Good two-player games

My list for this would be Antiquity, Clinic, The Colonists, First Class, La Granja, Kepler-3042, Lisboa.

Edit: this was in response to being good at 2 and higher counts

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OK, but I think “only cater for two players (or that you think are at their very best with two)” is a more interesting category, and the one the thread started with.

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The reason I was happy to list those games here was they are all at their best with 2 if you can accept that them being equally as good at higher counts doesn’t stop them being best at 2. Joint first place.

I should have explained more, but a work call got in the way. I am also happy to stop if people think this still is off topic

If the two-player game shows the game at its best, including equal best, then I think it’s fair: “would you recommend this game to someone who was going to play it only with two” perhaps.

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In that case I stand by that entire list

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Fair point. My brain only associates it with a head to head experience. Not an attempt to derail the conversation.

Your opinion is correct! I really feel like it doesn’t get enough attention. It’s very tense, plays quickly, and you can churn out a game in about 20 minutes or so once you’ve figured it out. Toss the Jurassic Park soundtrack on in the background and -chef’s kiss-.

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Dice Throne - I’ve mostly played this in multiplayer and I think their King of the Hill approach is possibly the best solution to three player competitive play I’ve seen, but I think it’s really most intended and probably shines most as a two player duel. I am endlessly impressed with the design. It’s not very complicated and of course very dicey, but it feels strategic and all of the characters feel pretty evenly matched and yet very distinct.

Arkham Horror LCG - I know a lot of people play this solo, but as a multiplayer experience it feels very strongly like two player is the sweet spot.

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I’m just gonna sit here banging my Aristeia drum.

Bang bang bang. I don’t know why more people don’t talk about this game :roll_eyes:

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So the usual “top three” that I recommend to customers are:
Jaipur (the fastest, most luck driven of the three, and cheapest), 7 Wonders Duel (the slowest, most strategic, and expensive), and Patchwork (the middlest, middlest, and middlest).

I often recommend Targi and Raptor when we can get them in stock.

My personal favourites include Aristeia, Space Hulk (the most recent edition is a work of fine art), Claustrophobia, War of the Ring, and lots of good head-to-head dexterity games (Flick 'Em up, for example, or Catacombs). Oh, and Arkham Horror The LCG is a spectacular 2-player co-op, but there are lots of games that work exceptionally well as 2-player co-ops (Fox in the Forest Duet is probably the only commited 2-player co-op, but Imperial Assault, Journeys in Middle-Earth, and all the usual turn-based co-ops like Spirit Island or Pandemic Legacy work equally well with 2).

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I’m excited for the new expansion!

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I think a lot of coops play fine at two, but I would argue a lot of the ones you cite (and others I enjoy) come into their fullest glory with 4-5 characters with associated power combinations etc. Which doesn’t mean you can’t get that experience with two (or even one), if you’re willing to run multiple characters each. But I’m not sure that makes them quite as good at that count. Whereas Arkham Horror LCG, it feels like adding characters three or four doesn’t really enhance the experience that much - there’s a lot of overlapping in role, there’s shortages on cards, and you get a lot more of the bad stuff happening.

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I end up listing a lot, even when avoiding duplicates. So this is gonna be strictly 2 players only.

Battle Line / Schotten Totten - my go-to small box 2 player. I have the Medieval version

Summoner Wars - SUSD’s review is pretty good at explaining this. I can’t wait for SW 2.0

Tak - a game based on the game from the Kingkiller Chronicles. I love this. But the price tag is steep. You can defo make your own as they are mostly wooden blocks :wink:

Blitzkrieg - Yep. WW2 in 20 minutes alright. It’s basically Dogs of War distilled to the tug of war battles on the board and cut down to 2 players.

Lost Cities - 2 player Knizia where you get penalised for starting an expedition (thematically, that’s your initial expedition cost), so you need to make sure that whichever expedition you start, they bear fruit. Oh, and Herr Doctor also put wager cards on those, if you’re feeling courageous on your expedition.

Babel - What if Uwe Rosenberg made an confrontational take-thaty game of Bronze Age civilisations where you build your temples and destroy your opponents. This is Rosenberg at his pre-Agricola stage.

Command and Colours series - if you want a theme different from WW2, you got choices here.

Battlelore - or maybe you can’t be bothered with historical themes and just want fantasy. Out of print though and hard to find expansions. At least, the base game is enough to have a lot of fun. Minis are fantastic from FFG.

