It’s been about a year since our last two player games list, and if you’re like me, you’ve already bought all the two player games that we’ve recommended on old lists, and you’re ready for more. Well, here are five more games that we think you should check out.
Morels / Fungi
This game is about hunting for and cooking mushrooms. You will probably learn something about different species of mushrooms and discover that mushrooms are apparently more delicious if cooked in butter or apple cider. You will go search with foraging sticks, increase your hand size with baskets, move cards into ‘the decay’, and suffer the consequences of poisonous fungi. Very few games stick as strongly to a theme, and many people will find it awfully strange and never give this one a try.
Those that do, though, are in for a card game with some very solid mechanics. It all boils down to set collection. Mushrooms are worth different amounts of points based on their rarity, so you will want to make moves to get those high value targets. However, you have a hand size limit, so you’ll need to cook those mushrooms eventually to make room for other sets. However, once you cook a set of mushrooms (place them down for points), you can’t add more to the pan later. It all turns into a fairly complex game of hand management that is much more fun than a game about fungi should be.
Morels and Fungi are pretty much the same game, apart from artwork and price point. The one major difference is that Morels has an expansion and Fungi does not, so keep that in mind if you look to purchase this game.
We’ve talked about this game a few times over the past year or so, but for a while, this game was hard to get your hands on. But a reprint has come, and now pretty much everyone can get a copy to their collection.
Santorini may say it plays up to four people, but I think it’s really more of a two player game. You each control two builders who move around the board and construct and climb buildings. The goal is for you to get one of your builders on top of a three story building before your opponent. It all ends up playing out like a chess match. You can’t just focus on yourself, because your opponent can easily block you with one move and then march on to victory. You have to plan several moves ahead, develop traps for your opponent so they cannot move, and play ‘fake’ moves to distract them with one builder while you’re really trying to win with the other. For people that like a good thinker, this is one I insist you pick up.
We’ve frequently called this the mother of all deck builders, and with good reason. But since its heyday, I think Dominion has been passed by other games like The Quest for El Dorado and Paperback when it comes to better uses of the mechanic. But Dominion still has a solid place in the hearts of many gamers, including a few of my friends. But surprisingly, they don’t break it out when they have a double date game night. Instead, Dominion has become the game of choice for some intense couples rivalries.
My friends Clay and Jennifer used to have a chalk board that they kept up in their house that kept a tally of who had won the most games of Dominion. They threw in some expansions from time to time, as well, to keep the game interesting. The last time I played Dominion was with my friends Chad and Alicia, and they cleaned my clock! They knew exactly what strategy to have with the cards that were available, and they knew the exact timing in which they should begin to acquire victory points. I had no chance. I think much of this evolves from the two of them playing against each other fairly often.
Like I said, there are other games that I believe do the mechanic better, but sometimes, it’s just hard to beat a classic.
It’s around 8 PM, and Sarah and I have eaten dinner. We’re lying on the couch, my arm wrapped around her as we watch TV, and I slowly lean down next to her, kiss her on the cheek, and say, “Hey, do you want to play a game?”
I know, so romantic, right?
Whenever she says yes, this is the game that gets broken out the most. I think it’s because of how simple of a concept it is. You are given a hand of eight cards, available in five colors and numbered one through ten. On your turn, you either lay down a card on your side of the board, or you discard a card into its appropriate color pile. Your goal is to place cards in ascending order, and their values will give you points at the end of the round. The problem is that you have to get at least 20 points worth of cards before you even start earning points, so there’s a chance that you could lose points if you don’t have the right stuff. There’s also the gamble that is the handshake cards – you must place these before putting down any number cards and they serve to multiply any points that you win or lose.
This game has a great balance to it and you’re left making a lot of tough decisions. You might have a yellow 10 and you’ve played a yellow 7, but you really want to wait it out and see if the 8 or 9 show up so you could get more points. You also notice that the other player is trying to get points for blue cards, and you’re holding a blue 6 or 7, and you want to keep those away. You also have some good starting cards for green, but you don’t want to put them out too early because then your opponent might notice and then start to block you. You’ll end up wanting to hold every card, but given your hand limit, you have to make a choice. It can be really frustrating but really satisfying. There’s just enough player interaction so that you can’t completely ruin someone’s plan, but you can definitely put a little bit of a roadblock in.
All in all, this is a really fun game that’s really portable, really easy to learn, and really fun.
Blood of an Englishman
Jack and the Beanstalk is one of those stories that you kinda forget exists until someone references it every five years or so. This game takes that classic tale of a boy versus a giant and turns it into an asymmetrical card game. Five columns of cards are laid out in front of the players. The player acting as Jack is trying to get his hands on gold and goose cards, while the player acting as the giant is trying to align cards together to spell out ‘Fe Fi Fo Fum!’. The players can move cards, take some out of the game, and use a couple of other actions to accomplish their goal.
The approach is kinda like Santorini, where you’re going to think several moves ahead and use a few different strategies to confuse and distract your opponent. There are different options for your turns, so that gives you a little more variety than its plastic-based relative, but you give up a little of the smoothness as a result. I don’t know that Blood of an Englishman is for everybody – my friend Adrian really doesn’t like it – but I think it’s one that might work for certain couples.
So hopefully you found something new to bring to your table. If you don’t see your favorite, check out our first and second lists of great two player games. We’ve also got an entire section of the website dedicated to two player games. And if it’s STILL missing, let us know in the comments what your favorites are.