As Valentines Day approaches(it's next Tuesday as of the date of posting), our thoughts naturally turn to candlelight dinners, chocolate, and the one we love. Well, not so much in my case, but there is hope for the future. Consider this my top 7 games I'd like to play with my wife someday. I'm going to go with games that play well as 2 player, but not necessarily games that only play 2 player.
First off, some honorable mentions, but ones that didn't make it due to lack of a widely appealing theme, or me not knowing the game enough - Small World, Eminent Domain and Lost Cities.
#7 Mr. Jack
Mr. Jack is a back and forth puzzle and deduction game. It's also a 2 player only game, so the game is balanced for that. With game time around an hour, this isn't a brain burner, and it's pretty fun to pull out every so often.
Carc works really well as a 2 player game. It's a simple matter of outscoring one opponent, and using tiles to either help yourself, or make life harder on your opponent. If you take that to an extreme, you end up in trouble, but the occasional block should be fine.
#5 10 Days in _____
This is a full series of games in different locations. I've yet to play it myself, but everything I've seen and read about it makes it fit this list perfectly. It's all about planning a travel route in a manner similar to Rack-O. You're dealt an opening set, but you have to draw new tiles to make adjacent countries connect, or use cars and airplanes to travel to non-adjacent countries. It looks like a lot of fun, and who knows, you might just plan your next vacation this way.
Repeat after me, "This is not a weeknight game" Now, some may disagree with me, but after a long day of work, I don't know anyone who wants to sit down and play a 1-2 hour game. True, 2 player is the fastest way to play the game, but still, there's a lot of planning to this game, and every move has to matter. With that kind of cause and effect, it feels too much like work, and not the best way to relax on a weeknight. That being said, it does make an excellent Friday night or Saturday game. Lots of back and forth, tons of options, and you have the ability to take what you need and perhaps block your opponent from what they need.
This takes #3 in my book because it's has a lot of variety, and is quick to play. If you or your partner don't care for the attack cards, don't play with them. Don't like a certain card, change it out. The goal is to make it fun for both players. If you find that one of you wins all the time, try starting with 2 estates and a curse instead of 3 estates. Dominion is all about cards and coming up with a good strategy. There isn't a ton of thought required once you know the game and all the cards, but that can take awhile. Still, for a 20-40 minute two player game, it's hard to go wrong.
#2 Ticket to Ride
I'm specifically thinking Nordic Countries since the board artwork is great, but any Ticket map would probably work well. Depending on the map and the tickets, TtR can be a mostly friendly game or a brutal block-fest. I think both ways can be fun, and as long as your sig-other remembers that this is just a game, I think it's a great game to play with 2 or more people.
#1 Forbidden Island
I excluded Pandemic since they are similar games as noted in my review of the two. Forbidden Island is a great 2-player game. The theme makes it accessible, and there's nothing better than teamwork for a relationship. It's relatively quick, which makes it easy to play on a weeknight after dinner, and it doesn't require too much thought, which makes it the perfect game to play with your significant other.
I hope this list inspires you to sit down and play more games with your significant other. It's a great way to bond, and a lot cheaper than dinner out and a movie!