Good 2-player board games
July 18, 2005 6:26 AM   Subscribe

Good 2-player board/card games?

I just picked up Carcassonne, based on recomendations read on, and I am looking for some other interesting 2-player games which I can play with my S.O. I've also been playing a lot of Tantrix and Scrabble lately, but that is the extent of what I know about current games. Any recomendations?
posted by skwm to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (39 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
Cribbage! Just use a sheet of paper and pen to keep score if you don't want to buy a board - first to 121...
posted by bifter at 6:36 AM on July 18, 2005

Check out We like the Settlers card game, Cleopatra, and Lost Cities.
posted by muckster at 6:42 AM on July 18, 2005

Cuarenta is one of the best two-player card games I've ever played. It's Ecuadoran. Instructions somewhere on the web I'm sure.

posted by OmieWise at 6:44 AM on July 18, 2005

Sorry, that was lazy. Cuarenta.
posted by OmieWise at 6:46 AM on July 18, 2005 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Balloon Cup
Settlers, the card game
Starship Catan, the card game
Chez Geek
Lost Cities

All of these should be available at BoardGameGeek.

(shameless plug)
I see you're in NYC- the board I co-run is a NY-centric game community. There are also monthly gaming get-togethers, which is a good place to check out games you're curious about without buying them.
posted by mkultra at 6:50 AM on July 18, 2005

Oh, Cuarenta looks cool!
posted by mkultra at 6:52 AM on July 18, 2005

I really like Backgammon . It is a two player game, and a lot of fun. The rules are simple enough to learn.
posted by chunking express at 6:53 AM on July 18, 2005

Boggle-- neither board nor card, but lots of fun!
posted by picklebird at 6:55 AM on July 18, 2005

More: We also like Quiddler and Set.
posted by picklebird at 6:56 AM on July 18, 2005

The word game Snatch (also known as Anagrams) is a great two-player game. Equally as good with more players.

I'd also recommend the Scrabble derivation Upwords.

More game recommendations in my gift guide.
posted by mark7570 at 7:20 AM on July 18, 2005

Another vote for Lost Cities. It's like two-player solitaire. My wife and I have nearly worn our cards out.
posted by jdroth at 7:20 AM on July 18, 2005

Currently addicted to Rummikub. Good fun for two to four players.
posted by spilon at 7:27 AM on July 18, 2005

Best answer: is probably the best place to find out about the 'new renaissance' games -- Carcassonne and its add-ons are an adictive family favorite here at my house too.

Some others: Munchkin (a card game), Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne The City (a different game than the one you have, made by the same people, and beautifully presented), Carcassonne The Castle (which is designed for two players and two players only), and Kill Doctor Lucky.

We're currently all about Dread Pirate.
posted by anastasiav at 7:49 AM on July 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

Lost Cities is a fun game that doesn't require your full attention--you can easily have a conversation while playing, which is nice.

Lately I've had a couple of good experiences with DaVinci's Challenge, but I prefer abstract games with small rulesets.
posted by Prospero at 7:53 AM on July 18, 2005

Second recommendation for Upwords. Like scrabble without the annoyances.
posted by BigCalm at 7:57 AM on July 18, 2005

Aside from Cribbage, my favorite 2-player (normal) card game is Cassino.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 8:03 AM on July 18, 2005

Zertz easy to learn and fantastically addictive.
posted by cmfletcher at 8:09 AM on July 18, 2005

Pente. It's wonderful. It's very easy to learn but is impossible to totally master. The stones are beautiful and very appealing to your senses, and the play is elegant in its simplicity. Hardly any rules. Extremely addicting.
posted by iconomy at 8:20 AM on July 18, 2005

As far as card games go, I'm also a Cribbage fan. Hollywood Gin is another fun game.

I've been playing a lot of Muggins (dominoes) with my roomate lately, which has been a good time as well.

Mancala is also worth checking out.
posted by bwilms at 8:51 AM on July 18, 2005

Best answer: One other variant of Carcassonne that's excellent as two-player is Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers. While officially it can handle up to 5 (maybe 6) we've found that it works best with 2.

My wife and I are also fans of the various railroad games. I think that Eurorails has the most interesting terrain, but NipponRails is good, too.

And another vote for the Settlers of Catan card game versions.

