J'ai une âme solitaire: Solitaire Boardgaming Megathread!

Well okay, “Megathread” might be a little aspirational but you gotta aim high, right?

The only people I have time to see of late are either married to or (recently) created by me, and that leaves a tragic paucity of boardgaming options. Thanks to Boardgamegeek, I have discovered the wonderful world of solitaire boardgaming. Finally, gamers can slip the surly bonds of computers with their rams and their soft drives and enter into a bold new world of physical gaming which is, if you think about it, the promise of virtual reality come to life in a way computers never fulfilled.

Ahem. Anyway, so I have been playing lots of solitaire stuff. I’ve been kicking around with Darkest Night by victory point games as well as Dawn of the Zeds. I think Darkest Night is a great concept, but it is kinda nasty to play solo due to the sheer amount of bookkeeping required. Running 4 characters is not easy, and takes up a bunch of table space. Zeds, on the other hand, may be just about the best solitaire boardgame I have ever played. It marries theme and strategy so seamlessly you’d think they were Hapsburg cousins.

Has anyone else been playing these? I have Astra Titanus waiting in the wings too, and am waiting to hear peoples’ thoughts on Cruel Necessity. I’d also love to hear anyone’s opinions on Navajo Wars, the new one from GMT, or the solo scenarios in Space Empires and its expansion. If anyone has any questions I can answer about the titles I mentioned or solo boardgaming in general I’d be happy to do that, too.

The only solo game designed for solitaire play that I’ve tried is Hero of Weehawken. I could be forgetting a title somewhere, but that’s the one that stiks out the most. Actually, I played the old Victory Game, Ambush at one point. I’ve played other games solo, covering all sides as best I can with mixed results.

Marco, a reviewer over at www.2d6.org loved Navajo Wars. I’ve played Space Empires 4X, but not solo. Had a really good time with that one.

I haven’t been able to find a gaming group here, so I resemble your situation. I’m glad to hear Dawn of the Zeds plays well, I’ve had my eye on it and now have more reason to pick it up finally. I look forward to seeing what else comes up in the thread!

Not a boardgame exactly, but I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time playing the Lord of the Rings card game solo. The only hang-up being that it’s incredibly challenging to beat the scenarios solo; and in some cases, I’m convinced, basically impossible without a perfect card draw (and even then maybe not). But the easier ones are pretty damn fun.

Any game that is pure co-op works great solo. Pandemic, Arkham Horror, Space Hulk: Death Angel, and the D&D board games from a couple years ago (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and Legend of Drizzt) come to mind.

Awesome thread. I am afraid I don’t have much to contribute since most of my solitaire gaming came out of magazines from way back but I am very interested in hearing about newer and better gaming opportunities.

I’m not often in the mood for wargames or games-of-wargame-depth, so there are a lot of games that sound intriguing to me (Hornet Leader, Nemo’s War) that I’ve nonetheless shied away from. But I will recommend Friday as a solo game of the Euro persuasion. It’s basically a solo deckbuilder.

I’ve heard lots of good buzz about Mage Knight (the boardgame, not the clicky miniatures) as a solitaire game. I actually bought it as such, but I have a hard time getting up the gumption to deal with the fiddliness of a board game when I’m not going to be sitting across from other folks. One of these rainy Saturday’s when my wife is working I’m going to break out the damn thing.

Simpler coop stuff like Forbidden Island works great as a solo game, though if you’ve got an iPad the physical version is kinda’ moot.

I used to play board wargames solo all the time. I had a ping-pong table specifically for monster games. I found that I enjoyed the setting up and fiddling parts a lot, and because most wargames didn’t do much with hidden stuff there was no real Fog of War to play around with. Even when there was, I usually forgot what was what and where… I still play the John Tiller/HPS Panzer Campaign type games solo, as the AI is, um, less than engaging most of the time.

Mage knight is indeed awesome. It’s a bit to wrap your head around at first but it goes very smoothly once you get it. I’ve also had a great time with the new pathfinder card game which can also go solo.

If you dig war games, I’ve heard nothing but praise for the recently released D Day At Omaha Beach.

I’m gonna put Mage Knight up as a great game that is more puzzle than adventure. I’ve got Thunderbolt / Apache Leader waiting for me to play, but I need some proper chit trays for it. Really looking forward to that one, so much so, that I am considering buying the miniatures set for it just so it looks that much better.


