Solo(able) games where single player - single character/side play is possible
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This list is meant to collect games that allow for playing them as solo games by playing only a single character or a single side. For example, Ghost Stories includes rules for playing a single hero, thus, making this a game for this list. Mice and Mystics, on the other hand, requires you to play all characters that would usually be played by other players, thus it is not for this list. Please note that this is about characters/sides that are usually played by players. If a game has enemies that are automated and not player-controlled in multiplayer play, those enemies are not counted for this list.

Since I am a relatively inexperienced player with only a small collection, I have made this list open for contributions. However, please adhere to the following rules for geeklist items added. Thank you.

Content and Format

Number of Players: In other words, please say whether this is originally a single-player game, a game for 1 - x players, or maybe even for 2 - x players.
Location of the solo rules: Please tell us whether the solo rules you are referring to are part of the game or posted here on bgg (please include a link).
Publishing: While not essential for the purpose of the list, I find it handy to see at first sight whether this is a PnP game or whether you have to order a physical copy from a store or if it is direct ordering a physical copy via a web site.
Free: Although not essential for this list, but I am sure many people will appreciate knowing whether the game is available for free or not.
Comments: Please share your opinion about the game with us. Especially if a game is not a single- player game, please tell us how much the solo experience differs from the multiplayer play, whether features are lost and such. In addition, any comments you have on (solo) play are welcome (like your favorite mechanism, great flavor).
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1. Board Game: Utopia Engine [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:2562]
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Number of Players: 1
Location of the solo rules: Core rules
Publishing: PnP. The link can be found at the BGG entry.
Free: Yes
Comments: I am not sure whether this game really needs an introduction. In my opinion, it is a must-have for any solo gamer. It is well-balanced, allows you to develop different strategies and has an immersive story. The main dice mechanisms give a nice feeling of having both luck and strategy combined and have stolen my heart from the first play on.
If you really haven't played it yet, I strongly recommend you give this gem a try.
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2. Board Game: Epic Solitaire Notebook Adventures [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:8648]
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Number of Players: 1
Location of the solo rules: Core rules
Publishing: PnP. While the original rules are on the original creator's site, there is an update variant included in the files section (along with other variants).
Free: Yes
Comments: I admit that I have only played the updated version (ESNA-NW), so that's what I am talking about.
The game is a lot of fun if you want to do some story-telling. It walks a line between being a game and maybe even a toy as you make up most of the things in the game world yourself - you describe the monsters, you determine the shape of the lands. This results in the game really inviting customization and house rules which makes it highly adaptable to personal preferences.
I recommend it for people who want to be creative during classic adventuring.
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3. Board Game: Elder Sign [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:463]
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Number of Players: 1-8
Location of the solo rules: Core rules
Publishing: Physical through local retailer
Free: No
Comments: This is a co-operative game that can simply be played with a single player. You do lose options of supportive play which makes play harder than in multiplayer play, but none of the other mechanisms are touched/diminished.
The game offers a nice Cthulhu theme and thus can inspire your imagination. Because of its dependance on the cards to set up the board, you get a lot of variation in your adventures, which makes for great replayability.
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4. Board Game: The Dungeon of D [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:3554]
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Number of Players: 1
Location of the solo rules: Core rules
Publishing: PnP The components can be downloaded from the creator's web site (the link is found in the BGG entry).
Free: Yes
Comments: This game struck me at once with its mutiple use for the cards (random numbers (2 opposing ones), items, special items, potions, skills are all on a single card in the main deck of the game!). Despite being a card game with no dice, it plays like a dungeon crawl with a board and dice in a positive way.
Game play is relatively fast once you know the rules and the game is quite some fun. Printing all the cards may be a bit daunting, but I found it worth the effort.
There is quite a lot of randomness and luck in the game (adding replayability), but it still invites developing a strategy. An outstanding feature is the mechanism of guessing the value of the next card drawn, a mechanism most prominently used with regenerating enemies (they regenerate if you guess correctly!)
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5. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:191]
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Number of Players: 1-4
Location of the solo rules: Core rules - There are special rules for solo play in the rules booklet
Publishing: Physical through local retailer
Free: No
Comments: Another co-operative game that can be played solo. Solo play lacks the support from other players. The base game is already horribly difficult, playing it solo with a single hero makes it even harder and you feel really hounded as things turn from bad to worse quickly.
It is a lot of fun to play solo as long as you don't mind losing most of the time.
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6. Board Game: Dream Shift [Average Rating:6.23 Unranked]
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Number of players: 1
Location of the solo rules: Core rules
Publishing: PnP. The required files are all in the BGG file entry.
Free: Yes
Comments: This is a rather fast card game with a nice theme that can be inspiring for your imagination.
However, there are ways to exploit the rules to make the game very easy and sometimes things are difficult to envision (any changes of the setting while facing the buried-alive-nightmare are difficult to explain, for instance).
Still, a nice little quirky game for in-between.
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7. Board Game: Silverton [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:1385]
 
