The Elemeeple on Solo Gaming

A blog and YouTube channel about solo boardgames: reviews, playthroughs, and the occasional rant.
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I Solo Better Than I Social (In Some Ways)

Ava Jarvis
United States
Bainbridge Island
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So this weekend being full of social gaming for me, I began to remember a particularly traumatic experience at a convention.

I have never been one to think quickly on my feet, without some serious reflection, yet I never want to be the one who holds up the game with Analysis Paralysis, so my decisions tend not to be optimal in the social gaming circle. Sometimes that's a terrible understatement.

And this has led, again and again, to people dismissing me, viewing me as a flighty person who can't even keep a long-term strategy in their head, who can't even deal with short-term tactics.

Unpleasantly and sometimes pleasantly, this has led to total surprise by people, who were so afraid of me teaching a game at a convention but were stuck, to find out that I can teach a game well and logically.

To a certain point I even put myself down, but until recently that had been somewhat minor.

Two years ago, I think, I was playing a partnership game of Innovation, which is one of the worst games to play if you can't think on your feet and are considerate enough of other players to not hold up the game. I made, as usual, non-optimal choices.

And my partner started to yell and scream at me, raising his voice to harshly scold me for my stupid choices. In the end, I did make a move that helped us to majorly crush the opposition, but by then the damage was done: nowadays, every social game I play is tainted by this experience. By this realization of just how stupid people must think I am in person.

I haven't much of an ego, but that ego was crushed by that enlightenment.

Social gaming, I have discovered, is no longer a refuge with strangers who don't know me and don't know how intelligent I really am, but laden with stress and uncertainty and shame at how inadequate a player I am. I don't break down in tears over it, but sometimes I come close.

But solo gaming is different. When I started to play solo games in earnest, I began to discover that I was intelligent; that I wasn't bad at games (well, most games), given a stress-free environment in which to thoroughly think out my moves. I actually managed to learn how to become brutally efficient at producing wines in Viticulture within just two games, for one thing. I came close to winning Darkest Night half of the time I play it, and that is one hard, hard game. I've managed to beat Paperback, which basically relies on a deck that can eventually produce 17 money in 4 tries.

Of course, there are games I haven't been even come close to crushing, like Race for the Galaxy or Ghost Stories. Pandemic escapes me still, and I gave up on Mage Knight Board Game and Arkham Horror. But... those I mostly played early on in my soloing career, back when I played at the same speed as in social gaming, and promptly got my behind handed to me.

When I solo, nobody is held back by me. I can think things through. I can press my mind to its best performance, which honestly is not so fleet and quick at strategy or tactics (figuring out and learning rules, on the other hand, I'm pretty fast at).

That's probably a good thing, in the end, that I don't bother other people. Except for friends who have somehow figured out that I am not dumb and put up with me. To whom I say, thank you, for looking past how I present myself on my feet.
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