Valentine's Day is a week away from today! If you are looking for some real bonding activities for couples, ditch the movie theatre and Netflix and engage face-to-face in an immersive board game. As an added plus, uncover hidden aspects of your partner's personality you never knew existed. You don't truly know a person until you've seen them crumble in a battle of wits!
One of the convenient aspects of Asian board games is that they are usually easy to learn and relatively fast to play (none of these games here will take over 20 minutes). But don't let the simplicity of these games fool you - they will all tickle and twist your brain in a variety of different ways. We have also conveniently chosen titles that are all available for purchase on the Origame shop, so all these games are just mere clicks away!
Hitmen Hotel (MooMeeNyu Designs, Singapore)
MooMeeNyu's spy-themed deduction game has been a 'Hit' so far with all who have tried it, and though it is playable at 3 and 4, it shines best at 2 players. And justifiably so - in a game about spy-on-spy elimination, it definitely feels the most tense at 2. Every clue you get and every chance you have to shoot your fellow player may be the last, because you may not get another turn!
Tower of Doubt (itten, Japan)
Keeping with deduction games, itten's Tower of Doubt (old title Tower of Conspiracy) has all the hallmarks of a quirky Japanese game - one-of-a-kind components, unique mechanics, and the ability to bend your mind in a way only Japanese games can. Place blocks on towers to both confuse and stake your claims on the gems - the double-think is real!
Rubber Paper Scissors (Wonderful World, Taiwan)
Despite looking like a children's comic book, there is enough depth and strategy here for gamers. And the theme, which is to capture different spaces in a stationery store window, is as charming as you'll find. Even if you don't enjoy rock paper scissors, there's plenty of interesting choices that you'll want to play this 2-player gem again and again.
Geisha's Road (Emperor S4, Taiwan)
The second in the Hanamikoji series, Geisha's Road is often overshadowed and perhaps even confused with its older sibling Hanamikoji, but there is a fresh game here that is very different from the original. If you enjoy the bidding/I cut you choose mechanics of the original, but want a deeper, more involved experience which includes new features like a rondel system, we can't recommend Geisha's Road enough. In addition, the mechanics really tie into the feeling of graduating maikos into geishas through tea ceremonies, so lovers of Asian culture and history definitely need to take a look at this.
Oh My. Orchids! (Origame, Singapore)
In lieu of giving flowers, why not present an equally pretty box that will last on your giftee's shelf for more than 2 weeks? Oh My. Orchids! is not just a 2 player game (it plays to 5), but it really stands out at 2 because you can focus on paying attention to what your opponent is building towards and try to foil their upcoming moves. With deceptively simple rules but many pathways to victory, this game about Singaporean flowers is the perfect date game - relaxing on the surface but bubbling tension underneath.
inconversible: Dawn Erasing You (Underdog Games, Korea)
Think you know your partner well?
Put it to the test in this co-operative game from an independent Korean publisher that is fantastic at 2. Take a break from all the viciously competitive 2p games and win or lose together in this gem that Dixit lovers will enjoy. Though the theme of the game is about heartbreak, hopefully the reverse is true if you play this with your better half, because you will definitely learn much more about how their mind works!
BONUS: Jekyll and Hide Series (Mandoo Games, Korea)
Need more 2 player recommendations? Jekyll and Hyde, the award-winning hit 2 player trick-taking game by Mandoo Games that spawned many editions worldwide also led to two other games in the same series, Jekyll and Hyde vs Scotland Yard and Dracula vs Van Helsing. Each game has their own unique mechanics but all share a tense push-and-pull feel that is essential for a classic 1v1. If you're not getting these games for Valentine's Day, circle back around in October because they are perfect Halloween games as well!