Fun stuff for couples other than the obvious
December 22, 2005 7:41 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are bored, but we can't think of any good games for couples. Is there anything out there?

Checkers is dull, and chess can be too vicious. Card games don't appeal. Trivia games are unbalanced since usually one or the other of us dominates (depending on the content).

I wish there were some kind of fun board game that works well for both men and women. If not a board game, at least some other fun way to pass the time.

Any suggestions?
posted by oissubke to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (53 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
posted by ericb at 7:43 PM on December 22, 2005

Check TONS OF stuff.

If you can get third and fourth hands, "Settlers of Catan" is usually a good bet. If you have a big party, the card game "Bang!" looks promising. For just two people, Carcassonne might work well.

There are a BOATLOAD of good board games out now.
posted by Malor at 7:44 PM on December 22, 2005

posted by booknerd at 7:44 PM on December 22, 2005

oopz, yatzhee isn't a board game. it's still really fun for two people. trivial pursuit can be good too because the trivia is in so many different categories that neither of you can really dominate.
posted by booknerd at 7:45 PM on December 22, 2005

What about Scrabble?

And in the slightly more specialized/obscure category...
My boyfriend and I have been playing a lot of Ticket to Ride Europe lately. It's one of the few "group" board games I've played that also works well with just 2 people.
posted by sanitycheck at 7:47 PM on December 22, 2005

posted by pompomtom at 7:52 PM on December 22, 2005

I second Ticket to Ride Europe. My girlfriend and I play that game a lot, just the two of us. However, she doesn't really care for Carcassonne.
posted by hartsell at 8:05 PM on December 22, 2005

Scrabble and Backgammon are both good. If you can locate the software version of Scrabble where you play against Maven, prepare for a serious humbling.

Other suggestions:


Chess can be vicious, but timed Speed Chess (think: Searching For Bobby Fischer) is a hell of a lot of fun and a totally different game from the regular kind. Set a 3 minute clock and let er' rip...

And in your original post, you didn't exclude video games. My ex-wife and her son and I all three enjoyed playing Burnout on the PS/2 and Xbox. My best friend and his wife spend hours behind his PC playing adventure games. Might you find something on a console you both like? The point is to enjoy the time together, as you mentioned on the last sentence there.
posted by TeamBilly at 8:11 PM on December 22, 2005

The traditional board game geek answer to this question is " Lost Cities"
posted by Infernarl at 8:15 PM on December 22, 2005

Ticket to Ride -- I've played the American version -- is an awesome game. It's even better with three or four, though. The hours fly by.
posted by SuperNova at 8:30 PM on December 22, 2005

I should've noted that I was echoing the above comments, not acting like I was the first person to say it.
posted by SuperNova at 8:31 PM on December 22, 2005

Checkers is dull, and chess can be too vicious.

I also heartily recommend Go, if you enjoy checkers and chess but find them frustrating and lacking fun. Go is very easy to learn, very rewarding, and great fun to play and develop along with a partner.

Go MeFi Thread
posted by MetaMonkey at 8:37 PM on December 22, 2005

Well, if you're looking primarily for 2-player games, Ticket To Ride isn't ideal (though it's good light fun with 4 or 5 players). Aside from Lost Cities (more of a card game), Alhambra plays well with 2 and can play with many more. Also, maybe Carcassonne: The Castle (2-player only) instead of the base Carcassonne game.

For something slightly more involved try Jambo or Starship Catan, though both of these are pretty card-heavy. Or for an abstract, Blokus.
posted by sad_otter at 8:42 PM on December 22, 2005

posted by fish tick at 8:42 PM on December 22, 2005

My wife and I have spent many hours playing Mancala.

I've always wanted to teacher her to play Go, but we don't own a Go set.

She taught me Backgammon years ago, and we still occasionally play it.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 8:43 PM on December 22, 2005

posted by dmo at 9:03 PM on December 22, 2005

Outdoors: Geocaching
Indoors: World of Warcraft
posted by Argyle at 9:03 PM on December 22, 2005

I recommend Quoridor, if you like cerebral games. Even though there are only two types of pieces, the game is wonderfully complex.

Alternatively, my wife and I played Canasta for the duration of our (rainy) honeymoon.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:40 PM on December 22, 2005

While Cranium is certainly a fun game, I don't think it will work as I'm 99% sure that you need more than two players to play it (I have the turbo edition which is definitely a game that requires more than two players).

My girlfriend and I have played robo-rally (though I'm not sure she liked it). Scrabble is good, and if you don't feel like competing you can work together.

