merchant in a strategic battle of gains and losses!

Why we love it

What makes Jaipur so great is that it’s the perfect gateway game for many new players to the board game genre! The rules are simple to learn, so it’s a fun and light-hearted way to test the waters of strategy-based board games without going too deep into a massive game.

We also love that Jaipur solves the dilemma that often comes with economic games - luck-based gambling. Instead of relying on luck, this game has a well-balanced economic system that allows you to strategize and plan ahead.

The only downside is that the game can be too simple for more experienced players looking for something more challenging. But hey, we still think Jaipur is a fantastic two-player board game that makes for a memorable evening!

How to play

Playing Jaipur is quick and straightforward. First, arrange the goods tokens from the highest to the lowest value, and shuffle and stack each bonus token pile for easy access. This way, everyone can determine which token has what is worth during your gameplay.

Then, position the camel and three seals of excellence adjacent to the bonus tile stacks. Distribute three face-up camel cards amongst players before merging any remaining cards into one deck.

Lastly, pick two cards from the deck and put them face-up near the three Camels to form a market. Players must discard any Camels in their hands and place them onto one stack beside themselves - this constitutes each player’s herd. You are now all set up for an exciting game of Jaipur!

During the game: It’s your turn - you can either choose to take cards or sell them. If you want to take cards, pick the goods you’d like from the market and exchange them for camels in hand. The decision is all yours!

On the other hand, when you decide to sell cards, get rid of them from your hand and obtain tokens based on the goods’ value. The higher the value, the more tokens you will receive! Don’t forget that each player must offer a minimum of two rubies, gold or silver concurrently.

A round of the game ends when three good token stacks have been used up or if there are no more cards in the draw pile while attempting to restock the market.

End of the game: When the round ends, whoever has gathered the most camels in their herd is granted a camel token worth five rupees. Each player tallies up all their tokens, and those with more money are awarded a Seal of Excellence! Whoever wins three rounds first is proclaimed as Jaipur’s new ruler!


2. Best Immersive: Pandemic Hot Zone: North America

Available on
  • Player count: 2-4 players
  • Duration: 30 minutes average playing time
  • Ages: 8+

Ever dreamt of saving the world from a contagious virus? Pandemic Hot Zone: North America is the game for you! In a more compact version of the original game, this two-player board game has you and your companion racing to prevent an epidemic from spreading across the continent.

Why we love it

Our favorite part about this enthralling game is how easy it is to learn the rules while being incredibly immersive simultaneously! It takes away the usually intimidating aspects of its original version, making it much more digestible, compact, and portable.

There’s also something about this game’s cooperative nature that makes us feel like we’re in it together. The result of a win or loss is determined by both players, making it an incredibly satisfying experience when you finally win!

Moreover, this game has endless replay value thanks to the four playable characters, each with individual traits and special abilities to make your playing experience unique every time. It’s sure to keep you and your friend coming back for more!

However, this game may be too easy for fans of the original version. But if you’re looking for a fun, exciting time with your companion โ€“ or maybe you’re a fan of the original game and want to collect all the versions โ€“ Pandemic Hot Zone: North America is just for you!

How to play

Gather your team of two to four outbreak responders and join forces as you combat three destructive diseases in North America! As the contagions quickly advance across the continent, every player must collaborate to control their spread before it’s too late.

Setting up: To begin the game, shuffle and disperse one role card to each participant. Keep any excess cards in a stack on the side facing down for later use. Hand out double-sided reference cards to all players so that they can quickly check their designated roles during gameplay.

Assemble the game board in the middle of your table and give your partner their corresponding colored pawns. Begin by placing all pieces on Atlanta, your starting point, then position the Outbreak and Infection Rate markers to their corresponding places on the board.

Then, mix the 24 player cards with city names and four “Event” cards into one deck. Next, provide each participant with three face-up cards from the deck.

Shuffle all Infection cards and locate their assigned spots on the board. Flip over two of these cards and set three cubes for each color onto the cities featured in them.

