Category Archives: Solo Games

A listing of all solo games we have reviewed, with a link to the review.

A List of Solo Playable Games

Top Left: Star Realms Top Right: Suburbia Bottom Left: Friday Bottom Right: Viva Java The Dice Game
From Top Left: Star Realms, Suburbia, Friday, Viva Java The Dice Game

We had an incredible discussion on Boardgamehour regarding solo games, and many people wanted suggestions on solo playable games.  Here’s a list I’ve compiled with the help Jacob Coon of games we both own that have solo play.

I have three categories: “Solo Only or Co-Op Games with Official Solo Options“, “Official Solo Variants of Competitive Games“, and “Games You Can Play Solo (Unofficial Variants)”.  The list is long, so keep that in mind as you scroll down. Feel free to add any solo games you own to the list via the comments!

Solo Only or Co-op games with Official Solo Options

My Games

  • Friday: A Solo Adventure – Shipwrecked! Friday must escape off the island by defeating the pirates.  Solo only deck builder where you must survive hazards and attacks from pirates to win.
  • Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp – Save humanity from a deadly virus in this solo only set collection game.  One must collect the right proteins in order to contain the virus in a lab setting.
  • Space Hulk: Death Angel – Set in the Space Marine Warhammer universe, players control heroes which must fight against aliens to survive.  Cooperative card game where the die rolls can be very unforgiving.
  • Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon – Cooperative Dungeon crawler set in the D&D universe.  Be a cleric, rogue, warrior, mage, or paladin that fight monsters and complete objectives with a modular board and miniatures.
  • Tiny Epic Defenders – Defend the Capital City from monsters and epic foes! Choose heroes and use their powers in order to move around the regions and defeat enemies before Capital City gets overrun.
  • Samurai Spirit – Take on the persona of the Seven Samurais and save the village!  Draw bandit cards and decide whether to fight, defend the village, or pass them on to another samurai.
  • Lord of the Ring LCG – Cooperative deck builder set in the Lord of the Rings universe.  Fight trolls, travel to locations, and complete scenarios in order to win the game!
  • Space Alert – Real time mission orientated science fiction game set in space.  Ten minute timer + soundtrack give a very tense game of launching missiles, fighting intruders, and coordinating turns that don’t conflict.
  • Onirim – Solo only or cooperative card game in which one must collect eight door cards before the deck runs out!  Beware of the nightmare cards, which have brutal effects!
  • Hostage Negotiator – Solo only dice game where you must press your luck in negotiating the release of hostages.  Too many bad rolls or card draws will cut your negotiations short!

Jacob Coon’s Games

  • Darkest Night – Control 4 characters in defense of their homeland against the evil forces of the Necromancer. Using the characters skills you select actions to gain relics that will help you defeat the Necromancer.
  • Airborne Commander – Set during D-day, you are in charge of an airborne unit that has been scattered throughout. Using troops that are available to you, you find more troops and fight against the enemy at the same time.
  • Legendary: Marvel Deck Building – Control Marvel superheroes in their fight against the evil mastermind. Each game you build a deck of cards from four different heroes while fighting against the mastermind and his henchman.
  • The Game – A Spiel des Jahres nominee, the Game forces you to play two cards every turn into one of four piles. Two piles are increasing and the other two are decreasing in numbers so playing as many cards as possible before you have no valid moves provides some tricky moments.

Official Solo Variants of Multiplayer Competitive Games

My games

  • Harbour – Worker placement where players take turns placing their worker on buildings, gaining effects and resources. Solo play is against an AI that has predetermined choices depending on the building.
  • Star Realms (Need Gambit Set Expansion for solo play) – Sci-Fi deck builder where you try to take out the other opponent.  Solo play is against an AI that does tough damage or effects based on what goes out in trade row.
  • Flip City – Microdeckbuilder about building up a city and winning by playing enough points or cards in one turn.  Solo option is about getting to victory without running out of time (supply deck goes empty).
  • Dungeon Roll – Dungeon dice delve where players choose a hero to help them fight monsters and dragons.  Solo play is about getting points and beating your own score.
  • Suburbia – Tile placement game about building up a suburb and getting good reputation and income for population (points).  Solo play has two options: Lone Architect and Dale the Bot.
  • Imperial Settlers – Card game where players build up their empires and fight their neighbors.  Solo play is against a virtual player with ways to attack your empire.  Try to get the most points.
  • Lewis and Clark – Based on the Lewis and Clark expedition, players race to get to the Pacific by using cards and actions.  Solo play is against a virtual player who moves every turn without penalty.
  • Viva Java: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game – Dice game based on Viva Java: The Dice Game where players try to make the best coffee blends.  Solo play is against one of two AI players.
  • Caverna – Worker placement in which players are building up their caves, feeding their families, and farming crops.  Solo play is a variant in which the player tries to get the most points from previous games.

