Eastwood's "Make my day" solo game ratings
Kevin Eastwood
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Windham
New Hampshire
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f you're like me and can only have so many games because of finances, sagging shelve syndrome, a nagging significant other, or a conscience that says you should do something more productive (pffffttt); or are just learning what types of games you like it can be hard to find a list of a lot of games together and so you spend a lot of time flipping through different games, forums, etc. Since I primarily play games solo, I figured I would create this list of the solo games I've played and how I rate them as a resource for everyone. There are a few important points:


1) Solo Rules: Not all games are truly solo games, but some have variants found on BGG. Those are noted in each item, and the rating represents how I found the solo game (either official or variant). If I've played in multiplayer, then I've provided that ranking separately.

2) How I Rate:The ratings are my opinion based on my ever-changing taste in games. There were times where I'd rate the game either higher or lower, but this represents my current gaming taste. On average I have a high amount of 7/8 ratings, but as I become pickier over time I found my ratings have started to normalize - where a "6" is a good game, just probably not good enough to keep in my collection.

TRUST Rating: I've mentioned the number of solo plays, but in order to make the list easier to maintain anything over 10 is simply noted as 10+. I do try to log all my plays but sometimes I forget. On this list I'm only putting up details on games that have 5+ plays as I don't think most initial impressions are accurate representation of games. That said, I have included 1 geeklist item (the first one) which shows my solo games under 5 plays if anyone is interested to see what may be coming up as a geeklist item, or to see if I knew out of the gate the game wasn't for me and was purged prior to 5 plays. This may serve as a good indicator for you if you're aligned with many of my other rankings.

I've linked solo variants in the list to make it easier for everyone to find

Please thumb the list if you found it interesting or helpful.

UPDATE: I've added my list of Purged solo games which did not get rated here:
Purged from Collection Geeklist (prior to 5 plays)
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1. Board Game: 5 Second Rule [Average Rating:5.55 Overall Rank:13335] [Average Rating:5.55 Unranked]
Kevin Eastwood
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This entry is not for the game shown, but to list games that haven't hit the 5+ plays yet but are in the queue to provide my initial solo rankings:

I've also added a "purged" geeklist to indicate why some games left my collection before getting enough plays to review them.

To Review: - Updated 6-12-2018
7 Wonders (BGG variant)
Apocalypse Chaos
Anachrony
Bruges (BGG variant)
Burgle Bros
Card city XL
Desolate
Godforsaken Scavengers
Helionox
Infiltration (custom solo rules)
La Granja
Legends of Andor
The Lost Expedition
MERCS RECON: Assassination Protocol
Myth
Nemo's War (2nd edition)
Nusfjord
One Deck Dungeon
Pandemic Iberia
Power Grid (soloplay variant)
Quests of Valeria
Rialto (Variant)
Scythe
SOS Titanic
Space Hulk (Steam, and solo rules on BGG)
Spirit Island
Street Masters
Sword & Sorcery
Terra Mystica (soloplay variant)
Tesla vs Edison
Tiny Epic Galaxies
Triplock
Viticulture Essential Ed.


4 Plays
- Dark Souls
- Gallerist
- Renegade
- Superhot
- VENOM Assault

3 Plays
- BIOS: Genesis
- Saltlands
- Taluva (SoloPlay variant)
- Time Fixer (pnp)


2 Plays
30 Rails (PnP)
Ascension year 4
Attack on Titan
Endless Nightmare
Hearts of the Mist (Mistfall)
Pandemic: Rising Tide
Pax Pamir (solo rules from Ricky Royal)
Princes of Florence
Spiral (PnP)
Witches of the Revolution

1 Play
Bethel Woods
First Martians
Four against Darkness
Raging Bulls (pnp)
Sans Allies
Xia

0 Plays - but in collection
1572 (pnp)
Martians a story of a civ
Spell Saga


MOVE TO PURGED LIST:
The Captain is Dead (3)
Galaxy Defenders (4)
High Frontier 3rd edition (2)
Gloom of Kilforth (2)
Grimslingers (3)
Magic Realm (2)
Last Frontier: The Vesuvias Incident (1)
Legendary: Aliens DBG (1)
Tiger Leader (1)
Tiny Epic Quest (1)
Comancheria 0
Centauri Saga (3)
Warhammer Quest Card Game (2)
Liberty or Death (2)
John Company (1)
The Herald pnp (3)
Dungeon Solitaire (2)
Perdition Mouth (2)
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2. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 9.5
Solo Rating 9.5
Number of plays: 10+

