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Top 10 Two Player Board Games

Top 10 Two Player Board Games

Whether it's against your spouse, your sibling, a friend or one of your parents, two player board games offer a unique 1-on-1 experience. These games can add an extra layer of tension and excitement as you faceoff against your opponent. Others can put your relationship to the test as you work as a 2-player team towards a common goal.

Two player board games are one of the Board Game Bandit team's favourite gaming categories, we've gone through the good and the bad, played our fair share, and checked the top games on Board Game Geek, put it all together to arrive at this list of the Bandit's Top 10 Two-Player Board Games. This list includes games released as of December 2020. In the future we will be re-releasing this list as new two player games come out on the market that are worthy of being featured here.

Without futher ado, here's the Top 10!

10. Onitama

Onitama Board Game Gameplay
Number of Players 2
Playtime 15-20 Min
Suggested Ages 8+
Designer(s) Shimpei Sato
Publisher Arcane Wonders

Onitama is a two-player, abstract strategy game that takes cues from Chess but with its own unique spin. Onitama offers begins with a simple premise and set of rules but offers the possibility of some great strategic thinking. With a random starting set-up on a 5x5 board, both players start with five pawns on their side, with the main pawn in the middle.

Each player starts with two open cards, each with its own unique move that can be made by any of his/her pieces. A fifth card sits at the side of the board, which neither player can use to make a move on their current turn. On their turn, a player chooses one of their cards, moves one of their pieces according to the chosen card, and then replaces the card used with the fifth card. The other player then chooses one of their cards, moves accordingly, and exchanges that card with this fifth card — the card that the first player just used.

Moving onto one of the opponent's pieces removes that pawn from the game. Taking your opponent's primary pawn, or moving your primary pawn into your opponent's primary pawn's starting space, wins you the game.

Buy Onitama now!

Already have Onitama? Two exciting expansions have been released for Onitama so far, check these out to breathe some new life into a great game:

9. Battle Line

Battle Line Gameplay

Number of Players 2
Playtime 30 Min
Suggested Ages 12+
Designer(s) Reiner Knizia
Publisher GMT Games

Battle Line is a 2-player classic released way back in 2000. It may seem familiar to those who have played Schotten Totten before, as the game is a reimplementation of the game by Reiner Knizia.

Two opponents face off across a 'battle line' and attempt to win the battle by taking 5 of 9 flags or 3 adjacent flags. Flags are decided by placing cards into 3 card poker-type hands on either side of the flag (similar to straight flush, 3 of a kind, straight, flush, etc). The side with the highest 'formation' of cards wins the flag.

Buy Battle Line now!

Already have Battle Line? One expansion has been released for this game. In addition we'd also recommend the original game this was based on.

8. Watergate

Watergate Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2
Playtime 30-60 Min
Suggested Ages 12+
Designer(s) Matthias Cramer
Publisher Capstone Games


Watergate is one of the newer two player board games on our list, released in 2019. This came has been praised as one of the top games of the year and won numerous awards, named the 2019 Best Two Player Game from both the Golden Geek Awards and the Board Game Quest Awards.

The premise behind the Watergate puts you and your opponent right in the middle of the Watergate scandal, with players taking on the role of Richard Nixon or the Washington Post. The player representing the Nixon administration tries not to resign before the end of the game while the other player represents The Washington Post, trying to show the connections between Nixon and his informers.

Buy Watergate now!

7. 1960: The Making of the President

1960: The Making of the President Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2
Playtime 90-120 Min
Suggested Ages 12+
Designer(s) Christian Leonhard, Jason Matthews
Publisher GMT Games

Kennedy or Nixon? The 1960: The Making of the President board game gives you the chance to rewrite, or revisit, history by recreating the epic political battle between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential election. This fast-playing strategy game was nominated for numerous Golden Geek Awards in 2008, include Best 2-Player Game.

The game board is based on the electoral map of the United States as it stood in 1960 and serves as the battleground for the election. Using a card-driven system, the major events that shaped the election in 1960 are all represented in the form of event cards. Game subsystems introduce the televised debates and final election day push into the game as well. Players vie to capture the electoral votes of each state using campaign points in four different regions of the country, while building momentum by controlling the issue of the day through the media. 

The challenge is to adapt your election plan as the ground shifts out from under you. There isn't enough time or resources to do everything so players must make the tough calls needed to propel themselves into the White House.

Buy 1960: The Making of the President now!


Yinsh Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2
Playtime 30-60 Min
Suggested Ages 9+
Designer(s) Kris Burm
Publisher Rio Grande Games

YINSH is the sixth, and most popular, game in Kris Burm's GIPF Project series of two-player games. This game sits near the top of Board Game Geek's abstract board games list for a reason; simple rules but with some mental effort you can get better and better each time you play it. 

Players each start with five rings on the board. Each time a ring is moved, it leaves a marker behind. Markers are white on one side, black on the other. When markers are jumped over by a ring they are flipped, so their color is constantly changing. Players are trying to form a row of five markers with their own color face up. If a player succeeds, they removes one of their rings, indicating a row has been formed. The first player to remove three of their rings wins the game. In other words, each row you make brings you closer to victory-but also makes you weaker, because you have one fewer ring to play with. The simple, yet complex give and take with this game is what makes it a can't miss, we'd highly recommend you give it a try.

Buy YINSH now!

If you've played Yinsh you may be interested in these other games from the GIPF Project:


5. Jaipur

Jaipur Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2
Playtime 30 Min
Suggested Ages 12+
Designer(s) Sébastien Pauchon
Publisher Space Cowboys

Jaipur is a fast-paced card game of card drafting and set collection. A standard on top 2-player game lists, this board game blends tactics, risk and luck as you trade and sell goods to become the wealthiest merchant of the market.

