Board games for 2 players to suit any budget in 2024

Quick menu

Board games for 2 players with Disney Villainous, Jaipur, Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar, and Splendor Duel promo shots in a grid

(Image credit: Future, Ravensburger, Space Cowboys, Funko)

1. The quick list
2.
Best overall
3.
Best card game
4.
Best strategy
5.
Best competitive
6.
Best co-op
7.
Best RPG
8.
Best puzzle
9.
Best mystery
10.
Best travel

No matter whether you're trying to prepare for Valentine's Day or just want something cool to play with your partner or housemate, board games for 2 players are always worth a look. Besides catering specifically for a pair, many are easily transported so can be taken with you wherever you want to go.

To point you in the right direction, we've pulled together what we'd argue are essential board games for 2 players - if you ask us, they're some of the best board games overall and should be in every collection. That includes something to suit any budget, skill-level, or interest.

Crucially, we always come back to these options ourselves when looking to break out a 2-player board game. Although there are new contenders landing on shelves each month, these always cut through the noise. 

Our bargain-hunting software is also on the job of finding you the lowest available price, too; it'll list the retailer with the best offer beside each entry.

Written by
Benjamin Abbott, Tabletop & Merch Editor at GamesRadar
Written by
Benjamin Abbott

Benjamin's been writing about board games professionally for over five years, but has been playing them ever since he was old enough to roll dice.

Board games for 2 players - quick list

Want to get stuck in as quickly as possible? You'll find a roundup of the top board games for 2 players below. Simply click on the links under each entry to find out more about them.

Best board game for 2 players overall

The Maleficent mover, board, and cards from Disney Villainous on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future / Benjamin Abbott)
You'll struggle to find a better 2-player board game

Specifications

Players: 2 - 6
Ages: 10+
Complexity: Moderate
Lasts: 60 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Tactical and deep
+
Gorgeous artwork
+
Mechanics based on characters

Reasons to avoid

-
Hard to explain
-
Rules are confusing at first
Buy it if:

You're looking for a game you can learn and play together long-term: Every character has a unique play-style and goal, so Villainous is the sort of game that gets better with each match - you need time to master their quirks. Because facing different villains encourages all-new strategies, it's very replayable as well.

You're a big Disney fan: As you can probably tell, this is a love-letter to Disney films both new and old. If you adore the House of Mouse, there'll be plenty for you to appreciate. 

Don't buy it if:

You're expecting something for families or kids: Even though it adapts some of the most beloved family films of all time, Villainous is tactical enough that casual players will bounce off it. Younger children might struggle too.

You don't have patience for complex rules: Villainous is relatively complicated, so it's not going to be for you if strategy isn't your jam.

What you need to know: What happens if evil wins? You get to find out with Disney Villainous. Allowing players to mess around in a Disney-themed toybox, it's all about giving classic baddies their happy ending... and screwing over anyone that tries to stop you. Crucially, playing it as a head-to-head board game for 2 players is better than battling it out as a group. In all our years with Villainous, we've found that playing with just one other person makes for a more focused and enjoyable experience.

How it works: Don't be fooled by that family-friendly theming - Villainous is hiding layer upon layer of strategy beneath its gorgeous artwork. You see, characters have a unique objective and play-style inspired by their movie, and that means they all handle differently to one another. They also come with their own board to explore at your leisure. However, that's not to say it's a laissez-faire experience. The game encourages you to explore your wicked side, and you can send heroes to harass your foes as a result.

Just be warned: it takes a hot minute to get your head around the rules, and it's not the easiest to explain.

Gameplay: While Villainous shines when played in a group, tackling it as a pair gives you space to learn the characters' ins and outs rather than being swept up by the chaos of a larger melee. And make no mistake, 'chaos' is the right word. That title isn't just a name; it's a mindset you'll need to embrace. The quickest path to victory is throwing a wrench into another player's schemes, and more people means more carnage. That's no bad thing, of course, but it's a little less focused. Seeing as genuine skill is rewarded here, battling head-to-head feels more tactical. There aren't as many variables to consider, so you can really hone in on your villain's skills.

