11 Best Two-Player Board Games: 2023’s Must-Try Duos

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More often than not, you won’t be able to gather your whole board gaming crew for a game night. However, if you are in luck, you might find that friend who has nothing else to do, or you’ll manage to convince your partner that playing board games is a much better activity than going for a romantic night out.

With that done, you are ready to dive into the world of two-player board games where competition, strategy, and a whole lot of fun await you. So, get ready to embark on an epic duel of wits, strategizing, and other challenges that will test the limits of your friendship or relationship (though, in a good way, we hope).

Although not always the case, the best two-player board games are generally designed for two people and most can’t be played in a larger group or solo. As such, they are typically highly competitive and often involve dueling the other player for supremacy.  With that out of the way, let’s see what the top dueling games out there are!

Our Top Picks of the Best 2-Player Board Games

  1. 7 Wonders Duel
  2. Twilight Struggle
  3. Patchwork
  4. Watergate
  5. Splendor Duel
  6. Hive
  7. Radlands
  8. Sleeping Gods
  9. Undaunted: Stalingrad
  10. Codenames Duet
  11. It’s a Wonderful Kingdom 

How We Picked the Best 2-Player Games

For our compilation of two-player board games, we considered several factors that make the gameplay experience enjoyable.  

The main aspect of these games is the balance between the two players. Games, where only two players compete against each other could easily have a more experienced player steamrolling the less experienced one, robbing both players of any real fun. There are several ways these games combat this issue. Primarily with good catch-up mechanics that allow the trailing player to have a fighting chance until the end of the game. The alternative to this is short playtime, which gives the player a chance to learn the game quickly so they can get revenge on their nemesis *cough* give their loving partner or friend a better challenge *cough* in the next game.

These games need to present a strategic challenge. They should allow you to seize the victory through careful planning and tactics that the likes of Caesar or Napoleon would envy (for a brief second until they realize you are talking about wooden figures and cardboard). We gave bonus points for games that presented multiple viable strategies and had the potential for highly dynamic gameplay.

The best two-person board games are likely to be played over and over again. Multiple play modes, expansions, and a range of options you can pick during gameplay are heavily going to influence replayability and give you more bang for your buck. Therefore we have games on the list that can change the objectives for each player or shift the original rules just enough to bring in something fresh with every new game. 

The theme and the presentation are also massively important, especially considering that you are going to spend hours on end with these games. If you see an ugly-looking game on our list, trust us that it might be the hidden gem you were looking for. 

1. 7 Wonders Duel – A Wonder-full Mix of Strategy and History

7 Wonders Duel
Number of players:2
Playing time:30 minutes

7 Wonders Duel is an incredible two-player board game that packs a punch for such a small box. It captures the excitement and strategy of building civilizations in a head-to-head competition. 7 Wonder games are usually renowned for their easily accessible gameplay and stunning artwork and the Duel version is no exception.

The game revolves around drafting cards from the board with a mix of face-up and face–down cards. Managing resources to construct the most impressive civilization with massive monuments and, you guessed it, wonders of the world is crucial. The choices you make will make a difference if you are going to outwit and outmaneuver your opponent or give them access to whatever the free real-estate equivalent in ancient times is. 

There are multiple aspects you need to think about, such as military dominance, scientific advancements, and the commercial prosperity of your civilization. 

One of the best aspects of 7 Wonders Duel is its perfect balance of simplicity and depth. You’ll quickly learn the game or teach it to new players, but the strategic gameplay will differ significantly each time depending on the wonders you are building and the card drafting board used. 

With its beautiful artwork and high-quality components, 7 Wonders Duel is a visual delight. The cards depict iconic structures and civilizations, and who knows, you might even learn what Caravansary is.

So, if you’re looking for a challenging two-player game that combines strategy, competition, and a dash of history, look no further than 7 Wonders Duel. We’re sure that you’ll keep coming back for more. We know we did. 


