Going head to head with friends for an epic evening or afternoon of board gaming is a great way to spend your time. But if you’re like me, your main gaming buddy is your partner, whom you face off against once, twice or even more times a week if you’re lucky.
Over the years, I have attempted to add games to my collection that can play just as well at two players as they do at four or five. It hasn’t always been an easy task, with some playing fantastically at higher player counts only to fall flat when playing two-player variants. Or there have been games that really sing at two, but begin to drag and become overcrowded when the player count increases.
Here are four games that I have found to play fantastically at two and up through their player counts:
Bunny Kingdom is a new favourite of ours and we absolutely love the two-player variant in particular. Over four rounds, players will draft cards which give them territory squares, cities, resources or parchments (secret ways to gain victory points). The winner is the player who has accumulated most victory points by the end of the game.
The drafting and area control mechanisms combine wonderfully to create deep strategy from a fairly light game and keep it feeling fresh with each play. In Bunny Kingdom it is never clear who is going to win until the very end, which is something I love in games. The parchment cards ensure that there will be extra victory points to add up at the end of the game.
You should know that this game, designed by Richard Garfield, can be quite cut throat, with both players discarding a card from the game each round, but as long as both players accept that sometimes the cards you need will never find their way to you, then you’ll be able to adapt and find new strategies to win the game.
Viticulture Essential Edition
Viticulture is another new game to us that has shot right up to the top end of our favourite games list. I’d even go so far as to say it is our favourite game of all time at the moment. It’s really such a wonderful game.
It is a worker placement game in which players build their vineyards to eventually produce bottles of wine to sell in order to gain victory points. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.
Worker placement games often scale up and down well, with the number of spaces available increasing or decreasing depending on player count, and Viticulture is no different. It does everything a worker placement should do well.
This game creates a calm and relaxing experience and, of course, you want to win the game, but you’re having such a lovely time that you feel like you’ve won even if you don’t.
With all the options out there, a number of paths to victory are ensured and it’s up to you to find out what works best for you in each game. I’m still finding new strategies that are efficient and rewarding now.
I’ve read a lot of good things about the Tuscany Expansion and will probably add it to my collection one day, but for now, we are both very happy with the base game.
Small World has been around the block for a while now, but it really offers great entertainment at all player counts and has aged incredibly well. What Days of Wonder have done with this game, is provide multiple boards for different player counts, which means every game is well balanced no matter how many are playing. Great work, guys!
Small World is an area control game with a difference. Players choose from the available fantasy race and special power tokens, place them out on the board until they are eventually unable to spread any further. They then go into decline, and you choose a new race and special power and go on claiming territories with them until they are no longer useful to your cause. The player who has accumulated most coins at the end of the game, wins.
The trick is to know when to take your race into decline. Do you wait one more round and see if you can claim more territories, or do you move on now so that you can sweep across the board with a new race in the next round.
Competition is fierce in Small World as space is limited (hence the title) so players will have to guard against over competitiveness and as in the previous games, learn to adapt and find the best strategies going forward without feeling hard done by. If you can manage that, you’ll have a cracking time playing this game.
Flick ‘em Up
Flick ‘em Up is a really fun dexterity game with a western theme. There are 10 scenarios to play in the game, but there is nothing stopping players from creating their own little stories and win conditions. Most scenarios have the sheriff and his men blasting their rifles at the outlaws invading their town. What more could you want from a cowboy themed game?!
Although the box says that this plays up to 10, it really is best at two, and shouldn’t be played with any more than four - two teams of two. Any more than that and you’ll find yourself waiting around for a while until you get to have a couple of flicks and then you’ll be right back to playing the waiting game.
At two or four, turns come around thick and fast and it turns out that flicking little discs around the table or at the opponents cowboy meeples is more enjoyable than you might think. This is a much lighter affair than the previous games, but it certainly deserves its place in my collection and comes out whenever we feel like having a rest from deeper strategy games.
All in all, whether you’re playing any of these games one vs one or at a higher player count, you’ll have bags of fun.