Hirtle highlights

Board games for couples: Hunters and Gatherers

by David Hirtle

This time we look at the standalone Carcassonne variant Hunters and Gatherers as a board game for couples. Although a 2-5 player game, Hunters and Gatherers plays well with just 2.

Hunters & Gatherers box

Complexity: low

Setup is a breeze. The rules boil down to: draw and place a tile, then maybe place a meeple. It takes a while to get familiar with how the tiles intersect, and what is considered a boundary, especially if this is your first Carcassonne game.

Compared to the original game, H&G has a few new features like bonus tiles, but we feel the added complexity enhances the game, not detracts. Also, some rules were simplified: in fact, the main reason we prefer this game is that hunting is so much easier to score than its counterpart in the original (farming).

There's definitely strategy involved in placing your tiles, especially if you want to "invade" your counterpart's forest or field or whatever, but most of the time your choice is pretty clear. The potential for dreaded analysis paralysis is, thankfully, low.

Interaction: medium

Hunters and Gatherers is interactive for two reasons: First, the turns are short, which means both players are always engaged. (Drawing tiles while the other is thinking helps here.) Second, it feels like you're collaborating on a big puzzle. Even if you start out doing your own thing, forests and fields etc. have a tendency to grow together.

Confrontation: low

The game is constructive: you're assembling something together. There's no direct hostility. The only confrontation happens when trying to sneak into another's field (for example) to share or rarely steal the points, but in our experience that doesn't happen often and is always a bit of a long shot.

Length: 45 minutes

The box is accurate. 45 minutes is a perfect length for us.

Value: high

Concrete proof of this game's replayability: my retired parents play almost daily and the components have held up fine (though worn). Sells for $30.

Bonus: our 2 year old likes playing with the meeples and tiles.


This was one of our first European board games and we fell in love with it. The versatility of playing well in a larger group or as a couple's game is nice. We definitely recommend giving Hunters and Gatherers a try.

View more board games for couples reviews.