Then, do it again with two more cards but only place two cubes per city instead of three; finally, turn up another pair of infection cards to organize one cube apiece into those respective towns. Place any excess pieces off to your side, as they will replenish used cubes later!

Playing the game: Look at the player cards you both have with cities printed on them. The one who holds the most populous city will get to make their move first and then play passes in a clockwise direction until the game is over.

On your turn, you can do one out of the three possible actions:

  • Do four actions that are written on your reference card.
  • Draw two player cards.
  • Draw an infection card.

These actions will help you and your teammate travel around the board, discover new cities, build research stations, create cures for diseases, and ultimately save North America from an epidemic!

Ending the game: When the cubes have all been placed on the board when Outbreaks reaches its final space, or if the player deck runs out of cards, it’s game over, and you both lose.

But don’t worry! If you work together to contain and cure diseases before these conditions are met - congratulations! You win as a team.


3. Best Cooperative: Codenames Duet

Available on
  • Player count: 2 players
  • Duration: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Ages: 10+

Put on your spy goggles and sleuthing hats; it’s time to take on a mission in Codenames Duet! This two-player game makes the perfect team-building activity or fun family game night as you try to uncover the secret identities of the targets in a race against time.

Why we love it

The best thing about Codenames Duet is how working together is the only way to win! You must work together to use clues, tactics, and strategies to find all the targets before time runs out. It’s a great way to practice communication and problem-solving as you work together to beat the clock.

There is an excellent level of replayability with this game, as there are endless combinations with the cards. So you can play again and again without getting bored!

We also love how quickly you can pick up and play this game. The instructions are simple, the pieces are few, and you can quickly jump into the game - anytime, anywhere.

The only downside to Codenames Duet is that it can sometimes be challenging to win. But don’t give up - have fun, use your sleuthing skills and think outside the box. You and your teammate can have an exciting adventure in this social word-guessing game with some strategy and practice.

How to play

Get ready for a thrilling game of Codenames! To begin, you and your teammate should sit facing each other from opposite ends of the table. Then, organize the 25 Code Name cards in a 5x5 grid between you both to be visible to all players.

Next, place the agent and assassin cards on this once-hidden board for everyone to see. Finally, set aside nine timer tokens for timed rounds during the game.

Position the plastic stand next to the word grid, and shuffle the packet of key cards. The first player draws a card from the top and displays it for both players to observe. On your turn, you give a clue with a name and number while the other player tries to identify all related words connected with this hint.

If you guess an assassin, you are immediately eliminated from the game. If your partner guesses correctly and it’s an agent, they must cover that word with a green agent card to keep playing. Conversely, if they incorrectly assume a bystander, their turn ends, and a timer token covers the word.

You win the game when you and your partner have identified all 15 agent cards and their corresponding words! On the other hand, if you guess an assassin card during playtime, it’s game over. If the time has run out yet there are still clues, do your best to think of any remaining words without giving additional hints.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Working together is fun! If you’re into cooperative board games, head over to get to know our favorites.


4. Best Interactive: 7 Wonders Duel

Available on
  • Player count: 2 players
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 10+

Raise a city to the sky and rule over an empire in the next board game on our list! An adaptation of the classic award-winning game, 7 Wonders Duel is an intense, thought-provoking battle that pits you and your opponent against one another to build the most prestigious city.

Why we love it

We think there’s nothing quite like the excellent pacing of 7 Wonders Duel without sacrificing the strategic depth of its predecessor! The game plays quickly, making it perfect if you only have a little time to spend gaming but still want to get into some substantial play in your session.

The beauty of this game also lies in its fantastic artwork and graphic design. Every card and board piece is intricately detailed, helping to draw you into the game’s world.

Plus, 7 Wonders Duel has excellent replayability because there are multiple ways to win. You can pursue a scientific victory, strategically exploit your opponent’s weaknesses, or focus on economic strategies.

