These are great games for two players. And some titles on this list can play up to four and even five people in case a few more friends drop in!
In Carcassonne, players build a board using tiles with roads, fortresses, rivers and features in a medieval landscape. It’s quick to set up, easy to learn, and is accessible to a wide range of players. Games run about 40 minutes so it makes a perfect light game to play with a partner or a larger group.
Up to 5 players. Published by Z-Man Games
Patchwork is a light two-player game themed around quilting. On their turn, players pick up a piece of fabric from the pool and then assemble them onto their board to maximize the number of buttons (ie. points) earned. It’s a little bit like Tetris trying to figure out which piece to take that will fit on your board leaving as few gaps as possible in order to achieve the most bonus points at the end.
Games are short, lasting around 20 minutes or so, and the playing experience is very zen.
Two players. Published by Mayfair Games
In Jaipur, each player is a trader in India selling goods — silk, spice, precious metals, etc — to earn money. The gameplay is fast and deceptively simple, but with only one action allowed per turn, each decision can be a turning point in the game. Quick to teach, this is an easy game to introduce to friend who dropS in for a cup of tea.
Two players. Published by Asmodee
In this card game, players are herb collectors competing with one another to grow and collect the most valuable mix of herbs. Both simple and accessible, Herbaceous is very quick to learn and a light enough game that you can carry a conversation while playing without disrupting the flow of the game.
Up to four players. Published by Pencil First Games
In Splendor, players take on the role of merchants acquiring gem mines and shops in order to earn prestige points and vie for the attention of the wealthy nobles. Players collect and trade chips throughout the game to buy cards that help them accumulate prestige. Everyone to whom I’ve introduced this game enjoys it, kids (preteens) and adults alike. And the dynamics change when you add in a third and fourth player, which gives the game lots of variety and replayability.
Plays up to four players. Published by Space Cowboy