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My wife and I have a tradition of gifting board games to our near and dear friends and family; I believe games have a way of bonding people together. And Two-Player games are in a league of their own. They help siblings bond, couples reconnect and are especially great at getting the little ones away from their screens.
In this guide, I list the top 20 Two-Player Board games in different categories such as:
- Best two-player games for all ages
- Top-rated two-player board games for children
- Best two-player board games for couples/adults
- And more…
And while you’re here, don’t forget to also check out my all-inclusive guide of 20-Awesome Two-Player Games You Will Surely Love.
Best Two-Player Board Games
#1. Winner: Throw Throw Burrito
What do you get when you cross a card game with dodge ball? Why TTB of course!
Throw Throw Burrito has a huge fan following across the country. It is a superb family-friendly game ideal for ages 7 and above. While it is best played in larger groups, even two players can also have a blast playing it.
I especially recommend Throw Throw Burrito to siblings and couples. It is a great way to expend some of that restless energy and also channel your rivalries in a positive manner.
I must also admit that I am a bit partial towards this game because it comes from my favorite cartoonist Matt Inman of the Oatmeal – I simply love his sense of humor.
The goal of TTB is to collect 3-of-a-kind cards in the fastest way possible. Some rounds entail throwing burritos made of foam at the opponent. The person to get ‘hit’ with the burrito is out. Check out the complete set of rules for 2-player gameplay as they are slightly different than those for multiple players.
#2. Best Overall: Ticket To Ride
Whether you’re a veteran of board games or just starting out, you will love the award-winning Ticket to Ride. It is an easy-to-teach, strategy-based game for someone who hasn’t played it before.
I love the easy accessibility of TTR. It is a great game for kids and adults and although it is better if you play it as a family, even two players will have a great time playing it.
The goal of the game is to win maximum points by completing routes across the map and claiming the destination tickets. Gameplay takes about 45 minutes so it is a wonderful way of passing time on a cold, wet evening.
#3. Best Co-Operative Two-Player Board Game – Pandemic
We played Pandemic a lot last year as a family and since it is a cooperative game, it does require you to work with other players. However, it is even great for two players. In fact; it is one of those games that every board games aficionado must add to their collection.
Do note that there are several ‘seasons’ of this game available but if this is your first time playing it, I strongly urge you to go in for Pandemic Season 0 or Pandemic Legacy Season 1,
The only downside to Pandemic is that it is not exactly replayable once you have completed around 12-24 games. This is due to the fact that you have to physically destroy certain evidence and also because the story kind of loses steam. You can opt to keep the game as a souvenir or pass it on.
#4. Best 2-Player Word Game: Scrabble
I must admit: I am a Scrabble addict. I play the Scrabble Go app on my phone all the time. Playing Scrabble is supposed to delay brain degeneration in the elderly, and in kids, it can boost brain development and cognition.
The aim of Scrabble is to place letter tiles to make words – the longer the words, the better to score with. Every tile board has different points. The player with the maximum score is the winner. Scrabble’s setup time is 5 minutes and playtime can be about 30-45 minutes, depending on the players’ skill levels.
The only problem I have with the game is we have fewer letters after each game. The blocks are small and easy to overlook. I’ve had to buy a new game after our last two vacations.
#5. Best Exciting Classic 2-Player Game – Risk
I recommend Risk to all those players who are afraid of trying out new board games. This fun, educational, and ultra-exciting, strategy-based game is great for adults and kids.
While it is best to play RISK in larger groups, the advantage of playing it between two players is its head-to-head competition that tends to make things super exciting.
The setup time for RISK is between 5-10 minutes and playtime can be an hour, even longer. We once played an eight-hour game over two days.
Best Two-Player Board Games for Kids
#1. Winner – Yahtzee
Ask any experienced Yahtzee player if it is a game of strategy, skill, or luck, and the answer will be luck. Nevertheless, it is a fun, easy-to-learn game for all age groups. The fact that Hasbro sells nearly 50 million this classic game each year is indicative of the fact that it is a highly popular game and also a great stocking stuffer for Americans.
Yahtzee is great to play with multiple players but 2 players can also have fun with it. If you want to learn Yahtzee basics, check out this video. A version of Yahtzee for children is available.
#2. Best Two-Player Board Game for Kids 8-12: Taco vs Burrito
Taco Vs Burrito is a great option as a gift for birthdays, Thanksgiving, Secret Santa, etc. The amazingly fun and ‘delicious’ food game was dreamt by its 7-year old inventor – Alex who wanted everyone from 7 to 77 years to enjoy it.
If you plan to play this on game night, I suggest starting with it before the other games to get warmed up. It is best for adults and kids, although make sure that the adult participants have a sense of humor.
The aim of T Vs B is to collect strange food items to make your taco/burrito. The person with the most points wins.
#3. Best Overall Two-Player Board Game for Kids 6 and Above: Guess Who
I doubt we can talk about the best two-player board games for kids without discussing Guess Who.
My kids love the ‘Guess Who’ game and we must have bought it 2-3 times over the last 2 decades – either because my kids lost some of the character cards, or sometimes, just to gift it loved ones.
The aim of Guess Who is to guess your opponent’s “mystery character” and try to determine whether it is Ashley with the green hat or Chris with the glasses. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds, you can only do this by asking some short yes-no type of questions. You can easily make a ‘championship’ of 5 back-to-back games to decide on the winner.