The most significant drawback with 7 Wonders Duel is that keeping track of all the cards and pieces can be intimidating. But don’t worry! Once you get in the groove, you’ll be marveling at the intricate strategies and combinations with 7 Wonders Duel. So you can play again and again without getting bored!

How to play

7 Wonders Duel features a handy little board for tracking your military power and progress tokens. You use the conflict pawn to keep track of it and military tokens that you mark with each step forward in case you are ever pushed back.

For a riveting game of strategy and luck, try out the two decks of cards! The larger deck is made up of Wonders โ€“ majestic monuments that you can build to advance in the game.

For all other constructions, turn to the second set, which contains buildings from three distinct eras (I, II, and III). And don’t forget about guilds โ€” they have their own special deck as well!

Setting up: If you’re looking to organize your cards effectively, the Age I deck is just what you need! Discarding three random cards before building your pool will add an element of chance and increase replayability โ€” making it more enjoyable!

As you progress through the different ages, all described in both the manual and quick reference guides, make sure to add three guild cards to your deck after discarding it and assembling your pool. This will ensure that you continue moving forward smoothly as each age is completed.

Playing the game: At each turn, you can perform three options: building structures, discarding cards for coins, and constructing wonders. Doing these actions will sometimes have no cost, but often you must pay resource cards or coins.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a building with one of the chain symbols โ€” masks, books, or suns โ€” you are eligible for free construction and don’t have to pay. When you come up short on funds, draw a card from the deck and discard it in exchange for two coins plus one more coin per yellow building you own.

Ending the game: You can beat your opponent and win the game in three ways. You can achieve a military victory by advancing through your opponent’s capital, amassing seven scientific points, or getting a civilian victory by drafting all the cards. Good luck, and may the best ruler win!


5. Best Classic: Chess

Available on
  • Player count: 2 players
  • Duration: Can vary
  • Ages: 5+

An old classic, Chess has been a go-to game for two people since its invention more than 1,500 years ago! Try to outsmart your opponent with the strategic movement of your pieces and capture the King to win.

Why we love it

What makes Chess so great is that it’s easy to learn but difficult to master. You were able to grasp the basics of Chess by your first game, but you will likely develop more complex strategies as you continue playing.

The game also offers immense flexibility and replayability. It can be as long or as short as you want, making it perfect for a quick game between family members or an intense match against another master!

Chess is also a great way to develop critical thinking skills and hone cognitive abilities. So not only will you be having a good time, but you might also be becoming smarter!

However, we do have to warn you โ€“ Chess can be somewhat intimidating if you’re playing against someone who has been honing their skills for years! That’s why we suggest starting with a more casual game to get the hang of it first.

But no matter who you play with, Chess will provide hours of fun. So if you’re looking for a game that will challenge and test your intellect, look no further than Chess!

How to play

Chess is played on an 8x8 board with sixteen pieces for each player. Your goal in this game is to capture your opponent’s King before they capture yours.

Your pieces are arranged in an opening formed on the board. From front to back, the pieces include a Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, King, and eight Pawns. Each type of piece has its own set of rules for movement.

To move, pick up a piece to a space on the board. All pieces, except for the Knight and King, can only move in straight lines, and the Knight moves in an L-shape, while the King can only move one space in any direction.

You can capture your opponent’s piece by removing it from the board and placing it to the side. The game ends when either player’s King is placed in checkmate and can no longer move or if neither player has enough pieces left to checkmate the other.

๐Ÿ‘‰ In need of more classics? Check out our article filled with the best classic board games of all time!


6. Best Icebreaker: Patchwork

Available on
  • Player count: 2 players
  • Duration: 30 minutes average playing time
  • Ages: 8+

For fans of puzzle-type games, Patchwork is the perfect game to get everyone in the mood for a good time! And don’t worry, this game won’t ask you to sew a quilt!

Why we love it

The thing that makes Patchwork so great is that it’s simple and easy to learn. It provides just the perfect balance of luck and skill. Players of all ages and skill levels can enjoy it together, making it a great game for families.

