Here are some amazing games for 2 that we often recommend at Games on Tap. There are many more of course that should also be on this list. But, these amazing ones made this top ten list. Hurray for them! We encourage you to stop in and give them a try. They are listed in no particular order but they are numbered because maybe Google searches like that sort of thing.
1. Codenames: Duet
2 or more players | 15-30 min | Ages 11+ | Complexity Low
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You may have heard of Codenames. It’s a super-duper popular word association party game. While the original codenames does have a 2 player variant, it, well, let’s just say it’s not great. So, try this one instead. This game is designed for 2 players and it’s so good that they’ve even released themed versions of Codenames with the same 2 player rules like Codenames Harry Potter. Now might be a good time to mention if you are both obsessed with the Potterverse, just play that as a 2 player Codenames.
These variants are cooperative. Players work together over a fixed amount of rounds giving word association clues back and forth to get their partners to guess a preset collection of words laid out on the table. If you like codenames, definitely give this one a go.
2. Blokus: Duo
2 Player | 30 min | Age 7+ | Complexity Low
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But wait, isn’t there also a 2 player variant in the original Blokus you say? Why yes there is but, who wants to remember the order of play with all 4 colours in the mix, blue, yellow, red, green, ugh. Oh, sorry John, we forgot you love original Blokus for two. Yes you’re right it’s the best. Moving on, everyone else checkout Blokus Duo. There’s just two colours, white and black (yes we know those aren’t ‘colours’ or, are they?).
If you haven’t played Blokus before it’s a bit tetris like, fitting shapes onto a grid board. Of your own colour pieces, you can never overlap a piece. Your own colour pieces can only touch corner to corner. Basically, get more pieces on the board than your opponent and you win! Hint, peek at what your opponent might have left and stick them with pieces that have nowhere to go.
2 Player Game | 14-30 min | Age 8+ | Complexity Low
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This game is bizarrely similar to Blokus when I think about it but, it’s different enough that it’s not at all the same. They drew quilt patterns on the shapes and added buttons for currency and more! I jest (what am I, a century old, who says ‘I jest’). This game is critically acclaimed and if not, it should be. Similar to Blokus, you need to fit all your pieces onto a grid-patterned board. All the pieces are in a shared pool around the centre of the board however and of those you can only choose from at most, three shapes at a time. Oh and you each have your own board to fit your shapes on, we will call this board your quilt. Ooh, look at you, you’re a quilter now, at least in spirit, unless maybe, you do know how to quilt. In which case wow, I’m impressed.
This game also adds currency in the form of buttons that you need to use to pay for shapes, aka quilt patches. You’ll need buttons to win but you have to use them to pay for shapes. Now maybe you’re thinking, I’ll just hoard my buttons and not buy any shapes and then I’ll be sure to win! But wait, you lose 2 points per empty square on your board. So, get quilting and spend those buttons cheapskate.
2 Player | 20 min | Age 9+ | Complexity Low-Medium
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Haven’t you ever wished that Chess was played without a board and all the shapes were insects? No? Well, I bet now you do! In this game, players divide pieces, white vs. dark (unless you maybe own the colourful version, at Games on Tap we have the ‘Carbon’ version. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Well, it really just means the pieces are black and white.
In Hive, your king is your queen and your knight is your spider or is it your grasshopper? Grasshoppers can jump over pieces! Just like the knight! But, further and straight. Okay, okay, the pieces are all a bit different than chess except your king, who is really your queen bee (not to be confused with Beyoncé who is not in this game) can only move one space at a time. Surround your opponent’s queen with insects to win!
2 to 4 Players | 15 min | Age 8+ | Complexity Low
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In Quoridor you will build, wait for it, corridors! But that’s not all – your real mission is to traverse the board first with your pawn. Pawns can move one space at a time unless you’re next to your opponent. Then magically, you can jump over them moving two spaces for one move, whoa! But, don’t worry about that part until you play.
Anyways, you’re probably more interested in building corridors than moving your pawn because secretly, you always wished you were an architect and you just know that you could design things way better than Frank Gehry ever did. Here’s your chance, if you don’t move your pawn you can place a wall anywhere, completely random on the board, except for 2 simple rules – a wall has to block no more than 2 squares and you have to leave your opponent a path across the board. Oh, and you probably want to block your opponent and not yourself but that isn’t actually a rule so just do you.
6. Forbidden Island
2 to 4 Players | 30 min | Age 10+ | Complexity Low
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Back to playing together. This is a cooperative game. Win together or lose together. If you don’t like winning together, be like my wife, Jeanette, and just make everyone lose and then you win, or something like that. There are ways to win, you non-cooperative players out there, grrr!