You could always buy old game boys and a game link.
posted by drezdn at 9:47 PM on December 22, 2005

posted by undertone at 9:54 PM on December 22, 2005

MetaMonkey recommended Go but forgot to say that it includes a handicap system, so a weak player can beat a strong player -- it really is a fun, intelligent game for two without the "killer" aspect of chess
posted by anadem at 10:02 PM on December 22, 2005

go is good, but is a little complicated. you'll have to go through a learning curve to pick it up. a friend and i started playing a while ago, and actually spent the past two hours shouting at each other about sente and kosumi and attempting to stab each other in the proverbial back. it's fun!
posted by soma lkzx at 10:08 PM on December 22, 2005

A second for mancala.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:12 PM on December 22, 2005

A Nintendo DS for you, a Nintendo DS for her, two copies of Animal Crossing: Wild World. (As that comes to over $300, the more budgetminded might consider a single DS and a single copy of the game. That's what we've got and it's all sorts of fun. "We" being me, my wife, and our 7 year old daughter.)

If you're not into video games---or even if you hate video games---don't just write this suggestion off. This is the most un-game game there ever was. No real competition other than the occasional slow-moving fishing competition. You hang out with talking animals in a tiny village and basically enjoy life and the goings-on of a small community. Connect with each other over the built-in wireless (no setup required) and travel to each others' town or have both characters live on the same card (i.e. in the same "town"). Too cute and too much fun.
posted by BaxterG4 at 10:22 PM on December 22, 2005

Check out stuff by Cheapass Games.

If you have a Playstation, check out multiplayer games. We personally enjoyed Crash Team Racing and Gauntlet: Dark Legacy.
posted by ilsa at 10:26 PM on December 22, 2005

How about Reversi, aka Othello? Very simple to learn and I remember it being fun, though I haven't played in awhile...
posted by SuperNova at 10:41 PM on December 22, 2005

Cranium is a mind-numbingly boring game, according to me. Many others seem to like it. Just know I think it's only barely worth the packaging, and is essentially a dumbed down version of tons of other games that're much more fun when played on their own. But party games are for another askme.

I vote scrabble. And yes, qanat is entirely playable, as is qwerty and ten other words that start with q that isn't followed by u.
posted by incessant at 10:49 PM on December 22, 2005

Chinese Checkers?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:47 PM on December 22, 2005

my favorite board game is scotland yard
it has customizable rules and handicaps
posted by suni at 5:02 AM on December 23, 2005

World of Warcraft
posted by jaded at 5:34 AM on December 23, 2005

Another vote for Backgammon - certainly not fun for a whole evening but a nice way to kill the odd half hour. Also, we have had some mileage out of doing Sudoku puzzles together.
posted by teleskiving at 5:53 AM on December 23, 2005

When we go to my boyfriend's parent's house we'll often play Crokinole with them, which has a chess/checker board on the other side. Crokinole is a game of skill, precision and balance (both cheeks on the chair!). Of course, as soon as you start drinking all that is chucked out the window and the cursing, giggling and snarky comments commence. At least that's how we play. And it's fun. Actually, no skill is required, just a powerful index finger.
posted by KathyK at 5:57 AM on December 23, 2005

In no particular order...Uno, Scategories, Mancala, Gin Rummy, Rummikub.

My son and I like to play S'math, which is like Scrabble only with numbers.

Also, my husband and I used to have hours of fun playing 3d pinball on the PC. Good stupid fun.

I know it's not a board game, but the whole family enjoys the combination foosball/air hockey/ping pong/pool table we got a few years ago.
posted by Biblio at 6:19 AM on December 23, 2005

Apples to Apples is very social and not competitive.
posted by Scooter at 6:35 AM on December 23, 2005

Apples to Apples requires at least 4, and even that's pushing it.

I'd also recommend Balloon Cup. San Juan is a great game that can be played with 2 players. The Settlers of Catan card game is incredible, and I've heard Starship is even better.
BoardGameGeek has tons of info.
posted by mkultra at 6:39 AM on December 23, 2005

I've bought a ton of stuff from Funagain. The best games are for more than two players, but my girlfriend and I have really loved Mystery Rummy: Jekyll and Hyde, Lost Cities, Blink, and Balloon Cup. I've got a list of about 15 other games I've bought and we've played once. Also, she won the first time we played those three. That may have something to do with it.

And I don't consider this a real game, but she looooves Scene-It and the expansion packs.

Also, I've bought a couple of games that she didn't like before I even opened that box, so you might want to be careful if you get to reading Boardgamegeeks and start ordering stuff. Many games have a theme tacked on to an abstract concept to give them some flavor, and if that theme happens to be World War II or Lord of the Rings, you might be out of luck even if the underlying game is fun.
posted by andrewzipp at 6:43 AM on December 23, 2005

The card game speed is really fun to play two players.
posted by drezdn at 7:13 AM on December 23, 2005

if chess is vicious, avoid backgammon.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:30 AM on December 23, 2005

Definitely check out Fluxx. It's a card game where the rules change as you play so it really stays fresh. You can even buy blank cards and make your own rules.
posted by deanj at 8:09 AM on December 23, 2005

In a good game store, you can find a small section of two-player games from the big board game companies. These are of varying quality (for example, I really don't like The Reef, though I know some people do), but there are some gems to be had.

