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Valentine’s Day Board Games Date Night

Valentine’s Day Board Games Date Night Feature

Love is in the air. Or at least it should be... because it’s Valentine’s Day! A day for sharing moments with someone you love, someone you treasure, someone you adore. And how better to share those moments than with an intimate evening for two? You might even call it… a date! (Try not to blush too much!) And of course, there are many an option on how to approach that date night. You’ve got the classic approaches of a meal or a film. Or something more exotic like going out dancing or karaoke. Possibly something a little cliché like a long walk down a beach? But, if you’re reading this, you know where we want to spend our time for those special moments for two. The board game table! Here are our top tips on how to host the perfect board games date night.

Table For Two?

To make your board games date night work, keep it intimate. Private and personal and just between two. This isn’t your standard games night with the whole gang. This is something special, for two people to enjoy on a one to one occasion. If you really want to nail combining board games and a date night, you need to ensure you fulfil these criteria. You need board games and a date. One date. A singular date. And with you, that’ll make two.

Now, I know that this will diminish the number of games you have at your disposal, making it harder to best flex your collection to your newfound fancy. It’s inevitable. However, games for two (and those that work well at two) boast player interaction first and foremost. Of all the things we look for in games, player interaction is the primary one to show off what sort of person (and player) you are. Some beautiful aesthetics will also help set the atmosphere, and will no doubt emphasise the romantic nature of the evening, but all show and no substance will result in a dud start. It’s imperative that you know how the communication of the game is going to impact the conversation.

Breaking The Ice

For me, a heavy interaction game that is quick to play is the perfect starter. You’ll have lots of opportunities to laugh, compete, and get to know one another whilst you play, and it’ll break the ice beautifully. Just make sure you choose something fast, fun, and easy to play again or move on from.

Some really simple games that involve a lot of player interaction include Love Letter or Codenames Duet. Love Letter games are competitive but never last too long, whereas Codenames Duet is a quick, cooperative deduction game that requires a silver tongue and a sharp mind. These will get you talking and competing, too. Just don’t go heavy on the winning – all's not fair in love and war!

Can I Take The Lovely Couples Order?

Considering the intimacy built by having a one on one over some dice and cards, it’s important to choose whether the games are all you utilise. Are you hosting food? Drinks? Nibbles? A film? Don’t get me wrong, this may be taboo to mention, but are you only having games tonight? The order you structure your evening will have a big impact too. Hitting the table before or after will determine the flow of conversation. Personally, I’d never go for a film. You’re sat in silence together whilst completely disengaged from one another. I’d always go for food and I’d do so beforehand. It will enable you to chat, get to know how one another thinks and will also allow you to give a brief of the games on offer. Maybe they’re not into role-playing games, or perhaps they’re up for something a bit meatier like a solid euro? It’s all in aid of ensuring your date is game for games. It might sound crazy, but not everyone is as into dice chucking as us!

However, if you’re a gamer before an eater, it’ll mean you’ll definitely have something to chat about. I’m a firm advocate ensuring you’ve got something to discuss that’s comfortably familiar to both of you. And, contextually, that’ll probably be the game to start off with. It’ll mean you’ve got a solid starting ground to chat about whilst waiting for your starters and such and can easily schmooze your way through the long wait and hunger pangs. Now, I’m not so naïve as to think that’s the only topic of conversation, but it’ll enable you to stem into other areas. If they’re also a gamer, you’re quids in and the tabletop chatter will flow! If not, then you’ve got the links produced by the experience. The theme will link, the experience will link, the objectives will link. Heck, even the art will link! It’s only there to get you comfortable enough to get chatting and anchor you to a relatable experience.

Getting To Know You...

For any conversation to sprout in either situation, you’ll need a game that will have memorable events. Some unpredictability, even. Euro gamers across the lands are now wincing at the thought of the chaos produced in a dice roll or a card draw. However, there’s no denying that games with an unpredictable element always build the strongest memories! We’ve got stories we still tell about times when a die roll gave us all a rough time and changed who was on top. And because you can’t predict it, it’ll ensure the conversation is genuine from both parties.

Games with chaotic elements that can make for superb moments in any session are often cooperative and require teamwork as a focus. Our go-to choices would be Pandemic or Forbidden Desert. Pandemic’s card draw system is unpredictable and communication is paramount throughout – the only way to win is to share ideas, plans, and responsibilities. Forbidden Desert, much like Pandemic, requires teamwork - but can result in players losing by mismanaging stats. It’s cooperative but has a wholly different feel to it. These will definitely let you feel out your amour, but be careful not to start alpha-gaming! Again, the experience is far more valuable than your glory tainted victory!

Ordering A Big Main…

On the flip side, there's the potential that you and your date are already knee-deep into that romantic affair. You know one another and are utilising Valentine's as an opportunity to play something that you both love. You know one another best, and you may very well have a game plan in place… however, there may be some suggestions I can offer to build intimacy and trust. Games that rely on these elements, and are more about the experience had together. As opposed to the foundational memories that others produce. Something a little special, even.

Fate Rules The Heart

It’s going to sound obvious - cliché even - but the first suggestion here is the most obvious: Fog of Love. Fog of Love centres on what the two of you may be experiencing that very evening – a newly blossoming relationship with the potential to develop into a fully flowering love.

