Looking for fun, not-too-challenging 2-player games
July 30, 2013 10:34 AM   Subscribe

What are the best games (both classic and new) for two people? Specifically, fun, not super challenging, about 30 minutes to 2 hours per session. Primarily seeking board games and card games, but video games for mobile or console are welcome too.

I recently moved in with my boyfriend. We spend too much time on our separate gadgets, even though we both enjoy things like co-op video games and board games. We would both like to spend more time doing interactive things other than cooking and sleeping.

Things I/We Enjoy
-Ascension (deck-building game)
-Forbidden Island
-Mario Kart
-Munchkin (only if we're with friends, 2 player isn't doable, I don't think)
-Tantrix (not this exact one, but something similar with a name that escapes me)
-Word games
-Ticket to Ride

My first choice would be card games (cheaper, portable), but board games are a very close second. Video games would be third. We have a large assortment of gadgets, so pretty much all platforms are up for suggestion: Wii, PS3, XBOX, iPhone, Android, etc.

Nothing super complicated or immersive right now, looking for options that can be learned quickly and played casually.

Help us get our game on! Thanks!
posted by rachaelfaith to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (49 answers total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Lost Cities!
posted by nkknkk at 10:37 AM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Lost Cities, Shazamm, and Kachina are my favorite light quick and easy 2-player games.
posted by Garm at 10:40 AM on July 30, 2013

posted by Flamingo at 10:44 AM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:45 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by mefireader at 10:45 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Seconding both Cribbage and Carcasonne.
posted by alms at 10:47 AM on July 30, 2013

Zip It is a very small, portable two-player only game from the makers of Bananagrams. For that matter, two-player Bananagrams is great as well.

Carcassonne, great for two but scales up for bigger groups as well, can get it as a full-sized board game, a travel-size board game, or a phone app.

Transamerica, another train game in the vein of Ticket to Ride but quicker.

Tsuro, another that's good for two or a bigger group, very fast-moving.

I assume that if you know Forbidden Island you also know Pandemic?
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:49 AM on July 30, 2013

Fluxx is a card game. Easy to learn/play, fun, lasts around 30 minutes, maybe a little less.
posted by dearwassily at 10:49 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Monopoly Deal is a suprisingly fun Monopoly/Rummy mashup. Also, we're big fans of Mystery Rummy. Also, no home should be without a mancala board, which is pretty portable as far as "board" games go.
posted by jeffjon at 10:51 AM on July 30, 2013

Worms Armageddon is great on Xbox!
posted by Brainy at 10:54 AM on July 30, 2013

Uno-which is basically fancy Crazy Eights.



Rummikub-which is bastardized Mahjong and Rummy


I'm easily amused.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:57 AM on July 30, 2013

For PS3 - Portal 2 and PixelJunk Monsters

Real life games:

Jenga - to make it more interesting you can write things on the blocks that you have to do when you pull them out (drinking game things or sex dice things or funny noises, etc).

Yahtzee, Scrabble, Rumikub

Rivals for Catan (Settlers of Catan if with others)
posted by melissasaurus at 10:58 AM on July 30, 2013

My wife and I have been playing Rummy everywhere for more than 20 years. Sometimes, we keep score. And it's super-portable, since all you need is a "flat" surface for the draw and discard piles (such as table, floor, or arm of the theatre chair).
posted by China Grover at 11:02 AM on July 30, 2013

posted by Rob Rockets at 11:05 AM on July 30, 2013

Race for the Galaxy -- card-based board game

SolForge -- from the same team as Ascension, available as 2-player on iPad and some other devices

Castle Crashers -- fun multiplayer video game
posted by wsquared at 11:09 AM on July 30, 2013

Koi Koi is a ton of fun and pretty fast-playing once you learn the rules. It takes a little bit of math to keep score, and you'll need to find the hanafuda deck, but it's my favorite thing to play against my husband. If you have access to an iPad or iPhone, Kiki's KoiKoi is a really good app that allows for play-and-pass 2-player.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:09 AM on July 30, 2013

posted by dpx.mfx at 11:10 AM on July 30, 2013

If you have any fondness for Star Trek style bridge command shenanigans during a space crisis, I recommend Spaceteam (smart phone / tablet game). Hilarity will ensue. I repeat, hilarity will ensue. (It's better with 3 or more people, but still fun with just 2 players.)
posted by fikri at 11:11 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe check out my past question. A lot of good suggestions.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:13 AM on July 30, 2013

Two cheap and amazing card games


Five Crowns

they are fun and addictive
posted by bobdow at 11:18 AM on July 30, 2013

You can filter for two-player games on Boardgame Geek for product reviews. Last Night on Earth and its expansions are fun for two. Heroscape was my favorite two-player game, but only because I had a friend who could store all the figures at his place.

