Whenever you get a group of board gamers together, there is always one question that is inevitably asked. A quick look through my social media feeds will have this one question pop up more than any other.
“What is your favorite game?”
This is no different with solo board gamers, but whenever I see this question I cringe a bit, this is hard, like choosing your favorite child hard. For me the answer to this question is fluid. A few years ago, the pool of games that could be played solo was very small. However, as the solo gamer community grows by leaps and bounds, so do the game offerings. My solo game collection has more than doubled in the last year alone. This additional content means a wider selection, but more games to choose from makes it harder to pick favorites.
After much agonizing, and intensely staring at my collection I present my Top 6 Solo Games.
Oh My Goods! & Longsdale in Revolt expansion
Synopsis: Oh My Goods! is a strategy card game for 2-4 players out of the box, 1-4 with the Longsdale in Revolt expansion. The game takes place in Europe during the Middle Ages, you take the role as an artisan producing goods, trying to outproduce your opponents. The game takes place over a series of rounds where players can build and produce goods based on the resources in their hands as well as resources in the common market. The game plays in about 30 minutes.
I have always been a fan of Oh My Goods! Unfortunately, it was not a game built for solo players. All that changed when Lookout Spiele and Mayfair Games released Longsdale in Revolt. This expansion not only added solo play to a game that was already brilliant, but also starts a story driven campaign mode. The game is full of choices, from what buildings to build, to whether or not to use a card as a resource rather than a building. These choices can be tough, and can mean the difference between winning and moving to the next chapter or repeating the same one over again. Another expansion, Escape from Canyon Brook, has been released overseas and I am patiently (read: impatiently) awaiting its North American release. I can only imagine the inclusion of this continuation of the Longsdale story will serve to cement this game on my solo list for a long time to come!
If you’d like to read an interview with Alexander Pfister, designer of Oh My Goods!, Great Western Trail, and other favorites click here!
Space Hulk – Death Angel
Designed by Corey Konieczka
Published by Fantasy Flight Games
Synopsis: Space Hulk: Death Angel is a co-operative card game for 1-5 players. Set in the Warhammer 40.000 universe you command a team of Space Marines tasked with cleaning out a swarm of space aliens from a abandoned spaceship. Game play happens over a series of rounds beginning with the space marine phase, where you choose your actions. Next is the genestealer phase, where the aliens attack back. Finally, the event phase, where the event card is drawn, adding more aliens to the swarm as well as adding a new event, some helpful, most not. The game plays in about 30 minutes.
Sadly, this game went out of print before I came upon it. For me, that means all the expansions I want so badly are out of reach. However, I did manage to get a copy of the base game, and I love it. The game can be played in multiplayer, but honestly, I prefer it solo. The game play is simple, yet the game is challenging, fun, and frustrating. My win/loss ratio on this game is really low, but I still keep trying. I know a game is good when I am frustrated by it, but still want to keep playing! When I finally do win, I truly have a sense of satisfaction that usually results in an actual celebratory outburst.
Designed by Jason Tagmire & Mike Mullins
Published by Button Shy Games
Synopsis: In Twin Stars you take the role of two space adventurers, brought together by fate, working together to overcome the situation they are currently face. This solo game is a press your luck, card and dice game. A single game uses just three cards, two dice, and coins or tokens. Each round players roll their dice choosing a card to place them on, triggering effects, working towards the goal outlined on the current adventure. The game plays in about 15-30 minutes.
Twin Stars is a game that never leaves my backpack. It goes everywhere with me. The game is brilliant in its design, 18 cards, a few dice, and you are set to go. I was initially wary of this concept. After all, how much fun can be had with 18 cards? Answer: A lot. This game plays quickly, and includes six adventures that, when played in order, tell a story. The inclusion of 12 characters that can be combined in any order makes the gameplay options almost infinite. I love the small size that allows me to take this game anywhere to play. This is definitely a tiny game that packs a huge punch. I have heard Button Shy is hard at work on additional adventures for Twin Stars. I know I will be one of the first backers when this becomes a reality!
Tiny Epic Galaxies & Beyond the Black
Designed by Scott Almes
Published by Gamelyn Games
Synopsis: Tiny Epic Galaxies is a space exploration area control game for 1-5 players. In TEG you are in charge of a galactic empire seeking to expand your influence by acquiring new planets. You can achieve this by increasing your energy, culture, or political and economic influences. TEG plays in about an hour.
