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BK's Top 10 Solo Games - 2018 Edition

Bill Kunes
United States
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With the arrival of summer the kids were excited to get a break from school and my wife was glad she didn't have to get up early in the morning. For a creature of habit like me that means more time in the mornings without a gaming partner on days I work from home. To fill that time I did experience a boost in my running mileage, and it meant finding games in my collection that support solo play.

This summer turned out to be a season of solo play, so I thought it would be interesting to identify which games I've played solo and come up with a ranked list. So without further delay I present you with the end result.

BK's Top 10 Solo Games:

Board Game: Welcome to Dino World
10. Welcome to DinoWorld
Solo Plays: 7

This is a light roll-n-write game that won the 2017 Gen Can't game design contest that I printed out, laminated and put in my desk for slow days or long calls where I can chuck a few dice, mark my selections and play in a short period of time. I wouldn't sit down and play this over and over, but it offers a convenient, engaging experience in the right situation to make my list.

I printed off the rules for the new version being developed for an upcoming Kickstarter launch that I will be watching for sure. It appears to ratchet up the complexity and variability which would boost its appeal even more.

Board Game: Room 25
9. Room 25
Solo Plays: 9

This is an escape room like game that piqued my interest that I traded for last year. It offers a variety of playing modes including a solo option. I used it to learn the game and then found myself wanting to return for more. I play with programming which for some reason feels like I'm sitting down and trying to solve a Sudoku or crossword puzzle.
It has been a satisfying experience.

With that said, I'd really like to play some of the different game modes requiring additional people and I'd like to trade for Season 2 to add more tiles.

Board Game: Luna
8. Luna
Solo Plays: 8

Luna offers three levels of difficulty. To complete my 10x10 a couple of years ago I successfully played through all three and then traded the game as I felt I had solved the puzzle and my wife did not enjoy the game at all.

If she would have liked it or if I felt others in my group would want to play it I probably would have kept it but alas it traded quickly.

Board Game: Sentinels of the Multiverse
7. Sentinels of the Multiverse
Solo Plays: 11

Love the concept of this game, but it is another fiddly game to play solo. I use dice to help track everything but it feels too much like an accounting exercise then playing and enjoying the game so I stopped playing it solo. Since I haven't been able to get others to play it, I might need to revisit it as a solo option before reconsidering the option to trade it.

Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
6. Lord of the Rings: TCG
Solo Plays: 15

The first 10 plays were with one deck. Then I tried two decks and it got significantly more interesting but more fiddly as well. It has gotten to where it takes me being in the right mood to think of bringing it back for solo play. What I'd really like to do is get my wife interested in it and start over so I can play through the scenarios with another player.

Board Game: Gears of War: The Board Game
5. Gears of War
Solo Plays: 18

I haven't played this since Feb-2013 which is when I started painting my minis that currently sit half painted in a plastic container collecting dust in the basement. I really need to get back to painting them (which I've said every year since then) and get this one back to the table. I've been playing through the various scenarios. Although it feels fiddly doing so, I have been enjoying the challenge.

Board Game: Viticulture Essential Edition
4. Viticulture Essential Edition
Solo Plays: 9

To this point in my list I've enjoyed the games for having a solo option but in most cases what they offer is a bit fiddly. Viticulture offers an elegant solo option that I really like. You have a challenging score to beat in just 7 rounds. For the most part you flip a card for the AI and place its workers and then take your turn. It has been challenging thus far, but it helped me learn the game and experiment with different options while I explore the game and try and meet the challenge in a reasonable amount of time.

Board Game: Forbidden Island
3. Forbidden Island
Solo Plays: 13

In general co-ops have the potential to be great solo options. I don't know how many come with specific solo rules, but in their absence I would just play with what ever number of characters you feel comfortable with playing. I typically play 2 but on occasion try 3 when it comes to treasure hunting on the various sinking Forbidden Island configurations. It is simple enough that you aren't overwhelmed with trying to manage the various character abilities and cards while attempting to coordinate a successful mission.

Board Game: Terraforming Mars
2. Terraforming Mars
Solo Plays: 24

I would love to play this more with other players but to date that has not been my reality. Fortunately, it offers an excellent solo option. It has taught me how to play the game and given me a meaty challenge that I can now play in an hour. I have successfully completed my solo objectives with each base game corporation to establish a baseline that I can now go back at attempt to better. But I have also ordered a couple of expansions that I believe will introduce not only new maps, and starting variability but additional corporations to add more incentive to keep up my solo operations for some time.

This design offers the kind of solo weight and duration I'm looking for in a game. My Broken Token insert facilitates easy setup and cleanup as well.

Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game
1. Castles of Burgundy: TCG
Solo Plays: 39

This has to be my #1 on the list simply because of its accessibility and the number of plays I've recorded. CoB:TCG has been my "go to" solo game for a while now. I've said multiple times that I would choose the board game over it any day when I have another player, but if it is just me this an easy to setup, quick to play, and offers a fair challenge at a value that can't be beat. It is from my favorite designer, but I that does not trump the reasons I stated to justify the top spot.

With my girls back at school I am hoping my wife will be back on a schedule that facilitates her return to our morning coffee games. However, since she is now working more I will still have mornings where I will be seeking a solo game.

What are some non-fiddly, solo games that you would recommend I research?

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