TWO PLAYER GAMES!
I love nothing more than a games night with a group of friends, whether that is with a larger group and playing a series of party games or having a couple of friends over and playing some 3-5 player strategy games. But most of the time, it is just my wife and me so being able to find and play games that work well at two players is important, often a game will say 2-X players but we then find that there are variant rules for the game that alter it from the original set of rules leaving us feeling like we are playing a compromised version of the game. Fortunately there are a plethora of exclusively two player games as well as games that are multiplayer but scale down well for two players. So let's dive in and have a look at a few of these.
First up is ONITAMA. This is an abstract strategy game with strong ties to chess but with a few crucial twists. Like chess, Onitama involves players moving their pieces around the board in order to capture the opponent's king, in this case it is the Master you are trying to capture. Pieces do not have set moves but instead players use cards to dictate how pieces move from round to round. It is a simple set up and, as cliché as it sounds, is one of those 'easy to learn, difficult to master' games. There is a lot of depth to the game and will have you coming back time and again to explore all the intricate strategies as the movement cards will change every game.
Another firm favourite is CARCASSONNE. This is a tile laying game that plays 2-5 players, with a sixth being added with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion. However, it works so well at two players because it is not a game heavily dependant on player interaction with players decisions made largely independent from what others are doing in the game.
This interaction does increase and players will overlap with more
involved but at two players, you get a nice relaxing game where you build up your cities, roads and fields and, unless one of the players decide they want to be nasty, it almost feels like two solo games being played at the same time.
For this next entry, I will be combining two games as they play in a similar fashion. These games are CHRONICLES OF CRIME and DETECTIVE: A MODERN CRIME BOARD GAME. In these games players are working together to solve a series of cases by figuring out clues, talking to witnesses, going to various locations and using a phone app (and the internet in the case of Detective) to help you do so. Because of the nature of the game as a co-operative game, they both work extremely well as two player experiences. You might have to work a little harder than in a game with more people as you will have to fill more roles per player, but ultimately it is the same experience and if you love deduction games or even love detective TV shows such as Sherlock, Poirot, Morse or Touch of Frost then you will love these games. As of the writing of this blog, we will be giving Chronicles of Crime: 1400 a play tonight so we will do a video/blog and let you know our thoughts on that.
The last game I want to talk about today is one that is in our library but not currently in stock (we are working on this though) and that game is TICKET TO RIDE. This, along with Carcassonne, is one of the games that are on my go-to list when people are thinking of getting into board games for the first time. The premise of this game is simple enough. Use cards to build routes between cities, the two base games cover USA or Europe so you can choose your preference there, and as the game progresses, you score points for laying down routes and also for connecting certain cities (you have a separate set of destination cards that give you two cities to connect).
The game is usually from two to five players but it is such an easy one to set up and play through inside of an hour for two players, that it regularly gets played. Of all the games on this list, this is the one that has a slight variation in rules, but only regarding some parts of the game board where there are two routes between the same two locations. In a game with more people, the extra routes are helpful as there is a lot more crossover and interaction between players so they are really needed in order to help more players complete their routes and tickets. But with two players you can only use one of the two routes (say between Edinburgh and London) but this is largely irrelevant as, like Carcassonne, you can largely ignore the other player and what they are doing (unless you are feeling particularly devious).
So there we have it. My go-to games for when it is just my wife and me playing. I hope you enjoyed reading and maybe found some games you can play too. Let me know in the comments what games you like to play with just two players.
Coming up in the Board at Home Blog, I will be looking at solo games, worker placement and resource management games and taking a look at how our game of Chronicles of Crime went.
Till then, happy gaming and we'll see you in the Board Room.