Fog of Love is a cooperative game. Together you work through whatever trials fate brings your way, to see how the potential relationship develops. Destiny cards determine whether you win or lose, but it’s not about winning and more about the story produced as you play.

You create the characters, their characteristics, jobs, and traits together. However, keeping things spicy are the private goals that you need to work towards secretly whilst playing. I dare even say the game is roleplaying, as the choices for each players’ character needs to be resolved with their mindset. The game is intimate throughout and relies heavily on trust, but I’d argue that it’s completely risk-free. You win and lose together and, inevitably, it doesn’t matter either way. You’re effectively working together to produce a narrative about two people falling in love. Whether that’s in the stylings of a bad rom-com or a soap opera is down to you, and will make for a great story either way!

TIME Does More Than Heal

For one that’s a little less obvious, I’d also suggest TIME Stories. It’s very sci-fi in its theme, but lends itself to others through the element of time travel! In a nutshell, you’re going back in time to fix things that went wrong. You discuss things with people there, investigate elements, sometimes engage in combat and try to “fix” whatever was “broken”. However, when things go wrong – and they will – the game shows off its strongest element. Rewinding time.

TIME Stories is a cooperative game with an inevitable opportunity to win. If you fail, mess up, or hit a wall, you can go back to the start of the cycle with the information and intel you’ve gathered to have another crack at it! What’s more, the game is a system in itself where you can get more cases to solve. Each is uniquely different and varies in difficulty, meaning you could play TIME Stories and still meet the thematic stylings that will best appeal to the one you trying to woo. Again, it will make for some superb discussion and drives interaction heavily. It will also guarantee satisfaction and a positive feeling when you both nail the case!

It's Not Quite A Ring, But...

Your board games date night may be complete by the end. You’ll have laughed, played, shared, and smiled. Intimacy will have been the word on both your lips as you’ve shared these moments together. And surely it has been a hit, right? Well, maybe it’s time to seal the deal with a gift! You won’t need to bend a knee to give these out (not yet anyway!) but a small token to show your affection may be perfect to nail your skills in the romance department. Flowers and chocolates may work for some, but here are some board games that may work just as well… and last much longer!

Patchwork is a delightfully simple to learn, hard to master and outmanoeuvre game that’s always a hit on the table. You compete to complete a 9×9 grid quilt by purchasing patchwork pieces to fill it. There are a great number of flavours you can get it too (including a Valentine’s edition!). However, it’s certainly for the more competitive amongst couples. Cutthroat, intense, and ruthless aren’t words most folk use on Valentine’s Day… but we table-toppers aren’t “most folk”!

Kodama Duo is a game that even makes me smile with glee due to how cute it is. It’s both a standalone game for two as well as an expansion to the bigger version, and it's perfect for couples. The competition in this one is light-hearted with little risk. The aesthetics and gorgeously rich artwork make it a real stunner. Your goal is to make the best looking tree for the Kodama to live in. Then you’ll progressively grow the branches of your tree, adding cards based on their contents and your needs. Again, I can’t emphasise how lovely this game is! And because it’s so light, it’s easy to hold a solid conversation over it without it detracting from the experience. A no brainer in my eyes!

My final gift suggestion is Love Letter. As previously mentioned, it comes in many a flavour and each offers a twist in its mechanics. Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game is a one vs many twist that works superbly at two and has the whole marvel feel to it. You’ll compete as hero and villain to prevent Thanos from getting the Infinity Stones... or to gain them and win!

The vanilla Love Letter is fully competitive with a drive for deduction and risk-taking. The aim is to end the game with the highest value card, but the mechanics and twists within make it a tricky task to complete. Card effects are resolved as discarded and enable you to manipulate your opponent's hand. And, in some cases, even guess their hand for the win. It’s a super light and fast-paced game. Certainly one that’ll shine between the two of you.

Bill Please!

Some final things to consider for your no doubt top tier, high-class board games date night. Things that are obvious when mentioned but could easily be the faux pas of the eve.

Set up the game ahead of the date. The finest part of the game is not getting chits into trays, cards shuffled, or boards laid. Being organised will mean you can get right to the action and explanation with no fuss. And with that, don’t worry about the pack down unless it’s necessary. A finished game won’t grow legs and run off whilst you’re off doing something else. It can wait but they can’t. If you need that table for other purposes then sure, make it snappy. But realistically, it won’t matter. What does matter is them and your focus on them.

Winning doesn’t matter at the end of the day. I’m not suggesting you take the fall or intentionally self-sabotage by any measure, but when getting competitive you don’t want to obliterate them out of existence. Surely you want them to have an experience where they’ll be keen to play again and again, right? Keep them coming back for more! With cooperative games, however, it’s a bit trickier. You’ll both want to win but you definitely don’t want to run an alpha gamer session. Let them make their own decisions, mistakes, choices. No one ever talks about the time you single-handedly won by managing four people’s hands of cards. They talk about the experience and the events. Often a loss is way, way more interesting and produces much better conversation than a win!

Remember to enjoy your board games date night. Don’t stress about everything being perfect. You’re there as much as they are on the date. You might be facilitating the board games side, but the date element is a two-person game and you both want to win. (And hopefully, let blossom into a fully-fledged romance!)

Editors note: This post was originally published on February 14, 2022. Updated on January 25, 2023 to improve the information available.