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Games to Play with your Partner on International Tabletop Day

Games to Play with your Partner on International Tabletop Day

International Tabletop Day is coming, and if you’re like me you’re already thinking about what to play. We’ve covered games to play with kids and space operas that take all day, but today we’re talking about games for two. These small-box games are all $25 or less, but don’t let the size fool you. They’re favorites in my house because of how deep, strategic, and even a little mean, they can be.


jaipurNo two player game has seen more table time in my house than Jaipur. A devilishly simple game of trading goods in an Indian bazaar, Jaipur pits you and your opponent against each other as rival merchants. Each player has a hand of cards with a strict hand size and a pile of camels. Between the players sits a trade row of public cards. The goal is simple: earn two Seals of Excellence in a best-of-three series of games to win an invite to the court of the Maharaja.

To do this, players add cards from the center to their hand to build sets of various trade goods. Leather, spices, and gold are among the goods available at the market and the sooner you sell the more points you earn. However, there are benefits to hoarding goods. If you can manage to sell 3 or more goods at once you’ll earn valuable bonus tiles. The catch here is that collecting goods is not as simple as it seems. If you just want one single card you can just take it; if you want multiple cards from the center row at once-say 3 valuable gold cards-then you have to replace them with cards from your hand or your stash of camels.

Timing when you take multiple cards or when you take all the camels and replace them with fresh cards from the deck is where the strategy comes in. There’s a delicate push and pull to Jaipur, not unlike an actual negotiation, that awards victory to the person who adeptly manages to give up a little only to take a lot more.

Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft

Raise your hand if one of your favorite parts of Sherlock is watching the verbal repartee between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Mark Gatiss’ Mycroft. Keep ’em up, I’m coming around for high fives. Holmes: Sherlock & Watson pits you and your opponent against each other as these two extraordinary detectives. At stake is someone’s life. Following a bomb attack on Parliament, Sherlock has been recruited by the suspect’s parents to prove his innocence. Mycroft thinks the case is solved already and is ready to throw the suspect in jail.

watsonWhat’s interesting about this game is that there is no case to solve per se. There’s no envelope with the real solution, no case book to flip through at the end. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game is the winner and their case is the real truth. The theme is light, but the game is tricky and engaging. Again, the play is simple. Each player will take three actions per round by moving their little Investigator meeples to cards portraying various classic characters. Mrs. Hudson, Dr. Watson, Irene Adler, and even one of the Irregulars of Baker Street make an appearance round after round and each do something different. Some characters will give you Investigation tokens which are often used to collect clues. Others allow you to wipe the row of clues preventing either player from grabbing them.

The catch is that you can’t visit a character if you already have a meeple on them and no one likes to be questioned too often. If both players visit the same character in a round, they’re disabled for the next round. Careful timing of your actions and your opponent’s, coupled with characters showing up in a different order every time to play ensures that every game is tactically different.


patchworkNo list of modern two-player games would be complete without mentioning Uwe Rosenberg’s Patchwork. This one has the breeziest theme, quilting, and so naturally is far and away the most cutthroat. Each player has their own 9×9 quilt they need to fill with a tapestry of colorful tetroids. These shapes come at a price. You’ve first got to be able to pay with them with buttons-how cute!-but also have to pay for them with time. Juicy and valuable pieces often cause you to move the furthest along the track, which has the potential to give your opponent multiple turns or a large pile of buttons.

Around you go, passing each other and a vicious game of textile leap-frog.
The shapes are more complicated than the classic Tetris shapes yet there always seems to be one that will just fit; obviously it’s the one your opponent will take from you right before you can act. Getting those pieces is critical, as empty spaces on your grid will result in negative points and the end. It’s rather easy to end the game with negative points. Ask me how I know.

Patchwork is delightful. The geometric puzzle that comes from arranging your quilt is unique in this hobby. The arc of the game is also extremely satisfying. Early in the game you have unlimited space and no buttons, later you’re in the opposite situation. Riding that curve is extremely satisfying and leads to an addicting game. If apps are your thing, there’s a great digital version available as well. I can’t recommend this game enough.

Do you play games with your partner? What is your favorite 2 player games? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Rafael Cordero

In addition to Geek & Sundry, Raf Cordero writes for Miniature Market’s The Review Corner and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. Chat with him on Twitter @captainraffi




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