Michael Barlow
Canada
Stratford
Ontario
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Number of Players: 1-6
Location of the solo rules: In the rules. There are scenarios for one as well.
Publishing: Not free. But well worth the price.
Comments: You can play this one alone, as a sole railroad owner. There's even scenarios where open claims are "lost" to "other" owners. Placing the surveyor and prospector is a bit much but I suppose it helps as bookmarks to where you are in the turn. I only play Silverton solo, and as such, just use the cubes for all the pieces and have let go the poker chips and labels.
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8. Board Game: Solo Tower Hack [Average Rating:5.45 Overall Rank:13274]
Michael Barlow
Canada
Stratford
Ontario
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Number of Players: 1

Free?: Yes

Comments: Bare bones D&D type game, good for what it is.
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9. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:302]
Michael Barlow
Canada
Stratford
Ontario
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No. of players: 1

Free?: No.

Comments: You are Friday. Some mad Englishman has landed on your island and you must help him off.

Great fun.
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10. Board Game: Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich Lord [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:2592]
Michael Barlow
Canada
Stratford
Ontario
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Players?: 1-4 or 1-6 (don't recall)

Free? No.

Comments: Dungeoning with cards. Rules are basically the same for one person as a party, but, of course, you get stuck with all the bad stuff that happens.
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11. Board Game: Return of the Heroes [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1673] [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
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Number of Players: 1-4
Location of the solo rules: Core rules. At BGG, there are also alternative solo rules which I have not yet tried out.
Publishing: Physical copy at local retailer, however OOP!
Free: No
Comments: Looking for information on the game on the internet, I saw reviews praising it as well as reviews condemming it. It seems that this game is very much a matter of taste. The game is a phantasy roleplaying board game with great ambitions towards telling tales. Whether the tasks (=quests) system succeeds in this seems to be open to debate.

While I have not played the game with other players (bought it the day before yesterday (^_^;; ), I dare say that besides a major change about the time limit and threat during the game, there is little change in the game mechanisms as such. Multiplayer game is competitive but does not provide any direct ways of harming the other players. Direct interaction occurs only when a player visits the market, allowing all other players to use the market as well which is also profitable for the original player, but which has no real interactive element.

However, both the timing change and the absence of the other players probably influences the feel of the game. In the multiplayer game, play time is basically unlimited with the first player to defeat the nameless one being the winner. In the solo variant, you have a fixed time limit that puts anonymous pressure on you. Multiplayer play has the real meanies appear only after the heroes have achieved some successes whereas the solo variant has them show up one by one throughout the entire session, thus making for a greater urgency. And there is of course the aspect of there being just one character to do the tasks, so this also limits the variation in the narration.

Still, I enjoyed playing the game and even scored a lucky victory. The standard solo rules are quite challenging, so I am considering toning them down a bit (maybe starting the countdown later).

As for replayability, I am quite optimistic. The standard tasks (small quests) may get a bit repetitive as you may do many of them in a single game, thus reducing their novelty, but the game does offer several other aspects that add variation: first of all, the modular board allows for very different difficulties as some tiles (region maps) can be crossed easily, while others require dice rolls to avoid up to two turns of delay on the central space (field). In addition, in each session, you have to do a main quest before challenging the nameless one, and there are 8 different quests. Finally, the 5 characters differ quite a bit in abilities and special abilities (I am wondering whether you can win with the dwarf when using the suggested board setup, given her low movement values) and while levelling your skills to a balanced niveau is possible, it is difficult.

Some people seem to hate it, some people love it. I personally think it is good at getting yout imagination started, and I also see a lot of potential for solo play and customization.
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12. Board Game: Level 7 [Escape] [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:3965]
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Number of Players: 1-4
Location of the solo rules: Core rules. Solitaire und multiplayer gaming are both endorsed by the game to the point that all standard event cards include one effect that varies according to player number, including solo. However, they warn that some scenarios may be pretty difficult all alone.
Publishing: Physical through local retailer
Free: No
Comments: I only acquired this game recently and played the first scenario. However, the game play seems fairly solid and the solo experience of the game was good. The theme of escaping from a secret lab works very well for a lone hero, so things fit into place.

However, there is one big problem the game has: The rulesbook is a strong contender for the worst rulebook ever written! Rules are mentioned only once, even though they would need mentioning at different sections (for instance, when defining the fear stat, the rules mention that you gain 1 fear when you are attacked by an enemy. That rule is not mentioned much later in the rulesbook when you get the actual rules for handling attacks by enemies). Likewise, some formulations are ambiguous (take the peeking rules - does peeking start with the first tile drawn, the second tile drawn, or when stack A is empty? I figured they meant the latter, but the formulation allows for all three variants), or some detailed rules are completely missing (e.g. when can I play adrenaline cards for the stat boost?).

I suppose the rulebook makes playing solo actually the preferable option as you don't have to argue about interpreting rules or get annoyed by each player's turn taking a lot of time as you go through the entire rulebook to find that one obscure rule you remember vaguely seeing...

