Christmas Ideas: Solo Board Games
After a busy Thanksgiving with a fair amount of driving, I’m back to posting. We’re onto Cyber Monday, but I don’t have anything that I’m really looking for, so let’s talk about some games that you can give to that solo gamer in your life, or possibly some games you can ask for if you are the solo gamer.
Aeon’s End: War Eternal – This one showed up on the epic list as well, but it works in both spots. I’ve actually only played this one solo, and I had a lot of fun with it. In this game you are playing as one or more breach mages (I’d recommend more as it’s easy to play multiple), who are defending the town of Gravehold from the monsters that are attacking it. It’s a cooperative deck building game with an interesting mechanic where you don’t shuffle your cards, so if you are smart, you can set-up a good turn. I’m not to that point yet.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game – While I think that Mansions of Madness can be good solo as well, it’s a big game, so it’s nice to have multiple players for helping track everything. Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a smaller footprint of a game and really plays well solo. In multiplayer, between book keeping and turn down time, it might be a little bit slow, but as a solo game, you can go through the story fast. The story in this game works well, the only downside is that it’s a living card game, which means they are coming out with new story packs often.
Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger – Hence forth this game will be known as CYOA:HoD. But this is a really fun game and one that you can easily play solo. Now, with solo play, I think you lose some of the laughing around the table, but if you want to get through a game quickly, solo play is going to be great as you make choices going through the story and push your luck rolling the die. This game is really just a CYOA book with a little bit added to it, so you could just check out the book, but it’s a good time and works well in game form.
The Dresden Files: Cooperative Card Game – So many long names of board games to type out, but The Dresden Files is worth putting on the list as it’s a fun and challenging puzzle. This one is definitely for a fan of the series, though I do know of someone who played the game first and then read the series because of the game. It’s challenging to solve enough cases while beating enough bad guys, but if you have to come down to a roll at the end, it is every more tough. A well balanced game that does a good job of setting up different player counts and works well as a solo game.
Gloomhaven – Now, to be fair, I haven’t played this solo and I’ve loved it at a three player count. But I know of a lot of people who have played it solo and like it. This is a massive story driven dungeon crawl style game that plays a bit like a video game. It’s challenging, it’s grand, and to me, that’s probably the downside of solo. We just started using the app, but I can’t imagine not using the app if you are playing solo. There’s so much set-up and tear down, that without the app, it would be hard to manage everything, with the app, which is free, it shouldn’t be too bad. This is the spendiest game of the list, so just be aware of that if it sounds interesting.
Onirim – After the biggest game on the list, we have the smallest on my list. This game technically can play two, but it’s really a solo game. It’s a fun solitaire puzzle as you are playing down cards trying to find doors in your dreams, while also hoping not to pull a nightmare. If you do get a nightmare, you have a few choices of what to do, but none of them are good. It’s an abstract game, but it’s one that works well and it’s small so it’s easy to play solo in a lot of different settings. The version I got of the same comes with “expansions” as well, though I’d more call them modules that you can either add to your game or take out. They give a few new things that add to the challenge. Definitely a good small one for someone who might be interested in solo gaming.
Star Wars: Imperial Assault – Now, maybe you have someone who prefers Star Wars or at least Sci-Fi to fantasy, Imperial Assault is the game that they can solo. It’s a bigger game where you take your group of heroes through an app driven story. It’s a good dungeon crawl game, just with a fantasy setting, and it feels like Star Wars. In it, you are playing adjacent to the main storyline of the original trilogy, but it works well that way. What’s nice as well is that the app has a tutorial that gets you up and running also. Overall, it’s a fun dungeon crawl style game and for someone who doesn’t like fantasy, it’s going to be a great option.
Sword and Sorcery – But, maybe they do like fantasy, but Gloomhaven is just too much to jump into. Sword and Sorcery provides a good option for slaying monsters in this story driven dungeon crawl game. It has a good challenge level, though the treasures that you find can swing it to your advantage as time goes on. Definitely has a bit of a video game feel to it, and the death mechanic, in particular, works really well. This game offers a more limited campaign than Gloomhaven does, but at a much lower price, and it has monster minis as compared to cardboard standees like Gloomhaven. Definitely a fun, dice chucking, dungeon crawl game.
Unlock/Exit/Escape Room Games – I am basically putting a category here, but I believe that all of them can be played solo, I’d just double check on the box. Any of the escape room style games works well, because you are racing against a clock trying to solve a puzzle to escape a room, but instead of it costing $20 per person to go and play in a group in a physical location, you can get the same thing through Unlock or Exit for around $15. The games are challenging and a good time as you try and puzzle through how you can combine items to get what you want. I really like the Unlock games because they are non-destructive, which means that you can pass them on once you are done.
Village Attacks – Those pesky villagers are at it again, attacking you “peaceful” monsters with their pitchforks and torches. It’s your job to drive them back in this cooperative game. I had a lot of fun with this game in a group, but I think it’s going to be strong as a solo game as well, either controlling multiple monsters up against the villagers, since turns are pretty simple, or one monster holding them all off. It’s a bigger game again that requires some set-up, but once you get going, the game moves along nicely and offers a really good challenge.
Welcome To… – It’s hard to create a list without putting a roll and write on it as they generally offer you a chance to hit a certain score total. Welcome To… for me is the best solo play as it offers a good limited time crunch in the game, and forces you to make some tough decisions about what you’re going to do. The game also has more depth to it, which I think a lot of solo players will like as compared to some simpler roll and write games. The theming works in the game, but mainly it’s a fun puzzle to crack as you try and get your houses into order and build your perfect neighborhood.
There are a ton more games out there. Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, I’ve heard is a good solo experience. I know that Mage Knight is a game that people love to play solo, and I have several others sitting on my shelf that I haven’t gotten to yet, such as Tainted Grail. It’s a good time for solo gaming, and if you have someone who likes to relax and unwind with board games, some of these might be great options for them.
What is a solo game that you like? Are there any that I haven’t played or don’t have on my list that you think I should check out?
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