  • Gorgeous artwork
  • Addictive gameplay 
  • Great replay value


  • Card draft luck may shift the balance slightly

2. Twilight Struggle – Cold War Was Never So Fun

Twilight Struggle
Number of players:2
Playing time:120 – 180 minutes

If a board game about political struggle and espionage between global superpowers, the US and USSR, during the Cold War piqued your interest, there’s no better game to choose than the classic that is Twilight Struggle. 

Players assume the roles of these superpowers, maneuvering their influence across the globe to gain control and dominance. From Cuba to Vietnam, every decision matters as you navigate political events, deploy military operations, and engage in diplomatic struggles. The game beautifully captures the tension and unpredictability of this era, immersing you in a battle for ideological supremacy.

What sets Twilight Struggle apart from other board games is its meticulously balanced gameplay. The ebb and flow of power, the delicate dance of influence, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war make every turn a nail-biting experience. The game elegantly combines card-driven mechanics with area control elements, offering deep strategic choices with meaningful consequences.

If this in itself isn’t impressive enough, history buffs will love the fact that the game has outstanding attention to detail from the period. The replay value of Twilight Struggle is impressive, and the game is a must-have for every serious board game collection.


  • Amazing representation of a historical conflict
  • Balanced game experience where choices matter
  • Outstanding replay value


  • Lengthy playtime

3. Patchwork – Quilt Fun!

Number of players:2
Playing time:15 – 30 minutes

Get ready to dive into the colorful world of Patchwork, where you’ll embark on a quest to become the ultimate quilt master! Did you think that weaving quilts is a relaxing activity? Well, maybe in real life. Here it’s also paired with cut-throat strategic planning, while you race to complete the quilt with the least amount of holes by the end of the game. 

Depending on how the Tetris-like pieces of the quilt are set up you’ll find yourself in very different situations. The game can feel like you are on a fabulous shopping spree, except instead of clothes, you’re snatching up adorable fabric pieces. 

With each turn, you’ll face tough decisions – do you go for that perfect-fitting piece that costs a fortune in buttons, or opt for a cheaper but less ideal one? As you play, the quilt-building adventure unfolds with you having to juggle buttons, time, and your own grand vision, all to create a “simple” quilted blanket.

Patchwork is a puzzle in disguise. Watching your creation come together is a really satisfying experience, and an exhilarating sense of accomplishment will start creeping up on you as you strategize and arrange your pieces into the perfect pattern. 
Visually, it’s a treat and an incredibly entertaining board game that makes a normally mundane activity into something very fun and tactical. Plus, who doesn’t love the feeling of snuggling up under a self-made quilt? For all these reasons, we find Patchwork to be one of the best game choices for couples.


  • Highly strategic spin on a normally simple activity
  • Easy and quick game – perfect filler between other games
  • Great choice if you want to get kids into board games


  • Limited player interaction even though piece choices influence the other player

4. Watergate – I’m Not a Crook

Number of players:2
Playing time:30 – 60 minutes

I would never think that a board game centered around a political scandal of a US president in the 1970s could be a great idea for a board game, but I guess we’re living in interesting times.

In Wategate, you either step into the shoes of investigative journalists or cunning politicians. Two players engage in a gripping battle of wits and strategy as one player takes on the role of the Nixon Administration, desperately trying to cover up evidence and obstruct investigations. The other player embodies The Washington Post, determined to gather evidence and connect informants to expose the truth to the world.

What sets Watergate apart is its incredible thematic immersion. The card game captures the tension and intrigue of the scandal with precision. From cleverly designed cards that feature the participants of the famous event to the cards’ fun asymmetric abilities, every element pulls you into the heart of this historical moment.

The gameplay is a masterful blend of deduction, hand management, and tactical maneuvering. Each decision feels important, as you carefully select cards to execute actions, gather momentum, and outplay your opponent. With a constantly shifting landscape, no two games are the same.

Watergate stands as a testament to storytelling in board games. It’s not just about winning or losing; it’s also about narrative, history, and the thrill of discovery.

It is a hands-down brilliant game and you don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate what it delivers. Watergate will definitely challenge you. So, gather your conspirators (or investigators), and get ready to rewrite history!


