Holiday List – Alone But Loving Games
For a lot of people board gaming is a social activity, but 2020 has made that less likely and harder to do at least in bigger groups. For some people with serious medical concerns or just general concerns about Covid, that isn’t an option, or maybe with their work, or whatever it might be, so for them, and for the people who just don’t have a game group around for other reasons as well, solo gaming can be a great option. I’m not going to repeat the two, Gloomhaven, and Onirim that I’ve already talked about, so let’s talk about some other games that are good solo and might make a great gift.
This is probably my favorite solo game right now, and it’s fun because you can customize it for the person you are getting it for. Marvel Champions is a Living Card game put out by Fantasy Flight Games, where you take on the roll of a hero (or you can play up to 4), and you face off against a villain, their henchmen and their schemes. You have two sides you can play as a superhero, you are either in your alter ego side, T’Challa, Tony Stark, Peter Parker, etc., or you are in your hero side, Black Panther, Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc. When you are in the alter ego side the villain only schemes and won’t fight you, when you are in your hero side, they’ll scheme slower, and fight you. It’s a balancing act changing between the sides of a hero. What works well in this game, is that it’s a living card game, that means that Fantasy Flight is supporting it by putting out new heroes, villains, and scenarios for it. So if someone is a huge Black Widow fan, you can grab the base game and the Black Widow expansion pack and customize for them. And there are a ton of different character options. Great for a superhero fan if you life, but also just a really good game.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game
So, I’m going with another living card game here. If you try and get someone everything for these, it’ll get extremely expensive, but Arkham Horror: The Card Game, is a great solo game, and worth talking about. In this game you are taking an investigator through a series of story where the choices you make can and will make a difference. If you kill a monster, save a person, find out all the cultists, that’ll adjust your scenario, story, and rewards going forward. This game is a really nice puzzle of a game where you are trying to find clues, pass tests, and fight monsters, using cards that are either equipment or abilities, or spending them for resources to make it more likely you’ll pass a test or so that you can buy one of the cards. It’s a really interesting game system that allows itself to tell so many stories in so many different ways in something that is just a card game. Very smartly made and really enjoyable. This is for someone who loves to try and optimize and solve a mystery/challenge the best that they can.
Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger
While the other two have been good gamery games, Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger, is basically just a choose your own adventure book, with some cards and some challenges. This one has a ton of nostalgia to it as you play through what is a completely insane story seeing how well you can do, trying not to die, and reading great story. And by great story, I mean that it’s very crazy story but that it’s a lot of fun. It’s written in a very light way and really interesting and enjoyable. This one works well solo because you can kind of just flip through the cards, make decisions quickly, roll dice when needed for the challenges, and continue. None of the decisions you make seem like they have a massive difference in how the game will go, they mainly will get you stuck in areas or having to deal challenges which you’ll probably eventually defeat. This one is good light fun for a solo gamer who is just looking to have a good time.
First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet
For your sci-fi solo gamer out there, there is First Martians. In some ways this is almost Martian, the book and movie, the board game. You are on Mars, setting up the first colony there, and things are going to be breaking down. You need to think about food, oxygen levels, you might be out exploring the surface, building things to improve your base. This is a pretty challenging game with a not that well written rule book. Fortunately you can learn to play by watching it on the Watch It Played YouTube channel, Rodney Smith does a great job there. First Martians also gives you a number of ways to play. You can pick one off missions focused on different things, such as exploring Mars, building and adding on to the station, or just trying to make a broken station survive. But then there are also campaigns where you play through a few games in a row. Overall this game, while it has it’s flaws, is so much fun to play and offers quick experiences and longer campaigns depending on what you want.
Aeon’s End Legacy
So I mentioned campaign games above, and I think it’s fitting to wrap up this list with a game that has a campaign to it. There are a lot that I could have picked, Mage Knight, Deep Madness, Folklore the Affliction, Sword and Sorcery, Reich Busters, and a whole lot more, but I’m picking Aeon’s End Legacy because I like deck building games, and I think that the game play offered in Aeon’s End is really interesting and easy to solo. By that I mean that in lot of these games you can’t just play them true solo, even something like Gloomhaven you have to control two characters, so you’re doing more “house keeping” and keeping track of leveling up multiple characters. Aeon’s End Legacy isn’t true solo, you do have to control at least two characters, but the game play is much simpler. You don’t need to think about 10 different stats, what weapon or dice to use or roll. Instead, you are just playing your hand of cards when the turn comes up. I’m a big fan of Aeon’s End: War Eternal, so Aeon’s End Legacy is one that I have on my shelf that I need to play, but that I’ve heard great things about and that I can recommend knowing the system well.
Now, there are obviously a lot of other games I could mention, Mansions of Madness, which I’ve talked about before, really most cooperative games can be played solo. I’m even playing through, or will be soon, Pandemic Legacy Season 2 solo. So even games that aren’t truly solo, as long as there isn’t hidden information, can be played solo, but I think that hopefully these are some good options. I basically went with cooperative games, but there are solo variants for things like Alien Artifacts and Scythe out there as well, they just need a bit more house keeping in what is done.
What solo game would recommend for a solo gamer? Or if you are one, what would you want to get?