So last board game mechanic I was talking about area control or area majority and Dungeon Crawls got mentioned in that article. I said I was going to do something about that mechanic, but when it comes down to it, it’s really not a mechanic. …
Tag: Mansions of Madness
We’ve all seen Simpsons Monopoly and Monopoly for a specific football team or baseball team, national parks, or city. Those are all IP’s put onto Monopoly, intellectual properties. Those aren’t going to make this list, I’m looking at my top 10 favorite games that are …
What, another order already? This one I did in particular because I want to help support my local game stores, and Chronicles of Crime is a game that I’ve heard a lot about. If you are in the Minneapolis area and want delivery (and are close enough) All Systems Go is a great shop that does delivery and they were delivering my Ms Marvel – Marvel Champions pack to me, so I decided to add to my delivery and support them.
Why did I pick Chronicles of Crime?
There are multiple reasons, first, I really like games that have some sort of puzzle or deduction to them. Escape room games like Unlock or Exit are good examples, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition or Arkham Horror The Card Game even have elements of them. So I like detective style games as well, even Clue, the classic, I still enjoy because of the puzzle of figuring out information as efficiently as possible.
The other thing is that is has an interesting app integration piece. Now, that’s going to disappoint some people, but I really find it interesting, though it can’t be played without the app. The app scans QR codes allowing you to interact with people and ask them about clues or other people you might have found during you investigation. But that’s not the coolest piece of the app in my opinion. Instead, there is a video component that you can use basically as VR if you want, where you can look all around and see the crime scene. While you’re doing that, you’re telling the other players what you see and they’re grabbing what might be useful clues for you to use later in your investigation.
The other thing that’s really cool about this for me is that there is a community aspect to it. It’s not just the company making scenarios, you can go out and get scenarios that other people have created and put together so maybe someone did a dog napping or there was a grisly murder, you don’t know. But there can be an ever increasing amount of story just from the base game. Plus there are expansions, there is a Noir expansion that looks cool, but I’m more excited for the Redview expansion which is a kids on bikes, almost RPG like version of the game, so it doesn’t have to just be crime, you can do wildly different things with it.
So hopefully that explains why I was interested in the game and picked it up. Does it sound like a game that would be cool? Maybe see if your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) and get it ordered in for you and help them during these times.
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Now, let me set a few ground rules. The game must have an official solo version, it can’t be something like Pandemic Legacy Season 1, which I played solo, but officially, by the rules, isn’t a solo game. I will say though, I haven’t played all of the games on this solo, but it is an official option, and I’ll call out when I haven’t done it, might be for one of several reasons including I started it not solo, so for a game on the list, that’s the only reason I haven’t played it solo. But as we’re in a time when for some people solo gaming might be their only option, here are 10 games from my favorites that can be played solo, officially.
10 – Onirim
Technically you can play the game with two players, but it’s a solo game through and through. It’s a fun puzzle type of game as you are trying to escape or sort a dream before the nightmares can get you. But to do that, you need to play down colored cards in pairs of three of the same color, you just can’t have the same symbol back to back. And beware the pesky nightmares, that can ruin a good hand or will you push your luck in other ways to deal with the nightmare? The game plays fast, and app for it is great, but I like playing it with the physical game, even though there can be a lot of shuffling. There are also a lot of expansions/variations that you can play out of the box as well, so it gives you good variety in the game.
9 – Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
The name is a mouthful, but the game offers a lot of interesting fun solo. In it you play as Harry Dresden and two other characters when solo and you build out a hand for each of them. So really it’s a multihanded game at that point, but compared to the normal three player game, I believe that you end up with less cards to work with, and in a game where cards are at a premium, it makes is very tough still even with perfect information. The game is definitely a puzzle to be solved at that point in time, and with a few lucky die rolls maybe it’ll be an easy solve, but you never know. If you’re a Dresden Files fan, I’d say that it matches the books well, if you’re not, I think the game is interesting, but probably not as strong.
8 – Welcome To…
This flip and write offers you an interesting game that you can do solo as you build up your perfect Stepford, I mean perfect town. It does one thing that isn’t my favorite in a solo game, it’s a beat your best score sort of game, but it works well as a solo game. You have a lot of choices to make as you have to use two cards from a combination of three. Now, this is the solo mode that comes out of the base box, I do believe that they created another solo variant for the game at a later time that might be even better or give you another challenge for winning besides just trying to beat your best score. It’s a good solo filler game.