On your turn, you can either sell or take cards. If you take cards, you have to choose one of three things: take all the camels, take one card from the market, or swap 2-5 cards between the market and your cards.

If you sell any cards, you get to sell only one type of good, and you receive chips for that good equal to the number of cards you sold. BUT - the chips' values decrease as the game goes on, so you'd better hurry! On the other hand, you receive increasingly high rewards for selling three, four, or five cards of the same good at a time, do you wait to guarantee points, or press your luck hoping for a bigger payday?

You can't sell camels, but they're paramount for trading and they're also worth a little something at the end of the round, enough sometimes to secure the win, so you have to use them smartly. These simple yet painful decisions are what makes Jaipur so much fun and lands it near the top of our list.

Buy Jaipur now!

4. Targi

Targi Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2
Playtime 60 Min
Suggested Ages 12+
Designer(s) Andreas Steiger
Publisher Kosmos

Targi is another one of those board games that always sits in the top half of any top 10 two-player game list. It's a tension-filled back and forth set collection and worker placement game played on a modular board. This one doesn't look the prettiest on the table and the theme is something many of us aren't too familiar with (have you heard of a Targi before reading this or playing the game?). BUT the gameplay and mechanics of this game more than make up for any shortfalls the game has.

The board consists of a 5x5 grid: a border of 16 squares with action symbols on them and 9 blank squares in the centre onto which cards are dealt. Meeples are placed one at a time on the spaces at the edges of the board (excluding corner squares). You cannot place a meeple on a square the opponent already has a meeple on, nor on a square facing opponent's meeple. Once all meeples are placed, players then carry out the actions on the border squares the meeples are on and also take the cards from the centre that match the row and column of their border meeples.

How do you win? In short, the game is primarily scored and won by playing tribal cards (the ones you collect from the center of the board) to your display. These give advantages during the game but also award you victory points at the end.

Buy Targi now!

One expansion to Targi has been released to date, with possibly the most creative name for an expansion we have ever seen:

3. Patchwork

Patchwork Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2
Playtime 15-30 Min
Suggested Ages 8+
Designer(s) Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher Lookout Games

Patchwork is a light-strategy tile placement game with some similarities to the video game classic Tetris.

2. Star Wars: Rebellion

Star Wars: Rebellion Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2-4
Playtime 180-240 Min
Suggested Ages 14+
Designer(s) Corey Konieczka
Publisher Fantasy Flight Games

Star Wars in a box. Period. Star Wars: Rebellion has been heralded as the closest thing to being in the original trilogy movies we've seen in board games. This game is definitely the heaviest strategy board game on our list. That said, if you have the time to devote to it and a partner willing to play, you will not be disappointed! 

In Rebellion, you can control the entire Galactic Empire or the plucky Rebel Alliance. You must command starships, account for troop movements, and rally systems to your cause. Given the differences between the Empire and Rebel Alliance, each side has different win conditions, and you'll need to adjust your play style depending on who you represent:

  • As the Imperial commander, you can oversee legions of Stormtroopers, swarms of TIEs, Star Destroyers, and even the Death Star. You rule the galaxy by fear, relying on the power of your massive military to enforce your will. To win, you need to crush the budding Rebel Alliance by finding its base and destroying it. Along the way, you can subjugate worlds or even destroy them with the epic Death Star miniature.
  • As the Rebel general, you can command dozens of troopers, T-47 airspeeders, Corellian corvettes, and fighter squadrons. However, these troops and ships are no match for the Imperial military. In terms of raw strength, you'll find yourself overmatched from the beginning, so you'll need to rally the planets to join your cause and execute strategic military strikes to sabotage Imperial build yards or steal valuable intelligence. To win the Galactic Civil War, you'll need to sway the citizens of the galaxy to your cause. If you survive long enough and strengthen your reputation, you can inspire the galaxy to a full-scale revolt, handing you victory.

That short overview only scratches the surface of the goodies this game has to offer. With over 150 miniatures and all of your favorite Star Wars characters thrown in, this one is a Star Wars fan's dream. Even if you aren't a huge Star Wars fan, there is still a solid enjoyable game here for you.

Buy Star Wars: Rebellion now!

One expansion has been released for Star Wars: Rebellion, expanding the story and characters to include those from Rogue One:

1. 7 Wonders Duel

7 Wonders Duel Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2
Playtime 30 Min
Suggested Ages 10+
Designer(s) Antoine Bauza, Bruno Cathala
Publisher Repos Productions

7 Wonders Duel has bee the king of two player games since it burst onto the scene in 2015. Based on the popular 7 Wonders board game, the Duel version takes some ideas from the parent game but is an entirely different experience (in a good way!). Players familiar with 7 Wonders will recognize some of the basics of the game; over three ages you acquire cards that provide resources or advance your side's military or scientific development helping you develop a civilization and complete wonders.

What's different about 7 Wonders Duel is that, as the title suggests, the game has been designed solely for two players. In this two-player version, the method of drafting cards has been changed to utilize an interesting 'pyramid drafting pool', a display of face-down and face-up cards arranged at the start of each round. Players can take a card only if it's not covered by any others, so strategic timing comes into play. How much do you want that card? Will taking that card reveal a card that will help your opponent? This element of chance-taking and not knowing what the cards in the draft pool will appear next is where 7 Wonders Duel really shines. Like other 7 Wonders games, there are multiple ways to win the game, so that variety increases the replayability of the game as well.

Buy 7 Wonders Duel now!

Two expansions have been released for 7 Wonders Duel. If you've already got the base game, these expansions will take your Duel's experience to the next level:

None of the games listed above sound appealing? Check out our complete lineup of two-player board games to browse our large collection of games perfect for two.

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