Mage Knight, Zombicide, Dungeons and Dragons box games (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and Legend of Drizzt), and the Pathfinder Adventure Card game are my go-to solo games.

Oh, solo card games definitely belong here! And what a disappointment that game was for me. I faced the exact issue you have. Let me guess, was it the Troll that got you? That Troll convinced me that they basically didn’t bother to play test the game with one player.

Utopia Engine. Very mean, pretty simple, great art design, free! A great game to play while you’re sitting on the couch. Nevermore Games is their homepage. Don’t know any of their other stuff.

I have been playing Combat Commander Pacific solo. So good :)

I think they expected the usual way to play would be with 2 or more players. I find the challenge kind of invigorating though. It’s certainly helped me improve my deckbuilding skills. I build a deck, play through one of the harder scenarios, fail and adjust; play again, fail and adjust some more and so on until I beat it or decide I just can’t beat it solo. I tend to like to make my games as difficult as possible though.

Also, they’ve added “easy mode” for some of those really impossible to beat solo challenges (I’m thinking here especially of the third quest in the Core Set) that has you removing some really unfair encounters and adding starting resources. And playing some of the later scenarios, I think they started balancing them better for soloers, once they figured out that a large number of potential buyers were buying it for it’s soloability. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still a challenge, but maybe not quite as ridiculous.

I’ve got two games of Navajo Wars under my belt and it’s a fantastic game. But don’t expect to wrap your mind around the strategy of the game before you’ve played a few times. It’s not a game with clear goals so much as it a game in which you just need to survive. With 3 scenarios based on different time periods and a lengthy campaign that you can combine them through, there’s a lot of gameplay in this one. The only downside is the errata is a few pages long already. But I don’t believe anything game stopping has cropped up.

My other favorite solo games (in order of enjoyment) are:

Mage Knight
Dawn of the Zeds 2nd edition
Robinson Crusoe
Any of the COIN games
Conquest of Planet Earth
Pathfinder card game
Darkest Night and expansion
Arkham Horror (set up and all the expansions has kind of ruined it for me)
Lord of the Rings LCG

I own Space Hulk: Death Angel but haven’t played it yet. Tried Labyrinth but found it just too fiddly and mechanically laborious.

Would it killed them to have called it “solo mode”? My teeth gnash and fists clench at the thought of dropping down to easy :)

Which are the more soloable later scenarios?

My take on it is if I’m going to set up a physical game there had better be another player around for me to game with. All my solo gameing is done on the PC, Console, or iWhatever. There are a lot of great solitaire board game designs I would love to see moved in that direction. I am slowly getting my wish as a lot of board games are making the jump and getting people like me cheering.

Now, for those amateurs playing simple little games like Mage Knight and Arkham Horror why not graduate to the next level, Magic Realm. There is a game that can be played nice and solitaire and by the time you finish setting it up you won’t even care what the rules are.

I kid there, Magic Realm is a game as old as I and has a place in the perverse hearts of grognard questers. It is notoriously hard to find and many have resorted to do it yourself physical implementations. Or you could do like I did and download Realmspeak. The game is complex but climbing the veritable Everest of learning curves is quite rewarding. The unique combat and magic systems, the variety of characters and strategies, there is just so much in that game it is truly awesome.

Also the maker of Realmspeak has done versions of both Wizards and Timetripper.

I am also getting ready to play my GMT version of Blackbeard which supposedly has an enjoyable solitaire component. But, like I said I will usually only set up a game for a multiplayer experience. There are many who swear by the Avalon Hill original version and it is controversial about which one is best.

Navajo Wars I am really eager to hear opinions on as well, it’s my laziness that almost ensures I will never play it unless it makes it to a digital form. I get the impression that I would love the game if I could handle bringing out the physical thing for a one player experience. Same maybe for the COIN series, I have all three in that series but they are there to inflict on my ‘friends’ as negotiations are really interesting when everyone has a unique victory conditions and reasons to work with and against other factions.

Tom M

Wait…I thought this game used a ton of hidden information. Is this a variant?

Also, I’d love to hear more about Mage Knight from those who have solo’d it. And I hear the expansion adds a great solo scenario?