Top 12 Board Games For Couples in 2021

If you and your partner are on the lookout for new games, I researched what are top board games for couples currently on the market and have narrowed it down to 12 games – from the lunch break games, right down to those that consume the entire evening (or life).

Table of Contents

Click on a name on the following list to jump straight to that part of the article:

Introduction to Top 12 Board Games For Couples

Board games can be a very rewarding and immersive experience. And who best to share that experience with than someone you know very well and have similar life interests – your significant other.

Living together makes setting up a board game much easier since you don’t have to arrange for a visit, get ready, travel, etc. Small board games can be played in under 30 minutes, so you two can squeeze those in just about anytime.

The same goes for those epic-long games – the two of you are more likely to find hours together, over trying to arrange for your friends to come to visit every time you want to play. You can even leave the board set-up and continue the next day. Let’s not forget, that it is a lot easier to spark an interest and teach playing to one person than a bunch of them.

Another aspect you should not overlook is the chance to bond. Modern life is fast – jobs and kids take a lot of our time and often we forget to spend some quality time together. Board games force you to communicate, share experiences, and laugh together.

top 12 board games for couples jenga

In the research process, I have considered the following factors:

  • Captivating and immersive experience. After a long day of work or taking care of the kids, a little escapism is more than welcome. Feeling like you are right in the middle of the board is what we’re looking for, not an abstract chess-like experience (click here if you’re into that: 10 Best Abstract Board Games).
  • You’ve probably chosen your partner on his/her personality and character, therefore you want the game to be engaging. Discussions, cooperation, debate, and having a good time are what we’re after, not taking long turns in silence.
  • Cooperative play is favorable, but not mandatory. Competitive play is fine too, providing it induces engaging gameplay, not knife-edge competition, where you end up going to bed with a bitter taste in your mouth.
  • There are quite a few board games available with dating and sexual themes. I have left these out on purpose – they will have to wait for a dedicated article or you can discover them on your own.
  • Finally, the list inevitably has a personal tone to it. There are games I like more and games I like less, and inevitably, it does affect the list in a way.

Following is the list in order roughly from the simplest board game to the most complex. In the brackets, you will find time to complete an average game and the overall complexity of game mechanics. You can find my recommendations in the conclusion. Some games are designed specifically with 2 players in mind, others can be played with more players, but are included because I believe it’s with 2 players, that they are at it its best.

Besides every game, there is an affiliate link to the Amazon page. If you click on it and buy something, I will earn a commission  – I am a member of the Amazon associates program.


(15 minutes, very easy)

Top 12 Board Games For Couples Kingdomino tiles box

Kingdomino is set in a fantasy realm right out of a fairy tale. You are one of the kings trying to expand your land around your castle. You do this by placing domino-shaped tiles around it.

By game mechanics, it’s one of the simplest games on our list. Players select dominoes, that have various terrain types depicted on them. Dominoes are pre-drawn from a deck and laid face-up on the table and players must choose which one to take every turn – the order in which they take tiles is determined by tiles they took in the previous turn. Tiles are numbered and if you took the strongest tile previously, you will pick last in the next turn.

Top 12 Board Games For Couples Kingdomino tiles

My Realm Outscores Your Realm!

The goal is to build a 5×5 (or 7×7 for a 2 player variant) landscape grid with those tiles. In the end, terrain types are scored based on the number of same type tiles connected and bonus crowns on them. The player with the most points wins.

The gameplay is fast, but besides competing to select the next tile, there is no direct player interaction. That is why I recommend a 2 player game so that the wait time is minimal, you can play several short games in succession, and can utilize the full 7×7 grid.

Read the full Kingdomino Review



(20 minutes, easy)

Another tile-placement game. In Patchwork two players are trying to build a patch of cloth on a personal board (9×9), using tiles of different types and sizes.

How to play Patchwork?

Before the game starts, tiles are laid out randomly in a circular shape and a marker is placed on a designated place in that circle. Every turn, a player can purchase one of three patches placed clockwise of the marker. He must pay the required amount in currency (buttons) and move the marker to a new spot in the circle.

Top 12 Board Games For Couples Patchwork
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He can then place the patch on his grid (anyway he wants) and must advance his time token by the number on the patch. Buttons are used as currency, and each tile has a cost to place. Currency is gained by passing a button yield marker on the time track marker board.


The gameplay is a mix of trying to fit the tiles nicely together, while keeping track of your money, calculating how much to spend and how much you will get back from it in the future. As the players move on the time track marker board, they can also earn special tiles that add to the variability.

When both of the players reach the end of the marker, the game ends, and scoring begins. The player with the most points wins (obviously).


(30 minutes, easy)

We’re not done with tile-placement board games just yet. Carcassonne is “only” two decades old and has become a classic already. Players build landscape features like cities, farms, roads, and cloisters. Then they earn points by placing their meeples strategically on them. You can read more about it here-review of Carcassonne and others, as I have already dedicated several articles to this game.

Top 12 Board Games For Couples carcassonne

The game especially shines in two-player mode, as you have more influence over the board and can focus on both building and obstructing your opponent, much more so, than with more players.


(30 minutes, easy)

Top 12 Board Games For Couples jaipur box
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The game of Jaipur is set in the middle-ages in the Indian city of Jaipur. You are one of the traders in its busy marketplace, trying to earn the privilege of being invited to the Maharajah’s court. The artwork is a particular highlight in Jaipur, as the beautiful pictures make you feel right in the middle of a hustling Indian marketplace.

Jaipur is a resource trading game purposely made for 2 players.

How to play Jaipur?

The playing board is divided into three areas:

  • your cards,
  • opponent’s cards and
  • market cards in the middle.

Each turn you have options to

  • take cards from the market,
  • sell cards or
  • swap between yours and the market’s cards.

The goal of the game is to make money by selling three, four, or five cards of the same resource (silk, gold, silver, etc.) and to make more money by doing that than your opponent.

The gameplay is fast and is a blend of tactics and luck. I wish luck would play a slightly lesser role, but you can’t have everything, I guess.

7 Wonders: Duel

(30 minutes, medium)

Top 12 Board Games For Couples 7 wonders duel box

We’re staying in card games’ territory, but we’re traveling a couple of thousand years back in time for our next game. 7 Wonders: Duel is like its big brother, a civilization-building game.

Your civilization will try to win the game by military might, scientific advance, or (if neither of those happens) victory points.

Players draw cards from a display of face-up and face-down cards in the middle of the board. The stack is organized in a way, that every time player has an option of several cards and subsequent cards are revealed on the spot. A wise drawing of cards means a player can sometimes take a bonus move and take two.

Read my full 7 Wonders: Duel Review

Drawing cards, you will build your portfolio of resources, which are used to draw subsequent cards, build buildings, or mighty Wonders. Elements of set-collecting and engine-building are the mechanics behind it. Wonders provide special abilities and only 7 can be built, meaning one player always falls short.

Besides cards, resources can also be bought from the bank for coins. The price increases, if your opponent already has that resource.

Top 12 Board Games For Couples 7 Wonders Duel Pantheon Expansion Overview
7 Wonders Duel with the Pantheon expansion

How do you win 7 Wonders: Duel?

Military victory can be achieved by acquiring military cards and moving the military marker closer to enemy capital until it reaches it. At certain positions of the marker, you receive extra bonuses.

For the scientific victory, one must collect six of seven different scientific symbols, found on cards.

Since the game is designed with 2 players in mind, it offers a lot of strategic options. The game’s longevity can be vastly improved with the excellent Pantheon expansion or the more recent Agora expansion. Or both.


(45 minutes, medium)

Top 12 Board Games For Couples akrotiri box
Image from

Akrotiri is focused on exploring the Aegean Sea in classical Greek times. Players seek ancient Minoan temples, holding several maps (cards) in their hands. Your goal is to find 6 temples to win.

The genius trick here is, that the position of the temples is not predetermined. Instead, players try to recreate the situation depicted on the map by laying tiles and terrain features. When successful, they can then place the temple on the map.

Besides laying tiles, the second component of the game is hauling (by actually placing them on tiny ships and moving them) and selling resources that you find on islands by spending action points. Resources change their coin value, depending on how many are in play – coins are used to buy all those maps needed to “find” the temples.

Top 12 Board Games For Couples akrotiri box akrotiri board overview
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A lot of strategic depth

The gameplay mechanics of this game are really easy to understand, but there are a lot of things to consider during the game. You will feel like your brain is working overtime, considering all the placements of the temples, how to spend action points, which resources to sell, and taking into account your opponent’s actions and options: what will that mean for him, how will he react, where to block him from building and so on and so on.

