by Andy Arsenault
Two-player games are an important niche to fill in any gamer's repertoire. Many boardgames claim to be playable with two, while in reality gameplay with two is... disappointing. Some games, however, really do scale down well for a pair of gamers, including Splendor, Lanterns, Century: Spiced Road, Takenoko and Carcassonne. These games are able to maintain their balance, theme and strategy while still playing smoothly without the use of imaginary third players or altered rules.
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But why limit yourself - there are many great board games out there designed specifically for two players. Patchwork, Jaipur, and Hive, for example, really shine when it comes to well balanced rules that leave you with only your wits to pull out a victory and for that reason they are some of my favourites.
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Other two-player games, such as Mr. Jack and Raptor, embrace unbalance with asymmetrical gameplay. In these games, each player had a unique set of abilities and win conditions. I especially enjoy asymmetrical games, as once you've played them once it's a lot of fun to switch sides and go through the game and you don't even need to re-learn the rules!
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Remember, having only two-players doesn't mean you only options are Battleship and Guess Who! There are a ton of fantastic two-player games out there, and they will always have a place on my shelf.