Patchwork is also perfect for learning how to plan ahead and think logically because it’s all about resource management. As you progress through the game, you’ll need to decide which tiles and pieces you want to add to your patchwork, depending on what’s available and what will be most beneficial in the long run.

Our only gripe with this game? It requires a lot of space to lay out the tiles and pieces! So clear up a large enough area before you start playing. Regardless, Patchwork is a great game you and someone special should try out!

How to play

Patchwork is a quick and easy-to-learn game that requires no turn-taking! Start by equipping each player with Patchwork’s iconic quilt board, five buttons, a set of time tokens (which represent the players’ money), and some spare buttons. Now you are ready to begin your journey into this unique patching world!

You can choose between advancing and taking buttons or picking up a patch during your turn. If you opt to advance and receive buttons, move your time token forward on the board, so it occupies the space directly in front of your opponent’s token. You will be rewarded with one button for each spot you move across!

First, select one of the three presented near the neutral token to take a patch. Then pay buttons to place that chosen patch on your board. Ensure it aligns with its corresponding quilt board before moving your time token forward.

The game is over when both players have advanced to the end of their time boards. To determine your score, note how many buttons you still possess and add the worth of any unique tiles you may own. For each empty quilt space on your board, subtract two points from your total for the final calculation.

Whoever accumulates the highest number of points wins! In the unlikely event that two players tie, whoever reaches the end of their time board first is the winner!


7. Best Strategy: Forbidden Island

Available on
  • Player count: 2-4 players
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 10+

Save a sinking island and enjoy an exciting cooperative adventure with the next game on our list: Forbidden Island! Team up with a friend or a family member to explore the mysterious island while collecting ancient artifacts.

Why we love it

What makes Forbidden Island so special is that it facilitates team effort and communication like no other game! The rising tension as the island sinks with your team’s every move also adds to the fun and excitement of the game, making it the perfect game for anyone who loves a little suspense.

Moreover, there is an excellent level of immersive gameplay here, as the detailed artwork helps draw you into the fantasy world. And because you can adjust each game’s difficulty, your team will never get bored as each game has something new to offer.

The only issue we see others having with this game is that the tension may become too overwhelming for some. If you and someone are looking for more laid-back fun, you may want to look elsewhere.

But overall, we think Forbidden Island is an excellent cooperative game that anyone looking for an immersive and fun experience should try out!

How to play

To start, you and the other player first create your forbidden island by piecing together the game board. Ready the 24 Island tiles by shuffling them, then arrange them in a 4 x 4 square directly in front of you with their nonblue and white sides facing up.

After constructing the Forbidden Island formation, arrange two additional tiles on either side of each square in the center. These will create a gameboard for your pawns to move around and explore!

Setting up: Gather the four relics: The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire, and The Ocean’s Chalice around the island. During the game, you’ll need to discard 4 matching Treasure cards on a corresponding Island tile to capture these treasures.

Next, divide the cards into three piles based on their card back:

  1. Flood deck (blue), Treasure deck (red), and Adventurer cards (6 cards).
  2. Arrange the Flood cards on their own island tile in the center.
  3. Give each player an Adventurer card, and take some time to read your roles and powers.

Playing the game: On each turn, you can do one of the following: take up to three actions, draw two Treasure deck cards, and draw Flood cards equal to the water level. The water level increases each turn.

You can do 3 actions at once, such as move and capture a Treasure or move twice. When you have secured all four artifacts, you must shift your pawns to the Fools’ Landing tile.

Finally, a Helicopter Lift card must be discarded so you and your team can escape from Forbidden Island and secure your win!

On the other hand, if the Temples, Caves, Palaces, Gardens, or the Fools Landings tiles sink before you collect their respective treasures, or If the water level reaches the skull and crossbones, then you both lose.

๐Ÿ‘‰Do you want more? Upgrade your next game night with our top 5 awesome strategy-based board games!