Delightfully wicked

GamesRadar + review

Because each of these baddies is so distinctive mechanically speaking, this is the sort of game that benefits from repeat play as well. It'll take you a match or two to understand how they work, and different match-ups provide all-new challenges. (Especially if you add the Disney Villainous expansions.)

The bottom line: So long as you have the patience to learn its rules, you'll find a smart and engrossing 2-player board game that can keep you busy for a long time. As we mentioned in our review, there's "enough depth and spice to keep you playing for months."

Best card game for 2 players

The box, tokens, and cards of Jaipur laid out on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future / Benjamin Abbott)

2. Jaipur

The king of 'just one more'

Specifications

Players: 2
Ages: 10+
Complexity: Low
Lasts: 30 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to learn
+
Moreish gameplay
+
Engrossing mechanics

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't add more players
-
Not tremendously deep
Buy it if:

You want something very replayable: There's no 'right' or 'wrong' way to play Jaipur, so you've got room to experiment every time you sit down at the table. When combined with the game's easy setup and quickfire nature, it's supremely replayable.

You want a good travel game: Jaipur doesn't take up much real-estate in play or when packed away, so it's a great choice if you want a game on the go.

Don't buy it if:

You want a multiplayer game: Sadly, Jaipur can only be played with two players - there's no way to add more people into the mix. (Trust us, we've tried.)

You want a complex strategy game: Despite having more than enough strategy to be going on with, Jaipur may not be a fit if you want something particularly crunchy - it's light-hearted on the whole.

What you need to know: Jaipur is the poster child in terms of good board games for 2 players. Even though it's the definition of 'accessible', there's a hidden depth beneath the surface that allows you to experiment along the way. It's delightfully moreish too, making it a contender for any list of the best card games.

How it works: Putting you in the shoes of a trader from the Indian city of Jaipur, you've been challenged to become the best businessperson around and earn an invite to the maharajah's court. (In other words, collect as many points as possible.) How you get there is up to you, though; players have room to test a variety of different strategies, and there are no wrong answers. Should you buy and trade cheap items quickly, or is it better to chase expensive goods that get you a larger payout in the end? You'll have to decide quickly, because the sooner you trade an item, the more points you'll get. That means your foe could beat you to the punch if you don't cash in your wares fast enough.

Gameplay: Every match of Jaipur is a balancing act. The question of whether you should sell fast or hold out for a bigger payday is captivating, because there's always the risk that your opponent will get there first.They may figure out what you're collecting and go for the same thing to stop you in your tracks, too. It's surprisingly thoughtful - more so than you'd expect from a quick and seemingly lighthearted game.

While we're on the subject of 'quick,' that makes Jaipur ideal for traveling as well (along with the fact that it doesn't take up much space in play or packed away). Yes, it's a shame that you can't play with more than one other person. But seeing as everything is so laser-focused as a result, that's no bad thing.

The bottom line: There's no dead weight to Jaipur. It's a great example of how to do a lot with relatively simple mechanics. So far as we're concerned, it's as close to a must-have as you can get. 

Best strategy board game for 2 players

7 Wonders Duel and pieces on a wooden table

(Image credit: Repos Productions)

3. 7 Wonders Duel

Classically trained

Specifications

Players: 2
Ages: 10+
Difficulty: Moderate
Lasts: 30 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Accessible
+
Great trade mechanics
+
Variety of strategies

Reasons to avoid

-
Can drag a bit
-
Not as deep as the original 7 Wonders
Buy it if:

You want something tactical that isn't mega-complicated: Matches of Duel don't take too long, but there's more than enough strategy under the surface to keep you engaged for the long haul.

You don't have enough time (or people) for the full 7 Wonders: This trimmed-down version of the iconic strategy game is less of an investment than the original, so it's a solid alternative if you're low on time or players.