Comments: I'm not really sure what to think of Agricola - on one hand I like the ability to put together my farm, feed my family, and try to score high VPs through the diversified goals. It's an exercise in how to maximize outcomes while minimizing actions. For me it's interesting. The multitude of cards possible to come up in the game allows for different strategies in each game, yet I still feel constricted in what I can/should do based on the end game scoring requirements. And so, I'm stuck - I like the idea of determining the best possible action, but the consistent drive towards the end game goals makes me wonder if I'm going to end up purging this game. For now it's on my 10x10 to get some additional plays.

UPDATE after 10 plays:
Agricola provides you with a compass and says "get there" - the path is both clear and obtuse. Sometimes you drive towards your destination, sometimes you walk, sometimes you need to climb mountains – all depending on the cards available to you. It’s a tactical struggle. Figuring out what to do in your given situation and having to adjust strategies from game to game makes this a richer experience - not because the tension is higher, but because you need to "think on your feet". Sure it can be argued that there’s an illusion of choice here – you NEED to feed the family, you NEED to diversify to maximize points, but that’s the destination, not the journey.

Agricola is about adapting to situations as you go, and that experience is much richer in retrospect. Sure you'll get your bumps and bruises, along the way but there's a story to tell. FoA lacks meaning, and while it's smooth sailing towards the destination, you arrive and say “I’m here” with little to show for it. I realize now that I prefer a story to tell from my gaming journeys, perhaps that makes me a little wiser - and Agricola has made all the difference.

Highly Recommended thumbsup
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3. Board Game: Airborne Commander [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:3315]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 7
Current Rating: 7
Solo Rating 7
Number of plays: 5

Comments: Airborne Commander is a small card game that focuses on overcoming objectives and defeating enemies against what seems to be insurmountable odds. The cards feature stylistic painted artwork of soldiers, tanks, objectives and immediately pulls you into the game. The rules are decent, but you will likely need a little clarity prior to having the game "click" for you.

Playing the game is interesting - with difficult decisions on using cards to either go against an objective, or to play as support/use for purchasing additional troop cards. Some situations seem to be obvious on what to do, but some situations require you to put up your troops against enemies where they will be killed just to save yourself from obtaining more "disorganized" cards - which clog up your deck and make it even harder to perform. This abstractly shows the chaos of war when enemies are allowed to go unchecked.

Overall I liked the game and felt that it provided a nice gaming experience, along with a good amount of immersion as a Commander which is telling your troops where to go. I sometimes walked away wondering what I could have done different which is a sign of a good design. However, despite this positive aspects I never felt that the game was unique, or something I needed to keep in my collection.

If you're looking for a small card game with an interesting design, plays in a small footprint, can be quite challenging, and don't mind the thematic elements of war, then I think you'll enjoy the game. However if you're bothered about making the tactical decisions which require you to sacrifice troops, then give it a pass as there is a certain level of immersion that you can expect from the game. thumbsup
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4. Board Game: Alhambra: Big Box [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: SoloPlay Variant
Initial Rating: 9
Current Rating: 9
Solo Rating 8.5
Number of plays: 6

Comments: I'm completely bias on this game because I've been to the Alhambra and it's magnificent. Ok, so I like tile laying games, I like interesting card play as well - and Alhambra has both. The big box expansions make the game fresh each time I sit down to play. So the issue I had with the game is that there's no official solo rules for the game, and when I found the solo variant on BGG I was thrilled, but tentative as I didn't want to have a bad experience with a game that I adore. So, the solo game adds some additional pressure to the game, requiring that you build the AI Alhambra within certain criteria, and the stacks are set for each currency color - so essentially you have to be careful not to end the game too early (which is a sure loss). I've found the variant to be quite challenging and provides a different experience while maintaining a similar mechanic feel to the multiplayer game. If you like tile laying games that are easy to learn and has major replayability, I'd suggest picking this up. For solo play, the variant is quite good, and well worth playing - more so than any other variants for tile laying games that I've tried (e.g. Glen More, Carcassonne) thumbsup
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5. Board Game: Ancient Terrible Things [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1419]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL (included in expansion or HERE on BGG)
Initial Rating: 7.5
Current Rating: 6
Solo Rating 6
Number of plays: 7

