Two Player Games for Serious Gamers

Mr Cosmo considers himself a serious gamer. Right now he is playing a game where he flings his rope toy across the room to try and beat Mrs Cosmo’s distance record. Serious stuff. 

For the equally serious gamers among you, we have sorted through the most highly ranked board games of all time on Board Game Geek to find these ten games that are good for two players. 

These games are high on the complexity scale but if you can battle through the learning curve you will be rewarded with hours of enjoyment (literally – these games generally take a long time to play).

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Two Player Board Games for Serious Gamers - Mr Cosmo the dog wears glasses and plays a two player card game

1) Star Wars: Rebellion

Players: 2-4  |  Age: 12+  |  Game Length: 180-240 min  |  Learning Curve: High

In Star Wars: Rebellion players either control the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance and duke it out over the galaxy in order to achieve their win conditions. The Empire wins if they manage to sniff out the Rebel base and destroy it. The Rebels win if they survive long enough to incite a full scale revolt in the galaxy.

This game contains over 150 miniature pieces and features many characters from Star Wars episodes 4 to 6. As a very simplified game play overview, players move their pieces around the board, complete side missions, deploy leaders, move troops and engage in battles.

This is a very in depth game that offers plenty of options to players. Highly recommended for serious gamers who have even a faint interest in Star Wars.

2) War of the Ring: 2nd Edition

Players: 2-4  |  Age: 14+  |  Game Length: 150-180 min  |  Learning Curve: High

In War of the Ring, one player controls the Free People of Middle Earth, while the other controls the dark forces of Sauron. The game can be won by either side through military victory. The Free People can also win if the Fellowship makes it to Mt Doom, but the Forces of Sauron win if they can capture the ring.

The game is somewhat of a balancing act. The Fellowship companions can break off and help spur the Free People to fight against Sauron but this will make the Frodo and the ring more vulnerable. Likewise Sauron can send more of the Nazgul to search for the ring but this will weaken his armies.

The game also has a political system where races can only be utilised by the Free People if they are “at war”.

This is a large game that comes with many miniatures. While this is a wargame at heart, the political system and the “Hunt for the Ring” take this game to the next level and provide players with a large variety of choices on their turn. You don’t have to be a Lord of the Rings fan to enjoy this game.

3) Twilight Struggle

Players: 2 |  Age: 14+  |  Game Length: 120-180 min  |  Learning Curve: High

Twilight Struggle is a two-player game where each player takes on either the United States or the Soviet Union as the events of the cold war unfold.

Each player move units around the world and attempt to exert influence over regions to gain control for their super power. The challenge of the game is in how best to use your cards and units with limited resources.

The event cards in the game cover a large number of historically relevant events including the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and other events that brought the world perilously close to nuclear war.

What makes the game intriguing is in the decisions you have to make as you may just cause a nuclear war and end the world.

4) 7 Wonders Duel

Players: 2 |  Age: 10+  |  Game Length: 30 min  |  Learning Curve: Medium

7 Wonders Duel is a two player version of its parent game 7 Wonders. You acquire cards over three ages that produce resources, improve your military and science, and help build your civilization. Constructing a wonder gives you a special ability. You can win through your military, your mastery of science or simply by having the best civilization (most victory points) at the end of the game.

As far as the top rated games on this list go, this is by far the least complicated.

5) Spirit Island

Players: 1-4 |  Age: 14+  |  Game Length: 90-120 min  |  Learning Curve: Very High

Spirit Island is a cooperative game that turns the tables on the standard settlement game. In Spirit Island, European settlers are destroying the natural harmony of an island, and you are in control of spirits that are defending the island. You win if you scare away and/or destroy the invaders. You lose if any spirit is destroyed, if the island is overrun by blight, or if the Invader deck is depleted before achieving victory.

The game contains multiple different spirits that all have their own abilities and combine with the other spirits differently leading to many different combinations of powers. The game also has a large deck of available powers, resulting in a very fun game that will never play the same way twice.

6) Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Players: 2-4  |  Age: 12+  |  Game Length: 60 min  |  Learning Curve: Medium

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 has many similarities to Pandemic – it is a cooperative game where players are trying to eradicate 4 plagues that are spreading across the globe. Unlike Pandemic however, the game is played over 12 months, and changes are made to the game as the campaign progresses such as writing on cards and placing stickers on the board. If you fail to meet your objectives on any given month, you get a second chance, but if you fail again the game moves on.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is a unique and incredibly addictive gaming experience. The game is only able to be played through once in it’s full form due to the physical changes made to the game. But you will enjoy many hours of game play, so it is still good value for money to play one of the best rated games of all time. And the components can still be used to play the original Pandemic game after your Legacy campaign is complete.

For two players we recommend that each player controls two characters. This makes the game slightly more difficult, but gives you more abilities, and we think it makes the game more fun.

7) Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Players: 1-2  |  Age: 14+  |  Game Length: 60-120 min  |  Learning Curve: High

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a cooperative, campaign card game that has players controlling characters from the New England town of Arkham. Each adventure leads you deeper into mystery.

You create a custom deck of cards before the game, and visit locations looking for clues. During the game you will encounter haunted houses, strange creatures and cults. Choices made during a scenario can have consequences on future games.

The interesting thing about Arkham Horror: The Card Game is that depending on what happens during a scenario there is a different ending to the story, so you never really lose in this game.

8) The Castles of Burgundy

Players: 2- 4  |  Age: 12+  |  Game Length: 30-90 min  |  Learning Curve: High

The Castles of Burgundy is a Euro game set in Medieval France. You assume the role of an aristocrat, and need to increase your prosperity in order to build the best estate in the land.

Two dice lay out your options for you, but you always make the final choice. There are many ways to gain victory points in this game, including trading, farming, construction, and conducting scientific research. The player with the most victory points at the end of five rounds wins.

The Castles of Burgundy is a complex strategy game that works best with two players, and challenges you to think ahead. It has excellent game play, with many different paths to victory. Replay value is high, thanks to the different estates which mean that no two games are the same.

9) Gloomhaven

Players: 1-4  |  Age: 14+  |  Game Length: 60-120 min  |  Learning Curve: Very High

Gloomhaven is currently the #1 rated board game of all time on boardgamegeek. The game is for 1 – 4 players and is probably best with 3 players but still works great with two players.

Gloomhaven is a dungeon crawling game where players take on the role of adventurers and try to increase the party’s profit, prosperity and reputation. Players have their own abilities and work together to clear out dungeons and ruins. In the process, you will gain experience, level up your abilities, find loot and discover new locations to explore.

The game mostly consists of combat missions that fit into a larger campaign based around the town of Gloomhaven. After a mission you choose what to do next, similar to a choose your own adventure book.

To say the game is rich with content is a massive understatement as this is possibly the largest/heaviest board game on the market filled with tonnes of cardboard pieces and other content.

10) Through The Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Players: 2-4 |  Age: 14+  |  Game Length: 120 min  |  Learning Curve: Very High

Through the Ages is a game where you compete to build the best civilization. You need to manage your resources carefully, discover new technologies, elect leaders, build magnificent wonders and maintain a strong military. You can also exploit each others weaknesses. The game progresses through the ages of humanity from antiquity to the modern age.

This game requires a large playing area as it takes up a lot of space. It has complicated rules but can be very satisfying.

These 10 board games are great for two players, and all rank very highly on Board Game Geek. Great for couples who are big fans of board games and love more complicated strategy!

Let us know what you think of our list in the comments below. Are there any other great two player games that you would add to this list? 

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