Having the big game night event on Friday or Saturday night with your closest five or six friends is a great time that we all look forward to. However you can still scratch your game night itch on a rainy Tuesday night when there’s nothing on TV.
All you need is a clean table, a two person game, and one other person that you want to spend some quality time with. Two person games are often overlooked when it comes to game nights because playing a single opponent is a much more casual then playing games within a larger group dynamic.
Why Play Two Person Board GamesOther Competitive Two-Person Card Games
On the surface playing board games is fun and provides us an escape from the challenges we face each day. This is one reason to play board game and this is certainly a primary reason why we have our larger game night gatherings. However, this is more of a secondary reason to play two person board games.
Connecting with another person and deepening your relationship is the primary reason to play two person games. This is a great way for fathers and mothers to connect with their children. These games provide time to talk, to teach, and to enjoy each other’s company.
Not all married couples share the passion of playing board games. However, it is always a good idea to not let things grow stale. Occasionally playing a couple games of chance and just communicating with each other will be good for your souls. Winning and losing is not the object.
It is also for men to connect with each other – and this is not as easy for men to do as it is for women. Two cups of coffee and cribbage board are some basic elements that will make it possible for two men to deepen their friendship.
Choosing the Right Game
When playing a two person board game it is important to select the proper game. This choice of game will be determined by two factors. The first is the skill level of the two people and the second is the primary objective of the game.
If the skill level is equal and the goal is strictly competition then any game will work. If the skill level isn’t equal and the goal is competition then a game of chance would be the best choice. Finally, if the goal is to teach a new game then skill level doesn’t matter because the ultimate goal is to elevate the new players skill level to that of the teacher so that an equal level of competition can be achieved at a later date.
Two Person Competition Games
Chess is the ultimate two person competition game. It is a cerebral game that requires attention to detail and the ability to anticipate future moves. This anticipation is necessary to guard against your opponent’s sneak attacks, but you will also want to set up your own future moves to take down their King. Each chess piece has specific maneuverability which isn’t hard to learn, but learning chess strategy is much more difficult. If you are interested in a quality chess set that has a lot of good ratings I would recommend this chess board.
Don’t be intimidated by the thinking this is a game for only intellectuals. It has been proved that learning new skills and stimulating your mind has health benefits. On the other hand teaching the game of chess to children is also helpful in assisting the development of their critical thinking skills. Some chess boards are like furniture and can become a coveted family heirloom. Here is a link to a pricier chess board that would make a great gift for chess players.
Chess is also a game that travels well and can be played by the night owls on the next family vacation or camping trip after everyone else has gone to bed. Here is a link to a good travel chess board.
Checkers is the first two person game that I learned when I was a little guy. Checkers is another competition game that works well when the competitors are of different generations because younger children can learn the basic concept rather quickly.
Checkers is another game that travels well. I received my first checkers board game as a gift when I was in the hospital (cell phones didn’t exist back then). I have a lot of fond memories playing this game with my dad and uncles while recovering.
My recommendation is to not sleep on checkers as a good two person board game. It’s straightforward and simple to play. Set up and clean up is a breeze. The games are rather quick and can be played multiple times in a row. It is a great gift for children for any occasion. This checkers board is highly recommended.
Connect Four is another classic game that works well for players who come from different generations. The concept of connecting four checkers in a row is not hard to understand.
Although connecting four is the main strategy, a secondary strategy is to generate a “No Lose” situation where you have two different options of connecting four and your opponent can only block one. Watching my kids recognize and learn this secondary strategy was a lot of fun. Connect Four is available on Amazon with this link.
Cribbage is a card game that uses board for accurately keeping score. This game isn’t as complicated as chess, but is more difficult than checkers or Connect Four. This is a game that would be most appropriate for kids that are at least 12 years of age or older.
Cribbage requires the ability to determine how to play and score cards in a way to maximize points while trying to prevent your opponent from getting points. Here is where you can learn the details of How to Play Cribbage. Many Cribbage Boards travel well and have storage compartments for the cards and pegs. Here are two affordable and recommended cribbage boards – option 1 and option 2.