It’s not the lightest game on the list, but it’s perfect for two thinking players dueling it out. From time to time you forget the theme as it kind of feels like chess – slightly abstract, but still immersive enough.


(45 minutes, medium)

I don’t think Scrabble needs much introduction. You build words using your seven letters, place them on the board, and score points, depending on the value of your letters and board bonuses.

What makes the game special in two-player mode, are the extra options each player is given. While in 3 and 4 player games, the focus is on creating words, the 2 player game becomes much more tactical. Coming up with words is still important, but the focus is on playing the board and the other player.

Having a great word does not help you much if it opens the triple score for your opponent. Or reversed, should your opponent make a mistake in opening a triple score for you, you must make every effort to take it, even if it means using the lesser word. Or if you get a rare letter … make sure you capitalize on that x3.

Maybe you also like Quiz and Trivia games?

Top 12 Board Games For Couples Scrabble
Image from flickr

To “Quone” someone

The trick is to open the board just as much, so you can place your words and block the opponent from placing theirs. End board reflects this tactical play in a much more “artificial” words and letter placing, than a more natural 3 or 4 player game would.

I find these tactical options highly enjoyable and with 2 player game luck playing much less of a factor, this is an ideal word-chess game. Especially recommended if you’re both into books and crosswords and are similarly skilled (or it may not be much fun for the always-losing partner).

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures

(2 hours, medium)

Top 12 Board Games For Couples sherlock holmes consulting detective
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It’s time to put your competitive side away for a while – we have sailed into cooperative waters. Murder has just happened and it’s up to you to solve the mystery. You will be traveling around London freely, interviewing witnesses and possible suspects, and looking for clues.

Sherlock Holmes is a (sort of) interactive book board game. There are ten cases to solve and each case is open-ended. What that means is that you can put as many hours into a case as you want (usually it takes 2 to 3 hours per case) to explore it in detail and then check up with Sherlock himself, to see what you got right and what you’ve missed.

What makes the game stand out are the brilliantly written cases and the cooperative gameplay. You will make notes, discuss, argue, and decide where to go next together. I’d even suggest not reading the solution until the next day, so you can bring the game away from the table, think about it during the day, dream it during the night and discuss it further the next day. It’s one of the best board game detective experiences on the market.

Sherlock and his large family of games

But there are only 10 cases, what about after that? After that, you are done, but it’s not a problem, because 10 cases are more than plenty of games. Also, there are other editions available as well, all highly rated:

  • Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases,
  • Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Carlton House & Queen’s Park,
  • Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Baker Street Irregulars

The only negative I have about Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is that the narrative is not interactive. Since the material is pre-written, there is no option to choose your answers or methods of interrogation or exploration. You can only choose where to go, and read that paragraph. But looking at the big picture, that is a minor issue.

If you two love a good detective story or ever dreamed to be Poirot, Columbo, or Sherlock, this is a must-buy. Especially good for couples, because you can “play” the game even when you’re not sitting behind the table.

Pandemic Legacy

(1 hour, medium)

Top 12 Board Games For Couples pandemic legacy box
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We’re still in cooperative waters, our next candidate on the list offers much more death – potentially killing the entire population of the Earth!

In Pandemic, players play a group of scientists, explorers, and doctors, trying to stop the spread of 4 highly infectious diseases and find the cure for each of them. The entire world is your playing field as players travel city to city and diseases spread.

How to play Pandemic?

Each turn, players can (depending on available action points):

  • move,
  • move to the city they have on their cards,
  • treat diseases and
  • draw new city cards.

Each character also has a special ability.

You play against the game itself, as it’s constantly trying its best to hinder your progress by outbreaks and epidemics – these cards are hidden among the city cards you must draw each round. You never know, when you will be hit again, which creates a lot of suspense and pressure among the players, who are working together to find the best moves to counter the game.

Fortunately, different difficulty settings exist, but I suggest rather playing higher than lower. There is no shame in losing (everyone dies anyway), but the experience will be much more intense and pristine.

Top 12 Board Games For Couples pandemic legacy box pandemic legacy board
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Leave your Legacy

The legacy edition consists of 12-24 (depending on how successful you are) scenarios long campaign. They are connected with a story and your decisions affect the game world and change it for future games. New rules and components are introduced, your character gains special abilities (not only positive!), but the board will also be altered with stickers, and some components (and characters) even destroyed for good.

Best Legacy Board Games

There are 3 Pandemic Legacy games available: Season 1, Season 2, and Season 0. The latter being the newest edition. I would suggest starting at the beginning, with Season 1.


