Top 20 Best Board Games for Couples (Updated)
Time to play...together!
Whether you’re looking for nerdy gifts to get your special someone or just want an excuse to stay in and spend some quality time together, a board game is a great idea. So here’s a list of the top 20 best board games for couples:
We tried to mix together some cooperative board games and competitive games, so make sure to pick something that would best suit your relationship.
NOTE: If they’re a Star Wars fan who somehow isn’t playing X-Wing, just get them X-Wing. Get them every X-Wing figure you can find. It doesn’t even matter if they play it, you can get them a tiny model of the Millennium Falcon. They’ll love you forever.
1. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Who to play it with: The One Who Is Constantly Reading
Play Time: 2 Hours for early cases, longer for later cases due to the increased volume of clues.
No game will make you feel more like a real detective than Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. In this game you solve crimes alongside Mr. Holmes himself, searching for clues and gathering leads. You do so by reading stories and visiting locations on a gorgeously rendered map of London. There’s even a series of newspapers for you to hunt through for more hints! The goal is to solve the mystery either faster or more completely than Sherlock does. As you might expect, that’s no easy task.
There are 10 cases in total, and once you’ve played through them there’s no real replay value — but at such a low price, this game is more than worth it. You probably won’t ever beat Holmes, but even losing to him is a joy. This game can be played cooperatively or competitively, but we’ve found that working together is the most rewarding — at least you can both feel annoyed by Holmes together. Couples who love to read and solve mysteries should settle in with a cup of tea and join the crew at 221B Baker Street.
NOTE: In some editions of this game, Case 3 provides conflicting information due to a publisher error, and can prove impossible to solve if you follow a misleading clue. While it’s not outright impossible, it can be very discouraging, and many people choose to skip it entirely. To avoid this problem, you can download corrected versions of the affected hint book online, or ensure that you’re purchasing the most recent (2016) version of the game.
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Who to play it with: The Master Strategist
Play Time: 30 minutes
Price: $24.68 (31% off MSRP)
Chess is revered as a “perfect” board game because it’s relatively simple, but has a deep strategy component. So when we say that Hive is often compared to Chess, it’s the highest compliment.
Hive is played without a board, so all you need to play are the pieces and a flat surface. Players are distributed a selection of tiles. Each tile has one of five types of bug on it, and each bug has its own movement rules. The most important piece is the queen bee, which must be placed in the first few turns. Your goal is to prevent your queen from being blocked in by other pieces under any circumstances.
Every hardcore Hive fan has their own strategy, and there’s no one right way to play. This is a great pick for a couple who love competing and learning how to adjust their play. Once you know the game well, rounds can be played in a matter of 15 minutes.
3. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
Who to play it with: The Reliable Teammate
Play Time: 1.5 hours
Price: $48.30 (31% off MSRP)
However, Pandemic Legacy takes what Pandemic and its expansions set up and turns it into an outstanding long-form campaign. Your goal is still to manage and cure the diseases ravaging the world’s population, but it’s now tied into an ongoing narrative, with new game mechanics being introduced with each story segment.
The game’s story takes place over the course of a year, and every month brings new challenges. Starting a month is always exciting, because the game instructs you to open new secret compartments in the box, add rules to the rulebook, and sometimes introduces you to a new playable character. You then play the game under the new rules, only hoping that you can keep the contagion under control. Much like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, this game only provides a single playthrough of the campaign, which works out to roughly 20 or 30 hours of game time, and has limited replay value. It is unquestionably still worth purchasing. The memories you’ll build playing a campaign of Pandemic Legacy are the kind that will last a lifetime.
This is a very intensely cooperative 2 player board game. While each character controls the actions of their own pawn, it is vitally important that players work together in order to cure the world’s diseases and win the game each month. If you aren’t coordinated, the world will fall into chaos, and subsequent months will become even harder to beat.
It might be a little overwhelming to jump into without playing the original Pandemic, but it isn’t impossible. It just means that you’ll have to take a bit of extra time to discuss your strategy — and promoting good communication and teamwork is absolutely why this is a great couples’ game.
NOTE: There is NO difference between the Red and Blue versions of the game other than their cover art. There’s no Magmar vs. Electabuzz situation here. Buy the cover art you prefer.