This is a classic two person game that is good for players that are evenly matched. The overall goal is to get all of your chips home before your opponent does. The dice provide a variable mechanic which forces players to constantly evaluate the risk and reward of leaving your chips unprotected. Backgammon, similarly to Cribbage, can result in multiple wins during a single game. This makes playing Backgammon through a series, first player to seven wins, as a good option.
Click here to see current Backgammon pricing on Amazon.
Do you want to play a “word” game and mix a little knowledge with your competition? If so, then Bananagrams is the game for you. This is a fast paced game that requires all players to make words with their tiles in the form of a cross-word puzzle. To see the current Amazon price click here.
Mastermind is a competitive game that matches two players against each other in two very different ways. Player one uses the colored pegs to set a secret 4 color code and the second player has a number of chances to try and break the code.
Mastermind is a great game to teach to kids to help develop deductive reasoning skills. These skills are developed by using the clues that player one will provide after every failed attempt to break the code.
After game one the players switch positions and responsibilities. This is also helpful for younger kids because it allows them to try and stump their parent. It also makes them exercise analytical skills so that they can provide accurate clues to the person attempting to break the code. Get Mastermind here.
Two Person Games of Chance
Although Jenga can be played with more than two people it does play very well as a two person game. Jenga is almost the perfect game for any two people because this is a dexterity game as oppose to a strategy game so game players of any skill level can win.
Battleship is an “oldie but a goodie” two person game. There may be a little strategy involved with regard to locating your ships and with the process of taking your shots. But for the most part Battleship success is based on luck. Quickly finding your opponents target and sinking their battleships fast.
The dice game Farkle is another game that plays well with large groups of players, or just two competitors. There is some strategy with Farkle but it is mostly a game of “Risk and Reward.” The winner is often times determined by the player that is willing to press their luck just a little bit more than their opponent. Play “High Stakes” Farkle rules to make the game even more competitive.
Yahtzee is another classic dice game that plays well with large groups, or with just two players. Right now we are in a board game renaissance where new games are being developed every year. However, don’t sleep on some of your favorite child hood games. This is great game of luck that requires no talent to get a YAHTZEE!! But there is also some strategy regarding how to score your points on your scores sheet – take some time and teach your kids this strategy.
Take Yahtzee off the shelf and make this old game new to your son or daughter and you’ll have a great two person game night. Once everyone understands the basic rules then change it up and play Triple Yahtzee.
Other Competitive Two Person Card Games
Jaipur is a two person card game that requires each player to collect cards to enrich themselves in order to become the Maharaja’s personal trader. The game is straight forward and requires little understanding of strategy and game mechanics, which makes it a great card game for two competitors at different skill levels. Click here to see current pricing on Amazon.
Rivals for Catan
Rivals for Catan turns Settlers of Catan into a two person card game. This card game requires strategy and skill. It is not suited for players that are not equally matched.
When learning how to play Rivals of Catan you will be introduced to a bigger 7 point game and then have three other options that you can play. These options are “The Era of Gold”, “The Era of Turmoil”, and “The Era of Progress”. All of these options can be played with the cards included in the Rivals for Catan Card game set.
7 Wonders Duel
7 Wonder Duel is the specifically designed two person card game that is similar to the original 7 Wonder Game. Using this variation is perfect for two players. It has the right amount of complexity to keep the game players engaged, but is easy enough for younger players (10+) to learn.
If you have enjoy the full version of 7 Wonders then you 7 Wonder Duel will not disappoint.
What if competition isn’t the objective? Then a cooperative game may be the best choice. Codenames Duets is card game designed for two players to play together and beat the game. In order to win all you need to do is identify 15 code words – it’s just that simple. But the players will experience other cards that may provide assistance or obstacles along the way. Surprisingly Codenames has a great amount of replay-ability and comes highly rated. To see the current Amazon price click here.
All of these games bring different aspects of competition and strategy to your impromptu two person game nights. Depending upon who you are matching wits with will determine which game will make the most enjoyable experience. All you have to do is just make sure that you have three or four of these games handy and you’ll be ready to play with your young child, your non-strategic, spouse, or your best Game Night Bro.