7 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
This is the game that a future game on the list is loosely based off of, but this one holds up well on it’s own. In this game you construct a deck for your investigator and then you send them off to investigate some weird goings on and solve the mystery that is happening. I like it solo because as compared to some where you are just trying to beat a point total, in this one, you have a clear objective and with only one player, the game moves along really nicely. I have played this one player and two player, and while two player is fun because you can share the story, at one player you have no downtime. And there’s a ton of content for this, so you’re not likely to ever run out of material to play in the game.
6 – Aeon’s End: War Eternal
One of a few deck builders or deck constructions games, Aeon’s End: War Eternal is a really fun game and works really well solo. On Malts and Meeples, I played through a game of it solo and it worked well to play it two handed. You can play up to 4 breach mages, but I think that two works fine and is easy to keep track of. But because you aren’t shuffling the decks that are being built ever, it keeps the downtime of not playing the game to a minimum because you’re always just flipping for the next turn. The game has a lot of cool mechanics, and I think that the not shuffling the deck is one of the coolest, and I really like the turn order mechanic as well where you’re just flipping from a deck so you never know who is going to go next.
5 – Xenoshyft: Onslaught
I’ve played this one solo, kind of, I’ve played it solo in the app, and while the game worked well solo, the app is horrible and I’d strongly recommend not playing it that way. It definitely doesn’t work on a phone and maybe would on a tablet. But it’s a game that you can find and have a variety of how you play it depending on which character you pick. I expect that it’d be more challenging solo, though, you only have to make it through 3 rounds at each difficulty level. The downside is that the health of your base is way lower. The game offers good challenge and I like the somewhat silly nature of the game because it reminds me of Starship Troopers and a bit of Ender’s Game as you’re defending a base against bug monsters.
4 – Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon
The downside to putting this one on the list is that it’s going to be extremely hard to find. It was a Kickstarter at the end of 2018 that delivered at the end of 2019. There are going to be some copies on eBay, but I’d expect them to be expensive, but I really like this game solo. It’s a massive story driven survival game where you are sent out from your little farming village after the real heroes of the town have gone out and not come back. Can you fend off the Wyrdness that is creeping across the lands of Avalon and solve the mysteries that the game presents to you. The game is done in chapters, and I find the chapters to be a solid bite of the game that you can play in a sitting or two and get interesting and good story. It’s going to be spendy, but it’s really good.
3 – Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
When you want a mystery to try and solve, Mansions of Madness: Second Edition gives you that. I have played this solo once I believe, and I thought it worked pretty well. Board Game Geek users don’t think it’s bad at one, they just like it at higher player counts, and I think the most heavily story driven games I find that to be true, but it works well in a pinch. As you’re playing against the app which is laying out the mystery, you might find that you’re not having enough time to do everything, and that’s even the case with multiplayer. The app lays out the board and mysteries as well, so even if you’ve played a scenario once and lost, you can play it again and you’ll notice little things that are different about it. I really like this game, and because of the app integration, it’d be a really good solo game.
2 – Marvel Champions: The Card Game
I’ve played this one solo a few times and while I’ve only beat it multiplayer, that is because I was learning it more so playing it solo. The game is a lot of fun, you feel like the superhero that you’re supposed to be playing with the actions that they have and equipment. The deck building aspect is interesting as well because you can really change up the character with the aspect that you give them, maybe you want Iron Man to be defensive or a leader or aggressive, by swapping out some of the generic cards, you’re able to build the character so that they focus in a unique way. If you’re a Marvel fan and a board game fan, I’d say that this game is a really good choice, and the solo mode for this time works extremely well.