Jacob Coon’s Games

  • Legacy: The Testament of Duke DeCrecy – Instead of building a family tree as in the multi-player game, now you are trying to research your family tree to prove you are the heir to millions. Managing your limited actions your must make sure the right people are found in your family in order to gain the support and reputation that you need.
  • Nations: The Dice Game – Build a civilization in less than 30 minutes while rolling a bunch of custom dice. Each turn you select an action to bring more into your civilzation and make it prosper, but the AI ( a simple die roll), limits what is available, so choose wisely.
  • Neuroshima Hex 3.0 – Neuroshima Hex imitates a battle in a future dystopian setting. The game comes with 50 puzzles to help you learn the game, but also provides a nice solo option.
  • Träxx – Draw a card, connect your line to the matching colors (as many as you choose) and you have Träxx. While simple in execution this game really has you weighing your options as you can’t back track, but every empty space is negative points.
  • Snowdonia – If you are looking for a meatier game with a great solo option, than Snowdonia may be the game you are looking for. This worker placement game plays very similar in solo and multi-player games having the players build train tracks through the Snowdonia mountains and with plenty of expansions you have a lot of variability.
  • Skyline – Using a Yahtzee-type mechanism you roll dice to create buildings of three different sizes. You can play it to get the highest score or attempt to recreate different cities provided by the rules.
  • Card City – The first in a trilogy by Alban Viard, this small card game puts you in the role of city planner. Each turn is very simply executed, but the tough choices make this quick game a surprising favorite of mine.

Games You Can Play Solo (Unofficial Variants)

My Games

  • Sentinels of the Multiverse – Cooperative superhero themed card game in which players fight against villains and try to survive tough environments. Solo play can be done by controlling 3 or more heroes yourself.
  • Pandemic: The Cure – Cooperative dice game based on Pandemic where you are trying to fight a virus that’s spreading across the world.  Solo play can be done by controlling one character for a more challenging game or controlling 2 or more characters for easier play.
  • Pandemic – Cooperative card game in which you must save the world from a deadly virus.  For solo play, you can control one character for challenging play.
  • Forbidden Island – Cooperative tile grid game where players are trying to find the four sacred treasure before the island sinks.  Solo play can be done by simulating a 2 or more player game.
  • Forbidden Desert – Successor to Forbidden Island, Desert gives more challenging play by having shifting tiles.  Players must find the pieces of their airship before the desert gets buried in a sand storm.  Solo play can be done by simulating a 2 or more player game.
  • Timeline – Competitive card game in which players place events in a the correct Timeline (dates are on back of card, hidden until a player picks a spot and reveals it).  Solo play can be done by placing three cards face up to form a timeline, then getting 3 chances to get their card placements correct.  If make 3 mistakes, then you lose.

Jacob Coon’s Games

  • Flashpoint: Fire Rescue – Instead of fighting diseases around the world like in Pandemic, Flashpoint: Fire Rescue puts you in charge of a firehouse where you can play from 1-4 characters to help put out the fire and save victims. Flashpoint: Fire Rescue is very similar to Pandemic in many ways, but it’s theme ends up being a little more friendly to some.
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SoloCon: Solo Games have come a long way.

This week, my friend Jacob Coon decided to have a SoloCon!  What is SoloCon?  It’s where gamers join together worldwide playing solo games.  You heard that right.  No, we don’t meet at a location and ignore everyone else to play solo games.  We are playing at home, at work, on trains, etc.  SoloCon isn’t a location, but it’s a time where gamers show their love of solo games by playing them and posting about them on social media!  Much like GenCant, it’s a digital phenomenon that has spread quickly among the gaming community.

I've played all of these games so far in SoloCon, with the exception of Onirim.  I do plan on playing it soon!
I’ve played all of these games so far in SoloCon, with the exception of Onirim. I do plan on playing it soon!

It truly shows how far solo games have gone in the past year or so.  Before, most would scoff at the idea of people showing their solo game collection.  But now, it’s something people are excited about and wanting to participate in.