Don't buy it if:

You want something with loads of depth: Although it's a great strategy game, 7 Wonders Duel isn't the meatiest option out there in terms of tactics. To make it suitable for 2 players, certain options have been removed.

You're expecting it to be exactly the same as 7 Wonders: Because certain features have been taken out or tweaked to accommodate fewer players (not to mention a lower run-time), Duel may disappoint if you're expecting the same breadth of options offered in the original game.

What you need to know: Despite rewinding the clock to a time of antiquity, this board game for 2 players isn't some dusty relic. A more focused version of the eternally popular board game for families, Duel drills down into what made the original excel whilst cutting back its runtime.

How it works: Challenging you with leading an ancient society to greatness, you can achieve victory in Duel through amassing military might, scientific advancements, or points won through culture. Want to snuff out your opponent's civilization via force of arms? Go ahead. Would you prefer to lead the charge on learning and academia, meanwhile? That's no problem either. As per the original, Duel gives you ownership over its mechanics in a way few other games do. Alright, so there aren't as many options as the 'full' 7 Wonders. But you can still find enough to chew on.

Keep a close eye on what your rival is up to, though. Because you achieve your goal by collecting cards from that central pile, it's possible for an opponent to grab the ones you need if they suss out your plan. That means you can't lose track of what they're doing while devising your grand strategy - not unless you want to fall behind, anyway.

Gameplay: Duel cuts away the fat of its predecessor for a leaner, more streamlined alternative. Besides having a shorter run-time, there's slightly less to juggle - it's a good entry-point to the series. However, that doesn't mean it loses any of the franchise's magic. Instead, this two-player spin is able to zero in on the best bits from older versions.For example, you only have to select one of three approaches rather than being overwhelmed with options. There's an elegance to it.

The back-and-forth of it all has a greater impact than the original, too. It feels like a real head-to-head in a way the old 7 Wonders doesn't, mostly due to the fact that every decision will benefit you or hinder your opponent.

The bottom line: Duel distills everything we love about the series into one neat package. It's a fantastic adaptation that gives you a shot of 7 Wonders' signature strategy… all without the fluff.

Best competitive board game for 2 players

Splendor Duel board and components closeup

(Image credit: Future)
Get your game face on

Specifications

Players: 2
Ages: 10+
Complexity: Moderate
Lasts: 30 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Dynamic and deep
+
Great combo of engine building and spatial strategy
+
Looks great

Reasons to avoid

-
Unreliable victory conditions
-
Fans may find this too familiar
Buy it if:

You love a challenge: Would you call yourself a competitive player? If there's nothing you enjoy more than dominating the tabletop battlefield, this will hit the spot thanks to its tense gameplay where one wrong move could spell defeat.

You haven't played Splendor before: If you're new to the series, this is the one to get. It may seem similar to the original Splendor at first glance, but certain tweaks and new features make Duel the better choice overall.

Don't buy it if:

You already have Splendor: We'd argue that this is the superior game, but it might be a little too similar for anyone that already owns its predecessor.

You don't like randomness in games: While it's pretty excellent in every other regard, Splendor Duel can be at the mercy of its randomly-drawn card market. If you're looking to win by collecting gems of a single color (one of the new victory conditions), you're stuffed if it doesn't come up - and it won't be your fault.

What you need to know: This smaller, more focused version of Splendor sits in the Goldilocks zone of board games for 2 players; it's both accessible and tactical. That's a rare mix.

How it works: On the surface, Splendor Duel revolves around gem crafting. But in reality, it's about being quicker and more savvy than your opponent. This is an efficiency exercise; you’ve got to make better, tighter purchases than your opponent. Deciding when to act is a similar tightrope walk. 

