Board games don't always require a large group to be fun. Several popular games cater to lower player counts, including two-player only options and even solitaire games. This list focuses on the best games to play with your significant other.
Whether you're up for a quiet, cozy night, or fancy a taking on a challenge together, these games should cover your needs. What's more, most of these games support more than two players, offering a bit more versatility when you want to break out of your love bubble.
So cozy up and game on!
#5 Exit Games
Kosmos have been producing some of the best examples of the increasingly popular escape room in a box experiences. Their series of Exit games have locked players in spaces ranging from Secret Labs to Forbidden Castles, forcing them into clever and calculated co-operation as they attempt to escape.
To be honest, if I’m going to be trapped somewhere, it may as well be with my partner. Come to think, this isn’t hugely different to real life…
Jokes aside, the Exit games work great with couples. Whilst they can comfortably support up to four players or even be tackled solo, two seems to be the sweet spot. Putting your heads together to solve the game’s brain bending puzzles is great fun and rewarding when it pays off. Splitting up tasks is also less hassle with two, and provides a more manageable sense of chaos amidst all the card and paper you’ll be tearing, folding, and cutting.
As you might have guessed from the previous sentence, this is a one-shot game. Completing any of the Exit games renders them no longer playable, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Aside from the excitement and challenge of the game itself, its finite nature makes the experience memorable. Sharing this with your significant other feels special and unique to you, and the shared accomplishment is immensely satisfying.
If you fancy puzzling it out with your partner without needing to leave the house, then I recommend locking yourselves in with any of Kosmos’ great Exit games. They may be small and short-lived, but you won’t forget them.
#4 Mythos Tales
Maybe you want to solve something a bit more grandiose than merely finding your way out of room. If so, step into the Lovecraftian mystery that is Mythos Tales. Based on the hugely popular system used by Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, Mythos Tales pulls the rug from under this co-operative deduction classic, sending it helplessly tumbling into the uncanny, insanity inducing world of Arkham.
Again, this game can support both multiplayer and solo play, but feels at home with two players. As a curious, investigative pair you will share in the terror of uncovering more than a mind can handle, following leads through several macabre tales.
At the start of the game you will be presented with a mystery. Using newspaper clippings and any information from the introductory piece of text, you will hunt for your next clue with help from the Arkham map and directory. Each place you visit has its own section of atmospheric text, and depending on the case, this may be useful or not.
It is the discussions occurring between you and your partner that makes it genuinely feel like you are solving a mystery. This is made all the more exciting and perilous by the ever-present ticking of time with every location you investigate.
It’s a tricky game and often you will disagree with each other’s line of thinking, as following the wrong lead can be costly. Yet, even when in disagreement, the co-operative elements of this game are truly engaging.
Perhaps you make a great investigative team, delegating tasks sensibly between each other. Your partner may excel at picking out clues from the newspaper, whilst you consider any information that might be gained from geographic or spatial elements on the map. Maybe you’ll take less care, recklessly diving into locations and questioning anyone of interest. No matter what approach you take, Mythos Tales keeps that sense of participation, collaboration, and immersion at a consistently high level.
#3 Fog Of Love
This list wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t mention psychologist turned game designer Jacob Jaskov’s excellent Fog of Love. Unlike the other games on this list, Fog of Love insists that you play this game as a couple. There’s no way around it.
Two players will each conjure up a character with help from a number of cards. These cards will outline your character’s occupation, physical features, and personality traits. From here players will role-play a rocky relationship through a number of scenes, hoping to ultimately stay together and ensure their own character’s personal happiness.
The game constantly reminds you that you are playing as a character, not yourself. This urges players to get creative but also shield themselves from some often deeply personal decisions. That said, Fog of Love still packs an emotional punch.
I’m unsure as to whether I would outright recommend this game to play with your true partner, but I can see the positives of doing so. Arguably, knowing your partner too well may make it harder to invest in the fantasy that player has created, and detract from the role-playing experience. But, maybe Fog of Love will provide a safe space to consider some important or difficult issues in your own relationship. Issues that are perhaps too easy to avoid in day-to-day life. Either way, it is a rewarding experience and a vital inclusion to this list.
#2 Codenames: Duet
This co-operative take on the 2016 Spiel des Jahres winner Codenames, makes for a superb game for couples. Interestingly, Codenames: Duet can act as a kind of gauge for how well you know each other, or failing that, as a means to get to know each other.
Much like the original game, one player will be guiding the other towards certain words, or more accurately, agents. With Codenames: Duet however, you will take turns, hoping to collectively identify 15 agents. This is done by uttering a single word and a number, with the chosen word ideally leading the other player to the correct amount of agents. Discover them all without drawing the attention of innocent bystander or assassin cards, and you win!
To do well here you need to know how your partner thinks. Shared interpretations of words can be surprisingly personal. Maybe a certain group of words reminds you of a particular holiday or other memory. Maybe your partner feels the same?
Blurting out ‘Tenerife Three’ to a stranger will likely not guide them to the words ‘cheese’, ‘cowboy’ and ‘dwarf’, but my better half would be tapping those words in a heartbeat. Don’t ask…
So, if you feel that you and your partner are gloriously in tune with one another, and are open to discovering how weird the pair of you may actually be, then give Codenames: Duet a go. Similarly, if you’re hoping to get deep inside your other half’s cryptic mind, or are maybe looking for an interesting ice-breaker, then Codenames: Duet is a cheap and fun alternative to date night.
Sometimes couples just want to settle down with something simple and familiar. For me and many others, the modern classic tile-laying game Carcassonne is exactly that. It may be the only truly competitive game on this list but its decent pace and easy rules still makes for a relaxing couples activity.
With only two players, gameplay can be as cut-throat or laid back as you want. Sure, sometimes we strive for a bit of competition, slamming down a knight on a piece of contested territory. But you can just as easily stay out of each other’s way and simply revel in the expansive map you’re creating together.
Don’t get me wrong, Carcassonne is great fun with more players, and serves as an excellent gateway game. But, playing as a couple who are both familiar with the game is an almost meditative experience, largely thanks to its simple rules becoming mentally ingrained over time. Furthermore, it just gives you more tiles to play with!
Every gamer should save a space on their shelf for a copy of Carcassonne. Keep it nearby, ready to grab when you’re up for a bit of friendly competition. Maybe you’re trying to introduce another couple to the joys of gaming. This bargain priced, un-intimidating box is perfect whatever the situation.