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Best 2 Player Board Games That Aren't Specifically For 2 Players?

Owner

What are some of your best multiplayer games that scale really well for 2 player count? Board Of It recently shared this video on reddit and it was doing really well, and I wanted to ask everyone here for your thoughts :)

For this list, I wanted to focus on interactive multiplayer games that are great for 2p count. It's a bit of a given that "multiplayer solitaire" games will always scale well, so I wanted to know what are some games out there that give you that same feeling of a bustling game state even with only 2 people on the map.

Here's my list, and I love that they don't make you feel like you're playing an inferior version of the multiplayer game. It may not give you the same exact feeling as a higher player count game, but it comes with its own merits:

  • #Concordia - There is an expansion that provides tighter maps for 2p. I don't have one but Anna and I still have a lot of fun with the base game. There's competition for the different cards in the market and you get stuff even when it's not your turn (think Catan). There's a card in your hand that allows you to copy the ability of the card that your opponent last played, so that makes for an interesting decision of trying to wait until your opponent finally plays that card. The card playing/management is one of the best parts, so 2p gameplay is filled with fun decisions in a relatively short gameplay
  • #Viticulture: Essential Edition - Number of available action spaces scale with player count. You're also limited to the action spaces that are available during the current "season," so you're even more confined in what you can do and missing the right timing can really hurt the efficiency of your engine. It feels tight from the get go and you're often bumping into each other
  • #Brass: Birmingham - The more I thought about this game after the first session, the more pleasantly surprised I was by its business-y tension in every round:
    • First, the map is tightened up at 2 player count
    • Every round, you observe how much money the opponent spends since that impacts turn order for the next round
    • Depending on how far it will set you back, you're interested in taking out a loan so that you can make a big play in the next round
    • You're often competing to establish industries and lay out networks around the "hot spots" on the map that will generate the most points
    • You can develop your industries by using the resource that your opponent has generated. You can also score points by establishing networks around the industries that your opponent has developed

I have high hopes for the upcoming #Root expansion that will improve 2p gameplay. It'll likely place it at the top of my list :)

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3 days ago

Surprisingly for a game with such a high player count, #Citadels is good at two.  #Race for the Galaxy and #San Juan are also multiplayer games that give you more to do when playing with only two.

Owner3 days ago

I remember some people making comparisons between #Race for the Galaxy and #Fort, which has a follow mechanism, so that makes sense! Now that I think about it, Fort is quite good for this category. It wasn't as big of a hit for me as it was for Trent though.

Premium User3 days ago

My first thought was #Res Arcana so I'm glad to see it's inclusion in this video. Also agree with them with #Spirit Island and #PARKS. Also in agreement with you Phil about #Concordia though I will say I'm a bit biased with all of these as I've only played all except PARKS at a max player count of 2 lol.

So many games here that I'd love to try (and in the case of #Viticulture: Essential Edition, will be trying shortly :D)

Almost added #Tapestry to my GameNerdz hold with my giveaway win when it was the deal of the day a couple days ago, but ultimately didn't because it seems to have a lot of negative reviews and I couldn't tell if they were just people complaining or legit concerns. Any thoughts on this ?

Owner3 days ago

Lol I'm guilty myself, I've only played Concordia and Brass at 2 player count but just know that they're well known for being good at 4p count too xD

I'm curious how you'll feel about Viticulture! It's been a long time since I've played but I think it still holds up and is one of the best thematic "euros" out there.

As for Tapestry...

  • Overproduced but okay (for some people) - I mean, no one's forcing anyone to buy it. It'll be worth it for some and not for others. And while the initial $80-90 price range was something I'd never have recommended, it currently goes for $50-60 and that's fair (although it makes me wonder how small the margins they're working with are)
  • Easy to learn and play, the puzzle part is fun, and there's great combo potential - Gameplay runs smoothly and the decisions you make in going up the tracks is quite fun. There's a big ramp up in how many resources and points you're able to produce as the rounds progress
  • Shallow theme - This is a puzzly game where you never really go beyond thinking in terms of numbers. With that said, I can imagine some players out there who'll have fun piecing together the awkward history of your civ
  • Swingy & random - Your endgame score can fluctuate a lot and like with some of the other Stonemaier Games games, there's quite a bit of randomness for players to manage. I wonder if some degree of luck is intentional to make their games more accessible? And while I don't mind that since I take it up as a challenge and just enjoy the ride, there will be those out there who hate the feeling of losing because of bad draws

Premium User2 days ago

Sarah's been on board with Viticulture ever since finding out one of the women who run our meetup group has it ranked amongst her favorites. I think that will help me like it a bit knowing she enjoys it too.

Thanks for all the Tapestry info! To your points, I definitely thought it sounded like something we'd like in terms of the ramping up/engine building aspects. The lack of theme didn't really bother me and when I was trying to decide and had asked Sarah her opinion, she agreed that it didn't matter.

That being said, your last point I think was the most important. She is a bit competitive and knowing that a bad card draw could totally destroy your game where even if you max out your potential, you still could score 100 points (or more) less than the winner would absolutely kill the experience for her. She had agreed (if I got the game) to treat it more as a beat your own score solitare puzzle, but I wasn't sold that would be fun. And then of course I heard about the potential for players to be taking several turns after other players have already finished their game. I definitely couldn't see Sarah enjoying that, though I do think it would be interesting to see if she were the last one standing if she'd continue playing lol.

Ultimately, I figured I could get it for less down the road if I decide I'm more interested..

3 days ago

I've only tried it once, but the reputation for #Inis is that it works very well at 2 players, and with my limited experience, I agree with that. It's a highly interactive game, as well.

Owner3 days ago

I got that impression too, and even appeared chess-like in terms of really needing to constantly keep each other in check. All speculation though, since I've yet to play :p

3 days ago

You gotta try it out!

3 days ago

#A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King works great at 2 players, while at higher player counts it is too random for you to plan at 2 players it becomes this very intense tactical game. You are moving a shared piec according to quite strict rules so you start moving from where your opponent ends their move and vice versa. As such you decide what your opponents options are and are denying them certain opportunities. It is really so tense and on a knife edge

Owner3 days ago

I searched for a quick how-to video and found this! Didn't expect a good board game how-to from CNET haha: https://youtu.be/UJ3tiImiOMA

Looks like a fun game especially for fans and I like the art style too. 

2 days ago

In reality the theme is fairly pasted on but the art is really enjoyable and at 2 players there is surprising depth while also preventing too much AP as so much of what you can do will depend on your opponent.