(2 hours, very complex)

Top 12 Board Games For Couples gloomhaven box
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If you love fantasy role-playing games, this one is for you. Gloomhaven is the top 1 board game on many lists. Each player plays its own unique character with a special set of skills, abilities, and agendas, just like you would in a video RPG, or D&D, back in the days.

Working together with other players, they will explore the world, clear the dungeons, improve abilities with experience, gain loot, and unravel the story, depending on the decisions they make.

In the process, they will create a unique and ever-changing world (it’s a legacy board game). This process is made of scenarios (each taking about 2 hours playing – ideal for one sitting) and there are more than 90 included. Most of the time you will be fighting monsters of all sorts exploring dungeons of all sorts.

There are very complex game mechanics running behind all this – too complex for the scope of this article. Let’s just say this game requires a lot of dedication and study just playing the game – but it gives one of the best board games experience in return. Its high price tag is well justified by everything that is in the big box (and there are a lot of things in there) and the hours of enjoyable quality gameplay you get out of it.

Top 12 Board Games For Couples gloomhaven jaws of the lion scenario 2
Jaws of the Lion

Hundreds of hours gone by

If you have like-minded friends that can come over to you multiple times for extended periods (and you’re willing to host them), then congratulations. But having a partner, that you can play a game with every evening, is much more likely, that’s why Gloomhaven is on this list. There is also the single-player mode (which is very good), but that’s never going to be the same kind of fun.

If you’re looking to hop into the Gloomhaven universe, I suggest starting out with Jaws of the Lion, a prequel, that does a great job at introducing new players to the gloomy city. You can take on the big game later, and the sequel, Frosthaven, later still.

Twilight Struggle: The Cold War

(2-3 hours, fairly complex)

Top 12 Board Games For Couples Twilight Struggle

A grand strategy game for two players. As the title suggests, it’s set in the second half of the 20th century, and you play as one of the two superpowers: the USA or the USSR.

Read the full review of Twilight Struggle here

Game is played on the world map and players strive to spread their influence (of freedom or socialism) and control over the countries. Unlike Gloomhaven or 7th Continent, this is not a campaign game. The entire game can be played in under 3 hours until one of the players has won.

Players take turns – for a maximum of 10 when the game ends (if neither wins sooner). Each turn, a player draws an event card. Those are based on historical events. Based on cards, the player has three options:

  • increase their influence in the country or adjacent countries,
  • realign influence or
  • attempt a coup – to remove the opponent’s influence and increase his own.

Realignments and coups rely partly on dice rolls, which adds an element of unpredictability.

If the card is associated with the opponent, you can still go through with the event (if you think it’s beneficial, of course) or attempt to advance in the Space Race.

Top 12 Board Games For Couples Twilight Struggle Map
Digital Edition of the game

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” Winston Churchill, 1946

Scoring is based on the influence (presence, domination, and control) in regions. Not all regions are equally valued – controlling Europe wins the game outright, for example.

Twilight Struggle: The Cold War is an excellent two-player game, combining elements of Risk with event cards and other game elements. Thanks to event cards, the game is somewhat historically accurate and has plenty of strategic options. I’d recommend this to fans of the era, as it captures the spirit of the Cold war very well.

The 7th Continent

(20 hours, medium-complexity)

Top 12 Board Games For Couples 7th continent
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The last game on the list is also easily one of the most colossal and ambitious that I have seen. The 7th Continent is an exploration board game, where you go explore a newly discovered continent in an attempt to lift a curse. The world is based on the early 20th century but enriched with fantasy elements.

The continent is discovered by many hundreds of terrain and event cards. You explore the terrain, decide where to go, what to do, discover different events, decide how to react to them (considering the traits and equipment of your character), and unravel the story.

As the name suggests, the new world is gigantic to explore (it’s called a continent, not an island after all) and the game can take a lot of time to finish, so it’s not for the casual player. It even has the save game feature, but it can take up to half an hour to remove all the elements properly (and then another half to set it up again). I’d suggest buying a spare table instead.

New Land is Vast and Tough

It’s not an easy game by any standards. There are a lot of factors to consider (even basic needs like shelter and survival) and (permanent) dying is not uncommon. You can always start fresh of course, and thanks to the massive number of cards, the experience will always be slightly different.

