I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably one of the least romantic people you’ll meet. I think flowers are impractical (all they do is sit in water and die) and my favorite box of chocolate is one whose box can be easily repurposed to be a quickly crafted dice tray or wet palette for painting miniatures.
With that said, I think games can be terrifically romantic. After all, romance isn’t about gifts, but a special experience you share with someone and games are just that, with the bonus that they can be enjoyed for the rest of the year and for years to come. Here are 10 fantastic 2-player games perfect to share with someone special.
This beautiful, but simple small box game is a game about giving gifts. In Hanamikoji, you’re a restaurant owner trying to win the favor of geisha against a rival restaurant owner so you can have the best entertainment in your establishment. Hit a threshold of geisha who choose your establishment, and you win. With splendid art, simple mechanics, and a quick playtime (15-30 minutes) it’s easy to learn but strategically rich, offering meaningful choices to players. It’s a perfect game to bring for a dinner date and play at the table while you wait for your meal.
Deep Water Games – $19.95 MSRP
Designed by the venerable Uwe Rosenberg (who also designed Bohnanza, Agricola, and Le Havre), this 2-player game features adorable polynomial fabric patches used to collect and create a beautiful patch with buttons as the currency. You start with an empty board and a set amount of buttons to purchase new fabric strips, and the first person to either finish their board or have the most buttons at the end wins. Check out our full overview of the game.
Mayfair Games – $29.99 MSRP
Contributor Ruel Gaviola described this simple game: “There are two ways to win in Onitama: either capture your opponent’s master pawn or get your master pawn to your opponent’s starting temple space. Each game begins with a random draw of five cards that determine each piece’s movement for that game. You play one card to move, then exchange it for another card for your next turn. Featuring top-notch components, lots of movement cards for replayability, and a 15-minute gameplay time, Onitama can be enjoyed by any gamer, but especially those with an affinity for chess or checkers.”
Arcane Wonders – $29.99 MSRP
Raf Cordero gushed about this game: “No two player game has seen more table time in my house than Jaipur. A devilishly simple game of trading goods in an Indian bazaar, Jaipur pits you and your opponent against each other as rival merchants. Each player has a hand of cards with a strict hand size and a pile of camels. Between the players sits a trade row of public cards. The goal is simple: earn two Seals of Excellence in a best-of-three series of games to win an invite to the court of the Maharaja.”
Asmodee – MSRP $24.99
With its beautiful components, medieval theme, and abstracted narrative, this is a game that will hit the table often for a pair of strategically-minded gamers. There’s so much replayability in this heavyweight box. I’ve previously remarked on the game’s heirloom quality, and the game evolves as you become more fluent in it (much like classic games of chess or checkers.) You can check out my full overview of the game, and videos showing you how to play the game here.
Alderac – $49.99 MSRP
Another classic game with an heirloom quality, Tak is a simple strategy game played with 2 players, in the same vein as chess or checkers. It’s very short, simplistic, and easy to learn; each game can last anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes. And the objective is a clear one: build a road that connects each side of the board where all of the pieces are adjacent to each other (never diagonal). It was the game featured in the Kingkiller Chronicles series by Patrick Rothfuss, and brought to life by Rothfuss and designer James Earnest. You can read our full overview here.
Raf Cordero enthusiastically called the game one of the most exciting games he’s played, saying: “It’s a two-player card game with a number of interesting twists, chief among them that no two decks will ever be the same. […] The simple-yet-deep mechanisms make for a game that is easy to teach and play, and the deck randomness ensures that games with new opponents are fresh. KeyForge is a winner and I can’t wait to see what they do with the system.” Check out his overview of the game here.
Fantasy Flight Games – $39.99 (2-Player Box Set) $9.99 (Individual Deck) MSRP
Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft
A cooperative game, Ruel described this 30-minute thematic game as an, “Underrated two-player game features Sherlock and his brother Mycroft matching wits while investigating the case of a young man who either plotted an attack on the Houses of Parliament or is the victim of circumstantial evidence. You and your opponent take on the role of one of the Holmes brothers in this worker placement and set collection game. ”
Devir Games – $19.99 MSRP
Star Wars Rebellion
One of our best games of 2016, this two-person game is a fantastic and compelling gaming experience for the right couple. As Charlie Theel put it, “Rebellion is noteworthy because it draws its DNA from two contrasting genres of play. It’s part “dudes on a map” where you’re commanding large forces of plastic troopers and spaceships, and part hidden movement focused on the cat and mouse game of hide and seek. This clashing of large scale warfare and military operations with a seek and destroy reconnaissance exercise is thrilling. “. Check out his full overview of the game.
Fantasy Flight Games – $99.95 MSRP
A Song of Ice and Fire
Yes, I am the kind of person to recommend a miniature war game an alternative to chocolate and roses, but hear me out: a couple that hobbies together stays together. A Song of Ice and Fire is a game that plays quickly for a miniatures game (60-90 minutes), has an incredible amount of miniatures in the box, and has a universe that is immersive and rich (so much so that HBO made a show based on it, in case you haven’t heard.) It was one of our favorite games of 2018, and I wrote extensively on why it’s such an incredible game.
CMON Games – $149.99 (2-Player Lannister & Stark Starter Set)/$84.99 (Free Folk or Night’s Watch Starter Sets) MSRP
MORE GAMING GOODNESS!
- Our Top 20 Tabletop Games of 2018 (Part 1)
- Our Top 20 Tabletop Games of 2018 (Part 2)
- DUELOSAUR ISLAND is the 2 Player Card Game of Building Dinosaur Theme Parks
Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola, Teri Litorco, Raf Cordero, Fantasy Flight Games, Blythe Wiedemann