8. Best Adventure: Santorini

Available on
  • Player count: 2-4 players
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Ages: 8+

A game about gods towering over mortals, Santorini is always a massive hit for any pair who enjoys a little strategy and a sense of power! Enjoy all the fun of building, climbing, and conquering as you both assume the role of powerful gods.

Why we love it

The most exciting part of Santorini is its low learning curve and ease of play. You can pick it up quickly, so anyone can join the fun! This game is perfect for all gamers, from the novice to the die-hard strategist.

There is an incredibly high level of replayability due to the three levels of difficulty that can be changed for each game. Improving your strategic skills will be rewarding as you and your partner sharpen your strategies to conquer the board.

Plus, this game is an excellent way to sharpen your creativity and learn how to plan ahead. It’s one of those games that are easy to learn but difficult to master, so you can keep coming back for more!

One potential downside to Santorini is that people who aren’t into strategy-oriented games may find it less enjoyable. The game requires good planning, analysis, and foresight, which can be daunting for some. If that’s the case with you or your partner, we recommend another 2-player board game from this list.

Overall, Santorini is a great way to spend an evening with someone you want to challenge and have fun with. We highly recommend it!

How to play

Playing Santorini is simple and intuitive. To begin, each player must place two workers in any available space. Then, shuffle the god and goddess cards before dealing one to each player. Your god or goddess card will provide special powers to be used throughout the game.

On each turn, you can take one of your workers to an adjacent location (diagonal counts, too!) and build a single-story tower close by. When you decide to do so, remember that you can bring one of your workers just one level up or down from its current position.

To progress, you must relocate to a space unoccupied by other workers or blue domes. You can take advantage of God Powers, which offers special abilities like constructing a dome at any level and relocating multiple times along different levels.

Winning the game is as simple as placing one of your pieces at the top of the third story. Remember that every turn should consist of making a move and building upon it, and you must do so to avoid losing to your opponent.

Are you ready for an exciting challenge? Step up to the game, prove yourself worthy, and come out victorious!


9. Best Competitive: Splendor Duel

Available on
  • Player count: 2 players
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 10+

Time to bedazzle your opponent with a battle of the gems in Splendor Duel! Want to show your opponent who’s the top dog? This dueling game is the ultimate challenge of strategy and wit.

Why we love it

There’s just something about this game’s accessibility that’s a breath of fresh air. Anyone can pick up and play Splendor Duel, no complex rules to learn! This is a perfect gateway game for those new to strategic board games who want to know.

We also love how the pieces for this game are well-made โ€“ it adds a touch of class! It’s a great game for those who enjoy feeling the pieces and making those moves with their hands. Plus, the card and board artwork are gorgeously detailed and captivating.

You can play this game 50 times, and it will remain fresh and engaging, as each game allows you to explore different aspects of the game mechanisms. It’s a fun challenge that’ll keep you entertained for hours on end.

The only thing we didn’t like as much was the lack of thematic elements. Although it’s a great game, it can feel abstract and lacks the familiar story of similar board games.

Nevertheless, Splendor Duel will please those who want to test their strategic skills in a friendly and accessible game. So if you’re ready for an exhilarating challenge, try Splendor Duel! You won’t be disappointed.

How to play

Getting started with Splendor Duel is super simple! Begin by shuffling the 3 decks of Jewel cards, then stack them vertically in order from level 1 at the bottom to level 3 at the top.

Next, position the board below this pyramid and randomly distribute the 25 tokens onto it, beginning with the center space and adhering to its printed spiral pattern. Place the 4 Royal cards beside or in a row beneath that same board.

During your turn, you can take tokens from the board or spend those in your possession to acquire Jewel cards. These cards will grant you Prestige points and Crowns essential for victory. These cards can also provide special powers and bonuses, reducing the price of future Jewels!

The first player to acquire 6 Crowns or 12 Prestige points wins the game!


10. Best Abstract: Hive

Available on
  • Player count: 2 players
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Ages: 9+

Ever wanted to be a Queen Bee and command an army? Hive is the game for you! This sophisticated and minimalist game offers a unique spin on the classic tile-laying game.

Why we love it

What we love most is that this game is so simple to understand, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to win! It’s similar to chess โ€” but without the cultural barrier and intimidating skill levels required, so it’s ideal for those who want an accessible yet challenging game.

One thing that makes this two-player board game so unique is that it’s played with no actual playing surface. The pieces, or tiles, represent various bugs in a hive, and it’s up to you to control them strategically to achieve total domination over your opponent.

This game is incredibly portable and easy to store, as the tiles are comfortably sized yet intricate. They’re tactile and easy to pick up, which makes the game more enjoyable. Plus, the tiles are made of wood and feature hexagonal faces that give them a unique look and feel.

Hive also has endless replayability because it’s strategic and complex enough to present different challenges constantly. You’ll never be bored!

Our only minor complaint about this game is that while it’s simple, it can be difficult to master. This means that players with more experience will almost always have a slight edge, which could be discouraging for some.

Overall, Hive is the perfect game for those who want an accessible but stimulating challenge. Its quick game time, easy setup, and gameplay depth make it a brilliant two-player board game!

How to play

In Hive, your goal is to trap your opponent’s Queen Bee. On each turn, you’ll either place a new piece or move one of your existing pieces. Let the game begin โ€” each player must initiate by setting down a single tile of their choice.

Then, each player should place their Queen Bee on or before their fourth turn. To move a piece, you’ll have to follow specific rules which require your pieces to slide over other tiles, and you’ll need to keep your Queen Bee safe from being surrounded by an enemy’s pieces.

As tiles grow closer and closer to each other, the game quickly becomes an intense battle of strategy and cunning. The player who traps their opponent’s Queen Bee wins the game!


How we picked and tested

PsyCat Games is built by people who know how to have fun! We’ve been researching parties and games since 2018 and have published 400+ articles on our website. That’s why we’re confident that we know what we’re talking about!

We want you to have the best time possible and not waste your money on a subpar product. That’s why we spend over three months testing over 30 games with groups of kids, teens, and adults. We’ve ranked the games by the fun factor, player experience, and replayability!

Our ranking is subjective, but we’ve tried our best to be impartial. However, if you stumble upon a 2 player board game that you think deserves a spot on our list, please reach out to us! We would love to hear from you.

PsyCat Games is supported by readers clicking on our affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we might earn a commission if you buy something through our links.


FAQ about 2 player Board Games

1. Can you play board games with 2 players?

Yes! Many board games can be played with only 2 players. From classic favorites such as Chess, Patchwork, and Hive to more recent favorites such as Splendor Duel and 7 Wonders Duel, there’s an abundance of two-player board games that are perfect for a night of competitive fun. Just grab a friend, pick your favorite game, and get ready to play!

2. What is a fun game for 2 players?

One of the best two-player board games is Hive. This abstract strategy game is quick to learn, easy to set up, and provides hours of challenging and enjoyable play. Best of all, no playing surface is required โ€” so you can just grab the pieces and start a game in minutes!

3. What are the best free 2 player games?

If you’re looking for a two-player game that won’t break the bank, plenty of great free options are available. There are free online versions of classic card games such as Chess and other 2-player board games. You can also find free apps on your mobile device that offer a wide range of two-player games, so you can have fun without spending a penny.

4. What is a good board game for two adults?

Codenames Duet is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a board game that two adults can enjoy together. This cooperative word game is all about communication and teamwork as you work together to identify secret agents and complete your mission! Plus, it’s quick and easy to learn, perfect for a fun and laughter night.

5. Can 2 people play Monopoly?

Yes, two people can definitely play Monopoly! As the most popular board game in history, Monopoly is great for adults and children alike. If you’re playing with two people, you can quickly get a game going without having to worry about setting up extra pieces.

However, it is essential to note that this game can take a long time to complete, so if you’re looking for something quick and easy, it might not be the best choice.

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