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Skull King Two Player Review

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All board game reviews and ratings from “A Pair of Meeples” are entirely based on the game at two players. You can learn more about our rating system by clicking below.


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Skull King quickly became one of our most played games, but with one caveat.  We have not played it as a two-player game since the first month we got it.

Skull King Review

2.5 out of 10
Skull King Board Game Review

Is Skull King Good For Two Players? : H”arrr”d No

If you’re considering getting this game for two players, we recommend you pass on this one, but if you want a fun, simple game for game nights with others, definitely consider Skull King.

Theme: 5/10
Replayability: 5/10
Components: 5/10

Conflict: 3/10
Fun: 1/10

Husband’s Rating
2 out of 10
Wife’s Rating
3 out of 10

Pros

Small Game

Fun betting mechanism

Simple

Fun Theme

Cons

Keeping score is a bit of work

Gameplay Experience:

Skull King was a game that was so affordable and highly rated that we didn’t think about it and just added it to our collection.  As with most of our new games, my wife and I tried it out by ourselves first.  The game states it is for two to six players so we were hoping that it would still be fun with two players.  

We dealt our cards out and played the full 10 rounds of the game just the two of us.  The betting was pretty fun and resulted in laughter almost every round.  There’s just something about slamming your fists on the table three times while saying yo-ho-ho that just makes you feel like… an insane person, especially when you’re alone in a room with just your wife, but it was fun nonetheless.  

Other than this fun betting mechanism though, there was a lot to be desired from the gameplay.  We are normally fans of trick-taking card games so we thought we were going to like Skull King more than we did.  We played a few more games after that and slowly the fun of the betting between the two of us didn’t outweigh the lackluster gameplay.  The game was shelved for quite some time.

Then one day we had a game night with the family and decided to bring Skull King since it’s very easy to travel with.  The game was a totally different experience.  The betting was even more fun with more people slamming their fists on the table and yo-ho-ho’ing like a bunch of drunken pirates. And the gameplay was so much better.

It felt like you had more control over the game, even though you were playing against more people, resulting in your actions being meaningful.  You could strategize more and hopefully take as many tricks as you originally bet if you played your cards right.  In a two-player game, all of this meaningfulness was just missing.

After having so much fun playing it with a group of people, we searched to see if anybody had any suggestions for how to make the game better for two players.  There were suggestions like removing a whole suite to make the odds more similar, which we tried but it still didn’t even come close to games with a higher player count.

Skull King Rules Summary:

Skull King is a trick-taking game played over 10 rounds.  Players are dealt a number of cards equal to the round that they are currently on.  To score points, players will have to correctly bet on how many tricks they will take.

What makes Skull King different from other trick-taking games is its unique betting method.  

All players simultaneously bang their fists on the table at the start of the round after looking at their cards, while shouting yo-ho-ho three times.  On the third “ho”, all players will hold out a number of fingers representing how many tricks they think they will win, this is their bet for that round.

This betting is where this game shines because the total number of fingers showing doesn’t usually equal the number of tricks that will be won that round.  For example, in round 5, 5 total tricks will be taken, but the total number of tricks bet could be 10.  This is because betting is simultaneous and players have less information to go on when making their bets.

When this happens all players usually look at each other with shocked faces and looks of worry as they now question their bets.  When the trick bets total isn’t equal to the round number it’s guaranteed that at least one player isn’t meeting their bet.

Other than the betting, the game plays very similarly to any other trick-taking game.  There are some special cards though including Pirates, Surrenders, and the Skull King.  All of these cards can be played anytime(don’t have to follow suit) and thus are useful tools to reach your bet.  

Skull King Special Cards
Some of Skull Kings special cards.

The pirates will win over all colored cards including the trump suit.  The surrenders do exactly what you think, guarantee you lose the trick(unless you’re the last person to play a surrender).  Finally, the Skull King beats everything, including pirates.  Any pirates played before the Skull King will give you bonus points.

Standard Cards in Skull King
Standard Cards in Skull King

So really in general Skull King is very similar to most trick-taking games and has only a few unique aspects to it, but those few aspects do add up to make it a different game.

You can find the official Skull King Rules pdf here and other frequently asked questions about the gameplay.

Conclusion:

Overall Skull King is a unique trick-taking game that provides a lot of fun for 3 or more players.  This is a result of its pirate themed simultaneous betting mechanism.  

In this game, each round starts with everyone laughing and looking at each other while slamming their fists on the table until the bets are made, and then the tension instantly rises.  Everybody all at once starts to question their decision.

I don’t think I’ve found a game yet that has been able to do what Skull King can do.  It has every player go from such silliness to extreme tension, with both being fun.  

Unfortunately though, as we said earlier, this game is just not good with only two players.  So if you only ever play games with two, we recommend you pass on this one, but if you want a fun, simple game for game nights with others, definitely consider Skull King.

Is Skull King Good For Two Players?:

Skull King is quite bad for two players.  With how great this game is at other player counts we were hoping we could enjoy this game just the two of us but there just isn’t anything there. 

All your plays seem meaningless because they just are.  I know it sounds like I’m a depressed emo kid, but there is just no substance in a game of two player Skull King.

Whoever leads the trick plays a card and then the other has to play a card.  And most of the time you may not have a choice in what card you can play because you have to follow suit.  This is what makes it seem pointless.  

In a two player game, you don’t have other players to save you from winning a trick, and there are just a lot more cards factored into each round.  This makes everything seem fairer and like your actions mean something.

Skull King for two players feels very hollow and is not worth the time to play, especially once the fun of slamming your fists on the table as pirates wears off.  Even though the box says it can be played with two, we don’t think it ever should be.

Pros

  • Small Game
  • Fun betting mechanism
  • Simple
  • Fun Theme

Cons

  • Keeping score is a bit of work

Grandpa Beck's Games Skull King - The Ultimate Pirate Trick Taking Game | from The Creators of Cover Your Assets & Cover Your Kingdom | 2-8 Players 8+
Grandpa Beck's Games Skull King - The Ultimate Pirate Trick Taking Game | from The Creators of Cover Your Assets & Cover Your Kingdom | 2-8 Players 8+
Grandpa Beck's Games Skull King - The Ultimate Pirate Trick Taking Game | from The Creators of Cover Your Assets & Cover Your Kingdom | 2-8 Players 8+

We hope this Skull King two player review has helped you.

Our reviews are not paid reviews, but some games are given to us, we do not let this affect our opinions in any way. This post may contain affiliate links so we might receive compensation if you sign up for or purchase products linked to. As an Amazon Associate, we can earn from qualifying purchases. This helps cover our site's costs and allows us to continue reviewing games.


Grandpa Beck's Games Replacement Score Pads for Skull King - The Ultimate Pirate Trick Taking Game | from The Creators of Cover Your Assets & Cover Your Kingdom
Grandpa Beck's Games Replacement Score Pads for Skull King - The Ultimate Pirate Trick Taking Game | from The Creators of Cover Your Assets & Cover Your Kingdom
Grandpa Beck's Games Replacement Score Pads for Skull King - The Ultimate Pirate Trick Taking Game | from The Creators of Cover Your Assets & Cover Your Kingdom

Skull King Scoresheets

If you have run out of scoresheets for Skull King you have a couple of options. You can download and print them directly from the game's official site here: Scorepads | Grandpa Beck's Games (grandpabecksgames.com), or if you want them to be exactly the same you can order more of them from Amazon.


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