Until I met G, I thought there were only two types of board games: childhood games, like Monopoly or Life, or the scarily complicated #geektastic games, like Dungeons & Dragons. Thanks to G, who has diligently researches like nobody’s business, we’ve played a plethora of fascinating games. Given we are staying inside, I thought I’d share some of our favorite 2-player games. These are the ones we toss in our carry-on last minute as well as the ones we pull out on a particularly rainy day. Right now, playing board games has been one of the best distractions of the whole pandemic. A very special thanks to G for finding all of these games, and being the best partner (in life and when we play games.) He always finds the coolest gizmos and gadgets, and now I can add games to that list.
P.S. I’ve been really hard to support local independent small businesses during the pandemic, and skipping the major retails like Amazon. All the links are to different game stores across the US.
Play Time: 30 minutes min
I love this even though it is a main cause of my fights with G. I absolutely love this game, even though it is the number one cause of my fights with G. (He is too good at playing the long game for my competitive self.) It works a bit like chess, but instead of knights and pawns, it’s “bugs” that you move around to encircle your opponent’s queen. It’s incredibly simple, so that a kid as young as eight could play it, but just as addictive for “grown ups,” if you will. It is super addictive and the traveling version means you can bring it to nearby coffee shops (once quarantine is done).
Play when: you need a mental workout. Perfect for grabbing a playing in the park, a coffee shop or your floor.
Time: 30 minutes
I debated a bit whether to include this game on the list. The actual strategy is simple yet engaging. There is a common market place, where you buy different high-valued “jewels” (cards) or collect the highest number of camels. There are three rounds, which pass by quickly. There is a little bit of strategy and a lot of room to get very competitive.
My main problem, which I insist on vocalizing every time we play the game, is the overtly orientalist theme. I’m not sure why the German designers felt the need to invoke the tired trope of Jaipur, as this exotic, sand and camel filled space. I almost expected harem dancers and snakes charmers to be thrown in for good measure. If you can swallow the theme, this is a wonderful two player game of trading goods in three rounds.
Play when: you want a quick and easy game to pass the time
7 Wonders Duel//
Time: 1 hour min
7 Wonders Duel is a fantastic, intellectual game, where you build up a “civilization” using cards based on military, scientific or cultural advances. You’ll need to commit some time to learning the rules, and some time to actually play, but it’s worth it. There are three stages, and you’ll need to think ahead for complete domination.
Video Instruction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxQkMRUvCJ8
Play When: You’re tired of humanity and want to create your own civilization. Definitely for fans of Sims and Myst.
Play Time: 30 Minute
This is one of the first games I played with G. I love Battleline because it’s basically “capture the flag” meets war, with a hint of gin rummy. To play, you set out ten flags (little pawns) in a row, then each player takes a turn placing a numerical card on their side of the “flag.” Players duel to place consecutive cards and capture a flag. You must be the first to win three adjacent Flags or any five Flags. It’s super simple and easy to learn.
Play When: It’s rainy outside and you’re nostalgic for recess.
Full Disclosure: I’ve haven’t played this yet, but just ordered it. Here is the description:
Capers combines elements of a drafting card game (players start with a handful of cards and then take more to build a stronger hand) with a whodunnit-style murder mystery along the lines of Clue. But unlike Clue, which is best played with a group, this is perfect for a pair, says Bilanko. “Usually you see mechanics like this in games where you have to have three or more players, because of the intrigue level.” The game allows players to hire and equip a crew of thieves, who then attempt to plunder famous sites across Europe. It’s wacky, colorful, and fun, according to Bilanko, who adds “the artwork is amazing to look at.”
Aheli is the founder of Aheli Wanders, a blog she started in 2007. In addition to blogging (& dreaming about food), she is the Director of Product Management for tech startup. Aheli has traveled to over 35 different countries, and what feels like a million different restaurants. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband. She hopes to add “and dog” to her bio one day.