Comments: Ancient Terrible Things is essentially a thematic reimaging of Yahtzee - well, similar in the vein of Elder Sign. There are nuances that make this game interesting - specifically the dice rolling requirements, which is that you must reroll ALL your dice each turn unless you spend tokens to lock them. Likewise there are only ever 3 rolls possible per turn, which means that the likelihood of failure is increased. This alone makes the game shine and stand apart from other similar dice games.

The artwork is thematically appropriate - dark colors and a washed out pallet compliment the impending doom for the 4 characters you can choose from. The characters aren't really that different, just having a different bonus token at the beginning.

The dice are translucent and very nice to roll, the tokens are quite thick, and overall the production is very good.

Overall, the system put together provides a very silky gaming experience, and it doesn't feel watered down or overly boring. The base game has a limited selection of cards to play and goals to accomplish, so after repeated plays you'll be looking for more variety which I believe may be in the expansion. The solo rules are listed in the expansion which is somewhat disappointing, but doesn't require the expansion to play (they are also posted on BGG).

If you're looking for quick dice game with straightforward gameplay that has some tactical decisions and good components, you should give this a look. However, do not be looking for an overly deep experience or you will be disappointed. Recommended to try before you buy if you're looking for something similar to Elder Sign, which I believe is a slightly deeper experience with the expansions.

thumbsup thumbsdown

Update: After several more plays, I downgraded the rating. While the game system is good, the solo game lacks isn't overly compelling. In my initial rating I mentioned that you shouldn't look for an overly deep experience, and after the additional plays it was apparent that while multiplayer may be fun, the solo experience was mediocre and other games have easily eclipsed this one. While still not a bad game, it's not one that I'd recommend purely for solo play.
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6. Board Game: Andean Abyss [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:757]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 9
Current Rating: 9
Solo Rating 9
Number of plays: 5

Comments: Andean Abyss is a COIN (Counterinsurgency) game which focuses on events in Colombia. It's an asymmetric game where each of 4 factions plays differently. Out of the box the game has solo rules where you play the government against the other 3 factions (Cartel, FARC, and AUC). These factions each have an unique winning condition which makes the game incredibly tense.

The COIN series bridges wargames with Euro style, providing wooden pieces, nice thick chits, and a huge colorful map. The components are stellar - some of the best that I've played for a "wargame".

The card play in the game is difficult, not because there are an abundance of things you can do on your turn (there are essentially only a handful things you can do), but how you play those limited actions and manage your resources is critical. Taking actions costs resources, which diminish quickly, and timing of card play is important. Each turn you're playing your action based on a sequence of colors on the top of the card and based on which factions are eligible to play that turn. If you've played an action the prior turn you're ineligible the following turn, making the timing of passing critical. While you can only see the current card and the upcoming card, it's enough information to wrestle with the potential benefit or downside to taking an action during a given turn.

Overall: Altogether the decisions on when to take an action, what type of action to take, the chaotic interaction between the factions make for an amazingly deep game. The game does run long (4+ hours) and the only faction you can play solo out of the box is the Government (although I understand there's a set of instructions to automate the Government, although I have yet to find it). That said, each game I've played of AA has provided me with hours of immersion, knowledge about the real conflict that has happened, provided difficult political decisions on how to handle specific situations that are occurring - all from the safety of my gaming table. If you're a fan of wargames, or are a heavy eurogamer that is looking to get into wargames and isn't bothered by a difficult ruleset, or looking at flowcharts to automate and AI opponent, then I'd highly recommend this game. thumbsup
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7. Board Game: Apex Theropod Deck-Building Game [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:2107]
 
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 8
Solo Rating 8
Number of plays: 5

Comments: APEX Theropod is a deck building game (yeah captain obvious the title of the game didn't give that away...), which focuses on your survival of a particular breed of dinosaur that you select. In the box comes a ton of different dinosaurs that you can play with.

