April 24, 2020
It’s fair to say that the current situation is not optimal for all board games. It is worth noting that we do have a discord server devoted to continuing gaming online during the outbreak which you can find here. But if you don’t have the time to join us online, or perhaps you find yourself with free time when your normal gaming partners aren’t free to join you, then you may want to turn to solo games. Covering the whole spectrum from heavy games that fill up hours to quick games that take up 15 minutes solo gaming is a fantastic way to pass the time. It is also a great way to enjoy an interactive story that evolves as you play. Without further ado, here are the Ludoquist’s top picks for single player games.
It’s no secret that the staff at The Ludoquist love Arkham Horror LCG. It has so many things that work together to make a great solo game: The story driven campaigns give you a large amount of difficult content to devote yourself to, while the deck construction is a game within itself. Prepare yourself for a world of sanity bending monsters and cruel twists of fate. One of Arkham Horror’s biggest selling points is a wealth of content available to it, with 5 expansion campaigns at the time of writing along with multiple standalone scenarios.
Taking place in the not so distant future; Terraforming Mars is a game about mega-corporations funding the transformation of the Red Planet into a green planet. When playing solo instead of fighting between corporations you are simply a single corporation fighting against the elements to make the planet safe for human life before your funding dries up. With a huge deck of cards and variable corporations each with different starting funds and powers, Terraforming Mars has a huge amount of replayability.
One of the big selling points of Solo games is their ability to deliver story. Chronicles of Crime is a whodunnit that puts you in the shoes of a London police officer. Every game card has a QR code, interviewing a perp is as simple as scanning their card with your phone, then scanning the card that you want to ask them about. The game has an ongoing campaign as well as additional missions that you can buy though the app if you need more content. One of the standout features is the ability to explore crime scenes using your phone as a VR device. Be forewarned, Chronicles of Crime does touch on some dark elements of human society during the campaign.
Ganz Schon Clever is a Roll and Write, every round you will be rolling dice and using the results of those dice to fill in boxes on the player pad. What makes Ganz Schon Clever especially clever is how the dice colours all have different uses. Filling in a box on one area might get you are a free placement in another area, which might in turn let you fill in another free box in the first area again! Learning how to master these combos allows for ludicrous scores. If you want a quick game that you can play over and over again then look no further.
Tiny Towns is a puzzle of a town creation game in which you draw cards to generate materials on a 4x4 grid. Get the materials in the correct patterns and you can spend them to build buildings. Each game the buildings have different abilities, so no two games are the same. As your town grows the space to store materials shrinks making it harder and harder to build the buildings you want. Not only is Tiny Towns a great solo game, but it is also easy to play over the internet, during the current Covid crisis. In fact, the designers are streaming a game every day that you can join in with!
The Isle of Cats is another spatial puzzle game. Unsurprisingly this is about rescuing cats from an island, but what may be more surprising is that the cats take the form of Tetris-style pieces. Each round you spend your precious catch of fish to lure cats onto your boat where you can take them to safety. In return the cats will hunt rats that have taken up residence on your boat. The Isle of Cats has an extensive solo mode with a unique set of cards to be used. It also has a space for you real cat to sit during gameplay.
Tapestry is a civilisation game, which is a genre renowned for it’s complexity as they try to simulate down to the tiniest detail. Instead of doing this Tapestry has an easy to understand system that gets the job done. Each turn you choose one of four tracks to improve on, with each having their own unique benefits at every stage. The further you get on one track the better the rewards, but your civilisation can become unbalanced, struggling for the basic buildings that you would gain from the other tracks. Tapestry is a game with many routes to victory to explore, making it a great solo experience.
Roll Player is not a game about playing role-playing games, but instead about creating the character for a role-playing game. It’s a dice game where you’ll be rolling dice to generate your character’s stats. Using traits and equipment to manipulate these dice you can create the ultimate min-max character. Trying to find a balance where your stats match the ideals set by your combination of race/class and alignment is anything but easy. It is, however, extremely satisfying. Just don’t try to bring your new ‘character sheet’ along to your next RPG session.
Putting your straight inside your favourite franchises the Legendary series is a set of semi-coop games that have you building a deck of cards to defeat the villain/monster of the week. While the most well-known version of the game focuses on Marvel superheroes, for my favourite pick I’d look no further than Buffy. Bringing in a light/dark system where your characters can become more powerful if they are willing to tap into the power of the dark forces you are trying to fight.
10 Firefly: The Game
Perhaps I’m showing my Joss Whedon fangirl side right now, but who didn’t fall in love with this short-lived series about being a space cowboy? To win Firefly The Game you will have to find a crew, find a job and keep flying. Its not easy though, this is a heavy game full of mishaps such as engine breakdowns, escaping Reavers and “delicate discussions with the alliance”. With a whole Galaxy laid out in front of you, can you make a name for yourself?
There you have it - 10 great soloable board games. If you are looking for more solo games then it’s worth noting that the entire cooperative genre lends itself well to playing solo. Just make sure that the game allows for open communication between all players and play “two handed”. Look forward to next time when we’ll be looking at great games to play online. Until then, stay safe, stay inside, wash your hands, and have fun!
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