You many have noticed from the previous entry that I love small games that play big. The Tiny Epic series definitely fits that bill. From the moment this tiny box arrived on my doorstep, I was craving more. When Gamelyn Games announced a follow up, Beyond the Black, I could not back it fast enough. I was not disappointed. I love the addition of pilot cards, and of course, the advanced ships. The AI in the game is well thought out and makes the game challenging. My win/loss ratio is pretty high on this one, but a lot of those wins were close calls. The game plays pretty quickly, but offers a lot of choices; from which planet to explore, to whether or not to use your resources, and how to use those resources.
Designed by Jacob Fryxelius
Published by Stronghold Games
Synopsis: In Terraforming Mars, a 1-5 player game, you play as a corporation racing to terraform Mars before your opponents. in the solo game you are racing against the clock, attempting to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage before the 14th generation has passed. You accomplish this by buying and playing cards and resources. This card drafting, hand management game plays in approximately an hour.
I very rarely board the hype train when it comes to new games. The past few months Terraforming Mars has been all over my social media threads. Many were touting it as one of the best game (and solo) experiences ever. I resisted for a long time. Then one day I saw Boardgames with Niramas do a playthrough. I was intrigued, so I watched another of Josef’s videos, and then another, and another. Next thing I knew, I had placed an order. When it arrived I was still cautious, but that quickly faded away as I played the game.
As a solo game it is amazing. The race against time to prepare Mars for colonization is frantic. You are often wondering how you are going to get everything done in the time you have left, and then sometimes, sometimes, your engine starts to work, and you pull out a win at the last minute. I have only won a handful of times, and it has always been at the last generation, and it has felt amazing! The mechanic of having to buy the cards into your hand before paying to play them makes for some really important game decisions. Hand management, resource management, and money management all come into play. Terraforming Mars makes you think, in a good way. I am really glad that I boarded this train, so much so, that I almost immediately ordered all the available expansions.
Too Many Bones
Designed by Josh & Adam Carlson
Published by Chip Theory Games
Synopsis: Too Many bones is a dice building 1-4 player cooperative game set in the fictional work of Daelore. You play as a Gearloc setting out to destroy the Tyrant responsible for the growing unrest in the lands. The game plays out over a series of days as you creep closer and closer to the ultimate showdown. The game plays in 1-2 hours.
Recently there was a Facebook thread asking “What one game would you save if your house was burning down?” This was not a hard one, and would definitely be the first game off of my shelf in case of a disaster of any means. I was late to the TMB party, receiving my copy in October of last year, and yet, it still was my most played game of 2017!
There are so many reasons that this game is my number one solo game. I can write about the components alone for weeks if you let me. They are that good. Solid, heavy chips, that give a satisfying clank then stacked together. Neoprene mats that are standard in the game, not an upgrade. Standard! The custom dice are colorful and so varied that I always feel like I am seeing something new. The cards and reference sheets are made from PVC, making them virtually indestructible.
The game varies in length and difficulty depending upon the Tyrant you choose to battle. The core box offers a multitude of replayability including numerous story cards, seven tyrants to choose from, and four Gearlocs to play as (with an additional three offered as addons). I could talk about this game all day long. I could play this game all day long! I cannot think of a single thing I do not like about Too Many Bones. This summer Chip Theory will be releasing the first (of what I hope to be many) expansions for Too Many Bones and I cannot wait to see what it brings to this game.
I would be remiss if I were not to mention one more game, Unbroken . This game receives an honorable mention for my inaugural list. Unbroken designed by Artem Safarov, soon to be published by Altema Games, Unbroken is a purely solo game that began its life as a free print and play. I downloaded this game over a year ago and have played it more times than I can count. In Unbroken you play the lone survivor of an adventure gone wrong. Barely hanging on, you seek to avenge your fallen comrades as you fight your way back to safety. The game is fun, fast, and furious. As of this writing, Unbroken is currently on Kickstarter, seeking funding to give it the big box treatment that it deserves. Once this game is published, I can see it making its way onto my top 6, easily.
I am excited by the sheer number of solo games that are being released now, or scheduled for future release. There are also a fair number of solo games that I have not yet had a chance to try. All of these factors make this list fluid. Although I can see most of them having a special place at the top for a long time, who knows what’s around the corner? I am definitely excited to find out!
If you are interested in seeing my full review of most of these games and more, please visit my blog Singlehandedly.