What’s a Great Two-Person Game?

Thanks to Dan J. in Perth, Australia for this week’s topic: What’s a great two-person game?

I know of so many great creative group games—whether it’s something like hearts or poker or a big ordeal game like Pictionary or Charades—but most of the time, we’re not with a group. More often we’re in a two-person situation—a couple, two roommates, two people traveling together, etc.—and when it comes to two-person games, there’s a shortage of well-known great options.

There are the classics, like Chess, Checkers, Scrabble,1 and Backgammon, but those rely on having certain equipment and a similar level of experience to be fun. And I often find the two-person card games I know to be kind of mindless and boring. We need more options, so let’s mine the community here. What’s the two-person game you have the most fun playing? It can be a well-known game or something you made up, and it can be a board or card game, or something totally different.

___________

Tim’s Answer: One good one I often come back to is Ghost. The disclaimer here is that Ghost is best used in a time-killer, multi-tasking situation—two people hiking, driving, cooking, etc. It’s not something you’d usually sit down together to play as the central activity. But in those multi-tasking instances, it’s a fantastic option. It’s challenging, it can still be fun with differing skill levels, and conveniently, you don’t need any equipment at all—just two humans. It’s a famous game, and there’s a good chance you’re already well-acquainted with it, but here’s how it goes:

Two people2 alternate saying a letter, and together, they begin to spell a word. The key is that you have to be working towards a real word (proper nouns and weird Scrabble words don’t count), but you can’t complete a word, or you lose. One key rule is that, at least the way I play, two and three-letter words don’t count, so the first three moves are “safe” and only on the fourth move can someone lose by completing a word. So a simple example:

Player 1: S
Player 2: Q
Player 1: U
Player 2: A
Player 1: S
Player 2: Is fucked. The only playable letter is H, and that completes a word.

When a player loses a round, they get a “G.” Then you play again (alternating which player says the first letter). When a player loses for the second time, they get an “H.” And so on, and the first person to get a G-H-O-S-T loses the game and the other player is the winner.

Another rule is that if one player doesn’t think that the last letter played by the other player creates any possible words—i.e. he doesn’t believe they’re working toward a real word anymore, he can “challenge.” When you challenge, the other player has to be able to say a real word they’re working towards. If she can, she wins the round and the challenger loses. If she can’t, she loses and the challenger wins the round. So for example:

Player 1: S
Player 2: Q
Player 1: U
Player 2: A
Player 1: G
Player 2: Challenge
Player 1: Squaggly
Player 2: Not a word. You lose.

Challenging can also be used as a trap. If you know a word your opponent doesn’t, you might lure them into challenge, especially if you kind of act all silly and resign-y when you say the last letter, and then you can say the word you have in mind and win. So:

Player 1: T
Player 2: R
Player 1: A
Player 2: I
Player 1: Is fucked. N, T, or L all complete a word, and if she’s a weirdo who knows the world traipse, she’s still fucked because she’ll say P, Player 2 will say S, and she’ll have to say E and lose. But—Player 1 does have a shot. She can say P and hope Player 2 doesn’t know the word traipse. If that’s the case, Player 2 will challenge and Player 1 will say traipse and win.

Only other unwritten rule is to not be a dick and do something like this:

Player 1: L
Player 2: L

The only possible word is llama, and it means Player 2 has an automatic win anytime Player 1 starts with an L. Rather than force all Player 1s to avoid starting with L, I just play that it’s illegal, or at least bad form, to follow an L with an L. Along those same lines, it’s a good idea not to study the dictionary too hard to find other llama-like traps, because it’s the one good way to ruin this excellent game.

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of Ghost, but I want more, and so does Dan J. in Perth—so let’s hear some ideas.

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  1. Scrabble is by far my favorite two-person game.

  2. It can be played with three or four people as well, but I think two people is more fun.

  • Sampietri

    Tic tac toe.

  • Noah

    My favorite two-person game would have to be Stratego.

  • Zach

    Uber tic-tac-toe.
    So its paper and pencil. You start off by drawing a big tic tac toe board, and then in each of the 9 squares in the tic tac toe board you drawn another tic tac toe board.
    The game starts by one player going in any one of the small tic tac toe boards. After that, players alternate going in the small board that is in the spot that the last player put there mark in. For instance, say player one decides he’s going to start in the middle board, and he chooses the bottom-middle square to put his o in. Player 2 then has to put his mark in the bottom middle square.
    If a inner-board is won, they win that entire square. If a person is directed to play in a square that is already won, they can make there move in any un-won square.
    The game is won when a player gets tic-tac-toe on the big square.

    Its a great game because it forces a ton of thinking ahead, it takes a while, and its fairly easy to do whenever- all you need is a something to write on and something to write with.

  • Hillblah

    I really like 2 player five hundred. Either as your own partner with 5 cards face down under 5 face up in front of you (flip when the one on top is used). Or just dealt for three player with a dummy hand.

  • punction

    Concentration 64! It’s more intense with only 2 people.

  • Sarah R.

    Banagrams is my current favorite two (or more) person game. It is an odd combination of playing with your self with another person, sort of like toddlers playing together. The exception is that every once in a while, or too frequently, there is a shout out that causes all players to pick more pieces. Then the players resume focus on their own “board” until there is another shout out.

    The feel of the pieces is an important aspect. Some Banagram games are made with nicely tactile heavy plastic pieces, and some come with cheesy ones with holes in the bottoms. I suspect the latter are an unlicensed knock off, or just the company trying to save some money at the expense of the players’ experience.

    • Eli Peter

      I came here to say bananagrams. All the fun elements of Scrabble, without the grueling stalemates that happen as the game wears on.

    • MSling

      Bananagrams works better with a few more than two, IMO…

  • Lubomír Bureš

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M,n,k-game

    This. Though in the Czech language, it is not a mathematic monstrosity, it is a game called ‘Piškvorky’ (pronounce like Pshkworki) and it’s played on a graph paper (or paper that was made to resemble it).

    How it is played: Players alternate and during each one’s turn, one draws one’s symbol into one of the squares (usually circles vs crosses) and the one who draws 5 symbols in a horizontal or vertical row, wins.

    • Lubomír Bureš

      Just to clarify: it is similar to tic tac toe but without board limitations.

  • marisheba

    Cribbage. You don’t need the board, just keep the point tally on a piece of paper. (You do need playing cards though). Great for whiling away time with a comfy friend over a beer.

    My sister makes it a point of having a small set of pictionary cards with her at all times, as well as a pad and paper. Insta-2-person pictionary, wherever you go.

  • DarkEnergy

    Here’s a game I made up called “I’m Thinking of a Thing”

    • Blissmariss

      Isn’t this aka 20 questions? The participants only get to ask 20 questions to guess it?

      • DarkEnergy

        Sort of. Except 20 questions is dumb. Why limit it to 20 questions? I’ve had rounds go longer than 100 questions and they’re great. Also, the part about giving 3 clues at the beginning is really interesting. You can phrase the hints in a way that doesn’t obviously give away what you’re thinking about. Also, the person thinking of the thing can give more hints if everybody else is really stuff. People don’t have to take turns asking questions either.

  • —–

    Bah. Bloodbowl game is best game. 😛

  • So many choices, so many great games. After ping-pong, chess and pool/billiards (all requiring quite a bit of stuff), caps comes to mind. Though it’s traditionally a drinking game, liquor isn’t required. Basically, all it takes is two cups (of the same size), about ten or fifteen feet of open space and a couple of bottle caps. In concept, it’s basically indoor basketball for two lazy people.

    Another great one is push-pull. All you need is two people and some open space. The concept is: two people stand facing each other, with either their left or right foot forward (both people have to agree on one foot: both left or both right). Each person has to keep the outside edge (blade) of his/her foot forward touching the other’s. The same arm (left or right) is then extended in a “blocking pose” (bent at elbow). The two players then get a rhythm going: extending and retracting that arm (pushing and pulling) very slowly and very smoothly, with the aim of finding a point where one can push the other’s arm into the other’s chest to knock the opponent off balance enough to move their locked-in foot or to grab the other’s wrist to pull the other’s arm in and down to knock the opponent off balance enough to move their locked-in foot.

    It’s a great game that also happens to teach you how to read both: another person’s weight distribution and the physical signals that lead to movement. In the end, I think push-pull trumps caps, but they’re both a lot of fun.

    • R1ckr011

      Thinking of Chu from Yu Yu Hakusho…

      • I don’t know Yu Yu Hakusho. Japanese anime?

        • R1ckr011

          Yes, and a rather good one.

  • artli

    There’s a great game to play during a boring class. My friends and I call it “Viruses”.

    You draw an 8×8 (possibly bigger) field on a piece of squared paper. Players move in turns; each move is a sequence of three valid submoves. First submove of each player is made in a corner. (For two players the corners should be opposite.)

    Each submove can be one of the two:
    1. You draw a cross of your color in a free cell.
    2. You fill a cell already containing opponent’s cross with your color. That is taking over opponent’s cross; that filled cell is called your base.
    A player that cannot move loses.

    Not every submove is valid though. A submove is valid if it’s made in a cell that is:
    1. Directly near to a cross of your color; or
    2. Directly near to your base which is active.
    A base is active if it’s placed directly near to a cross of your color or to another base of yours which is active.
    (a cell has 8 cells that are directly near)

    You may imagine that crosses are your army power sources that can unfortunately be taken over and turned into another player’s bases. And of course you can only move in cells that are in some way connected to your power sources.

    This game is quite interesting, give it a try.

  • Jason Sypsa

    A blank grid is laid out, with 100 squares. On your turn, select a line conecting any two grid points (horizontal or vertical). When a player places the last line around a square (The fourth line), he/she will capture that square, and collect 10 points. If you capture a square, you (get to / have to) go again. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

    • DarkEnergy
      • Jason Sypsa

        Exactly… didn’t realize that there was a wikipedia page or that the game had a name. Dots and Boxes fits very well, but I kind of like the variant name, Pigs in a Pen. I remember playing it back in grade school with a couple of Chinese students who spoke very little English. They taught it to me and of course beat me almost every time.

    • Valerie

      This is how my friend and I would pass time during church services growing up!

  • These two are for a long road-trip when everything else has been tried. You can play them with 2 or more people and for as long as they still provide entertainment.

    1) The license plate game. Try to form meaningful and funny connections from license plates of cars you see on the road. “CBE 735” becomes “Cryptic BEach”, “HLX 452” becomes “the Hopeless Learning eXperiment” and “TON 431” becomes “Boy, that car sure is heavy!”. The funnier the better.

    2) The word game. You pick a topic (“everything that is in the car” or “beers”) and every next word has to start with the last letter of the previous word. For “everything in the car” it can go like “Steering wheeL” -> “LubricantS” -> “SpeedometeR” -> “RadiO” -> “Original ideaS” -> “Strong desire to peE” -> etc. Take turns.

    There’s no clear goal to win, but it’s a fun way to pass time and both will make the long drive much shorter.

  • BillMontreal

    Blokus®

  • artli

    Finger jousting: http://www.fingerjoust.com/basics.htm

    You grab your partner’s hand in a special way and try to touch him with your index finger. Don’t use your other hand.
    That’s all. Super fun and warming up.
    You may come up with some restrictive rules (like not using your legs against your opponent) if you want to balance between force and agility.

    (http://pad2.whstatic.com/images/thumb/5/5f/Finger-Joust-Step-3.jpg/670px-Finger-Joust-Step-3.jpg — the way to grab hands)

    • DarkEnergy

      I’ve never seen that before. It looks very fun.

  • Harald

    Great two people card games;
    Gin Rummy.
    And my grandmothers version of “Americans”(literary translation from Norwegian)

    Deal all 52 cards in 4 piles, one with only 4 cards, rest in 3 equal piles. Two of the” big” piles are ment for the players. One each, last one is not in the game.

    You now have 16 cards, and your supposed to bet how many rounds you will win. I say 10(which mean the other person must bet between 11-16), she passes.

    Then I get to pick up the pile with 4 cards, and incorporate them if I wish. I must remove 4 cards before we begin. So I have 16 again(but probably somewhat better cards). Now I choose which sort(spades, clubs etc) is royal. I choose clubs, and put out the Ace of spades (Motorhead!). She must play a club if she has one. Or Else she can put whatever. This rule apply whichever sort is used first in the round. She puts club 3. I win round one, and must win 9 more to reach my bet.

    Some other rules;
    Royal cards(in my ex: clubs) rule, and will take down any other card (1 exepsion)

    If you put out any 2 FIRST, it will be a safe point regardless of what the other person plays out.

    If you bet 10 and loose, you get 10- points. If you win and take 13 rounds, you still get 10, because you bet 10. The other player gets whatever number of rounds she wins.

    Winner is first to 52 points! If you bet 16, and take all the rounds. You get 52 points, and win.

  • Chess

  • Blissmariss

    I still love yahtzee…best if you love to compete and add beer.

  • rebmadrid

    yahtzee is great but cribbage is king in the two person game stakes

    • Eli Peter

      My late grandpa’s favorite game. Even into his 90’s he could immediately identify the value of a hand.

    • PinkTheBush

      Amen. If you’d never played it, you’d never guess what a high it is by looking at it. Cribbage is the best.

    • IsAnyoneThere

      My dad taught us math with cribbage. It was always our family’s go-to game.
      Lost a boyfriend to it, though. He simply couldn’t handle my winning streak. :^>

  • Pepperice

    My sister and I used to share a bedroom. Our favourite game for staying up all night was what we called the one-word story game.

    It’s extremely simple. One person starts the story and you alternate each saying one word each. You can start however you like. The only way you can end the story is by saying the combination “The End.” There isn’t really a winner or loser, but you can abruptly stop the story in the middle of a sentence by saying “End” any time the other player says “The”. Or you can refuse to end the story by making their strategic “The” into a new sentence. Mostly the game is for fun, especially if you’re playing with someone who shares your sense of humour, you can end up with some hilarious situations.

  • Thea

    A popular game in Italy is “Names Things Cities”, and it can be done with as many people you want – in my opinion 5-6 people is a good number but everything works, also 2 people.
    All you need is a pen and a piece of paper for every player. Every player has to draw a chart like the one in the picture on his paper.

    The game consists in getting a letter and having to find a word that starts with that letter for each category. In the example here the chosen categories are Names, Things, Cities, Animals, Professions, Fruit but you can really chose whatever you want – States, Countries, Dogs’ races, types of vegetables, of trees, sports, brands, singers, politicians’ or scientists’ surnames… whatever you like.

    Taking turns players pick a letter – we usually let the player say “A” outloud and go on saying the whole alphabet in his head with the speed he likes, and the other one sais “stop” when he pleases and defines the letter, but you can also pick letter from a sack of pieces of paper… point is, neither player should chose the letter, it should be random.

    Then both players have to find a word for every category and the first the has one for all of them says “STOP!” and the other one is not allowed to write anything anymore – if he was writing a word he can finish it though, at least that’s what we do.

    Ex: Letter A:
    Name: Arthur
    Thing: Automobile
    City: Amsterdam
    Animal: Ant
    Profession: Astronaut
    Fruit: Apple

    When the first who’s ready says “stop” everyone reads what they’ve written and assign points for every word they got: not having a word gives 0 points, having the same one as someone else gives all people that have it 1 point, having a word that nobody else has gives 2 points. So if you have no clue it’s in your interest to try to copy, and if you’re all proud of your original word you’re sure nobody will come up with it’s in your interest not to make anyone copy.

    Eventually each player sums up the points he made during the round and writes it in the lst column. Then the next player defines the new letter and it starts all over again.

    You can decide an amount of points at which the game is finished from before, and you can put as many categories as you like! To make it more fun make sure you chose categories of things you’re interested in of course 😉

    • I love this game.

  • rKater

    One of the games we invented with my ex was karaoke challenges with Soundcloud or Shazam. It works like this: you press the “ideatify song” button and start humming or singing a song. If the app identifies correctly the song, you get a point.

    Its especially fun, if you just can’t sing anything (like me) but I was doing pretty well with the smiths.

    Yes, we are gay. :p

    • N00less Cluebie

      Why should it matter that you’re gay? Btw: if youre doing ok with the Smiths you should try some King Missle too–I doubt Soundhound would find another match for “Detachable Penis”

      • rKater

        That game has such a glee feeling. 🙂 probably bros could enjoy together as well though, you’re right.

  • marcex

    uh… Russian Roulette?

  • Dan Pope

    I used to play a (highly addictive) Chinese variation of Rock Paper Scissors with some friends from Macau (I’m English). They used to call it ‘Sa-mm-gi-sam’, but the name/pronunciation seems to vary depending on where you are, as any Chinese person I ever mention it to always starts off with a spontaneous laugh!

    The premise of the game is simple: you sit facing each other, holding both hands forward and you take turns calling out ‘zero’, ‘5’, ’10’, ’15’ or ’20’ whilst both players simultaneously show zero, 5 or 10 fingers. If the total number of fingers shown between both players adds up to the number called, the player who called it gets another turn to call. If he gets it wrong, it’s the other players turn to call. The objective of the game is to win twice in a row.

    The words which I was taught to use (again, I have probably been mispronouncing these too, as I always get laughed at again once I actually starting playing a Chinese person) were as follows:

    Zero: ‘Toy’
    5: ‘mm’
    10: ‘sa’
    15: ‘sa-mm’
    20: ‘hoy’ or ‘hoy-sa-goy’

    The skill with the game is to detect the other player’s patterns. And when you get good at it you start triggering these patterns by varying the speed, rhythm and loudness of the words.

    Note that you call and say the number on the first shake of the hands – it’s not like Rock Paper Scissors where you simultaneously shake your hands three time before going. This means that each game runs at quite high speed, with rhythm etc thereby having a big effect.

    This was usually played as a drinking game, although I learnt it drinking shots of chilli sauce instead… Yes, my friends found it hilarious watching me learn.

  • DeeDee Massey

    Senet , Mancala, Tether Ball, and Slaps

    By the way, traipsed(s)(r)(rs)(ing).

  • Holy Ferguson

    For a card game, 2 handed Spades never fails.

    • Brian Gottfried

      I have never thought of doing two-handed Spades, but that sounds incredible. Adding it to the list, thanks!

  • Sonal Krishen

    I have two favorites – name, place, animal, thing – like the one Thea mentioned. And the second one is the pen fight! 2 pens (or anything handy that you can flick), a table, the one who flicks the opponent’s pen off the table first wins.

  • Liam Coggan

    We play a great card game at school called Magic

    The aim of the game is to lose all of your cards first

    Some of the cards are magic cards…

    *2s reset the deck
    *3s you chose someone to pick up the pile
    *8s are invisible, you play off the card benieth
    *10s burn the pile, you remove the pile and it doesnt return to the game again.

    All will become clear with the explanation of gameplay…

    You deal 10 cards to each player face down and place the rest of the deck on the table. Each player then nominates three random cards without looking and places them face down, then chooses three more cards after looking at their hand and places them face up on top of the other three cards. Each player now has 4 cards left, these are the cards they will start the game with.

    Starting with the person to the dealers left, each person takes it in turn to place one or more of the same value card in a face up pile and replace the card/s by taking the top card/s from the rest of the deck (which should be face down). After every turn you should replace your cards so you have 4 cards again.

    The next player then has to place down a card/s of higher value and then top up their hand. Aces are high and low so they can be played off kings but low cards can be played off the ace.

    This process continues until someone can not have their turn because they havent got a card of high enough value and dont have any magic cards, they have to pick up the pile and continue like normal only they dont replace the cards feom their hand until they get down to 4 cards again.

    When there are no more cards in the face down deck to pick up you continue to play without replacing te cards in your hand. Once you have no cards inyour hand you start to use your 3 face up cards you nominated earlier.

    If you cant play any of the cards you have to pick up, this is why you should always put high cards and magic cards down at the beginning of the game.

    When you have no face up cards left you randomly pick a face down card to play, if you cant play it, you have to pick up the pile.

    Once you have successfully used all three of your face down cards you are out of the game (youve won).

    The 3 rule is a bit of a d*ck rule because someone can make you pick up a huge pile of useless cards, or pick up right at the end of the game as you’re about to win.

    However if someone plays a 3 and tells you to pick the pile up and you have another three, you can counter their three with yours and they have to pick up.

    Once a three has been used is is removed from play and not brought back in.

    One of the best things about this game is that you can play with two people or more and you can play with more than one deck too, that’s when things really get interesting, a game with eight 3s.

    Anyway, I hope some of you like this game as much as me and it helps pass time with your friends.

    • Adam E.

      This game is very similar to a game that was taught to my sister in law while she was in labor (crazy, I know). The main difference however, which I believe makes the game way more interesting is that in addition to cards in your hand there are six cards in front of you. Three face down and three face up. The three face down cards are unknown to everyone including you and the three face up cards are, obviously viewable by everyone.

      At the beginning of the game before the very first card is played each player may exchange any of the three face up cards with cards in their hand but once play starts the face up cards cannot be used/exchanged until a player plays all of their hand cards, then they can begin playing the face up cards and only once all of the face up cards are played can the player play the face down cards. These cards are played “blind” meaning that you don’t know what the card is until you play it. So if you flip one over to play it and it doesn’t beat the card on the pile you have to pick up the pile as well as the card you tried to play.

      There are other rule differences but essentially it’s the same game you’re describing aside from the differences I mentioned.

      • Liam Donald Fraser-Quick

        Yeah “Magic” as described here is actually one of many variants of the game “Asshole” and it’s great fun. There’s a free app of it on the Android app store (presumably the Apple store too) 🙂

  • Michael

    We used to play a lot of rummy growing up. If you have the cards, Uno is fun time filler for two or several people. We used to play a lot of 20 Questions growing up, and that one, too, is good for two or several people.

    In modern times, everybody has a computer and a smartphone, and things like this only get dredged out of the annals of history whenever there’s a service outage.

    • Brian Gottfried

      +1 for Rummy.

    • R1ckr011

      Which is fucked up considering that the potential for playing these games is unlimited now. :/

      • Michael

        When I really think about it, it dawns on me that we used to play all these games when Mom was alive, and we had family game night over at my parents’ house every Sunday. We probably developed bad associations, because family game night got ugly toward the end.

        Alcoholism.

        So much for fond memories. There are fond memories on the other side of a big stretch of shitty memories, but I’m not remembering the good times at the moment.

  • PinkTheBush

    Cribbage. Omg, cribbage. There’s nothing more exhilarating than getting a fantastic hand — maybe lots of 5s, maybe a 7-8-8-9 situation, whatever — and burning rubber all up on that board. Sadly none of my friends play it. 🙁

    • starswim

      I love cribbage. Once in a while I can get my son to play, but he prefers games with more strategy (which means he just hates to lose, and I can sometimes beat him, but he thinks that’s just luck).

    • N00less Cluebie

      For a two-player card-game, I’d suggest a German game I learned from my grandfather called Klabberjass or Bela. It’s a GREAT combination of a melding game like Rummy, with a trick-taking game like Spades. Probably takes about a half-hour to get the hang of, but a great way to pass a rainy afternoon. Check out the Wikipedia article on it for detailed rules, etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaberjass

  • i like this game where A pretends to be a seller and B pretends to be customer. But in this special store four words are forbidden: yes, no, black and white. A must try B to pronounce the forbidden words.

  • Helene

    Soooo I know this isn’t technically a “two-person game”, but believe you me, if you’re stuck staring at another person without anything to talk about or anything to do and you have access to a computer, then this is guaranteed to up the stakes to a brilliantly entertaining time.

    I’m talking about McConnelling!

    In case you don’t know what this is (and I only recently discovered it myself, a whole year behind the times, while marathoning episodes of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), here’s the gist. A year ago, Mitch McConnell released this hilarious campaign video which was basically a bunch of shots of him smiling at the camera, walking around, giving speeches and shaking hands without saying a word … for two and a half minutes. Instead there was just cheesy background music.

    So Jon Stewart discovered that you can replace the background music with pretty much anything and it’ll be tremendously entertaining: He then invited viewers to experiment with this phenomenon, creating the game #mcconelling:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH9Qsb9RSY4&feature=youtu.be

    People did try it out, a lot, and if you youtube search “mcconelling”, you’ll see tons of them. My favourite is one to the mentos ad. Then you can download the original video and play whatever you want to it – either the whole thing or just the short clip Jon Stewart used. It sounds silly, but … I can’t even tell you how much fun it is. Seriously, try it out. It’s procrastination heaven for one, and a great awkward/boring situation killer for two 😉

    • Helene

      Ah thought I’d get away with uploading the clip, but YouTube caught me in record time 🙁

  • jonathan
  • Logan Boesch

    The chain word game one person says a couple words usually 2-4 for instance Jim beam Then the next person uses the final word and makes a new one like Beam the batter,

    1. Batter up
    2. Up In Smoke
    1. Smoke Rise Mountain
    2. mountain bike
    1. Bike shop
    2. Shopping mall
    1. Mall of America
    2. America the beautiful

    And So On Until Someone can’t think of one to match and you start all over again with a new word

  • aisha

    There’s this game my friends and I call “the story game”. I’m sure it’s popular, but I’ve never heard of the actual name for it. Basically, two people (or more – any number of players works) create stories by alternating words back and forth. So if person A said “she” then player B would continue the story saying “ran” and so on!
    The added fun of not knowing what the other person is going to say leads to some pretty wild stories, and it’s a great time killer 🙂

    • N00less Cluebie

      Also fun to vary this one by giving each player 2-or-3 words at a time…

    • InjunPotato

      I’ve always known this game as being called “Cheddar Gorge”.

  • Nolesquirrel

    Cribbage is a great two person card game. It combines luck and strategy to make every game a challenge, and a lot of fun. It can also be played with four players for a fun couples date night in! 🙂

  • starswim

    Other than cribbage, already mentioned a lot here, thank goodness, I like a board game called Ticket to Ride, it is really fun and involves quite a bit of strategy and luck. It’s kind of a big investment though, as you need the base game and it’s $40.00. It is pretty much as fun with two people as it is with a bigger group, up to 5 people/teams can play. There is also an app game called Take it Easy which has gotten my teen son and I thorough many evenings at sloooow restaurants.

    • N00less Cluebie

      Ticket to ride is also available in the appstore

      • starswim

        Yeah, I tried it as an app on my phone and it was terrible: laggy and just too small. I’m tempted to try the iPad version, but I guess I just enjoy the little pieces and seeing the whole board too much. Plus it’s $6.00. But maybe I’ll try sometime. 🙂

        • N00less Cluebie

          It’s playable on the 6-plus but just barely….

    • aisha

      I love this game!

  • Jill Dicen

    Jenga!

  • IsAnyoneThere

    I always loved battleship. My brother and I used to play it endlessly. Only tools needed are paper and pencils.

  • Don Williams

    The Finger Game (version 2.0)

    If you don’t know what the regular finger game is, the rules are explained somewhere on google. THIS, however, is the better version that my friends and I play. You start by holding out both index fingers as if you were starting a regular finger game. Hold this pose until your friend sees you doing this, wherein he extends his fingers as well. Then you must stare into his eyes and dare him to make a move. After a few tense moments, one of you must yell “DRAW!” and finger-shoot your opponent multiple times, while at the same time dodging his incoming bullets.

    Most effective in public places, e.g. waiting rooms, subway, etc.

  • N00less Cluebie

    Ghost becomes even more interesting when you play it double-ended. Now each player can either add a letter to the END of the word or the BEGINING. This also solves the llama problem:

    P1: L
    P2: Ll
    P1: iLL
    P2: ILLe (thinking illegal)
    P1: hILLE
    P2: cHILLE
    P1: CHILLES
    P2: CHILLESt (loses)

    • Tim Urban

      You just blew my mind a little.

  • Adam E.

    My grandfather used to be a sailor and so killing time was something he and his friends raised to the level of an art form. I’ll share one game they came up with but he has taught our family so many.

    The game is called Hink Pink. It requires nothing but a brain and there is no limit to the number of players, and it can even be fun to play alone in silence.

    Think of two words that rhyme and have the same number of syllables. The standard example is “fat cat”. Tell your partner, or whomever you’re playing with that it is a “Hink Pink”. Or if the words are two syllables each say it’s a “Hinky Pinky”. If they’re three syllables each it’s a “Hinkity Pinkity”. Then think of a clue that you would give to help someone guess the rhyming words you’re thinking of. The standard clue for fat cat is obese feline. The real art of the game is in the clue. If it’s too easy the rhyme is guessed instantly, if it’s too hard it’s not guessed at all and that’s usually not any fun either.

    Some things to note: The clue must be given in the same order as the rhyming words. For example if I said “a feline that’s obese” then the rhyme that I would be thinking of would be “cat fat”. Usually the rhyme makes sense but it is not required to. Also, it’s important to keep accent in mind when thinking of rhymes. I play this game with a lot of English speakers from various countries, Australia, England, South Africa, and words that Americans rhyme are not always rhymes when said with a different accent.

    Lastly I’ll leave you with a clue. Hopefully someone posts the answer in the comments, this one’s easy.

    Hink Pink (1 syllable per word)

    “A cordial female”

    • N00less Cluebie

      Pal gal?

      How about another Hink Pink:
      Mr. Urban’s caprice

      • Adam E.

        Close but no cigar… The word for female is somewhat outdated and isn’t used much any more.

        As for Mr. Urban’s caprice, could it be Tim’s whims?

        • DeeDee Massey

          Warm marm?

          • Adam E.

            Another excellent guess. The answer I was looking for, but by no means is the only good answer was tame dame.

            • DeeDee Massey

              I started to say that, too!

    • jchthys

      Try “a biased craftsman” (hinkety pinkety)

      • Dave Gude

        partisan artisan.

        try “artisans’ beams” (hinky pinky)

        • Crafters’ rafters.

          Try “rafters’ joint.” (Hink pink)

          • Adam E.

            Oh man, this is getting technical. Well done!

          • N00less Cluebie

            Tar bar

            Try “bar blimp” (hinky pinky)

          • Dave Gude

            Beam seam?

            • Excellent! I meant to make my clue plural (rafters’ jointS) for a plural answer (beams’ seams).

    • This may well be my new favorite game. Thanks for sharing!

  • N00less Cluebie

    Another favorite of mine was developed by spending time with my Jewish relatives who refuse to answer a question without asking another one.

    I call it Verbal Tennis:
    Each player must answer a question with another question or lose a point. Questions may not be repeated

    P1: would you like to play Verbal Tennis?
    P2: are you offering to play?
    P1: why would I ask if I wasn’t?
    P2: how should I know why you do anything?
    P1: isn’t it obvious that when someone asks if you like to play a game that they want to play it?
    P2: what do you mean by “obvious”?
    Etc….

    • DeeDee Massey

      (3 hours later)
      P1: What was the question?

      • N00less Cluebie

        P2: Don’t you remember?

        • Alex Mac

          P1: Are we even supposed to remember the question this late in the game
          ?

          • N00less Cluebie

            P2: who asked you???

        • DeeDee Massey

          Remember what?

          • N00less Cluebie

            Are you even playing this game?

            • DeeDee Massey

              What game?

            • N00less Cluebie

              Didnt I explain the rules at the beginning of this thread?

            • DeeDee Massey

              Can you state them again?

            • N00less Cluebie

              Why don’t you just scroll up?

            • DeeDee Massey

              Scroll up to where?

            • N00less Cluebie

              Omg, must I do EVERYTHING?

            • DeeDee Massey

              Would you like to just call it a draw?

            • N00less Cluebie

              Did you know this game works even better when it’s done live and you’re more likely to screw up?

            • DeeDee Massey

              What would be the fun in that when I can post ad nauseam online with my AI robot until you just give up (or Tim boots us off)? 😀

            • N00less Cluebie

              Did you just pass the Turing test???

            • DeeDee Massey

              Turing down for what?

            • N00less Cluebie

              Would you agree that it is way too hard to make someone slip up when they have minutes (hours) to compose a response rather than the seconds one has in a face-to-face game?

            • DeeDee Massey

              Is there a time limit?

  • Nick

    “Would you rather…”

    Everyone knows would you rather. One person lays out two options (usually undesirable) and the other chooses which one they would rather do. Eg-

    P1: Would you rather break your toe or give a hand job to a truckie?
    P2: Are there people watching?
    P1: Yes.
    P2: I’d rather break my toe.

  • kiki

    judging people on the street

  • Eric Salyers

    There are a TON of great 2 person board games that have come out over the last 15 years. Roll Through the Ages, Carcassonne, Netrunner, Dominion, Hive, and so many more… Check out this list on board game geek: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/164769/best-two-player-husbandwife-games

    • Dave Pawlowski

      Agricola. Best 2 player game in my opinion. Though it does require gear- the board game or there is a great iOS app. Best with players of similar abilities though.

      • MSling

        Absolutely. Haven’t even bothered with the ‘special’ two-player version they released more recently because the base game is so excellent with two.

  • Nebob

    Ascension!

  • Claudia Weiss

    I like Koi-Koi, it’s a Japanese card game played with the super beautiful Hanafuda cards. Can be a little intimidating at first, but it’s so much fun and great to play with two people.

  • Fiel

    Regarding the classics there is obiously Go. Renju is another good option.

    As for modern games the good light games include Jaipur, Jambo and Morels (aka Fungi).

    On the heavier side there I would recommend Twilight Struggle plus some excellent wargames such as Napoleon’s Triumph, Guns of Gettysburg and Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan.

    • Bred

      You just named some of my all time favorite board games. Any chance you live near Chicago?

      • Fiel

        Sorry. Vienna, Austria. But it was worth a try:)

  • chendaddy

    Keeping the theme of games to play as a secondary activity with no other props needed, I always play Categories. It’s even easier than Ghost. You can do it one-on-one, but more people make it more fun.

    Basically, you pick a category–American Presidents, Simpsons characters, candy bars, movies with a black lead actor, second-division European football teams–as broad or as esoteric as you like (though it’s obviously only fun if everyone playing is familiar enough with the category to have a chance). Each player has a time limit to name something in the category until someone can no longer come up with anything. At that point, we usually stop and make that person say or do something embarassing (or drink), but you could technically keep going until there’s only one winner left standing. Just so the same person doesn’t keep losing, we always let the loser pick the next category.

    Especially if you’re going one-on-one, the strategy isn’t to name all your items arbitrarily but rather to try to name things that you know your opponents are probably likely to use. And then it’s a lot of mental tricks to come up with your next answers after you’ve already exhausted all the ones that come to you automatically.

    There’s also a challenge involved. If you think someone is making up an item, you can challenge. Then we break out the cell phones. If that person is caught making up something, then they must say or do two embarassing things. However, if you challenged incorrectly and the challenged actually named a legitimate answer (whether intentionally or not), you the challenger must say or do three embarassing things. On the other hand, if the game has moved on and someone else has named something after the answer you thought was fake, you can no longer challenge and the potential liar gets away with it.

    Bonus second game that’s extremely similar game and more limited but fun for movie buffs. The first person names a movie. Then the next person names another movie that featured someone who acted in the previous movie, and so on. Challenges become more interesting in that game, and I don’t think this game can exist without access to IMDB.

  • Rachel

    We often play a game called ‘celebrities’ on long car journeys. Basically, someone starts with a famous person’s name, eg Elvis Presley, then the next person has to say a name that starts with the first letter of the previous persons surname, which would be ‘p’ (for Presley) in this example. So they might say Pete Townsend. So the next person could say Truman Capote etc etc until someone gets stuck. if you’re playing with more than 2 people, a double letter name like Tina Turner changes the direction of play. Of course, it helps if you’re playing with someone who’s of a similar vintage, and who isn’t a football fanatic, otherwise they spend the whole game naming obscure footballers from the 1950s who no one has ever heard of. Sigh.

  • Glowing Monkey

    Rory’s Story Cubes are pretty neat: https://www.storycubes.com/. Another idea is Solo (by Piatnik) – I have the card game, not the board game, but this was the only link I could find in English http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3347/solo, all of the other search results seem to be in Romanian or Hungarian.

  • Sir G Spellalot

    Hi,

    what do you think about #SirSpellalot Android App? It’s a word puzzle game for 2 (atm) where you have a 25 random letter matrix to pick up a word (as a start just in German). Unlike the other word search games, you have to think of a word and pick it, you don’t have to search for a hidden word! You can play alone (3 minutes, 20 drafts) or with others online at a 5 round battle.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sirspellalot.app.android

    Cheers, SirSpellalot

  • Kurnia Jayanto

    I’ll like to present you my chilhood games.. The games calles “The Paper Tank Battle”

    You will need :
    1. One piece of paper
    2. A pencil or pen

    Step 1:
    Draw a line in the middle of the paper so the line will separating the paper in two part of the same size

    Step 2:
    Each of you draw 10 tank (looks from aboved) and 10 soldier (looks from above to) in each part of the paper, so imagine you see a battlefield from birds eye..

    Step 3:
    BEGIN THE WAR!
    How?
    You shoot those tank or person on the other part of the field.
    How you do the shoot?
    Folded up the paper right in the middle line so the blank part of the paper will show up, now draw small black circle on the blank paper part of your enemy so thick that it will leave a mark on the other part of the paper..

    Step 4 :
    Open up the folded paper, and now look at your enemy part, if you “bullet” shows up at the tank or the soldier, cross that tank or soldier.

    Step 5 :
    Your enemies will take turn and fire up the “bullet” at your part of the paper (refer to step 3)

    Step 6:
    The games finished when one of you can eliminated all the soldier in your opponent part.

    Have fun guys! :))

  • RJ Reynolds

    Not sure what this is called, but it’s two-players and very fun for a pass-time. The object of the game is to get two people to say the same word simultaneously.

    1.Each person thinks of a word.
    2. They both clap together three times, then each person says their word simultaneously.
    3. After hearing the other person’s word, each person repeats steps 1&2 and tries to say a word tying these two words together.
    4. Repeat until both people say the same word.

    Ex:
    Players 1&2: *clap clap clap*
    1: Spaghetti
    2: Cup
    *Clap clap clap*
    1&2: Kitchen.

    Rarely if ever is the game as short and simple as the above example, but it’s a lot of fun trying to guess at someone’s train of thought and align your own (often overshooting each other in the process). Although, there was one instance where a friend and I both said “Cartoons” on the first go.

    • RJ Reynolds

      I should note: you’re only tyingntogether the two words from the previous round, not the whole subset. So if the initial combo is “Spaghetti/Can” and the next is “Sharks/Lasers,” the previous combo is thrown out. You’re not forced to think up whatever subset links all of those together.

      • Da_Ryanmeister

        Thank you so much for putting this game man. IT IS SO AWESOME! I just played with my friends for like 2 hours.

  • Barry

    I whiled away many long bus trips with a friend with Strategy War (a game of my own devising using a deck of cards).

    It’s exactly like regular war, but you are allowed to look at all cards in your hand and choose which card you play for a round. You don’t collect the cards from a your won rounds until all your current hand is spent. Wars (when both players choose the same number to play) are played randomly by selecting cards from your opponents current hand unseen.

    It’s a long game, but ends up becoming a psychological assessment of your opponent, and basic card counting. It’s both intense enough to occupy your thoughts, and simple / rythmic enough to maintain a conversation. It doesn’t require speaking, which is nice at night in public places.

    • R1ckr011

      Is there a term for the ‘”selection”-process’ type games? I actually would put Poker in this as well because you have to decide what it is the other person has in their hand and play accordingly

  • Audrey

    One of my favorites is “Cows and Bulls” (or Cats and Dogs, or Shamrocks and Leprechauns or whatever other variation you please) : each person writes down a four-digit number, with no repeating digits. Then the players take turns guessing the other person’s number. If one player guesses a correct digit, but it is not in the right spot, this is a “Cow”; if there is a correct digit in the correct spot, this is a “Bull”. After each guess, the other player says how many Cows and/or Bulls were in the guess. For example:
    P1 wrote the number 1234; P2 wrote 9876.
    P1: 9463.
    P2: One cow, one bull. 3294.
    P1: One cow, two bulls.
    And the game continues until one or both of the players guess the correct number. If you want to mix up the game, you can write a five-digit number or allow repeating digits.

  • A Random College Student

    So this was literally on my summer to do list!

    Here’s a compilation of all the “conversation games” I collected. Many of them say they can be played with an unlimited amount of players, but you can also do most of them as 2 player games
    My personal favorite is the last one “Mind Meld” and also “21”which is nearish to the end

    Twenty
    Questions (unlimited) (I’m sure everyone knows this one, but I swear they get better as you read on)

    One player thinks of a noun
    Other players have 20 yes/no questions to
    guess the noun

    Would You Rather…
    (unlimited)
    One player poses two equally
    dreadful/good/strange scenarios to the other players
    Other players must choose between them and
    explain why

    What Are They Thinking?
    (unlimited)

    ·
    One player points to a random person in
    the room
    Other players must guess/make up random things
    about that person

    Ex. What they’re thinking, feeling; their
    occupation, mood, etc.

    Verbal Tennis
    (unlimited)

    Players must carry out a conversation only
    in questions
    Players who make statements lose; no
    repetition allowed

    Essence
    (unlimited)

    One player thinks of a mutual friend of
    the group members
    That player, in persona, then answers
    random questions from the other players
    Questions should be creative—Ex. What
    animal would they be?

    Marry, Kiss, Cliff (unlimited)

    In turn, players choose a group of three
    people (in the room or not)
    Other players choose which member of the
    group they would marry, which they would kiss, and which they would push off a
    cliff

    Alphabet Game
    (unlimited)
    Players =have a conversation, making their way through the alphabet
    In turn, beginning with A, each player’s
    sentence must begin with the appropriate letter; those who speak wrongly lose

    Ex. Player 1—“All I think about these
    days are zebras.”

    Player 2—“But what about giraffes?”

    Player 3—“Can’t you distract yourself
    from them?”

    Player 4—“Doing so is impossible.”

    Etc.

    I’m thinking of a…
    (unlimited)

    One player thinks of something: Ex.
    Carnation
    They then say, “I’m thinking of a flower”
    Each other player has one guess to
    identify the chosen thing
    If a player guesses correctly, they earn a
    point; if no one guesses correctly, no points are earned
    Play then moves on—the next player chooses
    something new

    Categories
    (unlimited)

    One player thinks of a category—Ex. Dog
    breeds, blonde jokes, etc.
    In turn, each player states something from
    that category
    Players who hesitate too long lose

    Book, Movie, Song
    (unlimited)

    One player chooses a topic: Ex. Whales

    Other players take turns naming books,
    movies, and songs involving the topic

    Ex. (topic: Whales) Moby Dick, Free Willy, Pinocchio

    Famous or Fiction
    (unlimited)

    Players decide whether they will use
    famous people or fictional characters
    The first player chooses a name—“Harry
    Potter”
    The next player chooses another character
    whose first name begins with the first letter of the character’s last name
    (“P”)

    Ex. 1—Harry Potter, Peeta Mellark,
    Maleficent, Tiny Tim, etc.
    Ex. 2—Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney,
    Marilyn Monroe, etc.

    Players who hesitate to long are out

    Rhyming Game
    (unlimited)
    One player thinks of a word—Ex. “pig”
    That player then says, “I’m thinking of a
    word that rhymes with fig.”
    Other players guess words by describing
    them

    Ex.—Player 2: “Is it something you do with
    a shovel?”

    —Original Player: “No, it’s not ‘dig.’”

    Play continues until the word is guessed;
    the successful guesser picks the new word

    Butterfly or Bumblebee
    (unlimited)

    Players alternate asking other players to
    choose which random things they are more like

    The other player must choose one and
    explain why

    Ex. “Are you a chair or a
    blackberry?” “Are you a leaf or a tree?”

    One Word Story
    (unlimited)

    Players tell a story , each adding one
    word at a time
    Can also be altered so that each person
    adds an entire sentence
    In another version, players retell a
    traditional fairytale one word at a time

    Road Toad (unlimited)

    One player thinks of two rhyming words—Ex.
    “road toad”
    They then pick synonyms for the word,
    which they tell the other players—Ex. “street frog”
    Players must then guess the original words

    21 (unlimited)

    Players count up to 21 in turn, over and over again

    When a player reaches 7, 14, or 21, they
    pick another number to rename
    For example, when a player says 7, they
    also rename 4, “tulip”
    From then on players must replace 4 with “tulip”
    Play goes around until all numbers have
    been renamed

    Categories by Alphabet
    (unlimited)

    Players choose a category—Ex. Harry Potter
    In turn, they then name things from the
    category in alphabetical order

    Ex.—Albus Dumbledore
    —Barty Crouch
    —Charms

    Sausages
    (unlimited)

    One player is IT
    In turn, other players ask questions to
    IT—Ex. “What did you blow out of your nose this morning?”
    In all seriousness, IT can only respond
    with “sausages”
    The goal of each player is to create a
    question that makes IT laugh, if they laugh then the player who asked the
    question is IT

    “No”
    (unlimited)

    Players attempt to get other players to
    say “no”
    If a player says “no” the player, the
    player who catches it earns a point, and the offending player loses a point
    The player with the most points wins; in
    an alternate version, the player who lasts the longest without saying “no” wins
    “No” can also be replaced with “yes”

    100%
    (unlimited)

    Players take turns telling either
    something 100% true or 100% false about themselves
    Other players must guess whether or not it is true
    Players who guess correctly receive a
    point

    Ranking and Negotiation
    (unlimited)

    One player creates a scenario—Ex.
    Traveling to the moon/a desert island; trapped in a bathroo
    They also choose a maximum number of
    objects to bring—Ex. 2/3
    Other players must pick the items they
    would bring and explain why

    Music
    (unlimited)
    One player chooses a word
    The next player must think of a song the
    uses the chosen word—they can sing the part with the word in it if they like
    They then pick a new word from the song
    they came up with
    The next player repeats the same steps
    with the new word

    Fortunately, Unfortunately (unlimited)
    Players tell a story one sentence at a
    time, in turn
    Sentences alternate beginning with
    “fortunately” and “unfortunately”

    Name Sentence
    (unlimited)

    Each player thinks of a sentence using
    each letter of their full name as the first letter of each word in the sentence
    The sentence must make sense
    Other words can also be used in place of
    names

    Existential Rock, Paper, Scissors
    (2 players)

    Players replace traditional “rock, paper,
    scissors” with random nouns (shark, baseball bat, chocolate)
    They must then argue over who wins

    Breakfast Combo
    (2 players)

    One person picks something specific—Ex.
    Trail mix, King Kong

    There are two response patterns:

    —It’s more like Y than anything I’ve heard
    so far

    —It’s more like X than Y, but like Y
    ________.

    ·
    Ex. You pick “sushi”

    A—Other player: “Is it a bathroom?”

    A—You: “It’s more like a bathroom than
    anything I’ve heard so far.”

    A—OP: “Is it a glue stick?”

    A—You: “It’s more like a bathroom than
    anything I’ve heard to far, but like a glue stick, it fits in the hand

    Players will end up having to find
    similarities between completely unrelated things

    Mastermind (2
    players)

    One player picks a five letter word—Ex.
    “paper”

    Other players guess five letter words—Ex.
    “quite”

    —For this example, the
    first player would say “0,” as in, none of the letters in “quite” are the same letters in the same position as
    “paper”

    —If other players guessed
    “pipes,” the first player would respond with “2,” as two letters of “pipes”
    (p_p_ _) are in the same place as in the word “paper”

    Play continues until the word is guessed

    Players can be limited to a certain number
    of guesses

    Opposites (2
    players)

    Players ask each other for the opposite of
    things that have no natural opposites

    Ex. “What is the opposite of a
    pufferfish?”

    Feelings
    (2 players)

    Two players alternate tracing messages on
    each other’s backs
    Players must then guess the message
    Single words work best
    This is also a great excuse to get other people to rub your back

    Mind Meld
    (2 players)

    Two players choose a word
    They then think of the first word that
    comes to mind related to the word

    On 3, both players say their word
    They then put their 2 words together

    They think of a new related words, and on
    3, say them aloud again

    Play continues until both players say the
    same word

    ·
    Ex.
    Ceiling fan

    Player 1:Blade
    Player 2:Air

    Bladeair

    1: Sword
    2: Slice

    Swordslice

    1: Ninja
    2: Knife

    Ninjasamurai

    1: Japan
    2: Asia

    Japanasia

    1:Earth
    2:Earth

  • Scott Pedersen

    Twenty Questions (Total Bastard Rules):
    Player one doesn’t think of anything in particular
    Other player(s) ask yes/no questions
    Player one answers whichever way seems most interesting
    This alternate rule set works best if the other player(s) think they’re playing twenty questions standard rules.

  • wobster109

    I like “French Toast or Karl Marx”. I think of something, for example a cat, and then I say “it’s more like Karl Marx than French toast”. Then you replace French toast with another guess, for example you’d say “is it more like Karl Marx or a reindeer?” I’d say “it’s more like a reindeer”. Now Karl Marx gets replaced, so next round you might say “is it more like a reindeer or a snowman?” Ends when you guess the thing I’m thinking.

    • Zach

      That is sufficiently silly to be awesome

  • Peter Gaber

    Well… Go. Go is one of the oldest still played games, so aesthetic, organic, deep, simple, yet complex, strategic yet human, I see no other game being its proper rival, not even Chess. Give Go a try and you might love it for life.

  • Dane Harrington

    I enjoy playing this game when out in crowded spaces such as bars or parks. The first person picks someone out in the crowd and it’s the goal of person 2 to tell the identified person’s life story using only his or her imagination and clues determined from watching that person’s interactions. It gets particularly interesting when the person is in a mixed gender group and elaborate love triangles start to form.

  • mikefan

    Sorry I’m late to the game. My all-time favorite is the Ghost variant mentioned here which we called “Super Ghost.”

    Here are a couple of games that can be played on graph paper.

    “Five-in-Row” is just tic-tac-toe where the goal is to get five in a row. At Chinese family camp, the kids would play in on Go boards.

    For “Race Track” draw a race track on a sheet of graph paper. The end of the track does not need to coincide with the start. The width of the track should not be constant. The curvier the better. It’s better with relatively fine-grained graph paper. Draw a finish line at the end of the course and two dots to indicate the two cars at the start of the course.

    At the start of the game, the velocity of each car is (0,0). The players take turns. For each turn the velocity can increase or decrease one unit or stay the same in the x and y direction. The then move their car to the new location based on the velocity. The object is to cross the finish line without crashing into a wall. My buddy Allan and I wasted many hours playing this in physics class in high school.

    • Lemphek

      >Five-in-Row” is just tic-tac-toe where the goal is to get five in a row. At Chinese family camp, the kids would play in on Go boards.

      it’s known as 五子棋 (wǔzǐqí) in Chinese for anyone interested

  • Jonathan Wells

    Imaginary Hide and Seek
    It’s a lot like twenty questions, except you think of a place somewhere in the universe you are hiding. You can also be any size, so that makes it more difficult. The other players try to guess where you are hiding by asking yes or no questions. It’s funny if you share the same sense of humour, because for example you could be hiding in the beard or underpants of someone you all know. Also because we were travelling, we had a lot of shared memories of places. We saw a dead dog floating in a river with a rat snacking on it, and of course when we played the game, someone chose to hide on the dead dog, to everyone’s disgust.

  • Brad Moore

    Apples to Apples is a great two person game, with an instructional rule change.

    Both players pick 7 cards. Alternate judge and player role

    judge: selects 1 descriptive card (adjective)

    non-judge-role player: selects 1 pronoun-thing card to play for judge, along with his 1 card he selects 3 other cards randomly selected from the deck as “played cards”. For added trust, have the player write down his selected/played card

    now the judge has 4 cards from which to choose – 25% chance of selecting the other players card

    add more randomly selected cards to the played card, to decrease the odd for the judge

  • Devon Norvell

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned it (or maybe they did, I scanned very briefly) but Carcassone! It’s a medieval puzzle game where you take turns laying down tiles to build cities, roads, or farms & collect points based on savvy allocation of character pieces. Since the pieces are ever-changing, every game is different, it’s challenging sober or very funny drunk, also great for shit-talking if you’re into that (which come on, who isn’t). Get it!

  • Georgia

    My favourite game to play on long car rides, or even next to my partner in bed being silly before we fall asleep, is “The Alphabet Game”.

    You nominate a letter of the alphabet, and take it in turns each saying a word starting with the letter; any English word in the dictionary is OK, no proper nouns, no repetition etc.

    The game continues until a player can no longer think of a word starting with the letter. Try it, it’s fun!

  • shootdrawwrite

    Your six-year-old may or may not love these.

    Heads and Tails. After a count of one-two-three in unison, both players simultaneously shout out either heads or tails. One player scores a point on a match (e.g. both players say heads), the other on a mismatch. You can play to a predetermined score or play out an extended campaign of head-to-head mental domination.

    Detective. Player 1 observes a scene for 10 (or 3 or 60) seconds, then closes their eyes. Player 2 asks questions about the scene that player 1 must answer from memory. We keep it to 3-5 questions to alternate turns faster and keep answer review time down. This can scale down to a tabletop. The “scene” can also be a single object, with questions about its visible properties; ask the player to estimate its size using their hands. Questions can be basic or ridiculous.

    Change The Word. Start with a 3-5 letter word. Each player changes a letter to create a new word and must announce it by using it in a sentence. Try writing a story that weaves through each new word. Also, try the Speed variant, with no sentences.

  • Billy

    “Cavalier” is a two person game,
    from Games People Play by Dr. Eric Berne

    Poet: “See how good I can make you feel”
    Appreciative Subject: “My, but you make me feel good”

    I can’t explain it the way Dr. Berne does. It doesn’t require anything but creativity and tact.

  • Ecoecon

    Board games – obviously requiring you to buy them
    Dominion – even better with expansions

    Catan – modify the rules for 2 people (my wife and I say your first 2 placements cannot be on 6 or 8 and everyone starts with 1 of everything in addition to their normal hand)

    Card games
    Battle solitaire (or speed solitaire or double solitaire) – 2 people each start their own solitaire game next to each other. Use the draw 3 rule for your stack but you can play on either person’s board. First one with all of their cards out of their hand (does not need to be on the A’s) wins. Much faster paced and rarely hits a dead end.

    Homemade Board game for 2-4 people
    5 Across – goal is to get 5 in a row. Take a large piece of paper. Put a 10×10 grid on the paper with each square large enough to fit a quarter in it. Starting in the lower right hand corner write 100 and in the box to the left 99 working your way in a spiral until you reach 1 in the center. Get flash cards or something roughly the size of a business card, write the numbers 1-100 on them. Get 2 sets of 50 coins (or any thing really, rocks, buttons, poker chips (if small enough or your board is big enough). Shuffle the cards and draw 5. You can never have more than 5 cards in your hand. Alternate turns and on your turn either place your piece on the number or any number higher until someone has 5 in a row, or draw a new card. 1 is the best card because it can go anywhere. 100 sucks because it can only go on 100. A good mix of strategy, luck and deception as you try to build your way to 5 in a row and the other person tries blocking or create their own chains.

    Educational Games
    3D Tic-Tac-Toe (advanced spatial reasoning) – draw 3 normal boards. Imagine the 3 boards are on top of each other creating a cube. Play tic tac toe but your 3 in a row have to touch each of the 3 boards. You do not win if your 3 in a row are only on one board. (Fair warning, this can be hard even for some adults so kids might get frustrated. I loved it though.)

    Math Uno (add, subtract, multiply, divide) – used on me as a kid to practice my math without me realizing it. Play Uno but allow for these Math operations to stack cards. For example, someone plays a Draw 2 (worth 20 points), if it is my turn and I have 5 cards I can use math to get rid of as many as possible. Let’s say I have 2, 5, 6, 7 and a wild. I could play my 2, say times 7 playing my 7 is 14 plus 6 is 20. The last card played is the only one that matters. I could have also said Wild (worth 50) divided by 2 is 25 minus 5 is 20. The wild gets lost and only the 5 remains as played but I did get to get rid of many cards. (Once your kid gets smart enough to learn that he/she can take 80 cards times 0 plus whatever you just played and win, you might have to implement the no multiply by 0 rule. But let them figure it out for first.)

    Car game
    What Am I? (also funny if you’ve had a little too much to drink or too much sugar as a kid) – a bit like charades but as long as you don’t speak you’re ok. Think of something (the more outlandish and abstract the better and the more specific the better. think poppy not flower or pygmy marmoset rather than just monkey.) then try to act like that thing making whatever sounds you think it might make. It gets even better if you don’t know what sound it makes. Like a duck billed platypus. The person guessing should ask probing questions that also get the person to act even more ridiculous, like what sound would it make if (insert ridiculous scenario here) or how would it react if… No score keeping. Just laughing.

    (My parents turned off my cable for 8 years while I was growing up. Games are my jam.)

    • Natasha

      The 2-player version of Catan is called “Rivals for Catan,” and it’s great. Much better than the group game, in my opinion.

      Also, Targi is a fantastic 2-player board game, as is Battle Line.

  • Pete

    Nice topic. My wife and I were looking for a board game that would be fun for just the two of us to play. The one we came across was Contagion. The best part was that it is a cooperative game. Works out nicely when you don’t want to upset your significant other on date night by being too competitive.

  • R1ckr011

    A famour Game I’ve never heard of lol!

    Very cool :3

  • MSling

    As someone else pointed out, lots of two-player-specific board games are available – check BoardGameGeek.

    A few of our favourites are:

    – shorter games: Lost Cities, Balloon Cup, Jaipur
    – longer games: Memoir ’44 (the very best, if there’s time to set it up!), A Few Acres of Snow

    There are also some multi-player games that work well for two – Alhambra, Carcassonne, Agricola.

  • TZalewski

    3 dimensional tic tac toe. Each board is 4×4. You scribble down 4 of these 4×4 boards…. Making a cube. Now make a line that goes through the cube.

  • MiyuEinzbern

    First I need to find a being who’s willing to waste his/her/its time with me doing this.

  • Robert

    I made up a card game it’s called count the cards so ok first you get a pack of cards then give each person 7 cards then you count them up and who ever has the biggest number at the end wins its fun for kids and adults and helps kids with there adding

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