There is an event deck that acts as a timer and serves to disrupt your plans by some quite nasty events. While unpredictable the chaos is still manageable and not overly frustrating.

As a solo game there are bosses to defeat before the end of the event deck. If you manage this, then you win and can count up some victory points. The boss battles can be difficult, though some are easier than others - and most are a test to see how well you have built your deck engine, as multiple rounds of battle continue until you invoke a specific amount of damage on the boss. If you fail to deliver enough damage in a round the battle ends, and you have to wait until he comes back again for another shot.

The components to the game are very good - card stock is great, a HUGE first player mini which is completely unnecessary, nice thick main board, and satisfactory player boards.

Overall: I found this to be a strong deckbuilding game. If you're a fan of dinosaurs you're going to love the art and the immersion level. If you're not (like me), the theme is still interesting and different enough for me to play it without any reservation. The boss battles for solo play are great and because it supports solo play out of the box it doesn't feel tacked on. If you do like the game you'll find it hard to locate many of the expansions, but fortunately there's enough in the base game to keep you playing for some time that they are not really needed. In addition the game lacks support from the publisher - so if you are missing cards, or something is damaged it's highly likely that you'll never see your replacement. That said, I'd still recommend checking out this deckbuilder, which stands out from many others on the market. Recommended thumbsup
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8. Board Game: AquaSphere [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:359]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: BGG Variants (thread: 1444154)
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 8.5
Solo Rating 8
Number of plays: 7

Comments: Aquasphere is a tough Euro to define. True to form I could easily say it's a typical Feld point salad. However the game feels more like Le Havre where you can only do 1 of only 2 actions on your turn. The game rewards good strategy and critical thinking and early gameplay will have mounting effects in the late game.

The solo variant provides a player with the ability to play the game against Pino who's AI strategy adjusts based on what the player is doing. The solo variant is easy to control and is quite rewarding for a game that typically plays 2-4 players. The result of the AI is a game that plays true to the multiplayer experience in most instances.

Overall: A strong euro that plays well multiplayer has a strong solo variant developed and posted on BGG. The variant plays true to the standard game and provides good competition. If you already have the game I'd definitely recommend trying the solo variant. If you don't own it, I'd recommend that you try before you buy. Either way it's a fun gaming experience. thumbsup

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9. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:284]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL solo expansion
Initial Rating: 8.5
Current Rating: 8.5
Solo Rating 8
Number of plays: 6

Comments: Archipelago is probably one of the most beautiful games I own when it's layed out on the table. Great attention to detail was done on the art for this game which really immerses you into the feeling that you're exploring islands. The solo gameplay is a combination of resource management and exploring under a time clock - different cards in the solo expansion have different ending game conditions, and you're trying to score a "gold" rating, which for some is nearly impossible without a lucky draw for the cards at the onset of the game. This could be frustrating for some, but for me, I enjoy the game enough where this isn't bothersome. The solo game however isn't as good as the multiplayer where the metagame of not knowing what your opponents agenda/ending conditions are, which means the game can end abruptly and you need to maximize your gains as quickly as possible while trading with others. It's like balancing on a tightrope.

In general, I'd recommend this game for solo gamers with a large table, likes exploring/resource gathering, doesn't mind trying to improve on achievements (some of which I have no idea how you'd ever achieve), and generally wants a longer gaming experience (although this scales from quick to VERY long depending on the scenario. Recommended. thumbsup
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10. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:238] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: Official rules playing 3 investigators, single investigator using additional variant rules on BGG (link - )
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 7
Solo Rating 7
Number of plays: 5

Comments: Let's get this out of the way - I LOVE HP Lovecraft, so naturally I enjoy the thematic elements of this game and the story that it produces as you struggle towards sealing the gates. Playing with just the base game takes up a HUGE footprint, which is something that keeps me from taking this out more often - which is a shame since I enjoy it. However, when I do, I find myself very engrossed in the gameplay. Playing 3 investigators isn't hard, but it's added upkeep to the game. When I found the additional tweaks to playing a single investigator, I enjoyed it more, and found the game played in about 60 minutes instead of 2-2.5 hours. That option makes me want a better storage solution for the game, especially with all the expansions.

