Our Favorite 2-Player Board Games for Date Night
We definitely play a lot of board games together as a family, but my wife and I often play board games alone when we get the chance as well. Maybe that means the kids are out of the house, or playing together in the backyard - but more often than not it means they’re asleep.
Either way, it’s a little bit of time having fun with just the two of us. And board games are perfect for that. They work well for a date night for many of the same reasons that they’re great for family game night. It’s a pre-planned activity in a box, complete with the opportunity to flex your imagination and challenge your brain. Those types of things are always fun - no matter how old you are. And my wife and I both have a healthy bit of a competitive streak in us too.
But if we want to have a 1-on-1 date night game party with a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old in the house, time is definitely of the essence. You never know when someone is going to wake up, or come running in from the backyard screaming. That’s why all of the games on our list are quick plays. We can finish pretty much all of them in about 15 minutes, and that means we generally get to play several times. But it also means being interrupted isn’t such a tragedy.
And this list basically wrote itself, because there are just a handful of board games that my wife and I continue to come back to time and time again. They’ve stood the test of time, and they continue to offer a very entertaining, engaging, and balanced battle for us. They aren’t all strictly 2-player games, but they play great with just the two of us, and that’s primarily how we use them.
And it’s pretty obvious that all of the games on this list have been played more than any other board games in our entire collection. And that’s because we use them all a lot more often than just date night. Every single one of these games is a game that we play with our 6-year-old son as well - either as a whole group or playing against him one-on-one. So it’s certainly safe to think of this as a list of the best 2-player family board games - regardless of age.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will lead you to view the games’ listings on Amazon.com.
Designed by Klaus Teuber and Published by Mayfair Games
The very first board game my wife and I ever bought was The Settlers of Catan. We didn’t have kids yet, and we didn’t even have many people to play games with - but that didn’t stop us from buying several expansions to gather dust on our shelves. I even bought the 5-6 player expansion, which was a very overzealous estimation of our number of friends.
But when we did get a chance to play we always enjoyed Catan very much. So you can imagine our excitement when we found the 2-player spinoff called The Rivals for Catan. It did a stand-up job scratching our Catan itch when we were home alone.
With the kids now, we often pull out Catan Junior. And maybe one day we’ll even make good use out of all those expansions we have. But, when only 2 of us are playing - The Rivals for Catan is still our choice and it probably will be for a long time.
Designed by Sébastien Pauchon and Published by Asmodee
The newest edition to our lineup of 2-player date night games, Jaipur is a set-making game of buying, trading, and selling - where two players are competing to earn the most rupees and become the official merchant of the Maharaja.
Jaipur is one of those games that suits us perfectly. It’s easy to learn the rules, it has a creative theme, and it has a perfect balance of strategy and luck to keep us coming back for more. We both really love games that are elegant enough in their design to pose a good strategic challenge - without becoming overly complicated.
Out of all the games on this list, Jaipur comes with the highest recommended age - 12+. Honestly I’m not sure if that’s necessary. Perhaps the theme isn’t every 6-year-old’s cup of tea, and there’s quite a bit of adding to do at the end, but our son can certainly play this one. So it isn’t only date night that we’ll pull this game out.
Designed by Bruno Cathala and Published by Blue Orange Games
The former Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) winner is a 4-player game we often play with our 6-year-old and share with others. But, more often than not, my wife and I play Kingdomino as a one-on-one battle.
Kingdomino is a very creative tile laying game with a simple scoring calculation, but with infinitely different possibilities. The unpredictability of the draw ensures that the game is always very close and hard to plan for. And that’s what makes it such a great game that we’ll play for a long time to come.
Each player is supposed to build a kingdom with a 5x5 grid of tiles. It pays to connect as many similar-type tiles as possible, and to include as many crowns as possible for multipliers. My wife and I really go back and forth on this one. It’s very common for us to follow a disaster of a game with a blowout - which is why we have such a blast.
Designed by Prospero Hall and Published by Big G Creative
Home Alone might just be my favorite licensed property board game of all time. Prospero Hall has definitely made a fitting tribute to the classic 90s movie.
This is a game that pits Kevin versus the wet bandits in a battle of wits. It features the classic booby traps we all remember fondly - and a good amount of bluffing too. We originally picked it up based on nostalgia - and the fact that our son was completely obsessed with the booby traps part of the story. And now our family loves this game so much that we wrote a featured article on it.
Gameplay is kind of like a cat-and-mouse card game between two players. The side playing the wet bandits wants to steal $2000 worth of loot from Kevin’s house, and Kevin wants to lay down traps and decoy cards to ruin their plans. It took me about ten tries to finally beat my wife, regardless of which side I was on. But now we have a very good Home Alone rivalry going on.
3. Blokus Duo
Designed by Bernard Tavitian and Published by Mattel
Blokus Duo is a 2-player variation of the popular 4-player board game Blokus from Mattel. We are big fans of the original for family game night, but I think the gameplay really lends itself to a 1-on-1 black and white chess-like battle.
Another bonus is that it’s smaller and easier to manage than the original. And I think the chaos of multiple players in the original changes the dynamic of the game quite a bit. The chaos almost dilutes the pure strategy found in abstract games - so count me in as a big fan of the simplicity of Blokus Duo.
The rules for Blokus Duo are the same as Blokus. Try to fit as many of your pieces as possible onto the board. When it’s your turn, you can place any piece you want - as long as it connects to one of your other pieces, and only by corners. These simple rules soon give way to a very elegant, but deviously-complex, spatial reasoning puzzle with endless possibilities.
Designed by Michael Kiesling and Published by Plan B Games
Another former Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) winner, Azul is a gorgeous 4-player, tile-laying game featuring beautiful porcelain tiles. And even though it can accommodate more players, my wife and I often just play head-to-head.
Azul includes several elements of strategy to consider while you play. It’s a drafting game and a set-building game - where ultimately you are trying to lay your tiles in a pattern that scores you as many points as possible.
Azul earns a lot of brownie points for its sheer beauty, and it’s well deserved. The porcelain tiles are some of the nicest game components in our board game collection, and that certainly doesn’t hurt when it comes to endearing the game to us. But none of that would matter if it wasn’t also a very satisfying challenge.
Designed by Nick Hayes and Published by Mattel
By far this is the game my wife and I most often choose to play with each other. It’s an incredibly elegant game that’s fun to play and nice to look at.
Like Azul, you’re drafting very attractive components in Spirits of the Wild. You are collecting beautiful, colorful stones to try and fill out the constellations on your game board. This theme of constellations in the night sky inspired us to add it to our list of the best board games to bring camping as well.
Spirits of the Wild has the perfect amount of luck and strategy mixed together to ensure that the game is engaging and balanced. It feels like it’s possible to get better at the game, but the luck of the draw makes every round so different - and forces you to change your strategy quite often. We always go back and forth beating each other, which is certainly an important element of a good date night game.
Put simply, there’s definitely something about this game that keeps calling us back. And that’s why it’s by far our favorite game to play with just the two of us.
What’s your favorite game to play on a date or when the kids are asleep? Do you ever choose to play the same games you play with your kids? Let us know in the comments!