Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Fun Board Games for Solo Play, Couples, and Groups

I am frequently asked about good games for two players, particularly good board games for couples. I have a lot of friends with young children, so a lot of board games are played as couples, as we are still waiting for our kids to get old enough to play those more “advanced” games with.

Despite having a weekly game group to attend, I still do a lot of my gaming with my wife. I love to share my excitement of gaming with her, and I am thankful to have married someone who puts up with my habits hobbies so wonderfully. While there are plenty of two-player games available, I wanted to talk about some of the ones we enjoy the most. Of course, there are countless other board games for couples that are not listed here, but you can use these as a place to start your exploration.

Circle the WagonsA two-player game (solo play available with the Lone Cowboy expansion), Circle the Wagons consists of 18 cards and a heap of gameplay. Each card has four regions/territories on one side, each with a symbol. On the back of each card is a unique scoring condition. Three cards are used for scoring, the rest for playing.

Trying to get the best possible score from the available scoring conditions is tricky, because when you select a card to put in your town/tableau, you give any you passed over to your opponent. That can be a good or a bad things, depending on the scoring conditions. Circle the Wagons is a quick one to play, easy to learn, and fits in your pocket, wallet, or other small carrying pouch.Codenames is a popular game that can play quite a number of people. But if you want that same fix, but it’s just the two of you, Codenames: Duet is a brilliant reimplementation of the original. And it is perfect at two players (hence the name).

In Codenames: Duet, each clue card is double sided, so you’re looking at one side, trying to get your partner to guess your words, while your partner is looking at a completely different word map while trying to get you to guess theirs. Some spots will share a word between the two sides, which is always nice. But you still have to watch out for the assassin that’s shown on the other side of the card than what you’re looking at. Tricky indeed, and to win, you must, collectively, reveal 15 of the agents/words.

Oh, and by the way, it’s also timed (using time tokens, not an actual timer, so it’s not “real time”), so after a certain number of rounds, you’d better have guessed all 15 correctly or else you’re out of luck!Gearworks plays well at two, but plays up to four as well. It scales well at two, and there is a lot of back-and-forth action going on. It’s got a slight sudoku feel to it, but in an area control type of way. It’s a unique take on the mechanic (area control) and a lot of fun to manage your hand and resources to make steampunk accessories and contraptions. It’s a fairly thinky game, but not so much as to turn people away. Definitely a great game for couples.

HanamikojiIf there’s one game out there with absolutely painful decisions, it’s Hanamikoji. In this game, you’re trying to gain favor with the geishas (in the traditional sense). To do so, you must select a card or cards to put next to the geishas. But, you’re also giving cards to your opponent. Sometimes you’re allowed to pick which cards you keep first, but other times you have to let your opponent pick with cards they want before you’re left with the rest. There’s a good amount of overthinking your opponent’s strategy in this game, but if you don’t overthink it, then you’re certainly underthinking it. The game mechanics do tend to mess with your head after a while. I think it’s brilliant and a fantastic game for couples.

If you’d rather not play with geishas, Jixia Academy is the same game, just re-skinned. So that’s an option for you as well.

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