This game was once the most popular cooperative game other than Pandemic. At least we think so. In this game, you’re basically treasure hunters but unlike most movies about treasure hunters, no one will turn on anyone and steal all the treasure. Apparently, these hunters really like each other. The catch is the island is sinking, you’ll have to work together to shore up the island while searching the island for the treasure. Find all 4 treasures and fly away to win! Yes, you have a helicopter – cool eh? But it’s just a picture in a tile and also on some cards.
Now, if you are wondering, “what if we only have found 3 treasures and fly away, what do we win then”? Well, nothing. You need 4. The treasures are apparently catastrophic if they fall into the wrong hands, so says the rules. What these rules don’t tell you is that an evil super-villain sent your team to collect the treasures and well, like a Marvel bad guy, they’ll just ‘eliminate’ your characters if they come back with anything less than all 4. So, get to work and find those treasures!
2 to 4 Player Game | 15 min | Age 8+ | Complexity Low
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This was a winner of the coveted Spiel Des Jahres Award, aka the most famous game of the year from Germany. They’ve been handing out awards since 1979 which might be older than you are (it’s older than me).
This game is super fast – it plays in 15 minutes or less unless you need to read the rules. But, don’t worry they’re only a couple of pages long. Or, just ask Sean and he’ll tell you in 5 minutes or less. Each player gets a castle, and a pawn (or 2 pawns if playing with just 2 players which you probably are since you’re looking at a 2 player game list), but the game actually plays up to 4 people.
Anyways, as the game progresses, you’ll add these tiles to your castle making a grand kingdom. You may notice that the tiles are Domino tiles but rather than numbers, they are divided into terrain types – oooh! Your castle is considered wild so, anything can touch it. Otherwise, like in Dominos, a tile you place has to match just one adjacent terrain type of a neighbouring tile. That’s the jist of it. There’s a bit more to it but, that’s a good snippet. Some dominos have crowns and those score you lots of points because you want to be the King of Dominoland! But be careful Damocles, with great power comes great danger. Now, google Damocles because you can’t resist.
8. Mr. Jack Pocket
2 Player game | 15 min | Age 14+ | Complexity low
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This game is Sherlock Holmes-themed, fun! Guess what you get to do? That’s right, find the bad guy, aka Mr. Jack (unless you are Mr. Jack, in which case you want to waste your friends’ time, your friend being Sherlock). The game only plays over 8 rounds and if he can’t find you in that time, you win! Additionally, this game is a 2 player only game so you know it’s good for just 2 people because well, it’s not playable any other way.
Every round, each of you can do two actions and then Mr. Jack, like any good nemesis, will tell Sherlock whether he’s in his sightlines or in the view of Dr. Watson or even Toby, their trusty dog. This way, Sherlock can eliminate all the players the detective team can see or not see, depending on the answer. Now before you get too excited and start deducing things as Sherlock is known to do, know this – Sherlock has to eliminate the field to just one suspect to win. No guesses when you’re close to the end.
2 or more Players | 30 min | Age 12+ | Complexity Low
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Do you love trivia? So do we! This trivia game is fun because you don’t have to answer all the questions asked of you to win. For the most part, you can answer in secret so you won’t seem silly if you are waaaay off or just don’t know something that you think ‘I should know this’. All you need to do is to figure out a link between 4 answers. And if you’re crafty, you might just need 2 answers to find the link. Anywho, the gameplay – guess correct and win a card with a letter. Spell ‘Linkee’ first and you win and can gloat and buy the loser a dessert for their sorrows.
Players 2 or more | 40 min | Age 10+ | Complexity Low
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Okay, truth be told this isn’t a 2 player game but hear me out. We recommend this all the time and some tables of 2 play this for hours – yes hours. Keeping score isn’t really a thing but you can be creative if you absolutely must have a winner. We recommend just having fun going back and forth both being the guesser and clue giver. Even in the best of times, this award-winning game’s scoring mechanism is meh. So don’t worry about scores – even the designers have a note in the rules to that effect. So, just play! It’s not like playing games is miserable until the winner is declared. And if it is, Squid Game might change your mind, then you’ll never want the game to end.
In Concept, a clue giver draws a card, picks a word and then uses a board of icons and tags those icons with cubes creating a picture for the guesser to figure out the word the clue giver picked. Kind of Pictionary-like except you don’t have to draw and the drawings in your picture are actually well drawn unless of course, you’re a good drawer to begin with. Lots of fun and very creative thinking at play. If you don’t like it, oh well, there’s a couple of hundred other great games for 2 player games sitting on our shelves. We’ll get you another 🙂