Overall: If your an HP Lovecraft fan, then chances are you've already picked up this game, and if not you should. There's Eldrich Horror which I understand to be a more global scale game, and currently doesn't have as many expansions for the game. It's been said that Arkham Horror is the better of the 2 games, but is less streamlined - and if that's the case, there's really no reason for me to venture further, having already invested in most of the expansions. If you're a fan of storytelling gameplay, not adverse to luck in your games, enjoy Lovecraft, or like large footprint games, then this is recommended. thumbsup
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11. Board Game: Ascension: Year One Collector's Edition [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 9
Solo Rating 9
Number of plays: 30+

Comments: I decided to pickup the Collector's edition of Ascension after playing this on Steam for the first time. The components are quite beautiful in this edition and the foil cards with upgraded artwork make this truly something amazing to see on the table.

In general, Ascension plays quite fast compared to other deckbuilding games because of the limited setup requirements. Additionally the game differs because you cannot plan a strategy from a layout of cards that are available all game, but instead need to evolve your strategy as the cards come out. At first glance this may appear that you simply take the best card available, but this is not true as simply going after certain cards means you may not have built your resources to gain it before your opponent, and if you haven't purchased cards that align and cause effects to work with other cards you're likely going to lose.

The solo game in the box is similar to the standard game, but at the end of each round the AI takes or defeats the 2 right cards in the display (and doesn't use the effects, they just take the points). This means that you need to make an added decision if you're going to go after the card in their area to deny them the points, or if you will stick to whatever strategy you have.

Overall: I found the game to be very interesting. The good amount of cards in the game means that in each playthrough you likely won't get through most of the cards, so every game will be different. The artwork has been complained about in the standard edition, but that didn't really bother me, and the Collector's edition artwork and components are really great. The game shines with more expansions, so investing in the expansions will provide a lot more game than in the base game alone. If you're looking for a deckbuilding game that is more tactical in nature, one that you have to adapt to the game as it develops, you should give this game a look. thumbsup
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12. Board Game: Ascension: Year Two Collector's Edition [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked]
Kevin Eastwood
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 9
Solo Rating 9
Number of plays: 30+

Comments: If you haven't read the comments on the Collector's edition year 1, then you can see those below as well. Here I'm just going to note the differences in this edition.

Year 2 differences:
The board is purple, and has a better layout than year 1 because the expansion cards in Year 2 require another area for play. The quality of the set, cards, boards, gems, etc. are all the same as the previous edition. The gameplay is similar, though the expansions here add a few more options for play which expand on the base game rules. You can mix the sets together, though you don't need to in order to enjoy the game, and this edition can also be played as a stand-alone.


Year 1:
I decided to pickup the Collector's edition of Ascension after playing this on Steam for the first time. The components are quite beautiful in this edition and the foil cards with upgraded artwork make this truly something amazing to see on the table.

In general, Ascension plays quite fast compared to other deckbuilding games because of the limited setup requirements. Additionally the game differs because you cannot plan a strategy from a layout of cards that are available all game, but instead need to evolve your strategy as the cards come out. At first glance this may appear that you simply take the best card available, but this is not true as simply going after certain cards means you may not have built your resources to gain it before your opponent, and if you haven't purchased cards that align and cause effects to work with other cards you're likely going to lose.

The solo game in the box is similar to the standard game, but at the end of each round the AI takes or defeats the 2 right cards in the display (and doesn't use the effects, they just take the points). This means that you need to make an added decision if you're going to go after the card in their area to deny them the points, or if you will stick to whatever strategy you have.

Overall: I found the game to be very interesting. The good amount of cards in the game means that in each playthrough you likely won't get through most of the cards, so every game will be different. The artwork has been complained about in the standard edition, but that didn't really bother me, and the Collector's edition artwork and components are really great. The game shines with more expansions, so investing in the expansions will provide a lot more game than in the base game alone. If you're looking for a deckbuilding game that is more tactical in nature, one that you have to adapt to the game as it develops, you should give this game a look. thumbsup
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13. Board Game: Assault on Doomrock [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1607]
Kevin Eastwood
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Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 6.5
Current Rating: 9
Solo Rating 9
Number of plays: 5

Comments: One of the more interesting games that I have ever played in the fantasy genre has to be this game. The first play I ever did of the game caused me to immediately trade it away, but on a whim I picked it up again with the expansion and gave it another shot, and now it's rated highly by me. Polarizing you could say.

