The 9 Best Two Player Board Games, According to PureWow’s Most Competitive Staffers

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If we have to do another puzzle or watch one more episode of Paw Patrol, we might fully lose it. We need some new entertainment, stat. Which is why we were psyched to rediscover two player board games. They’re fun, simple (usually) and we can almost always guarantee that one other person in the house will be down to play. Here, the nine best two player board games, according to PureWow’s most competitive staffers.

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1. mancala

“I love this game because it reminds me of my childhood. It’s kind of relaxing to pick up and drop the marbles and I could honestly play it for hours,” says associate managing editor of branded content Rachel Gulmi. We couldn’t agree more, it’s a welcome dose of nostalgia. If you were also a kid who never learned the rules, Mancala is simple and easy to understand by just watching. Check out this YouTube video for info on how to play.

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2. shut The Box

Gulmi is also a fan of Shut the Box, an old-fashioned game. Players roll the dice and total them up, then turn over any combination of tiles that match that total. So, if you roll a ten, you could turn over the ten tile or the six and four tiles, because they add up to ten. Keep rolling and turning tiles over until all of a player’s tiles are turned over or they roll a number they’re not able to make. That’s when the game is over. “I don’t like anything with numbers, but I love this game because it’s so addicting to try and knock all the numbers down. It helps keep your mind sharp too, since there’s a bit of addition involved,” Gulmi notes.

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3. bananagrams

This is senior commerce editor Brianna Lapolla’s go-to for game night. “It's like Scrabble but freeform, so you can play it on the floor, on an ottoman or at a table. Plus, it comes in a cute little banana pouch that's so easy to travel with (even if that's just from the living room to the dining room),” she says. Judging by its near perfect 4.9 rating on Target’s site, Bananagrams seems like a great choice.

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4. love Letters

In this game, players compete to have their letters delivered to the Princess using risk and deduction. To win, you have to collect enough tokens of affection, which you earn by playing certain cards. Associate editor Abby Hepworth likes Love Letters because it goes quickly, so you can play a few rounds each time you sit down. “It also takes up very little room, so you can bring it to a restaurant to play while you wait for your food (when restaurants are a thing again),” she explains.

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5. codenames Duet

If you’re familiar with Codenames, this is the equally fun two-player version. Simply lay out 25 word cards in a five-by-five grid (just like in the standard game) and place a double-sided code card between the two players indicating the nine “agents” you want your partner to guess and the three “assassins” you want your partner to avoid. Players alternate giving clues and trying to identify the agents correctly. It may sound complicated, but you’ll pick it up quickly once you start. Hepworth says it’s one of her favorites and apparently, she’s not alone—it’s sold out on multiple websites.

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6. battleship

You probably haven’t played this one since the 90’s, which is part of the appeal. It’s pretty much all luck (besides strategizing where you place your ships on the board) which we appreciate, since working from home takes up almost all of our brainpower these days. “The best part? Hearing the other player say ‘you sunk my battleship.’ So satisfying,” admits editorial assistant Chelsea Candelario.

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7. connect 4

“Yup, another classic. I like how Connect 4 is a game of strategy,” explains Candelario. Simply drop your chips into the slots to try and get four in a row—while preventing your opponent from doing the same. It’s recommended for ages 6 and up, so almost everyone in the house can join in.

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8. skip-bo

Bored of playing Go Fish and War? We don’t blame you. Card games can get old, but there’s something addicting about this one, and it’s one of my personal favorites. Once you start playing, it’s hard to stop. The goal is to empty your “Skip-Bo pile” first by stacking your cards in ascending order in the middle of the table. It’s part luck and part strategy, which has me hooked…until I finally win a round.

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9. scrabble

It’s a classic for a reason. “For word nerds who prefer quiet competition over a lot of yelling, Scrabble is the perfect board game. There is no greater pleasure than placing a Z on a triple letter tile,” notes SVP of content Jillian Quint. Arrange letter tiles to create words and rack up points. This tile lock version ensures that they won’t slide around on the board as you play. And yes, you can play it with just one other person—although, you will be raising the stakes with additional players.

purewow author

Assistant Commerce Editor

From 2019 to 2021 Kara Cuzzone held the role of Assistant Commerce Editor covering sales and deals across beauty, fashion, home and wellness.