Enter game night. No longer relegated to kiddie-level entertainment, game night is a purely adult way to enjoy each other while spending a low-key evening in. We're pretty sure some wild competitive energy plus a glass of wine and PJs can actually spark a bit of good old romance, too.
While finding a decent board game is usually pretty simple, nailing down two-player games (that don't stink) isn't. So we did you a solid and uncovered the 15 best two-player games that will get those competitive juices flowing.
The Bean Counter
There are many strange game premises, and the one for the Bohnanza card game may be one of the strangest: You are a bean farmer who earns gold coins by planting all the beans (aka cards) you want in your garden and trading away those you don't. Average games last 45 minutes, and the one with the most gold wins once all the beans have been planted.
The OG Brain-Buster
Invented in China more than 2,500 years ago, Go is perhaps the oldest, most brain-busting game on this list—and the simplicity of its game board doesn't adequately reflect the careful thought it requires. It consists of black and white tokens that are placed in the corners of the board’s grid. The object is to surround your opponent’s pieces to collect them and earn points. Like chess, it's an easy game to understand but it can take years to perfect.
The Word Builder
For language aficionados, Boggle is likely already part of the gaming repertoire. The game begins by shaking up the game's 16 lettered cubes (they fall into place randomly) and flipping over the three-minute hourglass timer. Two to seven players are then forced to jot down as many words as they can from the resulting jumble of letters. The longer the word, the higher the points earned.
The Classic Spinoff
Say goodbye to those neverending rounds. The classic board game Monopoly now includes a card-game spinoff (called Deal) that's just as much fun—and it takes 15 minutes from start to finish. To win, be the first one to collect three groups of properties. The gameplay is similar to Uno or other quick-flip card games, where one act of sabotage from any player can change the course of the game, making it a super-fun (albeit competitive) game for a stay-at-home date night.
The Reflex Tester
Perhaps the game with the most quixotic name on our list, Cobra Paw is 15 minutes of reflex-based fun. Roll the dice, quickly snatch up the two-part tile (called a "fuku stone") matching the symbol rolled, and collect six claw fukus to win. Just be sure to beat your better half to the punch!
The Military Matchup
With more than 20 million versions sold throughout its 72-year history, Stratego remains a two-player classic that still sends competitors' hearts racing. Two Napoleonic armies compete to capture the opponent's flag (while defending their own) via a combination of memory, military tactics, and deception. Moveable game pieces are assigned various ranks such as colonels, lieutenants, and generals—and a higher-ranked position beats a lower-ranked piece every time.
The Shakespearean Conflict
Based on the 19th-century English game of Reversi, 1970s-era Othello is a two-player game of pure strategy. Players continually flip their two-sided discs from black to white (and back) as they're captured, lost, and recaptured. Black always goes first, so if you're feeling like getting lucky later on, best to go with white.
The Play on Words
Looking for a word game that's less serious and time-consuming than Scrabble? Enter Bananagrams, a quick-paced word game that requires only a flat surface—no pencils, scorecards, or board needed. Fish 21 lettered tiles out of the zippered fabric banana and place face-down. Once you yell "Split!" tiles get flipped and word formation begins. Whoever uses all their original tiles, plus any remaining tiles until there are none left, wins.
The Pure Points Game
Yahtzee starts with a quick roll of the dice—five to be exact. It's all about chance in this beloved game, as you try to score as many points as possible within three allowed rolls. Earning maximum points with every roll (based on matching numbers on each die, and rolling typical poker hands such as straight, small straight, and full house) can be tough. But just remember: technically you and your better half are still on the same team.
The Stinging Sensation
Twenty-two insect-adorned pentagonal tiles—depicting bugs like ants, beetles, and spiders—form this game's board or "hive." The length of play depends on how efficiently players can build up their "swarm" to surround the opponent's queen bee. No worries on actually getting stung, though: This one's quick and painless—as all good relationships should be.
The Martial Arts Scenario
In Onitama, your role is a Japanese martial arts master who wins by guiding your monk followers to capture your opponent's master, or by moving your own master into your adversary's sacred temple arch. Draw a card from one of the five available cards and make your next cunning move.
The Speedy Merchant
The premise of Jaipur is that you and your challenger are Indian merchants in the capital city of Rajasthan, but only one of you get to be invited to the Maharaja's royal court. Within 30 minutes, your job is to navigate the city's famous grid of streets, corral the most camels, earn the most money, and rise the ranks to become the prince's official royal merchant.
The Archaeological Dig
Picture yourselves as two explorers setting out on research expeditions to remote locales, such as the Himalayas, a mysterious volcano, the Central-American rainforest (and others) to discover Lost Cities. Couples can bet on the success of their journeys, and after three expeditions (rounds), whoever earns the most points gets the gold. May the best archaeologist win!
The English Fairytale
"Fe Fi Fo Fum!" You and your significant other take on the roles of either Jack or the Giant in The Blood of an Englishman, a two-player game inspired by the age-old English fairytale, Jack and the Beanstalk. The Giant aims to prevent Jack from stealing the bag of gold, the Golden Goose, and the Singing Harp. Jack just needs to create and climb three beanstalks to collect all the spoils.
The WWII Reenactment
Are you and your honey history buffs? Then you both need to try Memoir ‘44 on for size. Set during WWII, this hexagonal, double-sided board game plots 17 different scenarios in which two sets of U.S. Army troops fight it out for glory on historically accurate terrain and famous battle sites, such as Omaha Beach and Pegasus Bridge.