One more note: I'd highly recommend checking EBay for any of the games you are thinking of buying.
posted by robhuddles at 8:56 AM on July 18, 2005

Corsari is quite fun with two players and scales well for up to 4. Plus... you know... pirates! Arrrr!

Thanks for the link to Fun Again Games muckster, as if I didn't have enough things to waste money on.
posted by Capn at 9:12 AM on July 18, 2005

98! It's so fun! Great with booze too because then it requires inebriated counting.
posted by freudianslipper at 9:25 AM on July 18, 2005

I assume you know about Chess and Go, but they must be mentioned.
posted by callmejay at 10:21 AM on July 18, 2005

I'll second Lost Cities and Carcassonne: The Castle, and add Alhambra, which plays quite nicely with two (and can go up to six), and Jambo (two-player only).
posted by sad_otter at 11:26 AM on July 18, 2005

posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:57 AM on July 18, 2005

I disagree with the Upwords recommendation. Why not just play Scrabble? I feel like an 8 year-old when I play Upwords.

The SO bought Hansa for me last Christmas and we always have a good time playing. Not terribly difficult, but it's fun to try and outsmart each other.

Monopoly isn't bad as a two-player game unless one person is far better at it than the other.
posted by suchatreat at 12:01 PM on July 18, 2005

sort of like Pente, only bigger.
posted by hortense at 12:20 PM on July 18, 2005

Othello, also sometimes seen on the net as Reversi.
posted by yclipse at 2:01 PM on July 18, 2005

Spite and Malice. My mother and I spent many, many hours foiling each other at this game after getting bored with cribbage and double solitaire (patience).
posted by QIbHom at 3:11 PM on July 18, 2005

Dont' forget about Magic: The Gathering. Of course, it's pretty addictive, and can be expensive if you get sucked in. Of course, there are plenty of ways to play for free (Apprentice online, or proxy every card)

Wizards official website
posted by Four Flavors at 3:36 PM on July 18, 2005

Second for Spite & Malice. You can play it for money, but it's good without that, too.

My son tried to get us to play Magic TG. It's too complicated to learn quickly.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:42 PM on July 18, 2005

knighmare chess is cool, but it takes a little while to get the hang of it. The first couple of times you play will probably require ironing out some house rules to deal with ambiguities in card interactions.
it's also excellent as a handicapping system in the event that one player is much better at regular chess (just give the worse player more cards).
posted by juv3nal at 4:20 PM on July 18, 2005

If you enjoy CCG type stuff, there's a Star Wars collectable card game (I typically play the Revenge of the Sith one, but I think there's versions for all of the movies, and I think you can actually mix cards across films/decks) that's two player and is actually pretty fun (and I say this as a Non-Star-Wars-Fan). I've heard that the Lord of the Rings card game is even better, but where I merely sorta-enjoy the Star Wars franchise, I can't stand LotR, so I haven't played that yet. But it might be worth checking out. I think both are by Wizards of the Coast, but not 100% sure.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 5:37 PM on July 18, 2005

Big 2. It's a very simple game that uses a normal deck of cards, involves standard poker combinations that you would likely already be familiar with, and can be as easy or as strategic as you want. The game is intended for 4 players (each starting with 13 cards), but if you deal 4 piles of 13 (as normal) and just discard 2 piles, 2 players can play and it's just as much fun.

This game goes by a number of different names, so apologies if it's already been suggested here as something else.
posted by teem at 7:08 PM on July 18, 2005

These Big 2 rules are probably more reliable.
posted by teem at 7:12 PM on July 18, 2005

My wife and I started playing Bridge a few months ago. It is a fun game that really does require a lot of thinking and knowledge to play. I've found it to be more fun with less serious players, as serious/tourny players get super pissed when you bid incorrectly.
posted by intheory at 2:17 PM on July 19, 2005

Best answer: If you're not already overwhelmed with options, try searching the GeekLists on BoardGameGeek. There are tons of user-created lists of specifically two player games:
posted by xulu at 10:35 AM on July 20, 2005 [2 favorites]

list one
list 2
list 3
list 4

Boardgamegeek is an awesome, massive site.
posted by mecran01 at 8:45 PM on October 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

There's a version of settlers of Catan online on which is really fun to play if you're already familiar with the board game.
posted by kaestle at 8:07 PM on November 16, 2005

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