Backgammon, cribbage, and chess are hard to beat if you want to stay traditional. Backgammon is a personal favorite. It's a real game of skill (only poker and backgammon are legal to bet on outside of Indian reservations in California, I believe, and they're only legal because skill matters more than luck over time).
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:23 AM on July 30, 2013

Android Netrunner is a fun card game for two players.
posted by TimeDoctor at 11:24 AM on July 30, 2013

Nthing cribbage! We always take a board with us on vacation.
posted by hungrybruno at 11:32 AM on July 30, 2013

On the off chance that you eventually decide you don't mind something more complicated to learn (not to play):

Race for the Galaxy (once you understand the symbols, it's pretty simple)

Twilight Struggle (this one isn't too difficult either, but your first couple games will probably be marathons. It's possible to get a game finished in under 2 hours, though)
posted by backwards guitar at 11:37 AM on July 30, 2013

Set is ridiculously simple but still feels "brainy" to me. And it's great for playing with parents, kids, or non-gamey friends, if that's at all important to you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:40 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Horde for Xbox Arcade has a really fun coop two-player mode (and competitive mode).
posted by lubujackson at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2013

My wife and I both like HIVE, a somewhat chesslike game that is easy to learn but fairly complex, can be played in half an hour or less, and has heavy, pleasing-to-the-touch Bakelite tiles! Bonus for easy portability.
posted by Dr. Wu at 11:46 AM on July 30, 2013


Good for 2 people, but can optionally be played with 3-4 or by yourself.
posted by dragoon at 11:46 AM on July 30, 2013

Trivial Pursuit,
Master Labyrinth,
my boyfriend and I have the same issue, and sometimes we also watch Jeopardy episodes together and see who can guess more correct answers.
posted by winterportage at 12:15 PM on July 30, 2013

Settlers of Catan works pretty well for two, but look online for advice -- e.g., rolling dice twice per turn (especially for the first 6-10 turns) to get things moving...
posted by acm at 12:25 PM on July 30, 2013

Cribbage is the best answer. Set, mentioned above, is also well worth it.

Consider Skip-Bo, from the creators of Uno.
posted by duffell at 12:55 PM on July 30, 2013

Android: Netrunner and A Few Acres of Snow are both highly regarded two player games (just don't look up A Few Acres of Snow strategies, there is a game-breaking one that you wouldn't ever discover on your own).
posted by zug at 1:14 PM on July 30, 2013

you guys could play the new animal crossing on the 3DS and visit each other's towns or leave gifts and letters and gardening project surprises for each other if you're in the same town. there are a lot of ds-to-ds games i used to love playing as a way to unwind with my husband before bedtime--nyt crosswords, zookeeper...
posted by ifjuly at 1:19 PM on July 30, 2013

Best answer: Morels! (BGG) It's specifically made for two players, is easy to learn, but every game is different. I speak as someone who has been disappointed with 2-player variants of many common games, this is the only one that's really been satisfying with only two players.
posted by Wulfhere at 1:43 PM on July 30, 2013

Gin rummy is my go-to "classic" two-player card game.
posted by Precision at 1:54 PM on July 30, 2013

I absolutely love Snatch, a fast-paced, portable word game perfect for two players - it's completely addictive. (I note that it's known as 'Snatch-It' in the States, which is a bit of a swizz - still fun though!)
posted by HandfulOfDust at 2:28 PM on July 30, 2013

Most of the classic board-games are two-player. If you've tried chess, backgammon et al then try:
Go, strategic and aesthetic.
Oware/Mancala, which looks like it ought to be simple and really isn't.
Nine Men's Morris, a personal favourite.
Carrom, like billiards using checkers counters and flicking.
posted by Hogshead at 2:38 PM on July 30, 2013

I second the suggestion for Rivals for Catan (if you like it, there are two expansions).

More generally, the Dice Tower is an excellent site that provides reviews of board games and card games. It's my personal go-to site whenever I first hear about any board game and want to get more information about it.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 3:23 PM on July 30, 2013

I created a turn-based "board" game called Trench Warfare that requires only a deck of cards. You can find the rules here (pgs 14-15) in an old edition of MefiMag. The scenarios are fun. (Please ignore the stilted intro.)
posted by troll at 4:03 PM on July 30, 2013

Carcassone Hunters and Gatherers is better for two.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:54 PM on July 30, 2013

Our new favorite quick-and-fun card game for Game Night is Love Letter. You can learn the rules in about 30 seconds and there are only sixteen cards (not sixteen different cards, sixteen cards, period).

I also have Morels (recommended above) and will second that suggestion.
posted by trunk muffins at 5:49 PM on July 30, 2013

Can't beat Cribbage, its a classic for a reason.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:09 PM on July 30, 2013

Pass the Pigs is engaging and easy and fun for two or more.
posted by kate blank at 8:08 PM on July 30, 2013

Balloon Cup is a very nice 2 player half hour game. Kingdom Builder is a good quick Euro game that takes two to four people - kind of a cross between Dominion (same designer) and TTR. If you get some Icehouse sets, there's tons of games people have written for them.
posted by Candleman at 9:56 PM on July 30, 2013

Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League is quite fun, well designed, specifically for two players, and takes about an hour.

It feels like Taboo could work with two, as long as you play it in a very relaxed way. And thrift stores around here always seem to have a copy or two at $1.99.
posted by jiawen at 1:32 AM on July 31, 2013

Ace of Aces and its associated picture book games (Lost Worlds, et al) are also fast to learn and specifically designed for two players.
posted by jiawen at 1:34 AM on July 31, 2013

Response by poster: No better place than Metafilter for asking about games. The enthusiasm is so great, too. Thanks, all, will be trying many of these!
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:40 AM on July 31, 2013

Love Letter is indeed awesome, Trunk Muffins, but is distinctly unsatisfying as a two-player game. The Baron card means that it's very unlikely for any given hand to reach the end of the deck, and that's half the strategy gone right there.
posted by Hogshead at 6:23 AM on August 1, 2013

if you're still curious: Phase 10, SkipBo are two that have taken me through since college
posted by TravellingCari at 7:47 PM on August 21, 2013

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