Gameplay: Timing matters in Splendor Duel. It's a delicate sort of dance; players can deny their rival gems if they make clever selections, or ruin each others' day with special ability cards. Opponents also get an advantage if you redraw the gem pile because you didn't want anything from the existing selection, so you've got to think hard about when you want to restock. Combined with its constant sense of one-upmanship, Duel demands that you're on the ball.

A superior game in almost every regard

GamesRadar+ review

But why make a 2-player version of Splendor when the original game can be played head-to-head already? As our review says, "not only does this play a lot more distinctively than its minor rules changes would suggest… it’s actually a superior game in almost every regard." Even though its new victory conditions are beholden to luck of the draw, it's still snappier than the original.

The bottom line: Thanks to its simple but rewarding strategy, Splendor Duel is a winner when it comes to lighthearted - or not so lighthearted - competition. It may not have the 'wow' factor of bigger games, but this 2-player alternative punches well above its weight nonetheless. 

Best co-op board game for 2 players

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar board and pieces

(Image credit: Future)

5. Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar

They spared no expense

Specifications

Players: 2 - 4
Ages: 10+
Complexity: Moderate
Lasts: 90+ mins

Reasons to buy

+
Build your own dino-park
+
Replayable Legacy mechanics with added mini-games
+
Superb attention to detail

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite a commitment
-
A lot of mechanics to juggle
Buy it if:

You want a game about collaboration and shared choices: Teamwork is essential in The Legacy of Isla Nublar, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to show it off - be it by herding dinosaurs, solving puzzles, or deciding where you'll place your park's facilities.

You enjoy Pandemic or Horrified: If you've played either of those games, you'll love this one. It cribs bits from both for a compelling, edge-of-your-seat experience where you're often racing against the clock… and the odds.

Don't buy it if:

You can't commit to multiple sessions: Seeing as it'll take weeks for you to finish this game in its entirety, we'd steer clear if you're short on time.

You don't like the pressure of permanently changing your board: Because the barriers and buildings you'll be placing are stickers, you can't change your mind about where they should go once they're down.

What you need to know: Think you can handle Jurassic Park better than its creators? The Legacy of Isla Nublar lets you give it a good go. Along with tense gameplay and consequence-driven mechanics, it improves on the 'legacy' format (where your decisions follow you) by providing something so much more replayable than its peers. Hold onto your butts, because few cooperative board games can match it.

How it works: Although it allows you to play through each movie, this game also fills in any gaps between them with original stories. Naturally, dinos running amuck during said adventures is a given… so you've got to keep them in line. 

That's easier said than done. Aside from trying to break through any barriers you've erected, they'll do their best to chow down on park guests as well. Seeing as you have other objectives you need to complete at the same time (which often feature unique mini-games), stopping them becomes a delicious Catch 22 conundrum. Mix in legacy mechanics that give you the ability to create your own unique board for use in a separate game type - not to mention freakin' dinosaurs - and you've got a satisfying experience that combines the best bits of Pandemic and Horrified. 

Gameplay: Board games are at their best when something unexpected happens, and suddenly you're flying by the seat of your pants. The Legacy of Isla Nublar is a great example. During one game, we were playing as geriatric park founder John Hammond and had to fend off a T-Rex with nothing more than a cattle prod. Emergent moments like this make it one of the more memorable 2-player board games out there, and tackling it as a pair gives you greater control of how it all pans out.

The real fun begins when you start creating your own board, though. Every barrier and building is permanent, ready to be used in a separate, endlessly replayable game mode. Sure, the game requires commitment due to its campaign. But few other Legacy games do this - they're more of a one-and-done deal.

The bottom line: Yes, The Legacy of Isla Nublar leans on ideas we've seen before - there are hidden mechanics and branching character upgrades, namely. But thanks to a wealth of extras scattered throughout the campaign (like its mini-games and the ability to create your own dinosaurs), it has a flavor all its own.

