Avoid being bored this Valentine's Day with these great board games!
This Valentine’s Day, skip the fancy, expensive dinner and stay inside with a board game! Board games help you get to know your special someone: you can work together, go head-to-head, or form a team to gang up on your friends. Playing board games with your partner tells you how they strategize, how cutthroat they are, and how they respond to pressure.
There are a lot of games with romantic themes that play better with more than two players (Love Letter, for example), but we’re looking at games that provide unique experiences specifically for two players. So, we’ve provided the following list of six games you can play with your partner, significant other, roommate, etc. These games were either optimized for only two players or are rated by BoardGameGeek as best for two players!
If you’re celebrating Anti-Valentine’s Day this year, or if you’re just looking for a satisfying solo play experience, scroll down to the bottom of this post!
1. 7 Wonders Duel – Repos Production/Asmodee
If you and your partner are fans of the Sid Meier’s Civilization video game series, you will get a kick out of this two-player version of the beloved strategy card game 7 Wonders. As in Civilization, you work to build an empire from nothing by managing resources and choosing which technologies to advance. 7 Wonders Duel re-implements the original game as a fast-paced battle for two players. Throughout the three ages of game play, players seek to create a scientific bastion or military power and to construct wonders that give them special abilities. Unlike in other strategy board games, setup for Duel is painless, so you don’t have to spend precious Valentine’s Day time assembling hundreds of game components.
2. Patchwork – Mayfair Games
In the tile placement game Patchwork, players place polyomino tiles resembling Tetris pieces on individual square boards to complete patchwork quilts. Patchwork is specifically for two players; if you and your partner love jigsaw or other types of puzzles, Patchwork enables you to work out your puzzles together, competitively. Players spend buttons to purchase patch tiles, which take time to add to the quilts. However, choosing pieces is not a stressful affair, because you’re only choosing between three at a time. You also gain more buttons depending on the tiles you place, and the player with the most buttons at the end of the game wins. Purchase Patchwork from Original Hobby here.
3. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases – Space Cowboys/Asmodee
Although one to eight people can play Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, it is best with two. It’s part board game, part tabletop campaign, and part Choose Your Own Adventure book: players follow evidence, question suspects, and attempt to be a more effective detective than Sherlock Holmes himself. While there are competitive rules, you can solve mysteries cooperatively with your significant other in Victorian London, becoming your own Holmes and Watson as you squabble over who’s right or whose violin playing is too loud (answer: it’s Holmes’). Even though you’re in a race of deduction against Holmes, the two-player experience makes you feel like the famous detective himself and his medically trained partner.
4. Codenames Duet – Czech Games Edition
Two to four players can play the cooperative Codenames Duet, but players agree that it is best with two. As in the original Codenames, players give each other one-word clues to try to get their teammates to guess the related words (or code names), thereby identifying the correct agents. In this cooperative version, both players are giving and receiving clues, so you must constantly think of ways to connect the words without accidentally leading your partner to the assassin—immediately ending the game. Unlike regular Codenames, Duet always gives players something to do, even if it’s not their turn: those who are guessing need to think about the next clue they will give their partner.
5. Hive – Gen42 Games/Smart Zone Games
Hive you ever imagined a more romantic night?
If you and your partner are looking for something more along the lines of chess but perhaps shorter, then Hive would be a good choice. Hive is a tile placement game for two players that employs strategy and perfect information. Players take turns placing insect-themed tiles directly on a table or any other flat surface—the game is not restricted by a board. Each insect has a different movement ability, like chess pieces do, and the goal is to “capture” your opponent’s queen bee tile by surrounding her with your own pieces. There’s a bit of a romantic theme there, if you really reach for it.
6. Fog of Love – Hush Hush Projects
Love can be hazy.
For a two-player game with even more of a romantic theme, try Fog of Love. At its heart, Fog of Love is a roleplaying game where you and your partner create a shared narrative revolving around the romantic relationship between two characters. You each create a character at the start of the game and give them an occupation, character traits, and a hidden personal goal. Your characters get to know each other through event cards representing highs or lows in your relationship. Ultimately, Fog of Love is a cooperative game in which you’re both trying to make your relationship work, but your individual goals could clash and cause problems. At the end of the game, your lovers may find happiness, or they may be star-crossed.
Bonus! Happy Valentine’s Day? Humbug!
Mage Knight – WizKids
For Anti-Valentine’s Day, we recommend a game that is consistently rated among the best solo board games: Mage Knight. It’s an incredibly complex yet flexible strategy game with elements of deckbuilding and roleplaying, and I don’t think I could ever properly describe it in one paragraph. While Mage Knight can accommodate one to four players, it’s best for one or two, and it features solo, cooperative, and competitive modes. You’re a wizard on a quest for power and glory: amass an army, learn spells, explore dungeons, and raze cities to the ground. The game can take up your entire Valentine’s Day, so you don’t even have to acknowledge the holiday. If you want to immerse yourself in a game, Mage Knight is the one for you—and only you. Players often get stuck in analysis paralysis and take ages deciding their next moves; if you’re playing by yourself, you’re not waiting for anyone else to make up their mind.
Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with a long-term partner, an experimental date, a good friend, or the pleasure of your own company, there’s a board game out there waiting to give you the affection and attention you deserve. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!