1 – Gloomhaven
This is one of them that I haven’t played solo, but you can, even though you need to play it two handed solo. I can see the solo working really well and I know it’s very popular solo, because you can really work on synergies and strategies that you might not be able to do in a multiplayer game. They recommend in the rule book for solo that you play up a level of difficulty for that reason because you’ll know precisely how fast both the characters are going. Now, with Gloomhaven , playing is solo, I’d say that the Gloomhaven Helper app is a must, and I’d even think the Foreteller app with the 51 base Gloomhaven scenarios and coming soon the side scenarios being read to you, it’d offer more feeling of discovery and immersion. Now, Gloomhaven is, of course, massive, so I’d recommend getting an organizer and even leaving it set out if you can.
What are some games that you like to play solo? I know that I have more on my list, such as Aeon’s End Legacy, Folklore The Affliction and 7th Continent that I need to play. Plus there are games like Sword & Sorcery and Legends of Andor that’d work well solo but didn’t make the list for me. Now is really the time if you can dig into a bigger adventure game to tackle one of those solo as we probably won’t be able to have many in person gaming experiences for a while.
Are there any games that I should checkout for solo play? Do you think that any listed don’t work well solo?
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Another mechanic that I really love, action points/allowance is basically how many things you can do on your turn. Now, I want to say that this differentiates from something like Monopoly or Clue where you can do multiple things on your turn, possibly. I doubt …
I have a lot of mechanics that I like, deck building was an easy list for me to make and while I don’t always love area control, there are some of the games that I love that use it. But variable player powers, that is probably my favorite. For those who aren’t as familiar with the concept, simply, it means that I can do something that you can’t. That can be that I could move a piece for free, or do a more powerful version of an action, but I can do something unique. It’s that feeling of doing something different that gives you the feeling that you are special in the game or that you have a different direction in the game than other players can that is really cool.
10 – Lords of Hellas
You’re playing as a mythological Greek character, of course they are going to have their own powers. They have a couple of things that are unique, first they have something that they get while setting, up, in my case, I was getting a priest/priestess to start the game. And then you have a special ability that only you can do. It kind of helps focus you on what you want to do for a win condition because those are so diversified as well. The game has a lot of unique things that you can do as well, because when temples are built, it might trigger drafting a blessing. And those blessings are unique powers to you a well so you become more unique and diversified as time goes on the further you get into the game.
9 – Dice Throne Season 1 and 2
These characters are completely unique in the game. They roll their own unique dice, they have their own unique decks, and their player board is going to do unique things as well. The game is pretty simple in concept as it uses Yahtzee and King of Tokyo style rolling where you can roll three times and you see what you get, but when you actually dig into what the characters can do, there’s a lot of interesting things that allow you tweak dice or that you can focus on. The Pyromancer plays very different than the Shadow Thief who plays different than the Gunslinger who is different than the Cursed Pirate, so you do need to plan out your strategies and hope that you have the cards to make the dice rolls work. It’s probably the simplest game on the list, but it gives you that feeling of playing a special character without you learning so much that’s new.
8 – Aeon’s End: War Eternal
There are a number of things that make you unique in this deck building game. First, your deck is going to be constructed differently at the start, you are going to have a card in there that is special to you. So that’s a unique power. The set-up of your breaches for casting spells is also unique, but not really a power. Finally, on your player board, you have an ability that you can charge, that ability is probably pretty powerful and it’s unique to you. All of that gives you a unique feel and a unique focus. If you plan it right, you can set-up good synergies between the characters where one character can get a spell cheaper and pass that spell to another player, and that other player can then focus on getting breaches open to cast more spells for better use of the games money.
7 – Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
Spoilers, this isn’t the only Arkham game on the list. Fantasy Flight does a good job of making all the characters with unique powers. Not only do you have a unique skill set and health and sanity levels. But it’s the character powers and unique character items that really can set you apart. And generally, you’re going to need to use those powers because it’s going to give you something that you can do that is just better than a regular action. Now, they don’t always come into play, but to really optimize your game, you’re probably going to want to use those powers. There’s just a lot to love about this game and the variable player powers is just the icing on the cake.
6 – XenoShyft: Onslaught
Not one that jumped out to me at the start as having variable player powers, but when I thought about it, you do have unique roles that you do. At the start it’s just that every role can buy a certain type of item cheaper. But as you get further into waves, you unlock more special abilities that make your character unique. Plus, in your starting deck, as this is a deck builder, you get unique things. It might be weapon or armor or a soldier, but you are going to have a unique starting deck compared to everyone else. That really drives the game because you need to support each other, and it has the interesting mechanic where you can trade cards or play cards when another person is going in order to help them get through their line up of alien bugs. So while some of the variable power games on the list have you really as your own unique character where you do that thing, this one is set-up so that you can help the other players which is a unique twist.