Best RPG board game for 2 players

The scenario book, map, models, and box of Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future / Benjamin Abbott)

6. Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

Strike out on an epic fantasy adventure

Specifications

Players: 1 - 4
Ages: 14+
Complexity: Moderate
Lasts: 60+ mins

Reasons to buy

+
Ridiculously deep
+
Lasting consequences
+
Combat isn't random

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite complex
-
A bit light compared to normal Gloomhaven
Buy it if:

You want an epic adventure game: Jaws of the Lion has you dungeon-delving across the land, so it should be what you're looking for if you find yourself hankering after some classic fantasy.

You want your choices to matter: This game puts greater emphasis on your decisions than many others do. To be precise, you can choose how the story develops and mold your character with numerous upgrades.

Don't buy it if:

You want something simple: Gloomhaven's strength is also its downfall. Because it's a lot deeper than most games, it's a lot more complicated as well.

You're expecting it to be as deep as standard Gloomhaven: This is a prequel to the original Gloomhaven (not to mention its sequel, Frosthaven) that was designed to be an accessible entry-point for newcomers. That means it's not as big or as fiendish as its predecessor.

What you need to know: If you grew up drawing fantasy maps and playing imaginary swords and sorcery like we did, this 2-player board game will feel like those memories distilled into cardboard and plastic. With an expansive world and heroes you can make your own through upgrades, it fosters a feeling of genuine adventure from the start.

How it works: As well as being a classic dungeon-crawler, Jaws of the Lion reacts to your choices. Thanks to a branching storyline, the kingdom will respond to the decisions you make. This is tracked through stickers on a map that is permanently altered by your journey, and secret mechanics (like new characters) are unlocked along the way. When you add a combat system that relies on cards and strategy rather than the luck of dice, there's a real feeling of agency that's matched only by the best tabletop RPGs.

Gameplay: While there is a learning curve you'll need to endure (Jaws of the Lion's deeper than most board games for 2 players), the payoff is greater as a result. The world of Gloomhaven is one you can happily lose yourself in, and because you'll spend hours leveling up your characters, you'll probably grow quite attached to them by the end. Mix in combat that rewards genuine skill and you have a potent mix on your hands.

Alright, so you can technically play with up to four people. We hear you. But tackling it as a pair allows you to take more ownership of the narrative. It's less of a hassle to line up your schedules for the next session, too.

The bottom line: If you've ever been tempted by OG Gloomhaven or just want to live out your adventuring dreams, Jaws of the Lion is a fantastic entry-point. It's a lot cheaper and is more accessible than its predecessor, but still offers the same highs. 

Best puzzle board game for 2 players

Patchwork tokens and pieces

(Image credit: Lookout Games)

7. Patchwork

Tetris, quilt edition

Specifications

Players: 2
Ages: 8+
Complexity: Low
Lasts: 30 mins

Reasons to buy

+
 Weirdly therapeutic
+
Easy to get the hang of
+
Not overly competitive 

Reasons to avoid

-
2 players only
-
Not too deep
Buy it if:

You want a satisfying puzzle to solve each game: Despite being a competition, you're working on your own quilt pattern in Patchwork. That means you're free to figure out how you want all those pieces to fit together yourself.

You don't want anything too complex: The setup for this game may seem complex, but it really isn't. Patchwork is an incredibly chilled-out experience that's perfect for a relaxed evening in.

Don't buy it if:

You want something with lots of strategy: There's not a huge deal of strategy to speak of here, so anyone hankering after deeper tactics should look elsewhere.

You want a game for lots of people: Because Patchwork is limited to two players, you won't be able to add more people to the mix.

What you need to know: There's something oddly soothing about this 2-player board game. A serene exercise in fitting Tetris-like tiles together, it's the sort of easy-going distraction that's perfect for date night or a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's not overly competitive either, so fallings-out will be kept to a minimum.

How it works: Your aim is simple - build a quilt before the timer runs out. Fortunately, that process is much easier in Patchwork than it would be in real life. Players 'buy' patches to slot onto their board with buttons, and this earns them buttons in return. They can then buy more patches that earn them even more buttons. It's a satisfying domino effect, and whoever collects the most buttons at the end will win. 

