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Top 10 Strategy Games for 2 with a classic feel

Looking for the classic chess or checkers type feel? Try out some of these suggestions. These games tend to have few rules making them easy to jump tight into while still having a nice amount of complexity and strategy to the game play making them ones you’ll want to play again and again.

Hive Carbon

Hive

2 Players | 20 Min | Age: 9+ | Complexity Medium-low

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The object of this game is to surround your opponent’s queen bee to win. It’s reminiscent of chess except there is no board. All the piece types have unique movement abilities. For instance, the queen in this game (like the king in chess) can only move one space at a time. To begin, players take turns placing four insects each to create the ‘Hive’. With the exception of the first 2, pieces introduced to the hive can only touch their own colour. One of the first 4 insects a player places must be the queen bee. Once each player has four insects in play the game really begins. On your turn, you can now either add to the hive or move a piece. You can never break the hive and again, your objective to win is to surround your opponent’s queen before they surround yours.

Quoridor

2–4 Players | 15 Min | Age: 8+ | Complexity low

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This game plays up to 4 but we find it plays best with 2. To win, get your pawn across the board first. On your turn, you can do one of two things, place a wall (you each have 10) or move your pawn. A wall when played can never be moved. So, use your walls wisely, once you’ve placed all ten your only option left is to move your pawn on your turn.

Quoridor

Abalone

2 Players | 30 Min | Ages 7+ | Complexity Medium Low

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This is a territory control game played with marbles. I like to think of it as a sumo match, although admittedly I know very little about sumo. But, the object of this game is to push 6 of your opponent’s marbles off the board. To do this, I find it best to vie for control of the centre and you have to keep your marbles together to maintain strength. To push your opponent’s marbles you must have more, 3 vs. 2 or 1 for example. Or, 2 vs 1. You can never move more than 3 of your own at a time. With that in mind, every time you attack you may expose a weakness. There’s a potential for lots of strategies and back and forth in this game.

Santorini

2-4 Players | 20 Min | 8+ | Complexity Medium Low

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The rules are simple, move then build. Each player has 2 pawns. Get either pawn on the third story of a building to win. Or, if your opponent cannot move and/or build on their turn you also win.

On your turn choose one pawn, move it to any square surrounding the square the pawn is on. As you do this, you must ensure the pawn only moves up one story at a time. However, you can drop as many stories as you like. If your pawn is now on level 3 you won! Otherwise, finish your turn by building on any square surrounding your pawn’s new location. You may build on any level that is unoccupied no matter the height. Once a dome is placed on a building that square is out of play. You cannot move to it, nor build any further on that square.

You’ll notice a deck of cards, the rules suggest playing without them for your first few games. They’ll give you unique movement, build and win conditions. Start with the simple gods, the ones with the flowers.

Santorini
Quarto

Quarto

2 Players | 20 Min | 8+ | Complexity low

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From the same series of Quoridor, this is a connect 4 style game. Don’t make the common mistake of dividing the pieces into light and dark, instead place all the pieces in a communal supply. The goal is to complete a row of 4, notice this and yell Quarto to win. The catch is there are 8 different ways to complete a row as there are 3 more characteristics on top of colour. If you don’t notice completing a row, your opponent can claim it on their next turn.

Onitama

2 Players | 20 Min | 8+ | Complexity Medium Low

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This game is a quick chess-like game played on a 5×5 grid. Unlike chess, there are only 2 types of pieces: 4 regulars and a master. To win, capture your opponent’s master or move your master onto your opponent’s master start square. Also, unlike chess, pieces do not have unique movements. Instead, there will be 5 movement cards in each game. Each player will receive two and the 5th will be placed next to the board. On your turn, choose one movement card, use it to move any piece and replace that card with the one beside the board. In this fashion, The 5 cards will move between the two players throughout the game.

Onitama
Blokus: Duo

Blokus: Duo

2 Players | 15 Min | 8+ | Complexity low

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Based on the original, this is the 2 player only version of this game. We find this version plays better as a 2 than the original. Players only need to work with one colour each and the board is smaller to match. The main object of the game is to get more pieces/squares on the board than your opponent. You’ll notice little circles on the board, players must start on those squares. Additional pieces placed must never overlap squares of the same colour but must be placed corner to corner with at least one piece of the same colour. There are more details specific to scoring but that’s the general gist.

Quixo

2-4 Players | 15 Min | 8+ |Complexity Low

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Consisting of a 5 by 5 grid of cubes that slide around the board. To win, complete a row of 5 matching symbols. Pick symbols before you begin. On your turn, take a block from the perimeter that either is blank or has your symbol faceup.  As you create a gap, close it by pushing the block back in from the perimeter sliding the row inward to the hole you’ve made. As you do this make sure your symbol on the block you played is face up.

Quixo

Yinsh

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Reminiscent to Othello, players play white or black and as you place a piece other pieces may flip. Your goal is to make a line of 5 pieces of your colour 3 times to win. Each player starts with 5 rings, to play a piece, place it in one of your rings then jump the ring in a straight line, over pieces or perhaps over none to place a ring in an advantageous place. Any pieces the ring passes over will flip. If you make a line of 5 remove those pieces and one of your rings. In this way, the game gets a bit harder with fewer ring options available to you the closer you get to victory.

Backgammon

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An often overlooked game amongst the hundreds of others on the shelves and one of my all-time favourites. A dice game with a beautiful combination of strategy and luck. Players cross paths moving in opposite directions trying to be the first to remove 15 pieces from the board. On your turn roll the dice and move up to 2 pieces. Pieces can’t be moved onto spaces with 2 or more of your opponent’s. As such, sometimes you’ll have no options and skip a turn or move only one. A crafty player can inhibit their opponent in this way. Careful leaving your pieces alone. A lone piece can be captured and must roll back into the board at the start of the track. You must wait to remove a piece until all 15 of a player’s pieces are in the last quadrant of the board. The first to remove all the pieces will win. To spice things up a bit more, you can add the doubling cube. We won’t go into that here but if you are in the cafe, ask us how.

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