Best Solo Board Games
Let's talk about the best solo board games!
- But first, are you a solo gamer? What is the appeal? If not, how open are you to the idea, and why?
- What are your best games to solo?
- What makes up a great solo game?
- Which 2019 game or newer release do you expect will make the biggest jump in this list? (1 Player Guild's 2019 People's Choice Top 100 Solo Games).
Here are my answers:
1. Soloing board games is a relatively new thing for me but I like it. It gives me a chance to explore games that will otherwise be hard to get to with my wife. We typically play about 2 times a month together so soloing just helps me squeeze in more gaming time too. I think the hardest thing about soloing is fighting off the laziness. It's always way more difficult to start a session if it's solo vs. multiplayer because laziness kicks in when I start imagining all of the setup and cleanup involved. But when I do get to it, I typically find it a great way to unwind for the night.
2&3. The best solo games in my book are ones that are compelling enough to make me avoid just playing an app. It should be engaging, but not too much that it stresses you out. Setup time should be reasonable and around 5 minutes. With that said, the best solo board game in my collection is #Root. For a while, this spot was held by #Architects of the West Kingdom, but I think I know the reason. Root offers many of the euro-y mechanics that I love as a strategist and tactician, but gives me just enough of that luck that I tend to love in games because of the thrill and the "story-telling" moments. The game often presents situations where I'm just hoping that the bot won't escalate the situation or attack a certain area, and it's reminiscent of my chess days where I would think "please don't do that, please don't do that". Besides Root and Architects, I've also enjoyed soloing #Viticulture: Essential Edition and #Clans of Caledonia, which are both very tranquil in theme and offer a really nice puzzle to think through.
4. Most of you know by now that I'm unapologetically a Root fan. Now that #Root: The Clockwork Expansion has seen retail release and with many having tried the Better Bots PnP, I'm hoping to see it break into that top 100 list (if they count solo games implemented through an expansion). I also think many of these new entries in that 2019 list will make a big jump:
- #Cloudspire - Considering how well #Too Many Bones has placed on that list, and with NPI recently reviewing and seemingly praising its solo options, I think this one will place quite a bit higher for 2020. It's a heavy game alright, but lots of heavies seem to place well on that list.
- #Tapestry - I haven't played this yet but there are hints of it being a top contender on the 2020 list. Automa solo modes are typically received well and three of Stonemaier Games' games are already in the top 20.
- #Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North - Haven't tried out the solo mode yet but I'm pretty sure this is a great solo game, where I'd even say that it could be a better design than its multiplayer counterpart. Heard great things and I suspect it'll soon surpass #Imperial Settlers (#42 on that list).
- Lastly, I bet there will be a 2020 David Turczi game that will make a big entry on the 2021 list (I think the releases will be way too late to make it onto 2020's). His solo mode designs are always well received and he's coming out with tons of games this year. My bet is on #Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun.