Good two player card and board games

My mom once taught me a game that she called Two Can Play. The rules were vaguely like a two-person version of Freecell. The problem is, I can’t remember the rules, and trying to Google a game called Two Can Play is a pain in the ass. Grrrrr.

I’ll ask her the rules and then post back.

Knightmare Chess is chess except the players have cards that they play before or after their move. Each card breaks the rules in a wild way. I like the comment on the linked page: “not recommended for purists”.

You should be fair and mention that many a relationship has been put at risk playing this game, but yes, I would absolutely second this suggestion. :slight_smile: If the two of you are competitive at all…well…yeah. Have fun!

Also, two-person solitaire can be surprisingly entertaining. Just like regular solitaire, building your own foundation piles and getting rid of your stacks, but the foundation piles are shared territory. Much hand-slapping of your opponent will ensue.

I’ll also second Mille Bornes.

Second on gin. Start with 11 cards, begin by flipping one face up. You choose either that one or draw from the deck. The subsequent plays either draw from either the top of the deck or from the last discard your opponent made.

Aces are worth 1, face cards worth 10, other cards have their face value.

Your goal is to get either sets of 3+ or runs of 4+ (all same suit), which you continue to hold in your hand. When cards in your hand are parts of either sets or runs, they are worth 0. When the points in your hand are 10 or below, you have the option of ending the game by playing your discard face down (ie knocking). You then lay down your sets and runs and your opponent has the opportunity to play her cards on top of your sets and runs. After that, you both count the amount of points left in your hand and you get the number of her points minus the number of your points as your game score. (eg you end a round with 5 points, your opponent ends up with 23 points, so your game score for the round is 18)

If you manage to put all of the cards in you hand into sets and/or runs, you can knock and declare gin, in which case you get a 25 point bonus plus your opponents points for the game score, and she is not allowed to play any of her remaining cards on your sets/runs.

If your opponent ends up having fewer points than you after you knock, she gets your points (minus hers) plus a 25 point bonus toward game score.

You also have total score. When you win a round, you get 25 points added to your total score. Declaring gin gives you a 100 point bonus toward your total score. The game ends when one player’s game score is 100 or more, at which point the game scores are added to the total scores to determine the winner.

It really is one of the better 2 player card games.

My wife and I enjoy Jambo and Odin’s Ravens in addition to Lost Cities, mentioned previously.


Board and Tile Games:
Rummikub - This is very popular and strangers have walk up during camping to ask to play.
Headace with Pop-O-Matic - A dice roller you pushed down to use. I’d have to say it’s one of the best game improvements ever thought of.
Trouble with Pop-O-Matic
Booby Trap This was an old favorite when a kid. It has the finger snapping potential of a muskrat trap.

String Game:
Cat’s Cradle This requires a cord tied into a loop and two or more players with two hands each. This is a fun game to play, with lot’s of moves for any pattern. The more skilled you are, the more variations you can pull off for a move.
War - This takes hours or days to complete.

I’m confused by this instruction. With gin, you deal 10 cards to each player, and flip the 21st card. The person who is not dealer gets first choice of the upturned card. If they decline it, the dealer then has the option of taking it. If dealer then declines, the play proceeds normally with the non-dealer taking a card from the stack, discarding, etc.

One popular variant is Oklahama gin, in which the first upcard determines what the value of your deadwood (unmelded cards) must be in order to knock. Face cards and tens call for knocking with 10 or less in your hand (i.e. like in the standard game). Otherwise, you need the pip value of the card or less to go out (e.g. a 7 requires 7 or fewer points in deadwood to knock.) I play the variant where an upturned ace requires a gin. Some also play that spades doubles the score for that hand.

At the turn of the month, it looks like I’ll be buying Lost Cities and Hive. They look superb. Might give CheapAss games a go too.

Keep the list coming folks, there’s always next winter to think about! Thanks so much for all the suggestions so far!

Oh yeah, Munchkin was actually the reason I started the thread, because I wanted to get it but then I looked at SJ Games and they say 3 or more. So I figured y’all would know and you’ve come through so far.

And also for the record, I know I said it before, but if you guys haven’t played Fluxx, it’s an absolute blast.

Oh right-- I forgot about the choice that results after the other player declines it. But I always did play with 11 cards instead of ten; the 23rd card was the first one flipped. Just a variation I suppose, and I don’t know if it makes it harder or easier.

Kosmos is a publisher to watch for; they have a line of high quality two player games that in the US are mainly distributed by Rio Grande Games. They’re the ones who originally backed Lost Cities and Odin’s Ravens which have been mentioned already in the thread. Another popular title in this line is Balloon Cup.

As mentioned, Guillotine is fun, but I prefer Family Business which is related but more frustrate-your-opponent than help-yourself (like Guillotine is).
Steve Jackson also makes Illuminati which is really fun - but I’m not sure whether you need at least 3 players or if two is enough.
Carcassonne is a great game, but not as portable as the card games. How about Tantrix or Set? - Both are abstract little games that require combinatory skills - and they’re fun, too!

Oh yeah, what a great game that is. I don’t think I’ve ever played it with just 2 players though.
And I just re-read the OP and maybe if you guys are getting bored with ahem “other things” then maybe it’s not your gaming skills you should be brushing up on. Just saying.


I actually prefer Rummy to Gin, but that might be because my family and I aren’t very strategic about knocking without Gin.

And since when do runs need to be 4 cards or more?

How about Rummy 5000? (warning: very old thread)

Everybody gets sore after a while. :cool:

Heh, I missed that in Bell’s post. It’s three or more cards for either runs or sets for the standard flavor of gin, but Bell seems to play some kind of variant with 11 cards each, and I guess four-card-minimum runs.

Get a new girlfriend? :smiley: