Top 5 Board Games for Couples
Sometimes, it’s nice to have a date night inside at home. Perhaps the weather ruined your picnic plans, or maybe you two are both night owls. Either way, board games are a great activity to spend some quality time together. Unlike electronic activities like video games or watching a movie, playing games (especially board games) promote communication and critical thinking. Plus, they’re also just plain fun! Here are our five favorite board games for couples. We are presenting these games in no particular order, since opinions can vary from couple to couple. Here, you’ll find a mix of games competitive, cooperative, two-player, and 3+ player games. But all of these games are a pleasure with just two.
Codenames Duet is the cooperative sequel of the hit original game Codenames. Similar to the original, players take turns giving one word hints which follow guide. Then, the other player tries to guess the matching words. Of course, it’s not that simple, since there are a more words to guess than there are hints available. A player might give a hint like “liquid, 2” in the hopes that his or her partner chooses the words “bucket” and “lemonade.” Be careful though, because a bad hint might reveal the assassin card that ends the game immediately.
What makes Codenames Duet one of the best board games for couples is how it forces players to understand each other’s way of thinking. Since the words and hints are unique for each game, players have to consider how their partner handles different kinds of word associations. Literal connections, puns, synonyms, shapes, titles, idioms – anything goes in Codenames Duet. No other game will teach you how a person’s mind operates like Codenames does. And that’s what makes it so fun and memorable as a couples game.
Possible Alternative: The original Codenames, or any of its expansions. Combine the cards and rule sets for 4+ player games. Expansions include Codenames Pictures, or the themed Harry Potter, Disney, or Marvel versions. Also, 18+ versions Deep Undercover 1 and 2.0 are available.
Onitama is a two-player light abstract strategy game. Think of it like a faster version of Chess. In Onitama, players control five monks on a small grid-based map. They win the game in one of two ways. The first is by capturing the opponents master, and the second is by moving their own master onto the opponent’s temple space. Players take turns using one of their move cards to move a monk. Then, that move card is swapped with the central card. Moving a monk in the same space of an opponents captures it and removes it from the board.
Onitama is awesome because it balances simplicity and tactics so elegantly. Exchanging the move card every turn creates an interesting flow to the game. Players are constantly planning two, three, or even four moves ahead trying to out think each other. Yet at the same time, the game remains fast and simple enough to be enjoyed by even the most novice of strategy gamers. If you or your partner like strategy games, Onitama is one of the best board games for couples. Consider getting the expansions, Way of The Wind and Sensei’s Path, which add new cards and new mechanics.
Possible Alternative: Santorini is another highly acclaimed two player abstract strategy game. The game looks beautiful and is also very strategic. However, Santorini does not have any expansions – only the base game exists.
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Mansions of Madness is the most complex game in this list. In this thematic and atmospheric game, players cooperate to uncover the horrific mysteries within the cursed mansion. What’s unique about this game is that it uses a companion app (unlike the first edition) to guide players through the game. The app itself immerses the players within the game world, and also helps randomize some game events to ensure a different experience through each game. Players will need to work together to safely navigate the treacherous cursed mansion, as each step deeper into the mansion could uncover more horrific secrets.
Mansions of Madness is a serious board game for serious board gamers. While the companion app will reduce the complexity somewhat, this is still a game that requires two to three hours to fully enjoy. This is a great game to play with your partner, solo, or even with up to five players. Everything in the box is drawn beautifully and the player and monster miniatures are study and high quality. Mansions of Madness is the ultimate serious board game for couples. The game also has four expansions which add further complexity (1, 2, 3, 4) with new investigators, items, and campaigns.
Possible Alternative: If you enjoyed the Lovecraftian Horror themes, consider moving up to Eldritch Horror or even Arkham Horror. They are both phenomenal cooperative horror games. Eldritch Horror is the more streamlined version of it’s full-blown bigger brother, Arkham Horror.
Fog of Love
Fog of Love is a board game about relationships. In this game, players take on the roles of two fictional characters who fall in love and have to navigate the challenges in making a relationship work. Fog of Love is a lighthearted game which plays out like a romantic comedy, often putting players (and their fictional characters) in crazy situations. Each of the players has unique traits and goals which are hidden from the other player. Sometimes these goals align, while other times they are at odds with one another. The players step through different strange situations that affect their happiness and personality traits depending on their partner’s choices.
Fog of Love hits a really unique point in board gaming, especially for couples. The zany situations the players have to overcome will likely spark smiles and laughter against their real-life counterparts. Players are often forced to role-play as a person they know nothing about. They have to think, act, and predict, live how that person would act in all kinds of settings. This creates hilarious outcomes which lead the relationship and story down a crazy path. Fog of Love is not limited to male/female relationships either, making it a great board game for all kinds of couples.
7 Wonders Duel
7 Wonders Duel is a two-player strategy game built around the mechanic of card drafting. A squeal to the original game, 7 Wonders, Duel instead pits two players against each other in intense card-drafting and civilization building action. In 7 Wonders Duel, players take turns picking cards to construct buildings, collect resources, gain military power, or research science. Players can win in multiple ways, such as by gaining the most victory points, by achieving military dominance, or even by scientific means. Some players may feel that 7 Wonders Duel is a little on the complex side at first. But after a few rounds, players can easily finish a game within 30 minutes.
From the beginning to the end, 7 Wonders Duel always presents players with interesting choices on how to advance their civilization. One play might focus their efforts towards military, forcing the other to pick up their own military cards in defense. Another player might focus on making lots of money, propelling themselves into the late game. But be careful, that late game prowess is useless if the opponent collects some key scientific cards. There are so many different strategies and play styles, making each game against your partner deep and engaging. 7 Wonders Duel is one of the greatest board games for couples who want a more intricate game.
Possible Alternative: If 7 Wonders Duel is too complex, the “Tides of” series games are another series of two-player drafting games. Tides of Time is the original, and Tides of Madness is the Lovecraftian Horror themed sequel.
Best played with two…
As you can see, all of these make great board games for couples. We have deep strategy games like Onitama and 7 Wonders duel. Or maybe a cooperative game like Codenames Duet or Mansions of Madness is better. Perhaps the romantic love-comedy game Fog of Love is the perfect for you. Maybe get one of these to spice up your night at home – or even make it the main event. Any of these games would be welcome into any serious or casual board gamer’s collection. And all of them are loads of fun.
If you’re instead looking for games which work with more than just two people (maybe a double date), check out our other article, Top 10 Gateway Games for Families and Friends.