The game revolves around a few things:

1) You initially build your characters who have a specific trait (picked at random) and skill cards (choosing from a preset group). These traits help to define what type of character you have and a special skill which is only available to the character with that trait.

2) The game is divided into 3 battles, each of which is proceeded by an adventure phase where you visit locations, buy goods (weapons, artifacts, etc.) encounter danger, explore, rest and level up. This phase is limited based on a preset amount of time which is determined by the random selection of a card - which also is used for loot roll outcomes, and the benefits if you win the upcoming battle.

3) The battles - which the encounters are randomly determined from a deck (or larger cards with the expansion). These battles are driven by a set of AI cards. Your characters roll dice and allocate them to the skills that you have. Each enemy and character in the battle is represented by large circular tokens on the table and the positioning is done based on the "field" they are in and if they are adjacent to another token.

The battles seem to drag out for quite some time, but that depends on how prepared you are for them. My first time playing it seemed I was working to get nowhere and was frustrated and sold the game. In subsequent plays I discovered the genius behind this system - it strips away all the excess and boils the activities down to the essence - are you engaged or not (positioning), the expose tokens give the combat variability and some unknown element, and limiting the actions you can do though dice allocation to activate cards which can be used during your turn.

The game is quirky with a funny sense of humor on the cards - not only in setup of the character (e.g. the stinky character has "garlic breath" as a skill card), but also in the encounters, and the loot. This is a welcomed change from a genre that is typically more serious with its theme.

Summary: For a game that doesn't take itself too seriously, it is notoriously difficult to win - so much in fact there is a microbadge dedicated to winning the game... once. The game strips away the excess from the table and leaves you with a streamlined "adventure game" that can run quite long, but immerses the player in game. If you are looking for a game which is very difficult to win, like the fantasy genre and want a game that has HEAVY tactical play with quirky storytelling, then you're in the right place. A player should be willing to invest in multiple plays prior to having the game "click". The expansion adds a lot to the game, notably terrain which increases the tactical play in the battles. Highly recommended thumbsup
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14. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:239]
Kevin Eastwood
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Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 7
Current Rating: 8
Solo Rating: 8.5
Number of plays: 10+

Comments:I'm sure people will argue that this is the best Uwe game for solo play (Fields or Arle excluded since it's just recently released), but I found it to be not as satisfying as some of his other games. Moving vegetables around and trying to deal with the matrix of cards is quite interesting, and I have yet to score 19 or higher, and only scored 18+ 2 times out of my plays. If working on a high score is your thing, there's not really too much variability here for you, but if you're intent on trying to figure out how to maximize your money and have the intention of scoring a perfect game, you're really a golfer in disguise that is aiming for their first hole in one. I'm sure there are people that have done it, but for me it's unlikely unless the stars align. However, I still enjoy getting this to the table from time to time. Recommended for solo players that enjoy nice bits, easy to learn game that can be played under an hour and is a satisfying meal of a game, but certainly not for those that are looking for an open ended large VP scoring game. thumbsup
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15. Board Game: Baseball Highlights: 2045 [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:367]
Kevin Eastwood
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Windham
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Solo Rules: Official
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 7
Solo Rating 6.5
Number of plays: 7

Comments: I'll be honest, I've never liked baseball as a sport - I think the athletes are grossly overpaid, the game is too long, the season is too many games for them to make much difference. So deciding to pickup a baseball game was not an easy decision, but with the recommendations pouring in from SGoYT, I needed to check it out.