  • Amazing asymmetric gameplay
  • Compelling representation of historical events
  • Great replayability for an affordable price


  • Card format makes them inconvenient for sleeving 

5. Splendor Duel – A Brilliant Board Game

Splendor Duel
Number of players:2
Playing time:30 minutes

Splendor Duel is like the dazzling cousin of its predecessor, Splendor. It’s a thrilling tête-à-tête where players don the roles of competing jeweler guilds, ready to outshine each other with their magnificent creations crafted from gold, precious stones, and pearls.

Just like its older sibling, the game revolves around resource collection and card drafting. You’ll be gathering resources to snag those precious jewel cards, which, in turn, grant you shimmering gems that can reduce the cost of future cards, score victory points or provide other bonuses. 

Pearls and gold will never be obtainable through these cards, but rather by picking up tokens from the board. What makes the game fun is the innovative “privilege” token mechanic which balances out the game without letting one player run off with points. 

Splendor Duel offers not one, not two, but three thrilling paths to victory! With each playthrough, you’re faced with a fun challenge as you navigate the ever-changing card selection, resource token layout, and your opponent’s cunning strategy. You always have enough room to adapt which is something that only the best board games execute perfectly. 

What takes Splendor Duel to the next level is its fantastic art and the design of the components. The game is also very affordable and won’t hog too much precious real estate on your game shelf. Plus, with a playtime of around half an hour, it’s the perfect gem of a game for your date night with your partner. 


  • Multiple win conditions and game balance
  • Gorgeous looking card game
  • Easy to play multiple games in a row


  • The game could fit an even smaller package

6. Hive – A Buzzing Battle of Wits and Strategy

Number of players:2
Playing time:20 minutes

Hive is a captivating two-player game of tile placement and strategic maneuvering. Each player controls a hive filled with diverse and cunning insects and needs to place them strategically in order to capture the opponent’s queen bee while protecting their own.

What sets Hive apart is its simplicity, depth, and portability. With no game board required, it’s the perfect game to play anywhere, anytime and it’s a great one to pack when traveling somewhere. The intuitive rules make it accessible to new players, yet the strategic possibilities and intricate gameplay ensure that even seasoned strategists will find themselves captivated.

Hive’s portable and durable components make it ideal for travel or outdoor gaming. The tactile feel of the chunky hexagonal tiles adds a satisfying element to the gameplay experience. 

There are no random elements in the game, every move counts, and each decision can shape the course of the game. The interplay between the various insect abilities creates a dynamic and ever-changing battlefield, where adaptability and foresight are crucial. How different insects move and the symmetrical gameplay is exactly what makes it a great choice for anyone looking for the best two-player board game. 


  • Perfect game for summer travels 
  • A simple yet highly strategic game
  • Well-balanced and without random elements


  • A steep learning curve, so it’s best with players of the same level

7. Radlands – Post-Apocalyptic Mayhem 

Number of players:2
Playing time:20 – 40 minutes

Radlands is a thrilling and action-packed two-player card game that will immerse you in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where water is scarce. You and your opponent are leaders of rival factions fighting for control in a lawless and chaotic world. With a deck of unique gang members, weapons, and tactics at your disposal, you must strategically play your cards to outmaneuver your opponent and destroy their camps, before they destroy yours.

What makes Radlands truly exceptional is its engrossing theme and innovative mechanics. The game seamlessly blends card drafting, hand management, and tactical combat, creating a dynamic and strategic experience. Each decision carries weight as you must carefully assess risks to your camps, anticipate what your opponent plans to attack and adapt your strategy to put them on the defensive. 

On each turn, you can play an amazing range of awesome-looking person and event cards (if you have enough water of course). The artwork is gorgeous and adds to the unique post-apocalyptic punkish neon style of the game. Also, the clear iconography and intuitive card layout make it easy to learn and explain to new players.

Radlands shines when it comes to balance and depth, and it’s not just the radiation glow. Whether you’re a fan of immersive post-apocalyptic settings, crave strategic battles, or simply enjoy immersive and engaging card games without too many random elements, Radlands delivers on each front.