As an avid solo gamer myself, I decided to join in this week as much as I could.  So far, I’ve played Harbour, Dungeon Roll, Flip City, Suburbia, Friday, and Star Realms.  I’m hoping to get a few more games in today or tomorrow, if I can.  It’s quite fun seeing all these different games that can be played solo, through an official solo variant or a fan made one.  Most of my solo games are not solo playable only, but some of them are.  I’m really happy that more designers are making their games with solo players in mind.

There’s still a couple more days of SoloCon left, so if you want to join in, use the hashtag #SoloCon on Twitter or Instagram if you want to show off what solo games you are playing!

 

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Harbour Review

Harbour is a worker placement small board game for 1-4 players, designed by Scott Almes and published by Tasty Minstrel Games.  Players take turns doing actions on buildings, gaining resources, and eventually buy a building for their own.  When a player builds their 4th building, players finish the round, and the game is over!  Whoever has the most points from their buildings, win.Harbour pic

Harbour is a great, small game that packs a good strategic punch and changing market mechanism. Players will have to plan ahead, deciding which resources to get, knowing that the resource sell cost may change at any time. Players have to be ready to adapt their strategy based on what buildings come out and what the market is like. This helps the replay value since different buildings will come out on different games, changing the focus on the path to victory.

Since Harbour has limited components due to box size, the designer made a clever way to track resources.  Instead of gaining resources in terms of tokens, each player gets one token per resource type.  These resources are then tracked on the player’s card.  When gaining or selling resources, players adjust their resource track as necessary.  I thought this was a very cool way to track resources and I love the thick wooden resource tokens.  I also really enjoy the player tokens, they are unique and have good colors.harbour pic 2

Another aspect I appreciate about Harbour is the amount of starting building cards that players can choose from.  That also increases the replay value, as players will want to try different building cards every time they play.  I love games that include so much in such a small box, and Harbour does this very well.

Also, Harbour includes an official solo variant, in which you play against a dummy character.  The solo variant is great for learning how to play the game, and become familiar with the buildings.  It’s also a good way to try out the different starting cards as well.  While I do enjoy the game more with a higher player count, I still like playing the solo variant.harbour game 3

Harbour boasts good quality components and art.  My favorite card is the Sushi Shop, which shows an octopus chef cutting up some fish (very ironic!).  The cards are also high quality, as well as the resource and player tokens.

Overall, Harbour is a very enjoyable worker placement for such a small box.  Great for playing at lunchtime, game night, and vacations.  Highly recommended!

2 Player Experience

  • Gameplay is shorter, takes 30 minutes or less.
  • Easier to predict the market as it doesn’t change nearly as often
  • More straightforward strategy

 

4 Player Experience

  • Longer gameplay, closer to 60 minutes
  • Market changes often, more dynamic
  • Have to constantly adjust strategy based on market/opponents
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Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp Review

Infection is a solitaire game by Victory Point Games in which you try to contain a deadly virus from infecting the world. You take the role of the Director of the Department of Plague Control (DPC) Field Office in NYC.  You make the ultimate decisions on which parts of the virus to study, what equipment to purchase, and which lab scientists to hire.

photo 1

Each turn, the player draws a Status Report card and performs its actions.  Usually it means adding molecules for the virus (thus making it stronger) and positive, negative, or no lab effects.  Also, gives a modifier to the containment check given at the end of the turn.  Then, the player moves on to the action phase where they can purchase lab equipment, hire scientists, harvest proteins and destroy molecules in the virus.  The player can do these in any order they wish, but there are restrictions on how much of these actions one can do on a turn.  Next, the player moves on to the containment phase where they roll the die to see if the death track moves forward.  Lastly, the player then refreshes the proteins and draws lab cards for purchase if needed.  Play continues until the death track has reached the end, player destroys the virus, or there are no more proteins to draw.

photo 5

Infection reminds me very much of Compounded in the sense that in order to create antibodies, you place a different set of proteins on each molecule.  You always draw four new proteins each turn, and you get to harvest 2 proteins (or more if you get special cards or effects).  I always have enjoyed that aspect of Compounded and was excited to see a similar mechanic in play here.  There are two modes: easy and hard, as the board is double sided.  Easy mode shouldn’t be a problem after a few plays, but hard mode can prove very difficult.  For me, hard mode is just right, giving you the feeling you might win, but usually end up losing in the end.

photo 2

What I love about Infection is how one turn can feel very victorious, maybe you destroyed a molecule or two, and didn’t have to move up the death track.  Then the next turn you might draw 3 molecules, and lose a lab equipment card, making you feel defeated.  Each turn can be very different, and one must plan ahead to ensure maximum efficiency in exterminating the virus.  I find the lab equipment cards are much more effective than the scientist cards, but you need at least one scientist card to maximize effects.  The scientists tend to be more expensive and are discarded after they have used all their abilities.  Lab equipment cards stay in play, unless a negative effect makes you discard it.

