Two-player games are a breed all their own, requiring a keen mechanical balance and many layers of strategy to keep players coming back. Which of these 2019 two-player titles had you pairing off and squaring off?
Don’t forget to cast your ballot in our 2019 Fan Favorite voting.
We’ll be announcing the rest of the nominees over the next few weeks; then check back on Friday, January 17th when we announce the winners of the 2nd Annual Diamond Climber Awards.
Imhotep: The Duel
While Imhotep has been around for a few years, 2019 saw the release of Imhotep: The Duel, a 2-player-only version of the original game about unloading barges and building statues in ancient Egypt. The basic gameplay remains largely the same; considering how well-received Imhotep was, that’s not a criticism. Translating any multiplayer game into a taut 2-player title that’s playable in 30 minutes or less is an historic accomplishment, and Imhotep: The Duel unearths a leaner, more interactive experience that’s sure to stand the test of time.
Publisher(s): KOSMOS, IELLO, White Goblin Games
Designer(s): Phil Walker-Harding
Artist(s): Miguel Coimbra, Michaela Kienle, Claus Stephan
Read our review of Imhotep: The Duel.
Mandala didn’t make much noise on release, which fits perfectly with its low-key, mystical aesthetic. Colorful card illustrations and a cloth playing area make this game about arranging religious symbols seem peaceful at first glance, yet underneath the calm exterior is a fierce competition as players vie for control over two separate fields. A clever drafting mechanism where each color’s value for a player is determined by how early that player drafted it adds depth to this quick yet thinky puzzler.
Publisher(s): Lookout Games, 999 Games, Funforge, Rebel
Designer(s): Trevor Benjamin, Brett J. Gilbert
Artist(s): Klemens Franz
Football Highlights 2052
Flash back to early early 21st-century football games in this tense head to head gridiron board game. No commercials, just lots of thematic football action, without all the play-by-play simulation. Manage your team, combine strategy and tactics to outsmart and outwit your opponent. Make the best use of ten cards per half and try to score the most points through touchdowns, field goals, and safeties to win the game!
Publisher(s): Eagle-Gryphon Games
Designer(s): Mike Fitzgerald
Artist(s): Garrett Kaida, Franz Vohwinkel
You’d be forgiven if you thought that SHŌBU has been available for millenia rather than coming out this year. This well-crafted gem feels both classic and modern as a result of its beautiful presentation and simple rule set. In this game of mirrored movement, players need to think through a multitude of possibilities for every piece on every turn, providing plenty of strategic decisions in a sleek package.
Publisher(s): Smirk & Laughter Games
Designer(s): Jamie Sajdak, Manolis Vranas
Moon Base is an abstract game about developing humanity’s first lunar base. You and your opponent will take turns stacking life-giving ring modules, settlements, and resource base into craters on the moon’s surface. Carefully place the rings in such a way that they give you the upper hand. At the end of six rounds whoever has the highest total points wins the game. Moon Base is gorgeous in it’s minimalism and color scheme, and one those games you’ll want to take pictures of at the end.
Publisher(s): Itten Games
Designer(s): Naotaka Shimamoto
Artist(s): Yoshiaki Tomioka
Watergate is a thrilling political game representing the push and pull of the Watergate investigation. One player takes the role of the Nixon administration and one the journalists, but both players will be sweating over this tense tug-of-war. Mixing multipurpose cards together with hidden information and spatial puzzle elements, Watergate is a finely-tuned challenge for both sides. Don’t resign yourself to missing this one!
Publisher(s): Capstone Games
Designer(s): Matthias Cramer
Artist(s): Klemens Franz, Alfred Viktor Schulz