Who to play it with: The Planning Expert (or The Harvest Moon Fan)
Play Time: 2 hours
Price: $48.26 (20% off MSRP)
Z-Man Games’ Agricola is a classic worker placement game where the goal is to build the most efficient, well-balanced farm. Players spend each turn deciding what chores they’re going to complete in order to build up the stockpiles they need to feed their families and build their farm. Only one person can do a chore at a time, which means that you need to plan carefully and adapt if you find yourself blocked by another player.
Despite being a competitive game, Agricola doesn’t feature attack actions, which means that even though other players can inconvenience you, they can’t actively harm your farm. This makes this game a safe space to compete without causing any hard feelings, which is good for those of us with significant others who are a little sensitive.
It’s worth noting that there is a 2-player version of this game called Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, which is an excellent game by itself, takes up less table space, and is better suited to gamers on a budget, with a price of just $40. We just prefer the original version, which is still extremely fun for two and has the benefit of being able to scale up when you have more friends over.
5. Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Who to play it with: The Adrenaline Junkie
Play Time: 10 Minutes
Board games often give you the chance to slow down, think things through, and have a nice long chat with the people you’re playing with. This is not one of those games. This is Escape: The Curse of the Temple, a high-speed frantic dice-rolling rush to explore an ancient temple and get out before the time’s up.
The rules are relatively simple. The temple is explored through individual tiles that are laid out on the board as they unlock. Each player rolls 5 dice which will hopefully allow you to explore the temple and open the exit. If you’re really unlucky, you could find several of your dice locked with the dreaded cursed mask symbol, which prevents you from rolling them again until you unlock them.
Through the entire game, you roll the dice repeatedly in order to accomplish your goals, working together as a team. All dice results are shared between players on the same tile, so there’s safety in numbers. Teamwork will make your escape much easier, and building up your ability to communicate under pressure is key.
Making it even more tense is Escape’s soundtrack. Yes, this game comes with a CD (you can find the sound files online, if you don’t have a disc drive or CD player) which serves as a timer for the game. When the music picks up, you must seek shelter in the center tile, or you’ll permanently lose the use of a die. If you fail to escape before the music comes to an end the temple collapses with you inside it and you lose!
The game is heavy on luck and low on strategy, which means you’ve got a decent chance of losing Escape for reasons beyond your control. That won’t appeal to the most hardcore of gamers, but is great for a casual playthrough. With its strict timer, it’s a great game to play if you’re short on time or don’t want things to run too late.
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Who to play it with: The Friendly Rival
Play Time: 1 hour
Claustrophobia is exclusively for two players, and it takes advantage of its limited player count in the best way possible. It is a perfectly balanced competitive game where each player plays either as the team of humans or the team of demons. The game provides you with campaigns pitting the humans and the demons against each other.
It uses a similar exploration and board style to Escape, where tiles are placed down as players explore the caves. (It’s worth noting that the tiles in Claustrophobia are HUGE, so you will require a lot of table space to play.) Tiles often provide different status effects which may either benefit the humans or the demons. The humans roll dice in order to unlock different statistic sets for their explorers, and the demons roll dice in order to determine what actions or combat buffs they can make use of that turn.
As the humans, you want to end the game as soon as possible, because the more time the demons have to do damage to you, the more powerful they’ll become. With the great balance this game carries, the triumphant team usually wins the game in dramatic fashion, snatching victory from the other team at the last moment.
This game is a competitive game where you take direct, aggressive action against the other player, so make sure your partner is comfortable with that. If they are, Claustrophobia promises to be a great, varied experience every time.
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Who to play it with: The Aspiring S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent
Play Time: 1 hour
Price: $50.38 (28% off MSRP)
Any Marvel fan who DOESN’T own this game is seriously missing out. After all, why wouldn’t you want to make a mashup team of your favourite characters from the Marvel Universe and battle its most infamous villains?
Legendary is a pretty standard deck-building game. You draw 6 cards from your hands and use the powers they provide to either battle villains and their henchmen or to recruit new heroes, strengthening your deck. The reason that Legendary might hold more appeal than other deck builders is purely its Marvel theme. It’s much more fun to draw a hand with Iron Man, Colossus, and Rocket Raccoon in it than some generic fantasy thieves and heavies.
Players all team up to defeat the mastermind behind the evil plot. Both the mastermind and the plot are selected by the players at the start of the game in order to determine the difficulty level. (Pro tip: Want to lose? Choose Apocalypse as your mastermind!) At the end of the game, if the players are victorious, you have the option to add up all the points earned from the henchmen you defeated, blows you delivered to the mastermind, and bystanders you rescued. These points determine the ultimate winner. Alternately – forget those points, because you just saved the world, who cares who punched the most guys?
