Games for 2 people

Spellen voor 2 personen

Playing games is best known for games such as Uno, Monopoly, Catan and Risk, which you preferably play with 4 or more people. But if there are two of you, games can also be very entertaining. Provided of course you are critical of which games. In this blog by Rients-Auke we take you along in the search for the best games for 2 people. 

What should you pay attention to?

The two of us have also been together for a number of years and that is precisely the moment that we started playing games. The two of us still play a lot of games and we look for games specifically based on that. The fact that it can also be done with more people is a bonus. That is why this blog specifically discusses what you should pay attention to and the considerations I take into account when making a game choice.

Playing games as a couple involves a number of interesting choices. The most important thing is to pay attention that it plays WELL with two people. There are a lot of games that can be played with 2, and are sometimes fun, but which you should really ignore if you normally play with 2. 

The easy way to overcome this is of course to just buy a game that can only be played with 2 people. This has been extensively tested and always works well with two people. But that does make the choice of games more limited. Especially for larger games, your choice will be very limited if you only include games specifically for two players in your list.

Making a choice

To make a choice, a number of things are important to know. A number of mechanisms and types of games are generally less suitable. Everyone from Catan knows trading or exchanging. This is a mechanism that never really works well with two players. After all, the options are limited and you can use it as a kind of blackmail in a way that is not intended. An extension of this is everything that involves bidding. Predictability increases and the impact of not bidding is very large. These mechanisms are simply better with more players, often preferably with 4. The exception to this is of course if such mechanisms are adjusted with a number of conditions or rules so that they work for two players. You can see this in the game, for example Jaipur.

Then an important topic is cross-cutting. This is something that very often makes games less suitable for two people. After all, you always bother the other person, while such a mechanism is precisely intended to bother the person who is directly behind you or in front of you and to give space to the person who is doing very poorly. Troubled each other in a two-person game often requires specifically targeted mechanisms. The other side is that a game is made to annoy each other with 4 or 5 players, for example Ticket to Ride, which gives you so much space with two players that you disturb each other much less, which is actually desirable. The other side is of course that you can also use this to make a choice if you don't like to bother each other. Then you choose that game where you normally bother each other a lot, but now you can just go about your business.

These are the main properties that determine whether the game plays well with two people, or whether it actually does not play well. There are also a number of choices you have to make yourself. In addition to the standard choices such as playing time and complexity, it is important to think carefully about what you want about a number of topics. The most important two of these are the extent to which you play against each other and the extent to which luck plays a role in the game.

The extent to which you play against each other can roughly be divided into three groups:

  • The games that you play against each other very hard. These are games in which, for example, you are both a fighter and you have to fight each other or you both have an army that wages war against each other. But chess and checkers, for example, also fall into this category.
  • The games that you play as a kind of competition. Here the biggest difference with the previous one is that you don't really have any influence on what the other person achieves. For example, you need to collect certain cards to create the best sets. You have to build the most beautiful city possible or, for example, you have to tick off boxes, as with Qwixx. The primary path to profit is to ensure that you make the best scores the fastest. The only interaction that often remains in these types of games is limiting choices. You choose a certain place where you can get goods so that the other person cannot choose or you choose a die that the other person cannot choose. Primarily you will always do that because it benefits you, but secondarily it can sometimes be the case that you benefit so much from the fact that the other person cannot make that choice that that is why you stand there.
  • The games you play together. The so-called cooperative games. This is an important category for the two-player games because you can maintain a friendly atmosphere here. You play against the game together and not against each other, which means you bother each other. It is also fun to work together. There are actually two different ways to play cooperative games together. In principle, you can play almost all cooperative games with 2 and even 1 player. After all, you play together, so even when you play with your child you can choose to play solo and decide together what to do. Or you choose to play 2 characters together. Which brings me exactly to the choice when you play a cooperative game with 2. You can choose to play 1 character each, but you can also choose to play 2 characters each and thus actually play a full 4 player game with the two of you. This makes games like Gloomhaven, for example, in which you go through a story and always have to play with the same people, very suitable for you and your partner or for that one good friend you play with very often. This is compared to a group of 4 or 5 people, where the challenge is much greater to frequently meet in the same composition.

Degree of luck versus strategy 

Then there is the degree of luck involved. Or looking at it from the other side, how strategic is the game? The more strategic it is, the more important it is that you are evenly matched. Strategy is mainly about seeing through possibilities, weighing up opportunities and determining how possible situations that may arise in the future can be used as best as possible or how their impact can be kept as low as possible. 

This can also have a significant impact in cooperative games. If you have difficulty coordinating each other's tactics because you have a different way of thinking, you will have a great challenge in achieving something together in some cooperative games. Other cooperative games will actually have a more fun outcome due to the greater diversity of choices that can be made. In the games that you play against each other, choosing strategy is fun if you really match each other. Otherwise, it is wise to choose a game where luck plays a major or at least larger role, so that it is difficult to plan and predict what will happen.

This does not mean that you cannot play strategically, but above all that the extent to which luck can influence your well-thought-out plan. As a result, the person who does not think that far ahead and is mainly concerned with this turn and perhaps the next, can take maximum advantage of the luck factor and still be a balanced opponent. In principle, this is no different than when you play with 3 or 4, but due to the impact of 1 against 1, that one opponent is always the one who is hit by luck. With 3 or even 4 players this will always play a lesser role in the overall game.

