Best of the Two Player Games
Craig Viau
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Calgary
Alberta
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I have moved all my lists to group them together. Any games added by others were included but all the comments have been lost.
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1. Board Game: YINSH [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:160] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
Craig Viau
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Calgary
Alberta
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The players each start with 5 rings on the board. Every time a ring is moved, it leaves a marker behind. Markers are white on one side and black on the other. When markers are jumped over by a ring they must be flipped, so their color is constantly changing. The players must try to form a row of 5 markers with their own color face up. If a player succeeds in doing so, he removes one of his rings as an indication that he has formed such a row. The first player to remove 3 of his rings wins the game. In other words, each row you make brings you closer to victory-but also makes you weaker, because you have one less ring to play with. Very tricky!

This series just keeps getting better. This game was deep but yet open and exciting. This guy or design team is pure genius. This is the best abstract game I know.
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2. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:138]
Craig Viau
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By all appearances, it's just two players taking turns laying stones on a 19x19 (or smaller) grid of intersections. But once its basic rules are understood, Go shows itself to be (from a novice's point of view) one of the most elegant brain-burning abstract games in history, with players trying to claim territory by walling off sections of the board and surrounding each other's stones. The game doesn't end until the board fills up, or, more often, when both players agree to end it, at which time whoever controls the most territory wins.
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3. Board Game: DVONN [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:387] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Craig Viau
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Calgary
Alberta
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DVONN is played on an elongated hexagonal board, with 23 white, 23 black and 3 red DVONN-pieces. In the beginning the board is empty. The players first place the DVONN-pieces on the board and next their own pieces. Then they start stacking pieces on top of each other. A single piece may be moved 1 space in any direction, a stack of two pieces may moved two spaces, etc. A stack must always be moved as a whole and a move must always end on top of another piece or stack. If pieces or stacks lose contact with the DVONN pieces, they must be removed from the board. The game ends when no more moves can be made. The players put the stacks they control on top of each other and the one with the highest stack is the winner.
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4. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:200]
Craig Viau
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Calgary
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Two opponents face off accross a 'battle line' and attempt to win the battle by taking 5 of 9 flags or 3 flags in a row. Flags are decided by placing cards into 3 card poker-type hands on either side of the flag (similar to straight flush, 3 of a kind, straight, flush, etc). The side with the highest 'formation' of cards wins the flag.

2-Player card game originally based on Schotten Totten. It has some new special cards which add to the strategies.
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5. Board Game: Shogi [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1185]
Craig Viau
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Japanese chess. I actually find it more interesting then "normal" chess, primarily because the pieces move more slowly and a bad move can be hard to unde in time. Also, the "drop" rule really adds to the late-game tactical options (it also seems a bit harder to win my attrition then chess... but I am not very skilled in either).
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6. Board Game: ZÈRTZ [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:552] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Craig Viau
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In this latest addition to the GIPF Project players compete to acquire sets of multi-colored balls. This is mostly accomplished by jumping one ball over one or more others, checkers-style, on a hex board. A player's turn consists of either jumping (which can be forced) or placing any color ball on the board and removing an empty space from the edge of the board. In this manner, the play space continually shrinks, giving the endgame an almost claustophobic feel.
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7. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:457]
Craig Viau
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Calgary
Alberta
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A Stratego-like game themed around Lord of the Rings. Players each control a force of 9 characters (light vs. dark) whose identities are hidden from their opponent at the beginning of the game. Combat is resolved by playing special cards.

After 4 playings its dark side 3 light side 1. I'm sure this will even out as time goes by. Not that this is a bad thing in the first place. In fact I very much enjoy the tension in playing the light side. It's a nice change of pace to play a game with non symetrical starts. As for the rest of the game its also very good. Easy to learn quick to play but still with lots of tactics and tension.
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8. Board Game: Navia Dratp [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:2325]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Adding this one, possibly prematurely. I haven't played it but I picked it up yesterday and it has 31 ratings of 7.838 at the moment.
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9. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:309]
Craig Viau
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In Lost Cities, another card game in the Kosmos two-player series, the object is to mount profitable expeditions to one or more of the five different lost cities. Card play is quite straightforward, with a few agonizing moments sprinkled through what is mostly a fast-moving game. If you start a given expedition, you'd better make some progress in it, or it'll score you negative points. If you can make a lot of progress, you'll score quite well. After three rounds, the highest total score takes the day.
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10. Board Game: GIPF [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:833] [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
Craig Viau
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Alberta
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GIPF is a strategic game for two players based on a classic concept: in turns, players introduce one piece into play until achieving four-in a-row. Players then remove their row and capture any of their opponent's pieces which extend that row. This principle of capturing pieces creates each time again completely changed situations on the board. The purpose is to form successive rows of at least 4 pieces, until the opponent has no piece left to bring into play.

