2-player games for a parent and an 8/9-year old
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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My son is almost 10, and he's been playing games for years. Although we'd both prefer three- or four-player games like Settlers, more often than not we end up playing two-player games because they're much easier to fit in. These are the ones that we come back to fairly regularly.

In some cases, we play the game straight up. For other games, it works better if I give him some kind of handicap. I'll note any such changes below.

Some of the games below are strictly two player. Others allow more players, but I'm only considering them in two-player mode.
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1. Board Game: Empire Builder [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:951]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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He loves the Mayfair crayon games. (We also play Russian Rails. I'm sure he'll enjoy Iron Dragon when we get around to it.) I usually give him some extra money and a fast train upgrade to start the game.
 
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2. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:124] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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A new favorite, but we haven't played it enough yet to calibrate a good handicap.
 
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3. Board Game: Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:389]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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We also like regular Carcassonne, but we come back to Hunters and Gatherers more often. Instead of a handicap, we usually play this one cooperatively, trying to get the highest combined score. (We keep track of our old games so we can shoot for new high scores.)
 
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4. Board Game: Word Thief [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:6458]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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Probably our favorite word game. No explicit handicap, but I help recommend words that he might not see.
 
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5. Board Game: Boggle [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:1959]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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Although we like Word Thief slightly better, we probably play Boggle more often. Because it is so quick, it is easy to fit a game in when you have a few spare minutes. As a handicap, he gets extra time (usually he gets the full 3 minutes and I get about 90 seconds), and I don't get points for 3-letter words.
 
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6. Board Game: Elfenland [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:794]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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Usually, I give him an extra card and we play without the blockers.
 
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7. Board Game: Balloon Cup [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:905]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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We sometimes play this where I can't trade in 3 leftover cubes for a different color.
 
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8. Board Game: Star Wars: Epic Duels [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:890]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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Pretty much the only one of the Star Wars games I've ever been able to stand. We play this one straight up.
 
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9. Board Game: The Legend of Landlock [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:7361]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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Another tile-laying game for when we don't have enough time for Carcassonne.
 
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10. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:554]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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Our favorite two-player card game with standard cards.
 
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11. Board Game: Pylos [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:2503]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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A simple, very fast abstract strategy game, with surprising depth for how fast it goes. I usually go first (which is a minus in this game).
 
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12. Board Game: Kage [Average Rating:5.04 Unranked]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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Boy am I glad I bought this one when it was briefly in print. Works great with kids.
 
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13. Board Game: Phantoms vs Phantoms [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2256]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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We received the German version (Geister) as a gift, without an English translation. At the time, I didn't know about BGG so it took us a while to figure out how to play. :-)
 
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14. Board Game: Racko Plus [Average Rating:5.77 Overall Rank:11736]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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A sorting game with a certain (distant) similarity to Lost Cities. He doesn't like Lost Cities because the scoring is such a pain.
 
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15. Board Game: Krypto [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:8960]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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The most blatantly "educational" game on this list, but still a lot of fun. Usually, I filter out some of the larger (and harder to work with) numbers out of his hand.
 
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16. Board Game: Coda [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:2881]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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A logic game that fills the same ecological niche as Mastermind, but better because both players are involved simultaneously.
 
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17. Board Game: Gobblet [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1815]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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Not one of my favorites, but he likes it, especially the gobbling part. I'd probably like it better if we could figure out a good handicap.
 
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18. Board Game: Backgammon [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1087]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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Can't leave out the classics!
 
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19. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:270] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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We haven't actually played this one yet, but he's getting it for his birthday (shhh!) and I'm sure it will instantly shoot to the top of his list.
 
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