#4. Best Two-Player Board Game of Chance: Battleship
Battleship is a wonderful two-player game of strategy suitable for kids 7 and older. It comes in convenient sturdy boxes to keep the pegs and ‘ships’- a feature that makes it easy to travel with. The best part about Battleship is that it requires a combination of luck and strategy. However, I believe it is a game based on chance and requires considerable guesswork.
The aim of Battleships is to “fire” at each others’ ships – the only thing is you cannot see them. So you have to guess and the first player to ‘get’ all their opponent’s ships wins.
#5. Best Award-winning 2-Player Game for Kids: Villainous
Villainous is a ‘balanced’, award-winning board game (2019’s Game of The Year) and there is a chance that each player will get to win at some point. Also, towards the end of the game, things speed up and get very close – which makes it rather exciting.
There are many Disney elements in Villanous – so if you have a Disney fan in your family, this is a great gift choice. Villainous mentions it is for players aged 10 and over, but my kids aged 7 and 8 have also played and loved it.
The two-player board game comes with 6 villains – each having his/her card. These cards will give you the strategies for winning.
Best Two-Player Games for Adults
#1. Winner: Exploding Kittens
The reasons behind Exploding Kitten’s popularity are its simplicity, easy-to-grasp strategy, and fun illustrations by brilliant cartoonist Matt Inman. Some people believe that EK is definitely better for 3 or more people but I have personally played this as a 2-player game and it was equally fun.
The best part about EK (which Inman describes as “UNO but with goats, enchiladas, and kittens that can kill you”) is that you can learn it within 5 minutes and finish it within 15. So, it is a great game for busy adults as well.
Exploding Kitten’s objective is to draw cards but an exploding kitten card can kill you. So, it is purely a game of luck.
#2. Best Trivia-based Two-Player Board Game for Adults – …I should have known that!
Polish Game from Hygge Games – I Should Have Known That is an addictive trivia game that you will want to play over and over. It is a great game for adults but even 13-year-olds will enjoy it.
The trivia questions have different difficulty levels including questions about everyday things like Twitter, celebrities, and even basic vocabulary – so there is something for everyone.
#3. Best Thought-Provoking Two-Player Board Game for Adults: Our Moments
Check out what Sarah, a player, has to say about Our Moments – “I played Our Moments with my husband and we discussed things that we hadn’t in our 20 years of marriage”.
Our Moments is a great ice-breaker kind of card game for starting conversations with the other player. Since many questions are intimate in nature, it is best to play it with your better half. However, you can also play it with a friend or a young adult.
#4. Best Challenging Two-Player Game for Adults – SEQUENCE
I love games that involve a bit of luck but also have some strategy. SEQUENCE fits this description perfectly. The game is easy to learn, fun to play, and yet challenging enough to keep playing it again and again.
Much like BINGO, SEQUENCE requires you to make a 5-card sequence. A typical game won’t take more than 30-45 minutes – so it is ideal for those cold, wet days.
#5. Best-Selling Two-Player Game for Adults: Rummikub
I have been playing Rummikub with my wife for ages. It is not just a luck-based game but also requires some skills – and that makes it rather charming and fun to play. The best part is that you need to really think before making a move – and that certainly ups the game’s excitement.
If you haven’t tried Rummikub, you really must!
Best Strategic Two-Player Board Games
#1. Winner – Chess
Perhaps no other game has been studied as extensively as Chess. The game is great for brain function, improves IQ, and can even help students perform better. It may not be the easiest game but once you learn the rules, it should not be too tough.
#2. Best Overall – Ravensburger Labyrinth
If you want a longer board game, then you’d love Labyrinth – a maze escape game. It was first developed in 1946 by BRIO in Sweden and soon became popular around the globe. The best part is that it is a replayable game so you can level up every time you play. The objective of Labyrinth is to navigate through a maze and the first person to turn over all of his/her treasure cards and reach the start is the winner.
#3. Best-Seller Strategy Board Game – Mastermind
This is another IQ-enhancing game that requires players to “break” each other’s secret codes. My cousin gifted this to my son and he loved it. In the beginning, it was a bit tricky and difficult to master but if you want to exercise your little grey cells, then this is definitely the game to choose.
Mastermind’s playtime is about 30 to 45 minutes per game and the time to set it up is about 5 minutes.
#4. Best Adventure-Based Two-Player Board Game: Carcassonne
Carcassone is a ‘matching game’ for people of all ages. The reason behind Carcassone’s popularity is its simplicity and timeless theme. The game – designed by a brilliant German named Klaus-Jurgen Wrede – took Europe by storm in 2000 before making its way to America.
While it is a multi-player game, Carcassone’s two-player version is, even more, tactical and strategic – so you are gonna love it.
#5. Best Award-Winning – Trekking The National Parks
At first glance, Trekking The National Parks might seem a bit like Ticket To Ride above. You might even think there is a lot going on, but, in reality, it is simple enough to grasp. The rules of TTNP are simple and turns are quick.
Compared to Ticket to Ride, you complete your goals much faster and finish your set collection sooner. The game also has postcard cards for players to work on, if they’re nowhere close to the National Parks.
On the downside, the game’s board is gigantic and needs a lot of space to play.
There are so many great two-player board games that I am sure I haven’t done justice to them all. The above 20 games are top-rated on popular retail sites and also some of my family’s favorites. I am sure you and your family will love them as well. They are definitely great as stocking stuffers and gifts for the upcoming Holiday season.