The style of play will depend heavily on which heroes you pick. Some are more compatible than others and allow you to create deadly combos. Not all Marvel heroes/villains are available in the main set, so you may be drawn to pick up expansions (around $35 each) that feature your favourites, but the base game itself provides more than enough replay value. The more you play, the more likely you are to come up with a killer team of heroes.
Rather than spend your days counting down to the next superhero movie with your Marvel-obsessed other half, pick this one up, and play out your own story.
8. Run Fight or Die
Who to play it with: The Zombie Aficionado
Play Time: 10 minutes to 1 hour
Run Fight or Die is a dice-based zombie fighting game which pretty much explains its premise right in its name.
Each player picks a survivor to play out the zombie apocalypse with. The survivors have slightly different stats and abilities which will help decide your strategy in the game, but your fate is decided by the dice. The dice allow you to either run, fight, or die (take a wound), and your strategy must adjust according to the results. You have the opportunity to reroll dice that don’t work in your favour a limited number of times in hopes of changing your fate.
Your goal is either to survive longer than the other player or to gather the most valuable followers from the deck of townspeople and escape the city. It is also possible to summon a mutant zombie boss who players attack together. If the mutant boss is defeated, everyone wins, because the mutant boss is some sort of equivalent of a head vampire and the zombie curse is lifted.
Let’s be honest, most of the time one player is going to win because the other player dies horribly. We’ve seen The Walking Dead, we know what happens here.
This game is quick, fun, and dramatic, and includes some great art and figs just to add a cherry on top. You might be the type of couple who spends their time discussing their zombie apocalypse survival strategy — if you are, give this one a chance.
9. Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game
Who to play it with: The Brave Adventurer
Play Time: 2 hours
This is a tabletop adventure game that features a premise that is shockingly reminiscent to a certain movie starring Harrison Ford. No, we don’t mean Blade Runner. In Fortune and Glory you are a brave adventurer, finding ancient artifacts and treasure while fighting off Nazis.
Sounds a little familiar, right? It’s also 100% as cool as you’re thinking.
Players explore the world, travelling from continent to continent hoping to find treasures and survive the deadly traps that lay in their way. You have the option of playing by cooperative rules (both of you versus the Nazis or mobsters) or competitive rules (player versus player). We find that the cooperative rules are just slightly more fun, but that’s a big compliment, because this game is pure entertainment. Having a zeppelin stalking you around the board as you’re trying to find The Hammer of the Gods is pure joy.
The rules are a bit complicated to look at, but feel simple once you’ve learned them. Most of the game revolves around exploring areas where a treasure can be found and rolling dice to determine your success in avoiding the obstacles along the way. If you fail on an obstacle, a cliffhanger will trigger, forcing you to halt all movement until you fight your way out of a situation or die trying. Don’t worry — dying just kicks your character back to their home city.
Fortune and Glory may be the most expensive game on this list, but it’s also the longest and has one of the best replay values — perfect if you and your honey want to go on a thrillseeking adventure without leaving your home.
10. Boss Monster
Who to play it with: The Dungeon Crawler
Play Time: 30 mins
List Price: $18.97 (24% off MSRP)
When you open the Boss Monster box for the first time, your first reaction will be squealing with excitement over the adorable pixel art on the cards. Your second reaction will be dancing with excitement over all the awesome nerd references on the cards. Then you’ll get distracted from all of that by how damn great this game is.
You are the boss fight at the end of a dungeon in Boss Monster, but at the start of the game, you have only a single room in your dungeon. Not nearly enough to take out any self-respecting hero. Your task is to build up your dungeon so that it’s the RPG equivalent of a hotel in a horror movie — you can check in, but you won’t check out! The player who attracts (and kills) the most valuable adventurers wins — but if too many adventurers make it past your traps and into the boss chamber of your dungeon, you’ll be wiped out, and all your dungeon-building will be for naught.
The fun of building up your dungeon is enhanced by running into adventurers like “Johnny of the Evening Watch” or a room full of monsters that you could only describe as metroids. We’ll be honest, there are a lot of great two-player card games out there, but Boss Monster won our hearts for being just as good as the others while having serious nerd appeal.
After all, that’s what we here at Nerd Much? are all about.
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