We’re in a renaissance of great board games. Sure, the classics like Chess have incredible staying power and will survive for millennia more, but we are overloaded with a variety of options that just surfaced in the last decade.
While many games set themselves up as party games designed for large gatherings, you can find some real treats if you look hard enough that work well with, or are designed specifically for, just a pair of players. Whether you’re working together or against one another, a simple board game makes for a great date night activity. A cooperative game will give you a chance to see how well you communicate while a competitive game will allow you to playfully pit yourselves against each other and see how one another handles things when they don’t go their way. Makes easy conversation too. But honestly, even that is looking a little too much into it. Mostly, these games are just fun! And they’re fun to play either with a new person in your life or with your person for life.
We reached out to our readers to tell us their favorite games to just play in a duo and you all came through miraculously with a ton of great picks. Here are the highest-voted options. Haven’t heard of them? Well go ahead and try one for yourself.
Pandemic | $36
An old mainstay is Pandemic which seems so sadly appropriate now. We have been winning at this lately, so it feels good to save the world even if it’s only on a board game.
I like Pandemic for being a co-op game. That’s a nice change from competitive games. Just a chill-and-try-to-figure-this-out-together game. I mean, I like chess, but it’s so rare to find two equally strong players among casual players of chess, so usually, one person just destroys the other, and that’s not really any fun for anyone. So, yeah, Pandemic.
What’s nice about it is that you play cooperatively instead of against each other, which is great for date night, and it’s not overly complex so someone that isn’t as into board games can still pick it up pretty quickly.
MicroMacro Crime City | $24
For ‘date night’, I’m voting for MicroMacro Crime City. This game will get you and your date exploring crime scenes together, interacting, and engaging in a multi-playthrough campaign that will last several date nights. Very accessible game hitting on the lower end of the complexity scale.
- Chillionaire 711
Splendor | $36
It’s the game my friends and I are obsessed with and you can play it with only two people. You pick up chips each turn to buy cards, then use the chips and cards to buy more cards to get points and nobles. The game is fairly simple to learn and each time you play the game will be different, but there are definitely varying strategies that will reward skill. I’d say a game takes between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on how long each person takes to complete their turn and how many players you have.
Wingspan | $51
Wingspan, because then at the very least you’ll get to look at pretty birds. It’s competitive enough for people who really want to be competitive (avoiding the stress of failing at cooperative games together), but also, you can just collect pretty birds. You don’t even have to count the points at the end! Did I mention there are pretty birds? You can never go wrong with Wingspan.
For bonus points, get the app that plays bird songs to go with the cards.
Patchwork | $25
Patchwork! It’s a really fun 2-person game. The goal is to fill a 7x7 square with the most coverage/lease amount of holes. It sounds super easy, but it’s very tricky and smart since the ‘patches’ are shaped like Tetris pieces.