I found putting together a list of parameters for ‘board games for couples’ tricky. So decided to keep it simple. Think of this as a list of games I’d recommend for two people relatively new to the hobby looking for lightish/family level games that play well with two. So not necessarily two-player specific games (which I’ve covered before).
In the same spirit, I’ve picked games that should be easily available (at time of writing). If you want to compare prices for the games and see where they’re available to but online, check out comparison site Board Game Prices. Links below go to any full reviews of the games I’ve done here. As always, if you have any comments or your own recommendations – please put them in the comments below.
Four interesting alternatives to the norm
Fog of Love (2 players, 1-2 hours). This is a (non-smutty) role-playing/board game hybrid. You create characters via a brief set of pre-game choices (gender, occupation, personality traits). Then try to get the best out of the slightly scripted date you go on via a mix of storytelling and gaming. Aside from one player’s pieces being blue and the other pink, you’re both free to choose your gender (so same-sex dates are completely viable).
Pandemic (1-4 players, 1 hour). Why not work together? Co-operative games are now a staple of the board game industry. And Pandemic is probably the most successful. Here the players try to ‘beat the game’ by fending off a series of global contagions. Each player takes a turn doing actions on the board, before the game takes its turn spreading the contagions. Work together to find cures and eradicate the diseases before they spread out of control.
Codenames Duet (2 players, 30 mins). If you enjoy word games, this is a must. Working together you have a limited number of guesses to pick out a specific set of words from a 25-word grid. You do this by giving each other clues based arounds a single word which you hope will trigger your partner to find several words from the one clue. Which can be fiendishly difficult. Lots of difficulty levels make it very replayable. Available free online.
Exit (1-4 players, 1-2 hours). Anyone that enjoys escape rooms should try this series of games. Essentially a one-shot escape room in a small box, each is full of puzzles following its own unique storyline. Exit: The Mysterious Museum is considered a good place to start, as it’s ‘beginner’ level. And also best recommended with two players. But there are now 20+ games in the series across various difficulty levels.
Competitive board games for couples: My Top 6
Azul (2-4 players, 1 hour) Beautiful tactile tiles, simple rules, hyper competitive gameplay. Azul is the definition of a modern classic, taking simple pattern building and giving it a fresh twist. And it looks brilliant on the table, helping draw newer players in.
Patchwork (2 players, 30 mins) The whimsical patchwork quilt theme and use of polyominoes (think Tetris) helps draw in non-gamers. And again the rules are very simple. But don’t be fooled – this is a cleverly designed mix of tactics and strategy.
Welcome To (any, 30 mins) This flip-and-write has been a huge success. Each player marks off houses in their own little town, as well as creating scoring opportunities. The 50s style artwork helps it look gorgeous, while the there’s plenty of depth and replay value.
Ticket to Ride (2-5 players, 60-90 mins) It has sold millions for a reason. Card play is simple set collection by colour, while the map sees you building routes with those cards between cities. But it’s when you get in each other’s way it gets really interesting.
That’s Pretty Clever (2-4 players, 30 mins) Everyone knows Yahtzee. This is Yahtzee on steroids, for grown ups. The way you score points here is much more complicated. But the way opportunities trigger into other bonuses is so much more satisfying.
Remember Our Trip (2-4 players, 30 mins) This is the one unproven title on the list, but Sarah and me have completely fallen for it. Again, the theme and presentation lure non-gamers. While experienced players are intrigued by its ‘shared memories’ mechanisms.