The first of the Gipf series which includes Tamsk, ZertZ Dvonne and now Yinsh.
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11. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:427] [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
Craig Viau
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Calgary
Alberta
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Quite possibly the most popular traditional board game in the West, Chess abstractly depicts a battlefield of sorts (but what are queens and bishops doing in a battle?) with opposing pieces initially lined up on either side. Each type of piece has a unique form of movement, and any piece can capture any opposing piece. Players take turns moving and occationally capturing until eventually one side's king is captured, ending the game. Chess between two highly skilled players can be a beautiful thing to watch, and a game can provide great entertainment even for novices.

Note: The origins of Chess date back to India around the fifth century A.D. The 1600 in 'Year Published' is an estimate of the date that today's rules of Chess were established.
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12. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:546]
Craig Viau
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Calgary
Alberta
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This is a excellent version of Carcassonne for two people. Although I don't see why you couldn't use the meeples from the original game to turn it into a fine 3 player or perhaps 4 player game. The board would be too small for more than that. Its as good as the original

Carcassonne: the Castle takes place in one of the many castles you have built during a game [of Carcassonne].

The players build their buildings, roads etc. inside the constrained space of the castle walls and place their followers at strategic places.
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13. Board Game: Quarto [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:875]
Craig Viau
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Calgary
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imho the most interesting 4 in a row game...
("each piece is either black or white, tall or short, square or round, and hollow or solid. The object is to place the fourth piece in a row where all four pieces have at least one attribute in common.")
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14. Board Game: Dungeon Twister [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:868]
alexandre pette
France
Thumeries
France
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i think that this game as a place on this list. A great two players game wich is at the crossroad of traditionnal abstract games (chess, as each piece has a special effect - not move - in the game) and modern boardgames (tikal, as each player must play a 2,3,4 or 5 action card each turn) a must see
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15. Board Game: TAMSK [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1746] [Average Rating:6.77 Unranked]
Craig Viau
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Calgary
Alberta
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The hexagonal board has several holes in it for the unique playing pieces. Each player uses sand timers as his pieces, and a turn is simply to move to an adjacent space, flipping the timer in the process. The number of times that each space on the board can be occupied is limited, but the more central spaces can have more traffic. The object of the game is simply to have any of your pieces moveable when your opponent's pieces are either locked in place, or out of sand.
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16. Board Game: Catan Card Game [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:835]
Craig Viau
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In this unique card game, each player acquires resources from the lands surrounding their cities and can spend those resources on new cities, roads, knights, and civic improvements. Every civic improvement serves some useful function or adds victory points (necessary to win the game) or both. Action cards, drawn from the same decks as city improvements and knights have more direct and temporary effects and serve to mix things up a bit.
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17. Board Game: Octi [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:4091]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Octi is an abstract strategy that is similar to checkers and chess. The object of the game is move your pieces into your opponent's starting points. The difference between checkers and Octi is that this game allows for multiple jumping, capturing, and special movement of pieces. On each move players decide whether to bring in new pieces, upgrade their existing pieces, or move a piece. The choices in this game are staggering and each move presents and entire new way of thinking about the game. There is a 4 player teams variant that is included in the rules.
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18. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1000]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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I'm adding this to keep this list current. Although I own it I haven't played it yet. The large number of good ratings is enough to justify putting it on the list now.
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19. Board Game: Balloon Cup [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1004]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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In Balloon Cup, the players compete in several short balloon flights (hops) to collect the colored cubes associated with each hop. Four landscape cards, two Plains alternating with two Mountains, are laid out and 1, 2, 3 or 4 cubes in assorted colors (grey, blue, green, yellow, red) are added. From a hand of 8 Balloon cards must try to pass each landscape by adding cards matching the colored blocks onto their side of table, although winds (and cunning) may occationally cause them to play on their opponent’s side - a move that can really ruin the opponent’s plans.

High-valued ballons are played on the Mountains and low-valued balloons on the plains. Whoever is the better balloonist takes the cubes from the card, which is then flipped over and refilled with cubes. Mountains becomes Plains and vice-versa. 5 Trophy cards of value 3 to 7 are placed at the top of the cards. When a player has collected enough cubes of a given color, he earns the Trophy card for that color. Players may even trade 3 otherwise useless cubes for 1 they can use. The first player to earn 3 trophy cards is the winner!

