I'm not much of a romantic. The last time I celebrated Valentines Day was seven years ago. My idea of romance is staying home and painting miniatures together while watching some Star Trek: Voyager. That said, I play all of the best couples games with my best friend Jacob. Why? Well, Jacob goes on plenty of first dates. For Christmas this year, I gave him a wooden box filled with all of our favorite 2-player games to take on his dates. Unfortunately, I don't think he's met Prince Charming just yet.
While my story isn't very romantic—playing games with my best friend—it can be for you. Here's a list of some of our favorite two-player games that you can pick up just in time for Valentines Day! Trust me, this is the only way you're getting out of spending tons of money at a restaurant surrounded by stuffy people you probably hate. I should warn you, however, I don't cook, I'm not a romantic, and I don't plan social events. Results may vary. I am not responsible if your evening goes poorly.
Step 1: Plan Dinner
What to cook? Here's a list of the most romantic foods I could think of, and why.
In my personal experience, food tastes better when it's in my personal favorite shapes. In my mind, there is no food better than a medium rare steak, and there is no shape better than the meeple. Meeple Steaks are about as romantic as it gets. Just take a regular steak and spend way more time than necessary cutting it into a meeple. It's that easy! It doesn't even have to be an expensive steak, just cover it with Johnny's Seasoning Salt and make sure you have a side of BBQ sauce!
There are two things in life I can not get enough of: board games and cheese. If you can combine the two to create a delicious cracker and cheese plate in the form of a game of Jenga, I'm going to be pretty darn impressed with your cheese cutting skills. Nothing says modern day romance like a cheese and cracker plate in bed while watching Jessica Jones on Netflix.
Lastly, so you don't actually have to get out of bed after you're done with cheese and crackers, Dice Shaped cake pops. With a charm all their own, no Will Save can stop you (or your loved one) from eating these treasures!
Step 2: Play one of the following board gameS
Fuse - The clock is ticking, and Fuse will challenge you and your partner to work together and beat the clock! You have just 10 minutes to defuse all the bombs, but beware, if you're unable to use all of the dice that you roll, there will be consequences. What's more romantic than mutually accepting that there are consequences to your actions!? Seriously, though, Fuse is an awesome game, and you should pick it up. It's being sold in game stores for just $30!
The Grizzled - We all come into relationships knowing we're imperfect; we learn to accept each others flaws and work together to make it through the toughest of times. The Grizzled will teach you how to work together to weather the toughest storms, although its setting is far less romantic: the trenches of World War One. It's available for just $25 in friendly local game stores!
Dead of Winter - The all-time favorite co-operative game for so many is finally back in stock across the country. While Dead of Winter's MSRP is $60, it's an experience no gamer will forget. Work together to survive the winter, zombies, and terrifying situations you never saw yourself facing. Such romance! Plus, you're still saving money because you're not spending $100+ to eat at a fancy restaurant!
So you want to spend quality time together:
...And Then We Held Hands - What's more romantic than a failing relationship? Trying to save it, of course, and that's exactly what you're out to accomplish in this game. The catch? You can't talk about the gameplay. You have to communicate through body language. And let's be honest: how many other games are going to actually teach you something applicable to your relationship?
Above & Below - When we first picked up Above & Below, we could not put it down. We played it every night for a solid week. I would have kept going, but others started to object. Above & Below takes players on a wild adventure to collect various things, and allowing them to make meaningful decisions on every move. If you've ever wanted to go on an adventure with your significant other, but didn't feel like leaving the house, this game could be the perfect solution to that. Its MSRP is $50, but seeing as you're going to play it dozens of times, it's more than worth it. It's also simple enough that, if you do have kids, your 6 and overs can pick it up just fine!
Imperial Settlers - Why do I recommend a game about settling for Valentines Day? Well, would you rather settle in a game or settle in your relationship? Maybe you want to do both! Who knows? Either way, now's a great time to play Imperial Settlers, which happens to be one of my favorite resource management games on the planet. Why do you need to play this game? Because it will become an instant household favorite, and in no time at all, you'll be daydreaming of making your own Imperial Settlers factions.
Tokaido - Ah, the perfect modern classic family game. What you might not know is that the Deluxe Edition is releasing into friendly local game stores literally tomorrow (Feb 2). Below is a gallery of my painted miniatures from the Deluxe Edition. Why is this game perfect for Valentines Day? Because it's a relaxing stroll through the country, where you'll be making new friends, not fighting or shooting each other. Romance: It's not violence.
Games of Wondrous Riches!
Who says you have to be rich to feel rich? I don't know about you, but I'm a broke 20-something, and holidays stress me out. Most of the time, I make a Facebook post telling people I'm not celebrating just to avoid having to buy people gifts. I haven't an ounce of holiday cheer in me. That said, there are quite a few games that leave me with that same glorious feeling from childhood, when you beat your sibling in Monopoly by bankrupting them. Swimming in cash, regardless of if its authenticity, will always be pretty satisfying.
I recommend the games below, partially because of that joyous cash-money vibe, and partially because of the satisfaction one can get from handling the "cash" in these games during gameplay.
Stockpile - This recommendation has everything to do with me and nothing to do with you. I have an addiction to this game. Also, Stockpile is all about taking risks, just like your relationship! You'll have highs! You'll have lows! Things might even completely fall apart, or you could end up the luckiest person on earth. You'll have to find out by playing Stockpile.
Splendor - Gems are romantic, even in trade. Why is Splendor a great two player game? Because you slowly get to learn each others play styles, and slowly but surely, you'll learn to anticipate what the other player is going to do. That's when things get interesting and also happens to be the exactly moment that Splendor transforms from a simple resource management game in to a game about deceiving the people you care the most about. Get to know your loved one, over a loving game of Splendor.
7 Wonders Duel - Relationships can fail in many ways. There's cheating, lying, and worst of all, people who are way too clingy and don't know when to stop asking you out and inviting you over because you're just too busy.....
OH right, back to what I was saying. . .
In 7 Wonders Duel you can WIN in many ways. Will you defeat your opponent in a military victory or will you simply make a cash grab and try to make the most Wonders and earn the most money?! Perhaps you prefer a victory through noble work such as the sciences. If you've ever played 7 Wonders and enjoyed yourself, you need 7 Wonders Duel. If you've never played 7 Wonders, I BEG YOU to go pick it up this week. You won't regret it.
I hope my Valentines Day Board Game Guide will help you find true love. Call me Cupid, if it all works out, and feel free to send me a meeple steak in the mail if you're in the business of butchery. I really do want one of those. May your night end with Woohoo!
Edit—Just a reminder to our player-readers: check your Friendly Local Game Store for any of the games I've listed here. If you ARE an FLGS (owner or buyer), click this link to see all of these games on a single, convenient, GTS Distribution webpage! http://bit.ly/gts_valentines2016 — Thank you :-) -- Bebo