Holiday 2021 Board Game Gift Guide time!
Check out and play some of these top board games for Couples & Parties that are favorites for this buyer’s guide. Grab them on Cyber Monday for Christmas!
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2 Player Board Games | 2021 Holiday Gift Guide:
Another perfect game for couples, as it is a 2 player only board game. Essentially, a 2 player version of the original Codenames party game — You give your partner clues to guess as many of the correct words on the table without guessing the wrong word, that can end the game instantly! Codenames: Duet even comes with a campaign option. Super easy to teach and learn.
A quick 2 player deduction/hidden movement game by one of my favorite game designers, Tim Fowers.
One player plays the Fugitive – attempting to get to their hideouts. The other player plays the Marshall – attempting to find all the hideouts before the Fugitive gets to the last one. The game is easy to learn since the cards are all sequential numbers; you start at 00 and go up to 42. A great, simple card game for couples.
A cool deduction/hidden movement/cat & mouse game themed around Jack the Ripper. Perfect for couples, as it is 2 players, only.
One player plays Jack, the other plays an investigator attempting to find which character on the board is jack.
Each round a player moves a character of their choice, following their special ability. At the end of each round, the Jack player announces if Jack is in the light or in the shadows.
The investigator wins if they successfully identify Jack before the final round. Mr. Jack wins if he successfully escapes or the investigator accuses the wrong character.
There is another version — Mr. Jack in New York that has its own set of characters with unique abilities, but it seems to be currently out of print.
EXPANSION – Mr. Jack Extension
5 New characters to add even more replayability to the base game.
A simple couples board game. Santorini can play more than 2 players, but I wouldn’t.
Each player has 2 workers (a couple!). On their turn, they must move, then build. The object of the game is to reach the 3rd level of the tower with one of their workers. The difficulty? The other player can build a cap on the 3rd level of the tower, completing it — making you start over again.
There is a decent amount of strategy and the game is a blast to play. Once you have the basic game down, you can introduce the God cards, which give your characters special, unique abilities.
2-5 Player Board Games | 2021 Holiday Gift Guide:
All of these board games are still great at 2 players, as they hit the table regularly to play with my girlfriend, but they are great with more. The more the merrier!
A game that we’ve had a lot of fun playing as a couple. Easily described as 2D Tetris; Each player has a single puzzle card (per round) with a shape to fill in. A dice is rolled to determine which colored shapes you will need to use that round. A timer is started and you’re awarded points if you can fill the card’s shape within the time limit.
Ubongo! has no learning curve! The puzzle boards contain easy or hard shapes on each side of a card.
Ubongo Extreme is a smaller, compact (and more difficult) version of Ubongo. It’s cheaper and great for variety!
A simple deck and set-building strategy game. Each playing can take one action per turn:
- Take a card.
- Play a card from their hand.
- Claim a victory card (most points at the end of the game wins).
- Bring used cards back to your hand
Not a lot of direct player interaction with this game, but more of a “take that!” feel; when you grab the victory card that someone else had been saving up 3 rounds for.
I actually own this Golem Edition, which is a pretty re-skin of the original, Century Spice Road. I would recommend Golem Edition unless you really hate the theme as it has better components. Both versions have 2 more games in the series that can be combined with each other to create new games. I’ve only played this first game, but the series is a pretty cool concept!
A strategy game based around shapes. Each player can play shapes of the same color or the same shape in different colors in rows or columns. Scoring is done by counting the number of tiles created or extended in a set (think Scrabble), with a bonus for completing a row or column of 6. The game is quite strategic and plays longer than you think it would.
I own the Travel Size of Qwirkle, which I recommend — simply because it’s cheaper and takes up less shelf space!
A strategy and tile-laying game by Bruno Cathala, based on the classic game Domino.
Each player attempts to score the most points by building a 5×5 kingdom made of the 2×1 cards that they choose at the beginning of the round. Each card has a type of land on it. You score points by counting the number of similar land grids that are touching, and multiply them by the number of crowns in that set of touching land type (0 crowns = 0 points, 1 crown = # of squares of the same type, 2 crowns = 2X the # of squares of the same type, etc.).
It’s a quick and fun game even at the 2 player count.
There is also Queendomino, which adds more rules and the ability to combine both sets, but I have yet to try that version. I’m not sure if Kingdomino needs more complicated rules, it’s pretty fun as-is and is easy to teach.
The classic game of building railways across America. Each player collects cards by train color. When they have enough to play the route of the matching color on the board, they lay down their colored trains and claim the route.
Each player scores points by routes/trains owned and has the ability to grab many bonuses (connecting specific cities, longest route).
I highly recommend the USA 1910 Expansion for this version of Ticket To Ride. It contains larger formatted cards and additional city connection cards, for more variety.
I also own the Nordic Countries version, which is meant for 2-3 players, as the routes are much closer and promote more route “stealing”. I would maybe stick to the USA version if it is your first time playing, as it will be easier to identify where cities are on the map.
If you enjoy the game, there are plenty of map expansions or different versions that bring additional rules; Europe is great too!
A strategic, cooperative (co-op) game. Tiles are placed out randomly in each game (lots of variety). Players must use actions to capture the 4 artifacts and successfully helicopter off the island. Each round, tiles are flipped over to signify that that area is flooded. Players have multiple actions and specific skills (depending on their class) to:
- Shore Up (unflood)
- Capture a treasure
- Give a treasure card to a teammate.
Forbidden Island requires strategic teamwork. The concept and rules are pretty quick to learn. I really like this one; it’s a nice little puzzle solo, there is a lot of teamwork with couples, at 2 players. It becomes a bit more hectic at 3 or 4 since more people have to agree with each other on what moves should be made (which can also be fun).
Escape Room Games | 2021 Holiday Gift Guide:
Escape rooms have become popular over the last few years. Here are a couple of Board and Card game versions I’ve played and enjoyed:
I have the version which comes with 4 scenarios. There are a few newer versions that include 3 and there are multiple expansions to the series. These are essentially, one-off mystery puzzles. This game comes with a digital decoder, physical keys, multiple envelopes, etc. It’s pretty difficult and hard to complete with people during the timer, but fun and satisfying when you finally solve the mystery!
The Unlock! games are card /app-based, one-off scenarios Each box is a different scenario, with its own theme and difficulty. I’ve played a few of these, all at 2 players and they’re a blast! This would be my go-to escape room for couples, as the cards/components are much smaller than the others.
I’ve only played a couple of the puzzles so far, but this one is difficult! You take on different paths to reach the finale. There are 19 puzzles with 4 real (plastic) combination locks to unlock.
Tired of always losing in Scrabble? You can try your luck at A Little Wordy; a quick and simple little word deduction game from Exploding Kittens.
Each player grabs random consonant and vowel tiles and writes down a word made from said tiles. Then each player swapped tiles and attempts to figure out their opponent’s word. Use clue card to help you guess the correct word. Don’t use too many clues, with each clue you use, your opponent gains that clue’s point value. Guess your opponent’s word as quickly and with as few clues as possible to come out victorious!
A fun little filler word game that is good for a few rounds. Check out my Review for A Little Wordy.
Party Games | 2021 Holiday Gift Guide:
Have you played any of these board games in 2021? Any board games that I left off this gift guide that I should buy?
Let me know in the comments!