Board games for 1-2 players

As you may know, board games are a popular activity here at SIG. Last year, our Dublin office even launched an official board games social club, where we regularly meet after work for sessions of a variety of games, including some of those discussed in other blog posts.

Unfortunately those days are on hold right now. Since it might be difficult to get a gaming group together for at least a little while, solo (or 2 player) gaming is a topic worth exploring.

Most games are designed to be played in small to medium-sized groups. For instance, Settlers of Catan cannot be played with less than 3 people as the game mechanics don’t allow for it. There is a special expansion pack for playing with up to 6 players, but trust me, it’s just not as much fun. The game is a brilliant experience with 3-4 players.

There are a lot of board games out there that have fantastic single player and 2 player modes. Often the game plays very differently than its “normal version.” I’d like to mention a few titles I own and regularly play either solo or with my wife. I won’t be getting into detailed game mechanics, instead I’ll try to explain what makes these games great for me. Your mileage may vary!

AZUL

Players: 2-4

Gametime: 20-30 minutes

Complexity: Very easy

Quick overview: This game doesn’t have a solo game mode, but it’s one of the rare ones that is best enjoyed with 2 players. It has 2 game modes–simple and advanced–that make it accessible for playing with children as well. The game involves drawing special tiles to create designs on each player’s board. 

What makes it great: If you like, you can play the game without the competitive edge, by just focusing on your own board. Alternatively, you can observe what others do and try to “block” them by “stealing” the tiles you think they are interested in.

K2

The author on one of his many mountain adventures in Norway. Not exactly K2, but still a lot of fun!

Players: 1-5

Gametime: 45-60 minutes

Complexity: Easy

Quick overview: As a mountaineer and climber myself, I couldn’t go without mentioning K2. K2 is a hand management game with a low luck factor–its challenge makes it a game to be enjoyed for a long time. The game features 2 difficulty levels, with a variety of ways to make it easier/harder. The hard mode, a winter ascent of K2, is a challenge rarely achieved. In real life,  K2 has never been climbed in the winter.

What makes it great: It’s a fantastic take on mountain adventures. It’s you against the mountain rather than you against the others. The goal is always the same: get to the top and don’t die trying. Savage!

Terraforming Mars

Players: 1-5

Gametime: 2-3 hours

Complexity: Hard

Quick overview: A complex engine-building game with a lot of moving parts. This game is a SIG Dublin board gaming favourite. The theme of terraforming a planet coupled with a variety of ways to play makes it an appealing choice for people that are into hardcore board games.

What makes it great: The fact that everyone builds out their own deck of cards to complete the terraforming projects while working together towards the common goal of terraforming the planet is a fantastic mechanic. The person who contributed the most to the terraforming project at the end wins. It plays great with 2 people as well!

Single player mode changes the goal–now you play against the clock. Since you are the only player, your goal is now to achieve terraforming in a set number of rounds. Genius idea.

There are loads of other games that are out there that are also great, but those are my top 3 favourites. Share your favourites in the comments below!

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