Gameplay: Naturally, there's a catch to all this. To be precise, certain patches cost more to buy and each one advances the timer forward a set number of spaces. That means splashing out on a lucrative tile now might limit what you can do later. What's more, you'll lose points if you leave spaces on your quilt unfilled. 

The result is an engrossing push-and-pull that draws you in quickly, and you won't want to put Patchwork down once you've got a taste for its smart yet simple gameplay. While it's a shame that you can't add more people to proceedings, it's a good chill-out option because it's not overly competitive.

The bottom line: It may not be the deepest board game for 2 players, but it excels in every other respect. If you want to kick back and relax, Patchwork should be on your radar.

Best mystery board game for 2 players

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective box amongst evidence

(Image credit: Space Cowboys)

8. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

Can you solve the case faster than Holmes himself?

Specifications

Players: 1 - 8
Ages: 13+
Complexity: Moderate
Lasts: 60+ mins

Reasons to buy

+
Engaging mysteries
+
Immersive props
+
A race against time

Reasons to avoid

-
Really difficult
-
A bit stressful
Buy it if:

You like escape rooms: At its core, this game is very similar to an escape room. You have a limited amount of time to solve puzzles, sift through props, and work together to crack the case.

You love whodunnits: If you can't get enough of crime drama and love theorizing on a baddie's master plan, this will be right up your street. Think you can do better than Poirot or Holmes himself? Now's your chance to prove it.

Don't buy it if:

You want something chilled out and easy: This is the opposite of a game like Patchwork - it can be intense and a little bit stressful, especially when the timer gets close to running out. It's genuinely quite hard too.

You want something replayable: Consulting Detective is, by its very nature, a one-and-done deal. It's hard to put the genie back in the bottle once you know the solutions, after all.

What you need to know: Even though it's 40 years old, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective still deserves a spot on any list of board games for 2 players. Intriguing, immersive, and challenging enough that victory will make you feel like a damn genius, it's one of the top board games for adults who fancy themselves as an armchair detective.

How it works: Casting you as a member of the Baker Street Irregulars (a group that keeps Holmes up to speed on what's happening in London), you'll work your way through numerous original cases ranging from a mummy's curse to a murder on the Thames. Your aim is to solve those crimes before the great detective himself figures them out. 

Gameplay: As you'd expect, this is pretty difficult - which makes sense, considering that you're going up against Sherlock Holmes. A strict time-limit doesn't help either. But you won't mind; each copy of the game comes with a set of props, clues, and case files to work through that are tremendously immersive. Indeed, they offer an atmosphere you're unlikely to get anywhere else. 

Playing in a pair only enriches that mood. It's the best way to avoid a 'too many cooks' scenario where everyone's struggling to be heard. However, just be aware that these adventures aren't exactly replayable - once you know the solution, you'll probably not be able to repeat the experience unless you have a very short memory.

The bottom line: Despite having hit shelves back in the mists of 1981, Consulting Detective still has it where it counts. Even though it's not endlessly replayable, the experience more than makes up for that. 

Best travel board game for 2 players

Bananagrams being played on a wooden table

(Image credit: Bananagrams)

9. Bananagrams

Get your word on

Specifications

Players: 1 - 8
Ages: 7+
Complexity: Low
Lasts: 20 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Frantic pace
+
Makes you think
+
Very portable

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be frustrating
-
A little anxiety-inducing
Buy it if:

You want something very portable: This game can spread out a bit at the table, but packs away to a much more reasonable size thanks to the little, zipped bag it's stored in.

You want a mental workout: Due to its speed and nature as a word game (along with the fact that all those words must connect), this will really test your abilities.

Don't buy it if:

You want something easy-going: You're in a race against your rival to finish a crossword, so Bananagrams is the opposite of 'calm.'

