Best Bang For Your Buck Games
Here are ten games that are fun to play, but also easy on your wallet.
This list contains popular board games that are great for two players and at the time of writing this have an average cost of $20 or less.
If your gaming partner is expensive to feed like Mr Cosmo, these games might be just what you are looking for.
These games are also great gift ideas at this price range!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases (at no cost to you).
1) Codenames: Duet
Players: 2 or 4 | Age: 11+ | Game Length: 15-30 min | Learning Curve: Low
Codenames: Duet is a two player variant of the highly rated game Codenames. In Codenames: Duet, players work together to identify all of their agents by giving one word clues that describe one or more of the agent codenames. The player receiving the clue uses it to attempt to identify agents. The players win if they reveal all 15 of the agents without revealing any assassins. There is a limit to the number of guesses that you can make, so you generally need to try and reveal more than one agent with each clue. The game comes with a large number of double sided codename cards so you never play the same game twice.
This is another very popular game that is specifically made for two players, and is excellent value for money. Codenames: Duet can also be used along with the codename cards from the many other Codenames games, to make them playable with two players.
2) Star Realms
Players: 2+ | Age: 8+ | Game Length: 20 min | Learning Curve: Low
Star Realms is a fast paced, deck building game for two players. As you play, you can acquire more powerful ship and base cards from the trade row. These ships and bases can be used to either generate further trade, or to attack your opponent and their bases. When you reduce your opponent’s Authority (score) to zero, you win.
This popular game is fast to play, very affordable, and if you have never played a deck building game before, Star Realms represents a very cheap introduction to the genre.
Also check out Star Realms: Colony Wars which can either be used as a stand alone game for two players, or added to Star Realms to allow an additional two people to play for each copy that is added.
3) Schotten Totten
Players: 2 | Age: 8+ | Game Length: 20 min | Learning Curve: Low
In Schotten Totten (similar to Battle Lines), nine boundary stones separate you and your opponent. In front of each stone, you build three card poker-like hands. The player with the better hand next to a particular stone wins that stone. To win the game, you need to claim any five stones, or three adjacent stones. If you think carefully, you can use logic to claim a stone before your opponent has played all three of their cards, by proving that it is not possible for them to win that stone. There are also Tactics cards that can be introduced for more advanced play.
A compact game at an affordable price. This game is simple to learn, quick to play, and fun, so it is perfect to get non-gamers hooked on board games. But it still has a surprising amount of depth and strategy to it.
Players: 2 | Age: 8+ | Game Length: 30 min | Learning Curve: Low
Jaipur is a fast-paced two player card game where each player tries to prove that they are the most skilled trader in the city of Jaipur and become the Maharaja’s personal trader. Players take turns trading the commodities in their hand with the market, choosing the best time to buy and sell their goods. Camels also add an extra dimension to the game – buying a lot of camels can help you win at the end of the round, but can also help your opponent buy better commodities in the short term, so adding camels to your herd is a balancing act.
This is a popular two player game that is easy to learn and fairly quick to play, with a combination of strategy, luck and risk.
Players: 2-4 | Age: 8+ | Game Length: 5 min | Learning Curve: Low
Red7 is a very short game that uses cards numbered 1 to 7 in each of the 7 colours of the ROYGBIV rainbow. The rules change constantly in Red7, and if you aren’t in a winning position at the end of your turn, you lose. There are also advanced rules that you can play, to help keep things interesting.
This is quick game to play with a simple concept, yet it still requires tactical thinking to win. It is hard to pass up such a portable and cheap game!
6) Lost Cities
Players: 2 | Age: 8+ | Game Length: 30 min | Learning Curve: Low
In Lost Cities players embark on archaeological expeditions to one of five different ruined cities and score points by playing cards. But be careful not to start any expeditions that you don’t follow through on as this will incur penalty points. Discarding the wrong cards can help your opponent, so you need to keep an eye on what they are going for.
This is an affordable game, popular for two players, and is often recommended for people with partners that are not so heavily into gaming.
7) The Fox in the Forest
Players: 2 | Age: 10+ | Game Length: 30 min | Learning Curve: Low
The Fox in the Forest is a bit of a rarity as far as trick taking games go, in that it is designed specifically for two players – sort of like a two player version of 500.
The interesting thing about this game is the scoring system. There are a total of 13 tricks available to win in each round, and you are scored based on how many tricks you win. If you win 0-3 tricks you are “humble” and get 6 points. 4-6 tricks gets you 1-3 points respectively. 7-9 tricks means you are “victorious” and get 6 points. But if you win 10-13 tricks, you are “greedy” and get zero points. This makes for a very interesting game where you and your opponent might for example both start out trying to win, then you both start trying to lose instead, then one of you starts trying to win again. Your goals change throughout the game, and there are also cards with special powers to make things even more interesting.
For a very compact and affordable card game, this one packs a punch, and is designed specifically for two people.
8) Rhino Hero
Players: 2-5 | Age: 4+ | Game Length: 5-15 min | Learning Curve: Very Low
Rhino Hero (also known as Super Rhino) is a card stacking dexterity game. ‘Super Rhino” is a (rather heavy) super hero who is impatient to scale the outside of your building – so he starts climbing while you are still in the process of building it…
The wall cards fold in half, and you take turns adding walls as specified on the flooring cards to make a tall card “building”. Certain cards bring additional challenges, including moving Super Rhino to a higher level in the tower. The aim is to use all of your flooring cards before your opponent, while being careful not to knock down the building.
This game is affordable, fun to play, and great for almost any age. It is quick enough that you can play a few rounds in a row, to check if it was really “just the wind” that knocked over the tower, or whether one of you is a more skilled builder!
9) Mint Works
Players: 1-4 | Age: 8+ | Game Length: 10-20 min | Learning Curve: Low
Mint Works is a worker placement game that comes in a small, pocket sized tin. You are trying to build the best neighbourhood. You have a limited number of Mint Tokens, and you use these Mints to earn more Mints, get Plans, or build Plans. Building Plans earns you points, and some will also give you bonus powers. The winner is the first player to reach 7 points or the player with the most points when the Plans run out.
The simple rules and affordable price make this game a good introduction for players new to the worker placement genre. There is tonnes of strategy and replayability for such a small game, and you can even play it on your own!
Players: 2-20 | Age: 6+ | Game Length: 30 min | Learning Curve: Low
Set is a speed game involving pattern recognition. Players race to claim sets of cards from within a face up grid of cards. A set consists of three cards that are either all the same or all different in terms of their shape, number, shading, and color. For example, if all three cards have the same number of objects, but they all have different shapes, different shadings, and different colors, then those cards are a set. But if two of the cards have feature in common that is not shared by the third card (eg two cards are red and the third is green), they are not a set. Whoever claims the most sets wins!
Once you get your head around what constitutes a set, this game can get hugely competitive. It is faster moving the more players you have, but still works well with two players and is more fun once you both get fast at spotting sets. A great brain workout, at a very cheap price.
Let us know what you think of our list in the comments below. Are there any other good value two player games that you would add to this list?