Very good two player game. Definitely one of the better of the Kosmos series. Although I think I prefer Babel. The decisions in Babel are much harder. Balloon Cup is still very good in its own right.
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20. Board Game: Babel [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1189]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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A multi-faceted card/board game of building temples in the ancient world. Players use "personnel" cards representing five different ancient civilizations to do various activities, including building six-tiered temples using a separate temple card deck. Another in the Kosmos 2-player small-box game line.
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21. Board Game: Odin's Ravens [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1227]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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One of the 3 "games for two" that Kosmos released for Essen 2002. This one sees Ravens racing on a track made of cards and takes place in some nordic mythology settings.
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22. Board Game: Twixt [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1666]
alexandre pette
France
Thumeries
France
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this game is a winner: the rules can be explained in a minute and the game is over in 10-15mn ! a perfect game for a small tournament (the first to win 3 games) between two friends in less than 1 hour !
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23. Board Game: Senjutsu: Dynamic Samurai Combat [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:6540]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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In Senjutsu, two players recreate feudal Japanese Samurai warfare in a unique clan vs. clan battle of customizable warriors. Strategy and replayability are found through various weapons, armory, and tactics cards available to modify and diversify warrior abilities.

Players arm each samurai for combat with the weapons of their choice. Each samurai begins the game with 3 weapons. Samurais can acquire more weapons, or lose weapons, as the game progresses. There are several different possible combinations of weapons creating a variety of battle scenarios.

Adding this game based on my personal opinion rather than high ratings.

The concept of customizing your warriors before battle is extremely appealing to me. The game plays out relatively fast but has room to be taken more seriously as with most two player games. Think of it like an excellent cross between chess and stratego. The best moves are by no means apparent and there is room for a ton of tactics and strategies.
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24. Board Game: Hera and Zeus [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1585]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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This intriguing little card game is perhaps best described as a more elegant, non-collectable version of Wizards of the Coast's ill-fated game, Netrunner. Players are opposing gods from Greek mythology, Hera and Zeus, bent on destroying each other because each kidnapped the other's favorite mortal. Players lay out cards in opposite three column, four row matrices. Cards on the leading edge of the opposing colums can be used to attack, which means the combat value of the cards are compared and the loser is destroyed. However, cards are played face-down until they're engaged, adding an element of bluff and doubt to the game. Each turn, players have as many actions as they have columns, and actions can be used to attack, draw cards or play special action cards. To win, you need to reduce the other player to zero columns, capture his hostage card from his hand, or make sure your opponent cannot use all of his actions during his turn.
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25. Board Game: HeroClix [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1967] [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Based on the popular Mage Knights system, but utilizing super hero characters from the Marvel and DC Comics Universe.

The game plays much like a miniatures game, but without the measure-and-move system or the constant consultation of hit charts. Rather, most of the vital statistical information is directly on the base of the characters, which can be rotated as characters take damage from hits.

Since we're talking super heroes here, each character has special abilities and powers, which give the game its 'comic' book feel. While these powers are listed on separate charts, sometimes the interaction of these powers can cause confusion. Official FAQ can be found at the Wiz Kids website.

Ok, admitedly this is one game that based on ratings doesn't deserve to be on this list but for me its simply awesome.

Luke, you don't know the power of the dark side. I can stop collecting anytime. I haven't bought a heroclix for 6 hours straight.

I now have almost 800 unique figures with no duplicates out of a possible 1250+ . I have bought all these in about a month and a half. I just bought single figures no boosters.

But now on to the positive side. With some few exceptions the pieces are properly balanced by having a "game" cost/value associated with each one. This means that you can be very competitive without buying all the pieces. Unlike MTG even if you own all the figures you still have to put together a team based on the point level decided by the players.

But even more important than all that is the fact that it is a very interesting and enjoyable game. That coming from someone who doesn't have any collectable games and is not a comic book fan.

Bottom line for me. There are tons and tons of strategies and tactics. Bonus 1: It is fun to play a game based on superheroes. Bonus 2: It still retains the fun of assembling a team somewhat like MTG. Bonus 3: My son who is coming up on 7 will play this game with me. Bonus 4: This game makes for a excellent display... must find a nice display for it.

The one con is... this game will throw your budget out the window.
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