Monday, November 1, 2010

Board Games for Two

Recently I've renewed my interest in board games, specifically strategy (and mostly Euro) board games. There are several reasons for this. One is my colleagues' seemingly inexhaustible enthusiasm for Cosmic Encounter (an enthusiasm I moderately share). Another is that my sister and brother-in-law got me Ticket to Ride Europe for my birthday, which is excellent fun (and which I prefer to the game's American counterpart, in part because of the enhanced rules, but mostly because I get to feel classier traveling around Europe instead of the U.S. It feels more exotic, and since I'm not likely to be able to visit Europe anytime soon, the game lets me pretend). And finally, sometimes I just need to escape. Life is hard sometimes, and a good game with good friends is good medicine.

Of course, the friend most readily at hand (and also my favorite gaming partner) is my wife, but it has been difficult in the past to find good two-player games. Recently, though, I've played several games that have great two-player variants. Here's a list for those who are looking:
  • Ticket to Ride Europe. Seriously, last weekend I think Abby and I played seven games in a few days' span. The 1912 expansion adds an additional variant, in which each of the destination tickets includes at least one of nine "big cities." It's much harder to stay out of each other's way with this variant, and games are much more tense, but still fun.
  • Carcassonne. This is a simple tile-laying game in which the players have eight generic followers who become knights, farmers, thieves, and monks in order to score points. It's simple and quick and very fun. The expansions are also fun.
  • Bohnanza. A bean-planting card game? Sounds lame. Well, it isn't. This is another fast-paced game that has good turn-around value (as in, "Okay, just one more game...").
  • Canasta. This is an oldie but a goodie. Abby and I typically get this for our newlywed friends because it is an excellent two-player game (and it's much cheaper than the games listed above...).
I also played Dominion for the first time recently, which is awesome and kind of a throwback to my CCG-playing days. It can be played with two players, but I can't yet vouch for its fun factor.

Another time I'll explain what, to me, makes a good board game. And while these are some of my favorite two-player games, they are not my favorite games altogether--I'll give that list another time as well. In the meantime, what are your favorites?

***EDIT*** I also recommend Jaipur in a later post, which is an excellent two-player game.


  1. Uno is one of my all-time favorites, and there are so many different versions. More than two people can also play.

    Sequence is another favorite. And Connect Four. Dominoes is also fun. I like Slap Jack, too.

  2. Bonnie likes to slaughter me in Mexican Train Dominoes.

  3. @ClantoR: Uno Flash is my favorite variation.

    @ClantoR and Chaka: I do enjoy Mexican Train Dominoes as well, though Abby normally crushes me at it. (And Canasta. Let's be honest.)