Blokus Duo - If you think Blokus is amazing, then duo is smaller and works for 2 players. Alternatively, get normal Blokus and play with Blokus Duo rules, rather than the 2 player mode of the former.

Carcassonne the Castle - Carcassonne spin off done right. While it broke the fundamental rule that every tile must tessellate, Castle got good mix of short term and long term goals. Criminally out of print!

Chartae - Only available on certain places like Germany for now. 2 player minimalist Knizia tile laying of just 9 tiles and I am impressed on how it works. As usual with his games, you can only do 1 out of 2 actions on your turn.

Cousins War - War of the Roses micro game. Card driven game where you try win the crown by controlling the 3 regions of Britain. As any average Britainnian would know, there are only 3 regions in Britain.

En Garde - how can Knizia create a simple card game consists of just numbers and make it feel like I’m fencing!?!?

Fjords - on the 1st phase of the game, you play this Hex version of Carcassonne but you get to place farms instead of meeples. On 2nd phase, you play Go with the existing map from your farms you strategically placed. Another criminally out of print game.

Kahuna - building bridges and destroy them, all for controlling islands of a Pacific archipelago.

Omen: Reign of War - Only played this once, but there’s something interesting here. I want to play it, alas, I don’t own a copy.

Power and Weakness - Alas, another out of print game. But this is another hit for me from Andreas Steding (Hansa Teutonica, Gugong, Staufer Dynasty, etc). The game is between the post-Roman Celts and the Saxons. Okay. So far, so King Arthur. But the game is divided into two different alternating rounds: Magic and Sword. Knights become active on Sword rounds and Magicians on Magic. The game makes you juggle and plan between the two cycles. The recruitment action, for example, doesn’t recruit the active pieces of that round, but the inactive ones.

Field of the Cloth of Gold - A game of a fancy party between the King of England and the King of France where they try to out-swag each other with golden blings, tournaments, holy blings!, and all you can eat buffets, at the cost of their kingdoms’ treasury and the prosperity of the common people. I’ll just point you to Dan Thurot’s review

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So I’m not sure if I’m bad at reading or what, but this is what I thought this thread was from the start…

EDIT: Also I was going to add things to this…

Coup: While traditionally a higher player count game, the 2-player variant comes with very specific rules that fundamentally change the game, and personally, I prefer the game it turns into. Both players get to pick a role. A deck is made up of 1 of each role, and each player is dealt one at random. This changes the Ambassador role dramatically. You know your role, and the 2 roles you just drew into. You now have a very high knowledge of the number of possible roles for your opponent. This is an interesting change as (for my group, at least) Ambassador was essentially “My two roles are bad, so I’ll skip a go”, but now it’s something you’re actively tempted to bluff and in return to attempt to call a bluff on. The fact you can choose one of your two roles allows you to set up a strategy, but the basic rules of the game remain the same, so your strategy could well be “Take Countess and pretend I took Assassin” at which point you get dealt Assassin and your plan becomes “Panic just ever so slightly”.

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I think Scrabble is at its best for two. It doesn’t lose anything tactically, and you spend less time waiting for your turn.

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This looks great! Does anyone know if En Garde or the reprint (with extra cards) “Duell” is better?

Interesting! I’ve played quite a lot of Coup, but I’ve never tried it at 2.

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Tides of Time - a two-player card-drafting game in 3 rounds, about 20 minutes, and a grand total of 18 cards between you. Try to collect complementary cards to build towards scoring opportunities, or make sacrifices to deny your opponent even better ones. The kingdom-building theme is pasted on, but contributes some pretty artwork to the over-sized cards, so it’s nice to look at. A game that gets quite a lot out of very little. I haven’t played it enough to comment on longevity, but I’ve certainly enjoyed the games I’ve had.

Never tried Duell so I cant comment on that

The Mr Jack series.

The investigator player is trying to deduce which of the eight characters on the board is Jack the Ripper. The other player is Jack, trying to escape the area before the investigator can narrow down the possibilities enough to make an accusation. Players take turns choosing a character to move, with each character having a special ability, and with every character being used once before any of them can be used again. Each round Jack must reveal whether or not he can be seen by another character, and must try to manipulate the movements so that that the answer will not eliminate too many of the remaining possibilities.

A significantly more complicated version of the game, on account (IIRC) of a more dynamic board which increases the decision space. I have not played it myself.

A very different game, but with the same theme and some familiar mechanisms at work (particularly that the move sequence for the players A and B alternate between ABBA and BAAB).

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