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Infection has a quick set up time and can be played in less than 45 minutes.  The molecules, proteins, special effect tokens are made of a thick wooden material which have soot on them upon purchase.  The soot irritated my fingers, but thankfully once they got wiped off, there were no issues.  The Status Report and Lab cards are just a step above cardstock, but get the job done.  The puzzle board is cool, and makes it easy to put back in the box.  Overall, the component quality is lower than some would expect, but it doesn’t detract from the gameplay.

photo 2

Infection is a fantastic solitaire game that should be in every solo gamers collection.  Having two difficulty modes, place different lab and status report cards that come out give it great replay value.  I know I’ll be playing this game for many months to come.

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Solo Gaming: Good for gamers?

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed that more and more gamers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of Solo Board Gaming.  When I first made Board Game Duel and joined the Twitter community, there was definitely a negative attitude toward solo gaming.  However, a few gamers kept posting about their solo gaming experiences, and it inspired me to get my first solo game: Friday.  Since then, I’ve played Friday dozens of times, reviewed it, and even wrote a blog on strategy tips.

photo-86

Solo gaming for me, is no different than grabbing my 3DS and playing a one player video game.  Sure, there’s more set up, but having that tactile feel of dice or cards is very satisfying.  I think the biggest concern with solo gaming among the board gaming community is that it will replace playing with people.  While this may be the case in a very select few, most people that solo game do have a game group or people they play with somewhat occasionally.

Being a stay at home mom, I am home with a two year old for 8 hours a day.  I love being able to game during the day, and to wind down by playing Friday or Dungeon Roll.  Once my son is older, he’ll become my main gaming partner, but at this point, he’s still learning not to rip the Spot It! cards.  I’m fortunate enough to have a consistent gaming group and a spouse and parents that love gaming, so I’m often playing with people, more often than most people I would guess.

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I’m still getting into solo gaming, but I hope to add more games to my collection as time goes on.  My favorite games I play solo right now are Friday, Space Hulk: Death Angel, and Dungeon Roll.  I need to try out Firefly, Lewis and Clark, and Gravwell’s solo variants.  For the most part, I like to play solo games that have easy set up and relatively short playing time.  I can’t typically keep my game up for hours at a time, but I hope to one day make my office into a solo gaming/LEGO building room.  For now, I’ll play on my kitchen island, away from the 2 year old’s grasp.

I’m hoping that more gamers will get on board with solo gaming.  It’s not as antisocial as one may think, especially when people are sharing their experiences on social media.  Plus, not everyone has people to play with 100% of the time, and why should we not game simply because there’s no one around?

Need ideas for solo games?

Friday

Space Hulk: Death Angel

Lewis and Clark

Firefly

Viva Java Dice Game

Infection

and many others!  This is just the icing of the cake!  Also, check out Jacob Coon’s posts on solo gaming on Indie Cardboard!  And thanks to Willie Hung (Gameritisguy) for inspiring me to get Friday and Death Angel.

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Friday: A Solo Adventure Strategy Tips

Many of you have asked for advice on beating Level 1 of Friday.  Since I’ve beaten level one about five times so far, I thought I should offer my strategy tips!  Hopefully these tips will help you survive the hazards and make it all the way to the pirates!  Enjoy!

Friday tips gameplay

Green phase

  • When choosing hazards, try to pick the easiest ones to beat if possible.  That way, even if you draw those pesky “-1 distracted cards” you can easily pay the difference in life and destroy them.  Also, try to destroy every “-1 distracted” card you have in your deck.  Leaving them in can be devastating.
  • Don’t feel like you have to draw up to all the free fighting cards.  If you already have drawn a “-1 distracted” you don’t want to add insult to injury by drawing more cards.  Once, I drew three “-1 distracted” cards in one turn, making me spend a difference of 5 life points!  Needless to say, I definitely lost that game.
  • Remember, you can always check the discard/destroyed card piles to see how many of each card you have left in the deck.  Use this to your advantage when picking hazards in the green phase.  For example, if you know that the “2 genius” card and the “0 weak card” are still in your deck with only two cards to go, there’s a definite chance you can beat a hazard that is a 2 or less.
  • You want to win at least a few hazards, which should be pretty easy for the hazards that only require a 0 to win.  Destroy, exchange, and + life cards can be essential even if they are only a 0 toward fighting.  This will set you up well for the yellow phase.  Also, destroy as many “0 weak” cards as you can, but keep the “0 eating” card, this can be essential when you are low on life.