  • Fun theme emphasized with amazing artwork
  • No “gotcha” moments
  • Affordable price


  • After several playthroughs, there won’t be any surprises

8. Sleeping Gods – A Mythical Voyage of Adventure and Discovery

Sleeping Gods
Number of players:1 to 4
Playing time:60 – 1,200 minutes

Sleeping Gods is an epic and enchanting cooperative exploration game that will ignite your sense of adventure and captivate your imagination. While it can be played with up to four players it’s a great pick for a co-op player experience for two.

In Sleeping Gods, players take on the roles of intrepid explorers navigating a vast and ever-changing world of islands, creatures, and ancient lore. Guided by a captivating narrative and rich storytelling, you and your fellow crew members will embark on a grand voyage, facing challenges, making choices, and unearthing the mysteries of the slumbering gods.

What sets Sleeping Gods apart is its immersive storytelling and open-world exploration. The game beautifully blends a compelling narrative with a sandbox-like experience, allowing players to shape their own destinies as they sail, trade, battle, and interact with a myriad of fascinating characters and locales. Each in-game encounter is a mini adventure on its own. 

What’s also important is that there is plenty of the game to be explored. While the average campaign will take about 16 hours, the game has a (a bit clunky) save system so you can pack up your game components and continue later from where you left off. Replayability is also something that you can count on since you won’t be able to explore all of the game locations in a single playthrough. 


  • Beautiful game art and visual style
  • Open world exploration 
  • Lots of content to be played and stories to be experienced


  • The save game system could be more convenient

9. Undaunted: Stalingrad – A Gripping Tactical Showdown on the Eastern Front

Undaunted Stalingrad
Number of players:2
Playing time:45 – 60 minutes

The Undaunted series is definitely among the best war games and deck builders that we ever played. This immersive and strategic game plunges you into the chaos and brutality of one of the most significant battles in history, delivering a gaming experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Undaunted: Stalingrad recreates the ferocious conflict between German and Soviet forces during World War II. As a player, you’ll command a squad of soldiers, duking it out across a dynamic battlefield, executing tactical maneuvers, and engaging in fierce firefights throughout the Stalingrad campaign. Your goal is to outsmart your opponent, control key objectives, and seize victory amidst the ruins of Stalingrad.

What makes Undaunted: Stalingrad truly exceptional is its blend of tactical gameplay, deck-building mechanics, and legacy/campaign system where each decision and casualty in the previous mission will matter. That’s why the game nicely captures the tension and decision-making of commanding a small unit in an ever-changing landscape and volatile war environment. 

Undaunted: Stalingrad is the biggest Undaunted game so far, perfectly depicting a desperate tug of war on the battlefield. You’ll have plenty of unlockable cards and a shifting and persistently changing landscape of Stalingrad (each building you destroy stays destroyed for the duration of the campaign). The only downsides are the somewhat drab and monotonous-looking board tiles and the soldier cards that could have had a bit more personality. However, as far as competitive World War games go, there isn’t a title that can outmatch Undaunted: Stalingrad in tactical depth and immersion.


  • Replayable legacy campaign
  • Immersive game experience that will invite you to play more
  • One of the best deck-building systems out there


  • The war theme and monotonous-looking terrain aren’t for everyone

10. Codenames Duet – Dynamic Duo Wordplay!

Number of players:2
Playing time:15 – 30 minutes

While secret agent handlers may operate a bit differently in the real world than in Codenames Duet, it doesn’t mean that the excitement and intrigue are any less intense in this CGE classic! In fact, Codenames Duet takes the essence of undercover operations and transforms it into an adrenaline-fueled word game association extravaganza.

As you and your partner navigate the grid of words, giving the most effective word associations, it feels like you’re navigating a web of international espionage. Each one-word clue becomes a lifeline, a delicate thread connecting you to the hidden agents. The tension mounts with every choice, as you must decipher the cryptic connections and, more often than not, hilarious word combinations your partner will think of.

Sure, secret agent handlers may not typically communicate with one-word clues, but that’s what makes Codenames Duet so delightfully unique. It challenges you to tap into your inner spy, honing your ability to read between the lines and decode the hidden meanings.