It's yet another deckbuilder, but limits the size of the deck that you play with, so your acquisitions of cards will be played and your deck doesn't grow out of control. The gameplay gets to the meat and potatoes of baseball - hitting and playing short series (best of 7), which is much more palatable than an actual baseball season. The gameplay is straightforward with each player alternating cards and playing what they have in their 6 card hand - in the solo game you have your cards and play against a stronger AI trying to win out the series with a number of "buy" rounds in between. In multiplayer it's about decisions on when to play each card - similar to BattleCon, with solo it's about the same type of play, but you don't start with the same deck so you're going against an unknown team. That said, it can be very difficult to win and anticipate your early plays, but since the AI deck doesn't change, by the third game you've seen all the cards, and can make adjustments.

Overall the game is a solid deckbuilder and plays well both solo and 2 player (it also plays more, but I haven't tried it). Don't let the theme deter you if you're adverse to baseball, as you'll find robbing homeruns from other players to squeak out a win is very satisfying. With more expansions on the way, the game will be supported and allow you to build even better teams. Definitely worth trying. Ultimately though, the 2 player experience is better than solo as the solo team you're playing against is randomly determined. thumbsupthumbsdown
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16. Board Game: BattleCON: Devastation of Indines [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:203] [Average Rating:8.05 Unranked]
Kevin Eastwood
United States
Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 6.5
Solo Rating: 6.5
Number of plays: 10+

Comments:You may see a decent drop from my initial rating to my solo rating, and that's because I firmly believe this game is made for 2 players, even though a solo expansion is available. This game is incredibly deep and requires a significant time investment to learn each characters strength and weaknesses, and how to exploit them. For someone that already has time invested into a few other games I couldn't see myself playing it that much and ended up purging the game. It's overall not a bad game, and the solo campaign scenarios were interesting, just not enough to keep me coming back. I so wanted to love this game, but sometimes the thought of playing the game is actually better than the experience itself. Overall, it's a good quality game, with deep gameplay that requires significant time investment in order to truly enjoy it. Solo campaign play is interesting, but only moderately enjoyable thumbsup thumbsdown
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17. Board Game: Between Two Cities [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:480]
Kevin Eastwood
United States
Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 6.5
Current Rating: 6.5
Solo Rating 6
Number of plays: 10+

Comments: Between Two Cities is a quick tile laying game which has a unique element that you are not simply building your own city but working with others to build 2 different cities with the goal that the lower of the 2 cities is your final score – so this creates some tension and consideration when playing with actual people at the table.
The components are good and artwork is fine, though it’s not overly impressive when considering other games that Stonemeier has put out, though considering that this is at a much different price point and size box it’s understandable.

The solo rules in the game allow you to play this on your own with AI opponents. Morten did a good job designing the AU which can make the game fairly difficult to win, but it really comes down to the tiles you draw and places you have open for allocation in a defined 4x4 grid. I therefore think the decision space is actually more limited than other city building games which also have a grid system (e.g. Town Center), or are simply laying tiles of different types to maximize synergies (Suburbia).

Ultimately it fills a niche in the collection that I think can be better served with other tile laying games. It’s not bad per se, but I would not seek out to play it again.

Overall If you like fast tile laying games and want something with a different twist and have others to play it with then you may want to consider checking this out. If you are looking for a tile laying city building game that plays well solo, I believe there are other better games that can fit the niche.Try before you buy. thumbsup :thumbbsdown:
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18. Board Game: The Big Book of Madness [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:646]
Kevin Eastwood
United States
Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 8
Solo Rating 8
Number of plays: 6

Comments: Big book of madness is essentially an interactive hand management game. The gameplay focuses around spending resources to overcome obstacles, which otherwise have negative impacts to the player. The players have interesting decisions to make with the addition of spells that they can acquire and use each turn. Focusing on interaction with each character is key to doing well in the game, so in this way there is a need to play this with more than one character when you play this solo (I prefer to play with three). Each character has their own special benefits, and it feels that some are stronger than others, but it could still be my inexperience with the game.

The theme comes through quite well, mostly because of the artwork and components, both of which are excellent; though there is no backstory, which I believe would have further helped with immersion into the game. The game insert also holds everything well and does not have a lot of extra space. My only gripe is that my board was warped out of the box, which otherwise would have made my score a little higher.

The rulebook and gameplay is straightforward, but there are lots of choices to be made by the player. This is a game which rewards gamers willing to invest in multiple plays.

