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Friday Question: What Is Your Favorite Two-Player Game?

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Everyone loves those gaming sessions where the stars align and everyone shows up. Options abound—games with a large group or several splinter groups. The synergy. In any case, people are happy and games are played. However, this isn’t always the case. Or for some of us, this isn’t even often the case. Which leads to this Friday’s question: What is your favorite two-player game? Feel free to answer in the comments! (I appreciate the suggestions.)

@FarmerLenny answers:
My favorite game that is strictly two-player is probably Jaipur. I love the trading element and the constantly changing strategies based on what your opponent does. It moves quickly, offers good choices, and it’s a game that really engages both players. If I’m thinking in general of what game I enjoy the most when there are only two players available, I would probably say Dominion. Dominion is a great two-player game. Some of the attacks are less nasty (notably Torturer–he can’t stack as easily), but this might be a good thing. The experience is very different from a game that involves more players, but it’s still excellent fun with two. In fact, I think the good tension is higher in a two-player game than a game with three or four players.

@Futurewolfie answers:

I actually don’t own any two-player only games. I mostly get games to play with my board gaming group, which means that more players is often better than less. However, it is even better when games support two players, and not in an awkward, work-around variant that isn’t very fun. I play two-player games most often with my wife (and second-most-often with my nemesis above), and the game that hits the table most often is Dominion. As @Farmerlenny mentioned, it’s a different experience from four to two players, but the two-player game is still tense, competitive, and fun. Carcassonne is another great two-player game that hits the table a lot.
I’ve found that Tobago, though supporting two players, is a lot better with three or four (although two-player was significantly more fun after we knew what we were doing). Another game that supports two players is Race for the Galaxy, but while I enjoy it, I think it is significantly more fun with three or four.
I’m always looking for great two-player games (especially if they support more), so leave your favorite two-player games in the comments!

I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

Discussion10 Comments

  1. I think Twilight Struggle and 1960 the Making of the President are both great. I look forward to playing Campaign Manager 2008. Also, if you like abstract strategy games, you suddenly have a lot of good options – Dvonn, Abalone, Yinsh, Pentago, etc. Oh, and Knightmare Chess is also fun.

  2. I enjoy abstracts, but I find they’re much harder to get other people to play. Part of this is the abstract nature of the game, part of it is probably my tendency toward AP in abstracts.

  3. This question is too hard. I play a whole bunch of fantastic 2 player games.
    Mr. Jack is new to me, but I could see that climb my list pretty quickly.

    I love Hive — Chess is fun, but its more of a hobby within a hobby that I’m not ready to tackle).

    And possibly Claustrophobia: I love the asymmetric game play, the minis and all of the different scenarios.

    So all 3 could be my favorite depending on my mood and how tired I am!

  4. Jaipur is possibly my favorite. Changing decisions and sometimes its advantageous to take camels, and sometimes, that means your opponent gets first choice of three new cards. Plus the wife likes it.

    Mr. Jack is also one I love, but I rarely get to play.

  5. @Matthew–I like your description of chess as “a hobby within a hobby.” That’s why I never got into it. It feels to me like you have to go all in, and I’m not willing to make the commitment. Probably my failing, not the games.

    Mr. Jack is one I keep hearing about; I’ll have to look into it.

    And @GeekInsight, my wife LOVES Jaipur. We actually bought it on your recommendation. So…thanks. 🙂

  6. Carcassonne. Might be all the fond memories and associations I have playing with my wife (even before she was my wife), but I always enjoy that game. Though it is another case of a game that seems to play totally different with 3+ players.

  7. @DM_Cadrach: Carcassonne is a good one, though you’re right: the two-player game is much different (especially if you don’t want to sleep on the couch).

    I tried At the Gates of Loyang this weekend with two players. It seems very promising as a fun two player game as well.

  8. I think Caylus and Race for the Galaxy are two games that work better with two players than with any other number; they simply get too chaotic once you add more people. I used to play Race with a friend every week and we’d just do a quick “best two out of three”. Caylus I flatly refuse to play with five players and would rather not play with four, though I rate it a 10 with two.

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