The strategic choices are also often more difficult with more players and the impact is often more limited because there are more turns between your turns, more happens in the game and therefore more changes between turns. This means you have to switch gears more and you are automatically less able to follow or even enforce your premeditated path. In a two-player game you can do this much easier because it is always your turn after the next turn. A nice example of this is for example Time after time. Rolling dice and crossing off sounds like luck, but here you can let the probability calculation go wild, you can count squares, you can keep an eye on the difference compared to your opponent. These are all things that are quite manageable with two players. Of course you never know when which die will come. But you do know that after 1 turn you can make the choice that optimally contributes to your strategy. If you have 4 players, there are three turns in between, so you have been able to cross off what remains 3 times and therefore not the best. Your opponents have also done this and as soon as it is your turn again, you may find yourself in a very different position. Also for example Splendor It is much easier to think out a strategy with 2 players than with 4 players, simply because more happens in 1 round.

I've already mentioned some well-known games that are fun with two players. But I would like to end with 10 games that are definitely worth playing or watching. It is not a top 10 but a nice overview of 10 very different games suitable for 2 people. These games can also help you make a choice for other games that are similar.

Top 10 best games for 2 people

This abstract game that you play 1 against 1 is fun to start with. It's nice that you play with the same tiles on the same board, but you still play asymmetrically because one player plays the colors and the other the shapes. So one player tries to match the same sea animals as much as possible and the other tries to match as many sea animals of the same color as possible. A smooth, simple and very entertaining game for 2.

A strategic game in which you build a Dino Park. It is a bit lighter than its bigger brother, but definitely recommended if it appeals to you thematically. The game is average in length, has good depth and rewards you for good strategic considerations. You play the game fairly independently.

This is a real 1 against 1. Each a hero with his own deck of cards, his own powers and his own assistant(s). Fight, that the strongest may win. Think out your strategy carefully, make the right trade-offs between risk and impact and defeat your opponent. This game has a series of expansions and the end does not seem to be in sight yet, which hero will you play with?

If you are looking for another game in the same genre, Dice Throne is an interesting one to take a look at. It is only available in English.

This is a trick game. In short, this means a deck of cards where cards have different properties and the ultimate goal is to win the most or the fewest tricks or neither. In Herrlof this is a real challenge, simple in principle, but for people who really want to think things through, this is definitely recommended. If you are really into slave games for 2 people, I would recommend taking a look at the claim series. This offers many expansion options and therefore the option to tailor each game entirely to your own taste.

A cooperative deckbuilder for 2-4 people that simply plays best with two. Then it is a nice and smooth game with the necessary challenges and a fantastic world in which you devise strategies together to defeat the craziest monsters.

A wonderful game that can be played perfectly with two players, but just as well with 4 or possibly 3. The basis is simple, the implementation is quite challenging. You place the “domino” tiles around your castle in a 5 by 5 square or, if you want more of a challenge, with 2, 7 by 7. A tile must always be adjacent to at least 1 of the same type. Grass to grass, grain to grain, etc. Points are made by the number of crowns times the number of squares, which ensures that the biggest challenge is to create the largest possible field with as many crowns as possible. The new version Kindomino Origins makes the game even more challenging with some extra rules and options.

In the tactical game Azul, it is up to the players to decorate the walls of the royal palace in Evora on behalf of the king. Collect the right number of tiles to form patterns to cover the walls of the palace. Because this has to be done in two steps, it is a real challenge. Score the most points by creating the most beautiful and complete patterns and win the game! You play this game fairly focused on your own game board and leave enough room for good and bad luck to actually be able to play it with everyone. The two successors, Azul Ramen van Sintra and Azul Zomerpaviljoen have added a bit more luck and a bit more strategy respectively.

The version of Catan for two people. Build your own principality each, who will build the most beautiful and valuable? In this duel you recognize a lot from the well-known Catan board game, but you have much more variety in options and choices. Still one of the most played games for us. It's also nice that you also get three expansions that can also be played together.

A game with a subject that you would not expect. You enter into a love relationship with your fellow players. Your relationship has struggles, adventures, arguments and everything else you can think of. Will your relationship end in something beautiful or will it no longer be sustainable? The first time we played this was really an experience, this is definitely recommended. You are well taken into the story, the components are beautiful and you will have many evenings of fun? And maybe it will spark some nice conversations between you too.

Strategy, judgment, making the right decision at exactly the right time. In 4 rounds you do each 1 of the 4 actions. With these promotions you ensure that you win the Geishas with gifts so that you have the nicest Geishas working in your restaurant. For me it's still a fun, fast game that requires some serious thinking.

The incredibly well-known party game, only now in cooperative form for two people. You and your partner are on a secret mission in a busy city. You must make contact with 15 spies and avoid the enemy assassins. You know which spies your partner can contact safely. Your partner knows that for you. Give each other one-word clues that correspond to multiple words and try to find all the spies before time runs out. This is the game to get if you like simple, fun games where you can laugh, but where you also have to put in some serious effort.

Oops, another top 11. Well, you probably have many more that are great fun for two people and perhaps nice alternatives to the above. Or are you even missing something in our webshop that you wonder why we don't have? Post your tips, questions and anything else below.

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