My wife and I used to play a lot of games, especially in groups. For a time, we moved to playing just by ourselves. The best game we found for the two of us was Lost Cities, which somebody mentioned above. I describe Lost Cities as "solitaire for two people", which my seem paradoxical (and make the game sound boring), but which is apt. The game plays quickly, involves some strategy and some luck, and is infinitely replayable. It's also cheap. I recommend it.

Somebody else mentioned Set, which is another good game for any number of people (from one to one-hundred). The game consists of a deck of cards with various shapes in different colors and patterns. A certain number of these cards is turned over, and players look for sets within the revealed cards. It's fun, and can be played almost anywhere.

I haven't played Jambo yet, but it's in my wife's Christmas stocking. (Shh! Don't tell.) I just played Ticket to Ride (with three people) last night for the first time. It was a fun game. I intend to try it two-player with my wife before long.

Do you like bridge? There's a two-player version called Bridgette that I own but have never played. It's supposed to be fun. We also like Rack-O to pass the time. Scrabble also used to be a big favorite, though we haven't played regularly in years.

As somebody else mentioned earlier, try for more suggestions.

Good luck!
posted by jdroth at 8:14 AM on December 23, 2005

Encore: pick a topic, any topic, and take turns singing songs that include that topic. The person who comes up with the most wins. Good topics to start with are colors, food, animals, names, references to real people, references to real places, dreams, etc.
I once played a version of this game that spanned several days and ended in a disagreement about the words to "pop goes the weasel"
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 8:28 AM on December 23, 2005

I would have to suggest strip Hungry Hungry Hippos.
posted by Shane at 8:36 AM on December 23, 2005 [3 favorites]

My wife says "How about hide-the-sausage?" :)

Backgammon: A book I read about it quipped "If you can't kick somebody when they're down, and keep kicking, you'll never make a good backgammon player." That said, we played it about twice a week for at least a year.

We've also been playing Mancala, and the occasional game of Gin.
posted by Orb2069 at 8:52 AM on December 23, 2005

Geez, I'm shocked, none of you have mentioned Abalone? It's much more interesting than checkers but less intensive than chess. And it's got a great package.
posted by Happydaz at 9:00 AM on December 23, 2005

Naked Twister

Strip Poker
posted by wackybrit at 9:38 AM on December 23, 2005

Instead of checkers or draughts, you should look into Lines Of Action. I've lost interest in Mancalla since it's been "solved."

If it were up to me, I'd mark the first Boardgamegeek comment as best, especialy if there's a link to the GeekLists feature. For instance: lists that mention 2player games.
posted by Mozai at 10:12 AM on December 23, 2005

Resident Evil Code Veronica, and I say this in all seriousness as a fairly well socialized, technically middle-aged adult. I bought a Dreamcast--now totally obsolete and available really cheap on ebay--a couple years ago for my BF, and we played it for months and had a blast. Shooting Zombies together can be insanely fun, especially after a long workweek, and there are problems to solve and puzzles to work through, so it's not just console-fu. There are less violent games, like Shenmue, which has puzzles and a mysterious and complex world to explore, or madcap games like Crazy Taxi. Myst/Riven games are really fun to solve together, if you somehow missed those.
posted by tula at 1:20 PM on December 23, 2005

Two award-winning 2-person strategy games: Gobblet and Quarto. Thoughtful and fast-paced.
posted by pgoes at 3:31 PM on December 23, 2005

Well, if you're looking primarily for 2-player games, Ticket To Ride isn't ideal (though it's good light fun with 4 or 5 players).

I'd beg to differ on this point. We play two-player Ticket to Ride around once a week. Perhaps sad_otter is only familair with the North American version of the game. Ticket to Ride Europe introduces some new rules that make the game much more interesting, IMHO. If you decide to check it out, definitely get the European version.
posted by sanitycheck at 7:42 PM on December 23, 2005

posted by candyland at 6:47 AM on December 27, 2005

sanitycheck- TTR is a pretty decent 2-player game, but its dynamic changes dramatically (for the better) with 3+. Same deal with the Carcassonne tile (not card) game.

I think those games illustrate the difference between games that "can" be played with 2 players vs. games that "can only" be played with 2.
posted by mkultra at 12:12 PM on December 27, 2005

Second 'Speed' (also called Spit and Racing Demon). Also second Jenga.
posted by pollystark at 5:20 AM on January 3, 2006

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