The Ultimate Games-for-my-Spouse/Partner List
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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Originally called "Good Fast Themed Non-Military Not-in-your-face Non-dice-rolling Non-dexterity Non-word 2(+)-Player Games"

This is not another Games My Wife Would Play list. Well ... maybe it is, a little. But those older lists didn't quite have what I want, so this list is way cooler! I need games meeting the following criteria:
1. Must be good with 2 players (but more is OK)
2. No direct confrontation. So, no combat/war games, likely no territory-control ... nothing where one player can directly mess with the other player's pieces or expansion plan. Not even Carcassonne, where you can steal each other's cities! She don't like that!
3. Limited luck. Cards are better, but few (if any) dice should be used in the game. The dice are against her angry
4. Fast. The game should play in no more than 60 minutes.
5. Not an abstract - should at least have a pasted-on theme! No Gipf! (I don't like abstracts very much, in general)
6. No military theme (nothing against it per se, but we're just not that into it)
----ADDED 9 December----
7. Not a speed/dexterity game - I'm just too good laugh
8. Not a word game

Tough criteria (we don't play all that much anymore with just the two of us). Please add more games that fit these requirements. Thanks!
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1. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:229]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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Saint Petersburg

Not much of a theme, but otherwise should fit the bill. May have limited replay value, I hear.
 
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2. Board Game: 10 Days in Africa [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1612]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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10 Days in Africa (or USA or Europe, although I haven't tried either of those)

Really works pretty well. But you don't want to just play this over and over!
 
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3. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:228]
 
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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San Juan

This works well, although I think you need to remove the Library for 2er games.
 
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4. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:107]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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Goa?

I think this would be a good choice, but I haven't been able to play it in quite a long time. All the rule (and RGG rule book) issues put me off a bit!
 
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5. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:207]
Bob Carstensen
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Acquire - it's fast, has a theme, not confrontational; it can be played by two, w/ special rules. Not as good w/ two, but there you go...
 
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6. Board Game: Balloon Cup [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:904]
Pierce Ostrander
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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Meets all criteria.
 
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7. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
Eric Landes
United States
Beaverton
Oregon
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Theme is pasted on, but seems to fit your description.

What you're really looking for, it seems, is multi-player solitaire.

If you're willing to expand the length of play a little bit, check out British Rails or India Rails. My wife and I can get in a game of India Rails in about 1.5 hours or so.
 
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8. Board Game: Odin's Ravens [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1065]
Pierce Ostrander
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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We always have fun with this one. A race game!!!
 
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9. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:393]
Pierce Ostrander
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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I dislike this game with more than 3 players.

I used to think it was best with 3, but I now think I like it better with two! A great 2-player game that meets all your criteria.

I originally thought this was an over-constrained problem, but actually... this is easy!
 
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10. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1218]
Naomi Dushay
United States
Redwood City
California
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The only potential problem is when you have overlapping sets. But it's fun, fast, plays well with two, scales up, no dice.
 
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11. Board Game: BuyWord [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2906]
Naomi Dushay
United States
Redwood City
California
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This is a brilliant example of how to play simultaneously, without direct competition for resources. Works for 2, scales up, is quick. There is a die ... but it affects both players equally.
 
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12. Board Game: Gulo Gulo [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:945]
Cliff Fuller
United States
New York
NY
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This game meets all your criteria, unless you decide to add "no dexterity games."

Players race along a colored track of (variable) tiles to the finish. A wooden cup (the "nest") holds wooden "eggs" of varying sizes and colors. The nest is rigged with a stick pointing straight up in the "nest," held fast by the eggs, which if tripped due to shifting, will fall out of the shallow cup.

Track position is determined by which color "egg" one procures from the "nest." Success moves you forward to the next matching color of that egg type; failure sends you backwards. Short, tense, fast, and fun.

Basically takes an unplayable game like Candyland (which almost satisfies your requirements, save luck) and makes it a great light fun game.

Zoch games in general (released in the states by Rio Grande) are dexterity-based and very non-confrontational as a rule. I'd also look at Dawn Under (which gives "Memory" a similar radically fun makeover).
 
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13. Board Game: Starship Catan [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:810]
Dan Poole
United States
Goldsboro
North Carolina
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Udu Wudu
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Udu Wudu
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This game has gotten mixed reviews, though me and my fiance rather like it a lot. 1) It is purely 2 players, 2) minimal dice rolling (there is a little), 3) no combat between players; the only combat is very limited, and that is against random space pirates, 4) there is an element of luck, but at the same time, there is a nice strategic element, 5) definitely not abstract.
 
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14. Board Game: Take it Easy! [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1377]
Christian Monterroso
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
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If you are not having fun, then you are missing the point.
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The name says it all as far as meeting your criteria.
Really a multi-player solitaire game.
 
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15. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:554]
Nate Sandall
United States
Portland
Oregon
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There's a reason why this game has remained popular for almost 400 years!
 
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16. Board Game: Caesar & Cleopatra [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1431]
This would be my recommendation. Plays fast, not too heavy, but with enough options and opportunities for bluff and trickery.

It's well balanced because both players have the same influence cards. If a bad shuffle places all your low cards at the start of the deck then the back of the deck is full of high cards.

Lastly, I find that the theme is reasonably well represented. The moves in the game can be quite subtle, and so they do have an air of 'political manoeuvering' about them.
 
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17. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:124] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Denise Lavely
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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This was the first game that my husband and I played until we were sick of it - which took awhile There is a little confrontation sometimes in the two player game, but it's pretty much accidental when it happens - when the other person takes the route you NEEDED, they shouldn't KNOW you needed that route if you are smart and don't telegraph it. After we got the hang of it, most of our two player games lasted about 30 minutes.
 
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18. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:366]
Denise Lavely
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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Have you tried the two player variant for Bohnanza? We really enjoy it, and found you are almost never competing for the same cards. And there's a generosity factor - if you spend the evening playing a game where you give a lot of things to your spouse, tends to put spouses in a good mood to be giving later on, nudge nudge wink wink
 
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19. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:569] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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This may seem a bit abstract, but it's a lot of fun and meets the rest of your criteria.
 
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20. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:893]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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This is not the best game with two players, but it is an awfully fun little game.
 
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21. Board Game: Schotten Totten [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:370]
David Veach
United States
Chico
California
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I saw somone mention this along with Battle Line which I suppose is very similar. My wife enjoys this one quite a bit. It plays fast so we can get in several rounds in one sitting.
 
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22. Board Game: India Rails [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:2199] [Average Rating:7.05 Unranked]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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This, or any of the Mayfair crayon rail games, works well. There is some competition for the cheap routes, but it's mostly each player playing against the game, trying to optimize efficiency in track building and train movement in a race to connect the required cities and get to $250. We usually play these games with the quick-start rules (more money to start), and with a timer when playing with other people.
 
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