Top 10 Games: That Need 2-Player Rules

Posted by James (admin) on January 10th, 2010

If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know I really like  good 2-player games.  They don’t need to be 2-player only, just so long as they play well with 2 as it’s too often a great game plays poorly with just 2 player.  This is often because what one player does, the other player counters or reacts to.  Alhambra is a great example of a game that plays superbly with 2 players (in fact, I think the fewer players the better with Alhambra).

I recently entered the Krakow competition to create rules for a 2-player game and it got me thinking about the other games I would really like to be able to play 2-player.  So, here’re the top ten games in my collection for which I’d like to be able to play a 2-player game….

Nostra City (Read the full review)
A really interesting game where the players try to fix the mob boss’s trial so he’s found innocent whilst they fight it out to be the mobster that gained the most respect doing so.  If the boss is found guilty at the end, both players lose (unless one has become a snitch which is randomly determined if the player picks up a specific card during play).

I think the bidding and money sharing rounds would still work well with 2 players but making the mob boss innocent may need some special rules.  Maybe one player would try to make him innocent whilst the other tries to make him guilty; maybe removing the snitch cards so both players are trying to make the boss innocent; or, maybe the bosss’s verdict has some extra effects on player’s scores.

Colonia (Read the full review)
This logic chain in Colonia is a complex chain of simple decisions – take resources to make goods to fulfil shipments to earn money to buy relics to earn points.  With fewer players, the complexity is more straightforwards as the actions of other players that could upset your plan are fewer.  Overall, I think this game could be just a lot of tactical fun with 2 players.

To avoid a 2-player game being too predictable, a small amount of extra unpredictability may be required (such as one of the items potentially available each round being removed before players resolve their actions), plus the voting may need need a little bit of a change.  However, these changes may not be required.

Pony Express (Read the full review)
The core game mechanic of Pony Express is that players move along the board based on the dice roll that they claim they have rolled.  The nearest player to them has the option off calling their bluff, but goes to jail if they get it wrong.  If there are no players available to call a bluff then a player can claim any roll they want and move accordingly.  So, with 2-players, this may need some extra rules because calling a blufff and getting it wrong would give a player a big advantage.

A game with much similarity to Blade Runner where players travel around trying to solve a murder.  The game is not really about deducing what happened; instead, players are trying to score points by ensuring that the person they want to be innocent is innocent and the person they want to be guilty is guilty.  So, players are trying to ensure the evidence found paints the story that will score them the most points.

It’s a really interesting game but is also quite long in duration and there can be a lot of downtime too, which increases with more players.  It would be great to play it 2-player and I can’t see much reason why there isn’t a 2-player variant.  It would allow me to play the game more often too as it’s long duration means it’s difficult to get it to the table.

Abandon Ship (Read the full review)
A fun-filled game which I think could still play well with 2-players – maybe a reduced number of rats on the ship or each player having more than 3 rats that will earn their score would help accomplish this.

An excellent gangster game set in the time of Prohibition with lots of depth and decisions.  Player interaction is a big part of the game but I’m sure there’s a way that two players could still play.

Quo Vadis
Players move their senators up the political chain (along the network of areas and paths on the board) but usually by asking the permission of the other players.  Probably a tough one to make 2-player as it requires voting but I’d love a 2-player version.

Players place their pieces to create large contiguous groups along the banks of the River Rhein in order to score points.  This game has some superb tactical play as joining groups allows players to take over from their opponents and I think there is a great 2-player game within it.  A smaller board would go a long way to create this so that interaction between the two players would be assured.

Player’s armies take control of areas and fight each other using the innovative dice tower – players load the cubes (armies) involved in a fight in the top of the tower and the ones that drop out the bottom determine the result of the fight.  The 2-player versions of Axis and Allies, which work really well, show that 2-player war games (which are more Euro than simulation) can be excellent so Shogun should have this potential too.

Tower of Babel
Players build the wonders of the world and, to do so, they can accept or reject help from other players.  I really like this game as there’re always some tough decisions to make – especially as accepting or rejecting a player’s aid can reward them so you need to balance your gain with theirs.

What games do you want to be able to play as 2-player?


Check out other top games lists: Top 10 Portable 2-Player Games and Top Games for a Family Christmas too.

One Response to “Top 10 Games: That Need 2-Player Rules”

  1. Chris Says:

    Here is how I played Android with 2 players and had a pretty good game

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