It can occasionally be difficult to find more than one other person to play games with you. That’s why we like to highlight two-player board and card games that would make great additions to your collection. Some of these are only for two, while others can work at different player counts.
Okay, now to the games!
The Fox in the Forest
I previously reviewed a trick-taking game called Haggis, and in that review I mentioned The Fox in the Forest as a better option for two players. And then I never talked about it again.
Well, it’s time to remedy that! Fox in the Forest is… well, a trick-taking game for two players. You know, those games like Spades, Hearts, and Bridge. There are three suits in the deck, each numbered one through eleven. Cards are dealt, a ‘trump’ suit is revealed, and each round players put down a card, with the highest card winning unless it’s the trump suit and blah blah blah.
The real fun of this game lies in the special powers that are present on the odd cards, as well as the way that you actually gain victory points. Each time odd cards are played, something a little special happens. Maybe your opponent has to play a specific card. Maybe you’re able to draw another card. Maybe you change the trump suit. Maybe you even gain a victory point.
Speaking of victory points, FitF doesn’t just give you points for winning the most tricks – in fact, winning every trick would not be very good and would earn you zero victory points because you are “greedy”, according to the game. Instead, you want to win between seven and nine tricks, which the game classifies as “victorious” and rewards you with six victory points. You could also try the “humble” approach of winning three or fewer tricks, which also earns you six victory points. Because there are 13 tricks in each round, someone’s going to be disappointed.
If you’re not into trick-taking games, this isn’t going to win you over, but fans of the genre will certainly find something to love in this little title.
Fowers Games is one of my favorite publishers, and it’s because they make such solid games every single time. Beautiful artwork and high-quality components with unique gameplay that leads to fun every time.
Serving as a kind of “sequel” to Burgle Bros, Fugitive takes shape as a kind of cat-and-mouse game between a thief trying to escape the law, and an agent who is trying to hunt him down. Much of the game is found in a deck of cards numbered 1 to 42. The fugitive must play cards of increasing value to try to get to 42 and thus escape. The agent must try to determine what cards have been played to pinpoint the location of the thief.
What I love about this game is that it’s asymmetric, thus providing a different playing experience for each person, without being too separate. It’s not that hard to change roles right after a game. The strategy and tactics aren’t all that deep, but you’ll definitely feel like you outsmarted your opponent when you win. There are not many two-player card games that pull this off, so Fugitive manages to stick out from the pack. It’s just a fun way to spend an evening – as long as you have plenty of table space.
In our last list, I tried to sell you on a game that was about collecting mushrooms. This time, I want to get you excited about dog training.
Yeah, the games from Two Lanterns have pretty weird themes, but they’re quite fun. In Agility, you are trying to adopt dogs and train them to make their way through different obstacle courses. On a player’s turn, they will play a card that gives them treats and allows them to move around the action rondel. Wherever they land gives them some sort of benefit, either to get through an obstacle or to manipulate the game in some way on a future turn. The first person to get three adopted dogs through obstacle courses wins.
There’s plenty of opportunities for strategy, as players get to pick which kind of dog they want to adopt from fourteen different breeds and also the particular obstacle course they want to tackle. In addition, players must balance their treat acquisition and the actions they take to be successful. It also keeps things close – maybe it’s just me, but all three of my game sessions have required the use of a tiebreaker to determine the winner.
It’s a cute game whose theme will excite plenty of people and whose gameplay is better than you think. It can be difficult to find at times, so be sure to pick it up soon if you’re interested at all.
I’ve owned this game for a while now, but I only recently played it when Ryan came to visit for the CMON Expo. I’ve been trying to challenge Sarah to head-to-head matches ever since.
Blue Lagoon isn’t an exclusively two-player experience like the previous games on this list. Instead, up to four players can join in this somewhat cutthroat area control game.
The mechanics are pretty simple – on your turn, you place your tokens on an open space on the board, generally adjacent to something that you’ve already placed. You’ll be trying to spread out your pieces over the various islands on the map, achieving points through a variety of strategies. You’ll score if you touch all the islands, or if you have the most influence on an island, or if you pick up sets of resources that are scattered all over the islands.
The action actually takes place over two rounds with slightly different mechanics. In the first round, you can start from any water location and move out. In the second round, though, you can only go out from huts that you have placed in the first round. This slight difference gives players the chance to take several different approaches to the game in each of the rounds.
This game is more fun than it really has any right to be. It’s so simple and straightforward, but you really must construct a robust strategy if you want to win. It’s definitely not for the easily frustrated – you’re going to block each other, and it’s going to be infuriating. But if you don’t mind a little “take that” in your games, then Blue Lagoon is a solid addition.
Quest for El Dorado
Quest for El Dorado might be my favorite game right now. We’ve reviewed it before, so you can check that out if you want a full description. But basically, it’s a deckbuilder in which you use cards to move around a board. And it’s fun. So much fun.
Again, this is not exclusively a two-player experience, but the rules change ever-so-slightly to make it great at that lower player count. When it’s just you and a friend, each of you will control two adventurers, and you must get both of them to the finish line to win the game.
This adjustment to the rules forces you to be more considerate with each turn, though you have plenty of options with your strategy. Perhaps you want to push forward with one of your characters and then sprint at the end with the other. Maybe you want to keep them together as much as possible as you carve your path. It also allows for more player interaction. More coordinated players can work to block off passages so that their opponent can’t really get through or at the very least has to go the long way around.
You know what? Just stop reading about this game and go buy it. Like seriously. Go get it. Now.