The GF and I are getting tired of watching TV and movies and doing ahem “other things” during this long winter. Knowing Dopers are game crazy (hence the new forum), I was wondering if folks had suggestions on good two player board games or card games.
Starship Catan is a pretty fun space-themed game for two players. It takes about an hour to 90 minutes to complete a game, and the main focus on the game is to manage a sort of mini-economy by trading resources and upgrading your ship. There’s no “fighting” in the game, but it is competitive in that both players are usually racing for the same types of resources and upgrade components.
Also, Mille Bournes is a pretty fun and fast two player card game that plays similarly to Uno. The object is to race your opponent to 1,000 kilometers, and each card either helps you get there faster or interrupts your opponent’s progress. It’s over in about 20-30 minutes, but it’s really fun.
Also, there’s always collectible card games like Magic if you’re interested in starting a hobby. It’s really easy and cheap to see if you like Magic, because whenever a new set is released they also sell pre-constructed decks made of cards from that set, that have everything you need for a player to get right into the game.
One really great tabletop game I’ve found is Pirates. This game comes in packs, like cards, but the game is actually played with model ships you assemble from materials in each pack. Each pack comes with enough material to construct 2 specific ships, so one pack (costing like 3.99 or less) is enough to learn the game and see if you like it. If you decide to try to play more seriously, you will need to buy more packs so that each player can construct a fleet. It should end up costing somewhere around 20-30 bucks for enough stuff for two people to play.
Cribbage. Easy to learn, fast-paced, and room for lots of strategy. There’s enough luck in it to keep a weaker player in the game, but enough skill involved that a stronger player will always beat out a weaker player in the long run. It’s at about the skill level of something like backgammon. Plus, you get to use a cool board and race pegs around it. Great game to play with a giant mug of beer.
Piquet. Probably one of the most skillful two-hander out there (minus something really obscure and academic as Svoyi Koziri, which contains no luck whatsoever). If you’re a fan of trump trick-taking games (like bridge or spades), this is for you. It’s a classic game, considered one of the best, but has more of a learning curve than cribbage.
Bezique or Two-Player Pinochle. If you like pinochle, you’ll like either of these two card games (which are closely related). Bezique has got a zillion variants and was Winston Churchill’s favorite card game. Loads of fun.
Gin. I’ve burnt out on this game, but no two-player card game discussion would be complete without gin. There is some difference in terminology depending on where you grew up, but gin (gin rummy) is the card game where you go for melds of sequences or sets and keep them in your hand, as opposed to standard rummy where you lay your melds on the table. I far prefer gin to rummy.
As for board games, the usual–Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Carcassonne. To be honest, I could never get into the last one, but it’s a perennial favorite in board game discussions, and plays well for two.
My girlfriend and I play guillotine alot. Guillotine is a great 2-4 player game that works great for gamers and non-gamers. If it tell you anything about how uncomplicated it is, I taught it to my parents in about 5 minutes, and they then requested a copy for Christmas
Fury of Dracula. One player is Dracula; the other player controls the four vampire hunters. The vampire hunters travel around a map of Europe hunting for Dracula, while Dracula secretly travels around the map trying to avoid the vampire hunters during the day and trying to attack and kill them during the night. It’s a longish game and more complicated than many of the others mentioned in this thread, but it is seriously a ton o’ fun, and very replayable.
MrWhatsit and I have also been enjoying 1960: the Making of the President, which is a 2-player game simulating the 1960 US presidential election. Sounds mind-numbingly boring, but actually is a lot of fun, and you don’t need to know squat about US politics or history in order to play. (Although some historical knowledge may enhance your enjoyment of various cards in the game, e.g. the “Tricky Dick” card.)
I will second the recommendations for Carcassonne and Lost Cities, although I lost interest in Lost Cities fairly quickly after the first 10-15 plays or so.
Backgammon and Chess are two timeless board games for two.
For a True Flavor of the East there’s also Go (Chinese: Weiqi) and Chinese Chess (Jap.: Shogi). For a Faux Flavor of the East, there’s Chinese Checkers.
From my increasingly long-ago childhood, my favorite two-player games included Stratego, Mastermind and Othello (aka Reversi). I’m surprised they haven’t been named yet.
As for card games, Cribbage and Gin (Rummy) have already been mentioned, as has Spite and Malice. Another childhood favorite was “Spit”, a fast paced game that requires dexterity as much as (or more than) strategy.
If you’re into roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons or CCGs like Magic: the Gathering, but you don’t want to take the time for them (or if you just don’t find them fun with two players), then check out Munchkin and it’s derivatives. The basic Munchkin game makes fun of D&D, then there’s Star Munchkin, Munchkin: Impossible, Munchkin Cthulhu, and so forth when you want variation.
Just a basic two+ player card game, but it’s a blast.
Actually, Magic: the Gathering is still fun, now that I think about it…