Solo Gaming

It’s been a long day of work, school, or life in general, and you just want to unwind. It’s pretty normal for people to pick up a controller and play their favorite video game to unwind. This is something that people have been doing for a while now since games like Mario and Pong came into being. But now we’re seeing something unique come into another industry that gives you another way to unwind. The board game industry has been coming out with a lot of games that are either meant to be played solo or have an official variant of the game that is solo.

I’ve laid out one of the reasons why people play games solo, but I want to talk a bit about why I play games solo. First, board games don’t need to be a social activity, in fact some games you are playing by yourself just at a table with a bunch of other people at it. These games don’t have much interaction already, so the social aspect is just the table talking. However, there are some games that simply don’t give you time to talk to people more than just a little bit because you are going fast and trying to concentrate that you couldn’t carry on a conversation if you wanted.

Image Source: Z-Man

Also, sometimes it’s hard to find time/people to play those board games with. There are games like Arkham Horror and Twilight Imperium that are all day events. You can’t get games like these to the table all that often, and then there are games like Dead of Winter which might be faster, but aren’t fast by any means. Dead of Winter still seems to take most of an evening whenever you play it, so while that’s easier to get to a table at two hours as compared to six, it’s still a good commitment for a lot of people. And even if you have the time to play a game like Arkham Horror, you might not have other people who have time to play it.

So when you need your board game fix, and you need that stimulation or reset for your brain after a busy day, solo gaming is a strong option. Most of the games that can be played solo don’t have a simple rule set that just allows you to only play with a single player and none of the rules change making the game either too hard or too easy, instead they have their own variant rules that keep the game balanced and challenging, or have been made specifically for a single player.

So what are some options for single player games, are there any good or interesting titles out there?

Onirim

This is a game that was specifically made for a single player though I believe there is a way to play with two players if you want. It’s a fairly simple game. You play as someone who is trapped in a nightmare and are trying to collect all the doors to be able to escape the dream. The game is a card game and you are trying to match sets of different colors as you play cards from your hand to find these dream doors. However, there are nightmares lurking in the deck trying to stop you from escaping. This game has a pretty small footprint and doesn’t have anything more than a deck of cards and a little nightmare token that isn’t needed to play the game. So it’s an easy one to take along somewhere if you are waiting at somewhere that has a small table.

Image Source: Fantasy Flight

Arkham Horror LCG

Not to be confused with Arkham Horror the giant board game, which you might be able to play solo, Arkham Horror the LCG is still Lovecraftian themed, but instead of a big board, you are playing cards and building up your investigator to try and complete the various scenario you are playing through. These scenarios are why it is called an LCG or Living Card Game. The game can be played without buying any additional cards or story packs, but once you’ve played through it, you might want to play a different story. So you can buy a pack of cards that has a new story for you to investigate. The game has a strong puzzle feel to it as you try and balance resources, race against the clock to complete the story, and what you do in a previous part of the story, they are generally three chapters, can influence future chapters. This game doesn’t have to be played solo, and can be played by four people if two sets are combined, but works really well as a solo game.

Legacy of Dragonholt

Another Fantasy Flight game, this one is a RPG like game. You design your character, giving them abilities that you’ll use as you go through a scenario. As you read through the scenario, you make decisions and use your abilities to open up options. Like Arkham Horror LCG, your decisions can effect future games. This is what gives the game a legacy feel. I’ve only played through a single scenario with this game as I think that Kristen would like it quite well, and it’s a game that can be played with a greater number of players. So should I consider this a solo game? I think that it is, not just because it has the option, but because the game has replayability so that playing it as a group certainly wouldn’t prohibit you from playing it again. Just going through the first scenario, there were plenty of story chunks that I didn’t read and plenty of story bits that I won’t know.

Image Source: Evil Hat

Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

It’s a handful of a name, but a really fun game. The Dresden Files Cooperative Card game takes you through the Dresden Files. There is a scenario for each book and a ton of different characters from those books to play as. It also gives you an option to create your own missions for even more replayability. What makes this interesting is that as a single player game, you can play with up to four, you play with three characters and have less cards to beat the game with than most other player counts. Yes, you have more knowledge than with a lower player count, but it is still challenging. The game has some very nice resource management, and the fact that the story board is set-up randomly each time means that playing the game twice won’t unfold the same. It’s a well developed game where it’s almost always close at the end and you’re just hoping for the last thing to go your way.

There are a lot more that can be solo played games as well if you’re interested at jumping in. A lot of the Legendary Games, Buffy, Aliens, Firefly, and Big Trouble in Little China can be played solo, and these more story based ones flow better than the more generic Marvel one that I had a review of saying that I didn’t like it all that well. Robinson Crusoe is another game that is about resource management that takes you through different challenging scenarios. You’ll find that a lot of cooperative games have a solo option because you’re always working with a little bit of open information and working together as a team. Even a massive game like Gloomahven can be played as a solo game with a variant to help you make it more challenging. I also have sitting yet to be played Apocrypha and 7th Continent for solo gaming.

If you’re looking for a way to unwind after a long day or just looking for more board gaming in your life, consider solo board gaming as an option. What games have you played as a solo game?


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