The game’s brilliance lies in its ability to foster an incredible interaction between players, which also landed it on our list of the best cooperative board games on the market.

The game’s replayability is hard to beat. There are plenty of cards making this Codenames spinoff one of the best board games when it comes to replayability. 


  • Fun game with word association mechanics
  • Great for those that want cooperative two-player-only games 
  • A typical example of an “easy to learn, difficult to master” game


  • Easy to induce analysis paralysis (avoidable with multiple playthroughs)

11. It’s a Wonderful Kingdom – Or Is It?

It's a Wonderful Kingdom
Number of players:1 – 2
Playing time:45 – 60 minutes

Here’s a two-player version and spinoff of It’s a Wonderful World, a Boar Gamer favorite. It’s a Wonderful Kingdom builds further on the engine-building gameplay of its predecessor and is set in a low-fantasy setting that evokes a fair bit of its dystopian feel, though in a very different setting.

Each player builds their kingdom by drafting cards, building enough production so they end the game with the most points by the end of turn four. Sounds simple, right? Trust us – it’s not, but that’s a very good thing.

In this card game, your drafting process is a bit different than in other two-player games. Most of the time you are drafting cards from two stacks that may or may not have useful cards that will score points for you in the end. 

The additional twist is that you and your opponent are filling these stacks for each other and you may place certain cards face down. Why is that important? Because some cards will give you negative victory points and throw all of your carefully planned moves out of the castle window. There’s an entertaining aspect of bluffing and digging your own grave if the opponent reads your move. 

The game has three additional modules you can play besides the standard introductory one. Each has plenty of challenges, and we certainly enjoyed having to send soldiers to chase away frost giants messing with our buildings or fighting off a plague of rats. 

The game looks gorgeous, and even if the wealth of choices makes your opponent get an AP moment or two, you can always enjoy the stunning card design while they take their sweet time deciding on their turn.


  • King of replayability among two-player games
  • Satisfying resource management game
  • Can be played solo


  • The bluff mechanic sometimes feels like blind luck

Our Final Thoughts: Double the Fun, Double the Challenge

Having a game night with just two players doesn’t mean you have to compromise on excitement and strategic gameplay. It’s the perfect opportunity to delve into the world of two-player board games and discover the unique thrills they offer. We highly recommend having some of these gems in your collection even if you usually prefer playing board games with more people. 

The best two-player board games bring a level of depth and immersion that’s hard to replicate in games designed for larger groups. They offer a delicate balance of strategy and emergent gameplay, making every move a test of your tactical prowess and intellectual mettle while still offering good replayability.

Whether you’re plotting your way to victory in a battle of wits or collaborating closely with your partner, these games guarantee to keep your grey cells firing on all cylinders. 

Remember, for most board games out there, it’s all about spending quality time, doing some strategic thinking, and fostering a healthy dose of friendly competition. So grab your favorite game and your gaming buddy, unleash your inner tactician, and let the battle of wits begin. May the best player win!


Are board games fun to play for two people?

Absolutely! Board games can be incredibly fun to play with just two people. In fact, there are many board games specifically designed to be played by two players that have amazing gameplay mechanics and a high immersion factor. Whether you are a fan of short playthroughs or prolonged legacy campaigns, there’s something out there for everyone!

Is there a 2-player board game like chess?

Yes, there is. A two-player board game similar to chess is Onitama. It shares some similarities with its older cousin, such as strategic pawn movement and the ability to capture/defeat the opponent’s pieces, but offers a unique twist. In Onitama, players control a team of martial arts masters, using a set of cards to dictate their moves. It’s a quick and elegant game that combines tactical decision-making with a touch of unpredictability.

What board game should two people play?

With modern board games, the choices are nearly endless. If you are in the mood for tactical play, then Undaunted: Stalingrad, 7 Wonders Duel, or Twilight Struggle may be just the games for you. If you are for a bit of cooperation then you won’t make a mistake with Codenames Duet or Sleeping Gods. There’s a game out there for anyone, and with more than 1,000 new board games released each year, you won’t run out of titles to try out anytime soon.