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Best Board Games for Just Two Players

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With new CDC guidelines recommending that we avoid socializing with anyone outside our immediate household, game nights are a lot more difficult. Unless you happen to live with 3-5 people who are enthusiastic gamers, many of your favorite games will probably spend the next few months in the closet.

All is not lost, though. There are still plenty of options for games that require just two players. If you’re quarantining with a significant other, family member, or roommate, consider breaking out one of these classics.

Chess

Chess is having a moment right now thanks to the success of The Queen’s Gambit. This winter is as good a time as any to try to learn the game. Chess sets are inexpensive and easy to find compared to many other games. The game itself is accessible, with a limited rule set that makes it easy to start playing. Getting good at chess is an entirely different story, of course.

Alternate Choices: Checkers, Go

Scrabble

Scrabble is another deceptively simple two-player game. We put together a guide to winning every game, which relies on memorizing high-value words and placing tiles strategically. Scrabble offers good replayability since every game is different. In some households, things can get a little… heated. Make sure you’ve settled on house rules and get them in writing!

Alternate Choices: Bananagrams, Sequence

Codenames Duet

A lightweight, two-player version of Codenames? Yes, please! The word association game is a great way for couples to capitalize on their shared language and inside jokes. It’s a simple premise that yields a fun, quick game session of 15-30 minutes.

Alternate Choices: Mysterium, Scattegories: The Card Game

Caper

If Clue is a little too basic for you, then consider checking out Caper. This card-based game has a whimsical style that’s reminiscent of a Wes Anderson movie. You’ll assemble a team of thieves and race against your opponent to steal treasures across Europe.

Alternative Choices: 7 Wonders Duel, Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

Gloomhaven

Pretty much every board game recommendation list includes Gloomhaven these days. It’s simply one of the best, most engaging board games on the market right now. Don’t start this one unless you have at least an hour, preferably two, to get into it. This card-based combat game has the flavor of Dungeons & Dragons, but it’s geared for 1-4 players. It’s expensive, but you get a huge amount of goodies in the box, including minis.

Alternate Choices: Scythe, Mice and Mystics

Old-School Card Games

If you’re stuck without access to these fancy board games, what about cards? They take up virtually no room and cost next to nothing, especially compared to titles like Gloomhaven.

Playing cards aren’t as popular as they used to be–unless you’re heavily into poker. When was the last time you played Go Fish? What about Gin Rummy? I once spent a winter beach vacation with a few friends playing Egyptian Rat Screw, a fast-paced, Slap Jack-style game. Most card games are easy to play, and a hand may take just 10 minutes to play.

Alternative Choices: Exploding Kittens, Coup

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