You get easily frustrated: Your opponent pulling ahead and forcing you to add new tiles to the letter pile is inexplicably annoying… particularly when it happens in quick succession. If you struggle with losing, we'd suggest something else.

What you need to know: Hold your skepticism for a moment; word game or not, Bananagrams is a stroke of brilliance. Besides being oh-so portable, it can be enjoyed with almost anyone, anywhere.

How it works: The idea isn't complicated; each player gets 20 or so single-letter tiles, and they have to put them into a crossword. When you've finished (which is harder than it sounds if you get a handful of ‘q’), you have to take another one that's added to the same crossword. The rub is, your opponent's got to take a new tile as well… regardless of whether they’ve finished their own pile yet. The only thing that helps is the fact that they have to yell "peel" first.

Gameplay: Needing to take a new tile every time someone uses up theirs leads to mounting pressure as your unused letters grow in number. And because your goal is to be the first person who gets rid of all the game's spare tiles, it's a race against time to create a crossword that actually makes sense. That tension mounts when you can see your opponent getting close to finishing, and reaches a crescendo when they yell the dreaded "peel." This is a case in point for why Bananagrams is better as a 2-player board game - it's less manic (but still frustrating nonetheless).

Being able to swap your letters around when you run out of space takes things up a notch. It really gives your gray matter a workout, and while that will understandably turn some people off, it's a thrill for those who love word games.

The bottom line: Frantic, cerebral, and tense, this is a must-have. We take Bananagrams with us on most of our vacations because it's so easy to sling in a bag or suitcase, and it's genuinely engaging.

Board games for 2 players - FAQ

Upcoming board games and TRPGs splash image with The Wagadu Chronicles, Frosthaven, Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar, and Uncharted Journeys

(Image credit: Twin Drums, Cephalofair Games, Prospero Hall, Cubicle 7)

What are the most popular board games for 2 players?

Even though it's tough to work out what the most popular board games for 2 players are overall (it's hard to find data on sales), we can hazard a guess. Classics like Azul, Ticket to Ride, Codenames Duet, and Pandemic are always high up on the list if you search through Amazon's bestsellers, while Splendor brings up the rear. 

However, one of the most surprisingly popular offerings was the Pokemon Trading Card Game. More specifically, the Battle Academy starter set is doing really rather well in terms of Amazon sales right now.

Are any of those the ultimate board game for 2 players, though? Realistically, no - that honor would go to chess. Yes, it's surprising. But in terms of sales, chess shifts three million units per year. We suspect that's more than all of the above combined.

It's a different story if we're talking average customer reviews

It's a different story if we're talking average customer reviews, though. Amazon puts strategy epic 7 Wonders Duel near the top of the pile, while Patchwork, and Jaipur (a fantastic board game for 2 players) also dominate thanks to extensive positive feedback. We'd certainly agree with the latter, and would add Disney Villainous into the mix as well. In our opinion, it's one of the best 2-player board games ever made.

What is a fun 2-player board game?

It's hard to go wrong with King of Tokyo (which usually costs $45 at Amazon), Jaipur (available for roughly $25), Hey, That's My Fish! or Tacocat Spelled Backwards (weighing in at $15) if your main requirement is 'fun'. All of these options are a blast thanks to fast-paced gameplay that's both satisfying and easy to learn, so we have no trouble recommending any of them.

What is the top board game to play with 2 players?

In our opinion, the best 2-player board game has to be Disney Villainous (available from Amazon for $40). Besides being very replayable, its clever blend of tactics and skulduggery make it an engrossing way to spend an hour or two. It's also smartly designed and beautiful to boot.

We often see Battleship (which you can buy for $12 or so) cited as a good choice as well if you want something more old-school. While it has flaws, it's a family favorite for many and is truly timeless.  


Want to let off some steam and delight your guests? Check out our guide to the very best party board games.

Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to the latest Lego news. I've been writing about games in one form or another since 2012, and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.