The Best Two Player Card & Board Games

Disclosure: I have received Imhotep and Lost Cities Rivals for free in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links are used in this post. You can read my full disclosure here. 

My husband and I love playing board games, but it can be hard to get people together to play. Over the years we have discovered some awesome two-player board games (beyond Checkers, Monopoly, and The Game of Life), and here is a list of our favorites, in no particular order.

1) Lost Cities: The Original Card Game

Lost Cities is one of the first two-player games we have probably played as a couple. My husband actually owned the game when I met him, so he introduced me to it. It's a really nice quick pace 2 player card game where you race each other to complete expeditions. Your goal is to get the most points, but if you don't complete your expedition, you lose points, so tread carefully! It's a mixture of strategy and luck.

We usually play 3 rounds to make a longer game and add up all our points in the end, but if you only have 10-15 mins to spare, you can do 1 round easily in that amount of time.

2) Lost Cities: Rivals

I was super excited when Thames & Kosmos asked if I wanted sample copies of some games and this was one of their options! We loved the original card game and Lost Cities: Rivals is a fun twist on the classic! There are no negative points and it's designed to last only one round. Instead of just drawing cards and hoping you can get the ones you need, there is a bidding component. Cards are laid out in front and if you both want the same cards, it becomes a bidding war to see who wins!

Another upside this game can have up to 4 players, so if you want to play with friends later on you can, whereas the original Lost Cities was strictly a 2 player game. However, it is a longer game and can take up to 40 mins even with just 2 players.

3) Carcassonne

This is a fun world-building game for 2-5 players. On your turn, you get to add a new tile to the map. Then you have an option to place one of your pieces (people) on the map to claim a city, road, monastery, or field. Each has a different point value. The goal is to get the most points at the end of the game. It's a fun strategy game that also relies on the luck of the draw.

This was a game my husband also introduced me to when we were dating. It takes a bit longer to play, around 30-35 minutes.

4) Ticket To Ride

There are many different versions of Ticket To Ride, but the first one we played together was Ticket To Ride Europe, another game my husband introduced to me. There is also an America version, which is slightly less complicated as it doesn't have stations or tunnels.

We also own the expansion Ticket To Ride: Asia (not a stand-alone game, you will need to own either America or Europe), which is pretty cool as it comes with two different boards (one side is designed for team play). It also came with wooden cardholders, which the other games didn't have, and are super helpful for holding the train route cards so you can see all the routes you need to complete.

It's a 2-5 player game and can take 30-60 minutes to play, depending on players, with 2 it's usually closer to 30 minutes. The goal of this game is to build and complete your train routes. The player with the most points at the end wins. This one relies more on strategy, but there is some luck involved.

5) Pandemic  

This was the first game we got where you are actually working together to beat the game. In Pandemic, plagues are running wild, and your goal is to prevent outbreaks, find cures, and eradicate the diseases.

I'm not going to lie, this game can be frustrating as it is very hard to beat! The fun part is that you aren't competing against each other, but working together as a team, so it's a great way to bond with your partner!

It's a longer game taking around 45 minutes, according to the box, but we've had some 60-minute games.

6) Dominion

Dominion is a fun deck-building game designed for 2-4 players and takes about 30 minutes to play. Each player starts with a set amount of cards, and you have the option to purchase cards as you play and add to your deck. There are victory point cards to purchase as well, and once all the province (6 victory points) cards have been bought, the game ends. Whoever has the most victory points at the end of the game wins.

7) Exploding Kittens

This was a fun Kickstarter we actually supported, so we have the box that meows when it opens! It's a fun and quick card game, only takes around 15 minutes to play, for 2-5 players. Exploding Kittens mostly relies on luck as it all depends on what you draw for the most part. Perfect for when you need a laugh!

8) Kittens in a Blender

Kittens in a Blender is totally different from Exploding Kittens and takes a bit longer to play around 30 minutes. It's for 2-4 players. Your goal in this game is to save your cats from being blended! The more cats you save, the more points you get at the end of the game. However, every cat that doesn't make it, costs you negative points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

It's a bit twisted, but a lot of fun, and the cards are really cute!

9) Machi Koro: Bright Lights

We had the original Machi Koro first but really liked the Bright Lights version a lot more! The original Machi Koro seemed too short and too easy to win once you figured out a strategy. They really rebalanced the Bright Lights version. Cards are more random, making the game different each time. (Both games are standalone games, Bright Lights isn't an expansion.)

Machi Koro Bright Lights is designed for 2-5 players and can take up to 45 minutes to play. It's a card game, based on strategy and luck. Your goal is to build a city and the game ends whenever a player completes their 6th landmark. That player wins the game.

10) Imhotep

I was also received Imhotep as a sample from Thames & Kosmos. It's a 2 to 4 player game, takes about 40 minutes to play, and relies heavily on strategy. It's totally new and different compared to other games we played, which is why we really enjoyed it.

In this game, there are 6 rounds. In each round, there are a set of boats. The round ends when all the boats have delivered their stones. There are 4 different pieces of the board you can deliver stones and each one does different things. Some give you cards, some give you points right away, and others you have to wait to the end of the game to receive points. The player with the most points wins!

If you love strategy games, highly recommend this one! It's definitely more competitive as a 2 player game.

11) Evolution: The Beginning

I originally got this at Target on clearance. It's apparently a simpler version of the Evolution game, which we haven't played yet, but may have to look into as this one is a lot of fun! It's designed for 2-5 players and takes about 30 minutes to play. It's a highly strategic game, so if you like strategy games, this is a great one for 2 players!

In Evolution: The Beginning, you have different species which you can evolve to have different traits. These traits will help you get food, which is the goal of the game as the winner is the player who has the most food at the end of the game.

12) Timeline

There are many different versions of Timeline, but they all play the same. It's designed for 2-8 players and lasts 15 minutes, so it's a fun short game.

In this game, you draw cards, and each card has an event on one side and a date on the other.  You don't get to see the date until you place your card. Your goal is to put your card on the timeline in the correct spot. This is fun because a lot of the events no one knows when it happened, so your ultimately guessing at what point in history something happened. It's kind of a cool history lesson.

The downside is if you play too often, you'll start remembering the dates things happened and the game can stop being fun. However, you can always add another version of Timeline to expand it and make it more challenging!

13) Hive

Hive is a fun twist on checkers. There is no board as you create the board, The goal is to surround the other player's Queen Bee. Different bugs allow you to move your pieces in different ways, some can jump over pieces, others move around the edge. It's strictly a 2 player game and is usually pretty quick (10 minutes), but can take up to 30 minutes to play. It's a fun little strategic game.

14) Tsuro: The Game Of The Path

Tsuro is a fun short little game (15-20 mins) for 2 to 8 players. In this game, you draw tiles with paths on them and your goal is to stay on the board. The last person on the board wins!

It is mostly strategic, but there is some luck as it can depend on what tiles you draw. We've had family members who hate strategy games love this one, so it's a great intro into strategy games if those aren't typically your thing!

You can find all of these games in my Amazon Shop.