But even though the rulesbook is a nightmare (in a very bad sense), I think the game itself can be quite enjoyable.
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13. Board Game: Last Frontier: The Vesuvius Incident [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:3964]
Neal Sofge
United States
Silver Spring
Maryland
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Number of Players: 1

Location of the solo rules: Core rules, designed as solo from the ground up.

Publishing: Through Print and Play Productions.

Free: No.

Comments: I designed and published this game, so I'll leave the subjective reviews to others (see the game's forums, for example). In a nutshell, it's an old-school counters-and-CRTs wargame, the spiritual successor to the sorts of things you'd find in Ares magazine or published by Task Force and Metagaming. The player controls a dozen space marines as they try to rescue (or at least account for) the crew of a lab ship in a decaying orbit. Lots of alien ambushes, unpredictable events, and high-powered weapons going off in enclosed spaces.
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14. Board Game: Gears of War: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:346]
Justin
United States
Plano
Texas
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If I'm not mistaken, the only change for solo is the recommended removal of 4 cards from the Order Deck that are more geared to multiple players.

I've only played through the first two scenarios, but I can safely say that the second one would likely be way harder without the second character. That said, you can do all the missions with just one COG.
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15. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:310]
Kurt Over
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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Number of Players: 1

Location of the solo rules: Included in Core rules

Publishing: Z-Man Games

Free: No.

Comments:
Works as a solitaire game with the player racing against a deck limit and a few special rules as compared to racing against other players to achieve certain goals. Since the game is heavy on theme and story-telling and uses paragraphs I believe it works quite well as a solitaire.
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16. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:17]
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Number of Players: 1-4
Location of the solo rules: Core rules
Publishing: Physical through local stores
Free: No
Comments: A very nice game of fantasy strategy. Its most outstanding feature especially for solo gamers in my eyes is the way luck is used in the game: there is a lot of luck inside this game, starting by which tiles the map consists of, continued with which spells, units and advanced actions are available when, the enemies to be fought and which mana is available. However, all of that luck influences the situation the player faces and not the outcome of their decisions. Thus, although featuring dice, a modular board, and lots of cards, once the player has to act, it boils down to calculating and planning your move. You know beforehand whether an action will fail or succeed and plan accordingly (I think there are one or two cards that are exceptions to that rule, but I am not sure).

Solo play really has only the player's character on the board. There is a so-called 'dummy player', but that 'player' only puts a time limit on the rounds (initially preventing sluggish play and towards the end putting pressure on the player), although the probability of its harshness can actually be influenced by player decisions (at least if the cards permit it). In addition, solo play puts limitations on using tactic cards (bonus rules for a round that also determine who goes first) which adds another layer of challenge to the game. Other than that (and removing meaningless bonus points), the rules of the game do not change.

As far as theme is concerned, the strategy game aspect is very strong and there is virtually no attempt made to tell a story within the game. However, all the cards are very thematic so that it is possible to spin at least a simple yarn about what happens, although the general activity (conquering cities) is somewhat repetitive.

All in all, the randomness is likely to support a good replayability while the game itself is both random and quite challenging, allowing very different types of gamers to enjoy it.
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17. Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:285]
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Number of Players: 1-4
Location of the solo rules: Core rules. To be precise, there are no special solo rules although the individual scenarios scale down accordingly.
Publishing: Physical copy at local store
Free: No
Comments: A rather interesting game that does not change the rules based on the number of players. Not a single bit. The thing that does change, however, is the number of locations that need to be explored (number of characters + 2), which leads to a change of strategy based on the number of characters as there is a fixed time limit of 30 turns total (30 turns for 1 character in true solo, 10 turns for each character in a 3 character game).

Interestingly enough, the game feels just as good and balanced when playing with a single character as when playing with 4 characters, although I would argue that Merisiel in a single character solo is actually easy mode (and thus my preferred mode).

While the incidents in the game include a lot of randomness which only sees a limited regulation by general patterns provided by the scenario and location cards (e.g. 4 monsters, 2 items, 3 blessings, and 1 weapon at location X), it is usually relatively easy to create a narration in your head. While the general flow is always the same (fight the villain and their henchmen until you defeat the villain without leaving them a location to flee to), the random incidents/items/monsters at the locations provide a lot of replayability and the flavoring actively encourages using your imagination to delve into the game world.

In addition, people at BGG have produced quite a number of additional scenarios, often changing some rules to give more varied challenges to the players.

In the end, however, the game is basically a dungeon crawl, but one with a lot of theme and flavor and with enough variety to survive for a long period of time.
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18. Board Game: Runebound (Second Edition) [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:691]
mike m
United States
palisades park
nj
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Number of Players: 2 - 6 (Not really recommended for more than 3.)
Location of the solo rules: Mr Skeletor's Solo Rules are awesome for this game.
Publishing: Physical copy via retailer, however currently OOP (with occasional rumors of reprint).
Free: No

For my money, it does the best job of fantasy-themed rpg-like feel in a board game. Your character buffs up, gets cooler gear, and hires allies in order to take on increasingly difficult challenges. Big, overland adventure board (which somehow gives a very different feel than a dungeon crawl), with a clever travel mechanism. Fantasy theme comes through the gameplay very clearly.
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