Yellow Phase

  • When choosing hazards, try and choose medium to hard ones to beat (5 or more).  By this time you should have some good knowledge cards with affects such as
    “+2 cards” or “2x exchange”.  Beating these harder ones will set you up for beating the red phase and pirates.
  • By this point, you’ll probably have some aging cards in your deck.  Try to destroy them as quickly as possible, by using your destroy knowledge cards.  If you don’t draw a destroy knowledge, don’t be hesitant to lose the hazard and pay the difference to destroy the aging card.  They are brutal and you don’t want them in your deck.
  • Remember that the smaller deck you have, the more often you will draw aging cards. The yellow phase is the phase to win tons of hazards, because you will build up your deck with strong cards.

Red Phase and Pirates

  • At this point you just want to survive to the pirate round so you can beat it.  Try to choose hazard cards that can be beat, but beware of the hazard cards where you only draw one, if you are low on health, this can be just as deadly as the cannibals.  If you can choose a hazard card where you draw at least few cards.  The more cards you have, the more powers you can activate, which can help beat the hazard card.
  • Get rid of any aging cards that you can, you may not be drawing many at this point.  If you can’t destroy one, at least use exchange.  Remember, if you destroy or exchange a aging card, the affect gets cancelled.
  • Once you get to the pirate round, you want to use your knowledge cards efficiently.  You don’t have to activate them upon drawing, so I always wait to activate them until I have drawn all my free cards.  Then I look and see what I need to activate, whether it be destroy or draw more cards or sort 3 cards.
  • Certain pirate cards are harder in my opinion, so sometimes you might just get stuck with dying, but if you had great previous phases, you should be able to beat the pirates most of the time on level 1.
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Friday: A Solo Adventure

Overview: Friday is a solo adventure board game set in a deserted island.  You play the character Friday whose peace is disturbed by Robinson who is capsized on your island.  You must guide him through hazards to make him stronger and fight off the pirates to leave the island.  The set up is fairly simple, you shuffle the hazard deck, Robinson deck, and aging deck.  Then you randomly choose two pirates which Robinson fights if he makes it to the end game.  Robinson starts with 20 life, with a possible maximum 22.  Gameplay begins with drawing two hazard cards and choosing one to fight.  Each hazard as a points beat it as well as how many cards one can draw to fight it. Then, draw one at a time from the Robinson deck, which has fighting points on it, including negative points. If Robinson can’t beat hazard, he can spend life points to draw more cards.  However, you can decide to lose to hazard card pay the difference in order to destroy fighting cards which might be zero or negative points.  Play continues until you have beat three hazard phases plus both pirates or can’t spend any more life points (Robinson’s life points can be zero and still win).  In the former case, you win, in the latter case, you lose.  friday game box

Friday is a challenging solo game that can be tough to beat.  You have to balance making your deck stronger by losing hazards (and destroying negative point fighting cards) and beating hazards (the hazards become knowledge cards put in Robinson deck which have powerful effects).  If you don’t get rid of enough bad fighting cards, then in later phases, it might be extremely difficult to beat the hazards if you keep drawing -1 cards.  Then again, if you aren’t beating hazards, you won’t get strong cards such as (+2 cards to draw) or (destroy a card).  It’s this tension that makes Friday very strategic and difficult.  photo-86

However, Friday isn’t impossible and once you get a few plays in, it’s more clear that destroying cards early on by losing hazards can be very advantageous in later rounds.  There are varying difficulty levels which can keep the game challenging once you beat it on easy.  Another important mechanic to note is that each time the Robinson deck is empty, you must shuffle in an aging card.  Aging cards cost two life points to destroy (if losing hazard) and can pack a punch such as losing two life points or -5 for fighting hazards.  Going through the Robinson deck too fast can result in aging cards that hurt your deck.  Friday is an awesome solo game that has  great replay value because of the difficulty levels and different pirates to fight. Friday is highly recommended to those who want to play a challenging and enjoyable solo adventure.

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