Board games that won’t suck for only two people stuck inside

Villainous Fi

We’ve been asking members of the KC community to submit stories about life under house arrest. If you’ve got a story you’d like to share, please send it to for consideration. Today, Andrew Tippin (local board game expert and Pawn & Pint employee) helps us solve the problem: what board games are actually fun with only two people? Because we have A LOT of board games, and oh boy, do they all need three or more. Here’s Andrew to help solve the issue:

KC Voices local submissionsIllustration by Jack Raybuck

It is truly a challenge to not go stir crazy in times like these. Digital consumption has risen drastically, as we do our best to stay connected with those we love, and digital party games like or online game streaming have seen a huge spike in recent weeks. Too much blue screen time gives me and my wife headaches, and between tv screens, computer screens, and phone screens, it definitely helps to take a break and interact outside of our screens when possible.

Thankfully, we have a treasure trove of board games in our house to pick from. You could say that over the past several years we have become board game aficionados of sorts. Board games are a great way to connect and interact without the need for screens or an internet connection (Although Tabletop Simulator is also an option). For those of you that are quarantined with loved/liked/or tolerated ones and looking for some solid board game options for a limited amount of players, here is a small curated list of games that you may not be as familiar with that are worth a try.

Memoir ’44 is a historical boardgame where two players recreate some of the most famous historic battles of World War II including Omaha Beach, Pegasus Bridge, and Operation Cobra. This game utilizes a double-sided hex game board with modular pieces and is visually stunning. Often times, the setup itself may take longer than the game, but for those who enjoy history-based war games with detailed miniatures, this game hits the spot.

Hanabi is a cooperative game in which players try to create the perfect fireworks show by placing cards in sequential order. The catch? Only your partners can see your cards. By giving specific hints regarding the numbers or colors of their cards, players act as a team to finish the firework display before time runs out or the fireworks accidentally go off

In Castellan, two players work together to build a castle. In the same fashion as the classic pen and paper game of dots, players draw from two decks of cards to link wall and tower pieces together to form courtyards, and the player who completes a courtyard claims it with a keep. Points are scored based on the amount of towers surrounding the keep.

Forbidden Island Setup

Forbidden Island // Courtesy Geeky Hobbies

Oshi, which means “Push,” is a two-player competitive game that has a familiar feel to that of chess or checkers. Each player begins the game with eight game pieces of varying point values, height, and varying move capabilities. The goal is to be the first player to push seven points worth of your opponent’s game pieces off the board. Very easy to learn, difficult to master.

The Mind is a challenging cooperative game for two to four players, and involves NO COMMUNICATION AT ALL! In The Mind, you work with your team to lay down cards from your hand in a sequential order without talking or communicating in any way to signal which cards you hold. You simply stare into one another’s eyes, and play your lowest card when you feel the time is right. The game continues until someone plays a card that is not the lowest of the group, and a life is lost. The amount of players determines the amount of lives you start with. Good luck!

Forbidden Island is one of the quintessential cooperative board games of the modern era. Visually stunning and a unique experience every time, two to four players play as a team of explorers trying to uncover the treasures of a mysterious island before it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Each player has a role that provides them with a unique ability to assist the team in completing their mission as they move across the modular tiles of the island. Players must work together to keep the island afloat, capture the treasures, and leave the island before it plunges into the abyss.

With three expansions already, and more in the queue, Villainous is a purchase every Disney fan should consider. Each player takes control of a classic Disney villain, trying to complete their objectives using their unique allies and defeating their unique heroes while trying to stop their opponents from completing their objectives. While it plays up to six (and ultimately as many expansions as you want to add), this game plays best with two to four.

As many of us are doing our best to spend more time with our families during quarantine, board games provide a great “analog” respite from our ever-growing “digital” world. And if you are looking to purchase a game, consider supporting any of your local small businesses that sell board games. You might be surprised that their collection is better than Amazon’s (and believe me, I’ve checked!)

Categories: Culture, Games