2020 saw a sharp increase in the number of people interested in solo games, and luckily there were plenty of great solo titles out there for gamers to try. These aren’t multiplayer games that can be played with just one person; these are games specifically dedicated to the single-player experience. Without other players to drive the game forward or provide interaction, a good solo game needs to provide enough interesting decisions to keep the player engaged for the entirety of a session. It also needs to reward multiple plays, either through a high difficulty level or by having a lot of content to explore (or both!). In a curious split, we’ve got 3 space-themed games on this list and 3 that are historical wargames. If you’re a solo gamer looking to fight aliens or rewrite history, you’re in luck!
Don’t forget to cast your ballot in our 2020 Fan Favorite voting.
We’ll be announcing the rest of the nominees over the next few weeks; then check back on Friday, February 19, when we announce the winners of the 3rd Annual Diamond Climber Awards. Now without further ado, on to the nominees.
Warp’s Edge drops the player into the cockpit of a high-powered spaceship squaring off against a host of enemies led by a powerful Mothership. This quick and clever bag-builder uses a time-travel mechanic wherein each turn represents a single “Warp” — at the end of each Warp, the enemies reset while the player’s ship carries any earned upgrades forward. With only a few Warps available, the player has to balance powering up quickly to face the Mothership with avoiding damage to their ship’s hull. The game comes with a variety of unique player ships, standard enemies, Motherships, and item cards that all add to its replayability without bulking out the box.
Under Falling Skies
For those who like their close encounters on more familiar ground, there’s Under Falling Skies. Players will be fending off a horde of space invaders by rolling dice and assigning them to various “rooms” on their player board to gain energy, shoot down the encroaching ships, and complete the research projects necessary to protect Earth. Adapted from a 9-card microgame, the boxed version offers high-quality components and a full campaign mode that can be replayed again and again. Even outside the campaign, there are several unique cities to defend and an adjustable difficulty level to truly put the fate of the world in your hands.
The Hunted: Twilight of the U-Boats, 1943-45
U-Boats (German submarines) were a huge part of both World Wars, but by the end of World War II they were beginning to lag behind the developments of Allied ships. In The Hunted, players will take command of one of these specialized ships and try to keep pace with a rapidly-changing world. Each risky mission could be the last for the player’s aspiring captain. This crunchy wargame is jam-packed with well-researched minutiae to truly capture the feel of this specific moment in military history.
Publisher: Consim Press, GMT Games
Designer(s): Gregory M. Smith
Artist(s): Rodger B. MacGowan, Ian Wedge
Aurelian Restorer of the World
Aurelian, Restorer of the World is another title that dives deep into the historical waters. Here the focus is on the Roman Empire in decline, with players taking on the role of Lucius Domitius Aurelianus in a quest to stitch together a broken Empire. Using the “three cups” chit-pulling method seen in some of Tom Russell’s other games, this game pulls players in a thousand directions simultaneously as they must manage their army, make progress across the map, and avoid falling prey to internal and external threats. Who knew taking control of the Roman Empire would be so difficult?
Designer(s): Tom Russell
Artist(s): Ania B. Ziolkowska
Personal Space may be one of the most ambitious tabletop games of all time, a sandbox-style title where almost anything is possible. Go to work, gather resources, indulge in hobbies, visit with neighbors, celebrate holidays: you can do it all in this one-of-a-kind game that blends roll-and-write mechanics with roleplaying and legacy game elements. What makes the game truly special is its active community on Discord, where players can share stories about their plays and get free content to spice up their sessions. If you’re looking for the cutting edge of what tabletop games are capable of, look no further: Personal Space is the place for you.
By Stealth and Sea
Similar to the Hunted, By Stealth and Sea is a wargame themed around WWII-era navies. By Stealth and Sea gives players control of Italian commando units steering their manned torpedoes toward the waiting boats of the UK’s Royal Navy. With each mission in the campaign, the units under the player’s control improve…but so do their targets, making this game a tight battle to sneak out victory in the face of ever-increasing odds.