5 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
First of two living card games, but all of Fantasy Flight’s Arkham line of products (seeing as this isn’t the first on the list) do a good job with variable player powers. You always are going to have different stats for things like lore, agility, and strength, but you also are going to have a special character power that only you can do, and beyond that, your health and sanity ratios are going to be different as well. Beyond that, each character is going to have a deck that is uniquely built for them. While some of these aren’t technically powers, they are things that make your character feel very unique. And it can help tailor your play style, you’re probably always going to need to be okay at getting clues, but some characters are going to be better at that while others are going to be stronger at attacking. Overall, it’s just a good system and makes any Arkham line of game feel unique.
4 – Marvel Champions
Marvel Champions hits what I want for variable player powers, giving it to me not just because my deck of cards is unique, but because I can do something special as both my super hero side and my alter-ego side. In this game you’re facing off against a villain as a Marvel superhero such as Spider-Man or Captain America. Captain America can do something different as Steve Rogers and as Captain America and those things are different than what Peter Parker can do or Spider-Man. And each character that they release is different. So in a multiplayer game of Marvel Champions, you feel like your hero is that hero and that you can do different things. Then you add in aspects, which are part of the deck building piece, so you might have protection where you are better at defense or aggression that make you even more unique.
3 – T.I.M.E. Stories
This one is a bit trick to talk about because everything is kind of part of the stories in the game. But I’ll give you the premise for the game, you are part of a time agency who is meant to stop time incursions from coming through and messing up the timeline. But it isn’t like you are fully transported back in time, just your conscious is transported. That’s where you get your variable powers from. And the powers your “vessel” as they call them in the game, has, depends on your scenario. Again, I don’t want to go into it too much as it’s fun to determine what a scenario is as you open up the thing, but some of them are fairly obvious at least to the setting with names like Under the Mask and the Egyptian images on the box or The Asylum is probably about an Asylum. I’ve really enjoyed the puzzle nature of the game, and while I think that the player powers sometimes are just okay or won’t be used at all, it is part of the game and you can find some decent combos.
2 – Pandemic Legacy Season 1
This is true for all Pandemic games, so if you don’t want to get the Legacy version of the game, just get basic Pandemic. In the game you take on different roles of people trying to stop a Pandemic. The Medic is able to remove disease cubes easier, the Dispatcher can move players around the board faster, the Scientist can discover a cure with fewer cards. And you can upgrade and improve the characters as you go so that they get more diverse and more variable in what they can do. I won’t go into what those upgrade are as it would be a little bit of a spoiler for some of the stuff that you unlock in the game, but it’s a great experience and the fact that you can customize and streamline your team in hopes of being able to better win games, it’s a ton of fun.
1 – Gloomhaven
It’s my favorite game, of course it has variable player powers. In the game, you play as a character and you have your own unique hand of actions that you can do. Some characters are going to be manipulating elements to perform stronger attacks. Others are going to be supporting with healing or they might be the tank or maybe they’re a ranged attacker. But each character is really different and it makes you feel like you are unique. It can be mechanical in what the character can do, but it really does feel like you can do something else compared to your fellow players. And every time you unlock a new character by retiring your old one, it’s something different. Yes, this game is massive, but if you want something that just has so much diversity in the characters, you can’t go wrong with Gloomhaven.
So, I have so many more that I could put on as well. Literally, all of those games are probably in my top 15-20 of all time (20 as of 2019, minus Lords of Hellas that I hadn’t played yet). I also considered another game in my top 15, Star Wars: Rebellion. Board Game Geek has it listed as variable player power and they definitely are. However, it is so asymmetrical that I feel like I need to put it in it’s own separate category, because everything is so different. Sure, you’re still producing things in a similar way, but it’s more asymmetrical for me. And there are others like Sword & Sorcery and Dead of Winter just missed my list, like I said, I love games with variable player powers.
What are some of your favorite games with variable player powers? What are some that I should checkout?
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