I, unfortunately, haven’t had the chance to try the game yet, but other reviewers report a fantastic experience, unlike any other. Especially praised are the first few hours of exploring when everything is still fresh, untouched and you discover something new every time.

Just like Gloomhaven, The 7th Continent has a single-player mode, which is fine as last resort, but sharing the awesome experience with someone you care about will be a much more unforgettable journey.

Note: 7th Continent is currently out of print, but a new edition has already been announced.


I hope I gave you some ideas and introduced a game or two, that you weren’t acquainted with before. I promised my personal favorites, and here they are:

  • For engaging competitive gameplay: 7 Wonders: Duel.
  • For cooperative crime-solving: Sherlock Holmes.
  • For an epic adventure: Gloomhaven.

And the best out of the lot? 7 Wonders: Duel.

There are, however, no bad games on the list (what would be the point of including those?) and you can’t miss with any on it.

Further reading:

Any comments and feedback on the topic (do you agree/disagree, what is your list, or experience with games on the list) is highly appreciated. Please comment below.


14 thoughts on “Top 12 Board Games For Couples in 2021”

  1. I and my boyfriend, we have been looking for new things to do together and seeing that you can come up with not just one or two but twelve good board games for couples is really cool. Some of this board games, I have played before but I can see that board games have really come in diverse now. I didn’t know there was a Sherlock Holmes board game. I will want to try that out with him because we watched the movie together too. Thank you and best regards!

    • Sherlock Holmes is really good detective game, very suitable for couples.. Playing mechanics are not complicated and very easy to pick up, so you can just focus on investigating and solving the case.

  2. WowWow, this is really lovely, I’m not a fan of board games likewise my girlfriend but we thought of getting something for fun lately and I must say this came at the right time. I love the games in this article, really interesting and will be fun to play especially with that lovey dove atmosphere. My favorite is 7wonders duel game and I’ll try to get one for me and my girlfriend. Thanks for sharing this informative article, it’ll be helpful.

  3. Wow! Great list of some of the best board games of all time. To be honest, I have played quite a few among them all but none has been so captivating to me as scrabble. I just love the way it is playedvand the creativity it requires to play it. I love the game especially when we are playing at home. It does entails the use of calculation and logic to work on the opponents mentality to believe they could not get better chances than the ones I presented to them wgille I have other ways to play it. Thanks

    • I’ve playe Scrabble alot with my girlfriend, and it’s one of our favorite games to play, since we’re very evenly matched, despite having differetn playstyles. She is sligtly better in word-forming, and I’m better making the best of the board – maximizing my chances and giving her as little room possible. That usually results in very tight games.

  4. Wow, it is a real nice article, just to let you know, I already put your website in my favourites. As I have a passion for board games as well, I would like to advise you Mascarade. It is a fantastic card game. You should talk about it. I also appreciated you talked about 7wonders, but the Duel version, that in my opinion it is much better than the original one.

    • Thank you for the suggestion, I’ll check out what Mascarade is about. I think I heard the name before, but with thousands of board games out there it’s not easy to keep track. 🙂

  5. I was smiling as read through this post. Gaming between couples is one of the many ways to again some special bond and a means to catch up on each others life after a long week, during a weekend. For me and my husband who is ex military man, we play the game of chess and he is very good at it, although I put up a good fight myself buy I’ll love us to try Duel. I believe he would like it still and it has that military feeling in it. Best regards.

  6. When it comes to couples board games, two of my favorite are checkers and chess. Checkers can be considered as a very short board game that can finish under 10mins whereas chess is a board game that can take several hours depending on skill levels. These are my two favorite board games for couples that I make use of on a regular basis.

    • For chess, clock is almost a mandatory addition, as it speeds up the play and can even out players of different skills, if you give them different amount of time. Without the clock, games can drag a long time.

  7. Board games are really fun and can be a great way for couples to bond so I’m really glad to have come across your post. Captivating and engaging certainly are two factors that I consider when looking at board games. As someone who really likes complex strategy games, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures, Pandemic Legacy, Gloomhaven, Twilight Struggle: The Cold War and The 7th Continent really jump out at me. As a big-time Sherlock Holmes fan, and considering this is a couple’s game, I think I will first try Sherlock Holmes. It looks really intriguing given that it’s about Jack the Ripper. I have saved your post for when it’s soon time to order a new board game. Also, I think that these would make perfect gifts for holiday season. Thanks for a great review and I’m looking forward to checking out these games!


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