Overall This is a game that thematically feels like "Harry Potter" but doesn't have a backstory and therefore doesn't fully invest the gamer. Choices are interesting, and the scaling of difficulty in the gameplay allows for all levels of gamers to be able to play the game. If you like hand management games, and figuring out puzzles (here it's how to beat the curses/monsters through interacting with your team) then I believe you will like the game. The game plays slightly longer than 1 hour, but it doesn't feel slow and will likely give you that "let's play again" feeling. Highly Recommended thumbsup
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19. Board Game: Bios: Megafauna [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1820] [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
Kevin Eastwood
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Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 8
Solo Rating 8
Number of plays: 5

Comments: BIOS Megafauna is a typical Eklund game, with an obtuse rulebook that is thematically sound but difficult to get through. The living rules on BGG help to clarify specific points in the game and are a necessity if you are to try and tackle the game.

The game provides a very thematic experience of evolution of species and provides the gamer with considerable choices and decisions to make. The choices for DNA provide specific enhancements and allows for expansion into biomes which are needed to survive and gain points during the 4 scoring phases in the game. The game can be brutal at times with the Earth heating up or cooling off, resulting in the extinction of your species or the AI, or even ending the game for everyone.

There are a lot of small rules that need to be remembered which drastically impact gameplay, so the players will find that there's a sharp learning curve to the game in the initial plays, which goes away after repeated plays.

The components in the game vary - the animeeples are excellent, the board and tiles are nice and thick, although the color pallet isn't exactly pleasing to the eye. The cards are somewhat thin, and the black and white backs are serviceable but could be upgraded in a new edition (if one was to ever be released).

The game does link to Origins: How we Became Human when you purchase the expanded map on Zazzle, but as of this review I have not played this yet ( I do have the other game and the map).

Overall the game provides a sound thematic experience and immerses the gamer into the development and survival of species. You will be challenged by not only the difficult ruleset, but the harsh environment that can swing the game. That said, if you're looking for a heavier game with a sound thematic element, don't mind reading through a significant ruleset; then give this one a look. Recommended. thumbsup
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20. Board Game: Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:4982]
Kevin Eastwood
United States
Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 7.5
Current Rating: 7.5
Solo Rating 7.5
Number of plays: 5

Comments: Bloc by Bloc is an area control game which is based on insurrection. If you’re opposed to the theme, don’t even bother to give this a look because throughout the game you are faced with decisions which pile on to this. While represented with cubes on the board, the thematic pull of the game is strong and you will feel as if you are part of a group trying to overthrow the current government state.

The game itself plays well, though the footprint for this game is quite large. As a solo game, you control 4 factions which have a set number of actions that you can do on your turn. The objective is to take back control of the city, taking back specific city blocks. You’re able to put up barricades, loot locations, recruit more insurgents, and cause riots to take down police and their vans. As you start off, you are quite weak and need to grow. Rioting means you’re attacking and from a risk perspective you can stand to lose those people who are involved – and for sure this feels thematically real. The equipment cards you get form looting also can help create modifiers and help you in other ways, so you also have incentive to loot the locations that are around you… but time is against you because there are only a specific number of rounds to do this before you lose the game; which in many instances means you are going to have to take risks in order to win this game.

The dice rolling in the game is managed well – yes it can really hurt you in situations and put you in a position where the game is unwinnable within the specific number or rounds, but you can also prepare prior to initiating the rioting actions by getting more members of your faction and by looting. So it doesn’t seem unfair, though at times it’s quite harsh.

Overall Bloc by Bloc is an interesting area control game with strong thematic ties to the anarchy that can occur with rioting and with a government that does not do what is right for their people. At times during playing I could see the cubes transform into mobs coming from the neighboring block to regain control of an area. There are interesting stories to be told from playing the game, but the theme is not for everyone. Beyond the theme, the area control requires planning and reliance on dice rolling, so if you are adverse to results from a dice roll, then you may want to reconsider getting this game. Recommended. thumbsup
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21. Board Game: Blokus 3D [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:897] [Average Rating:6.81 Unranked]
Kevin Eastwood
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Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 7
Current Rating: 7
Solo Rating 2
Number of plays: 10+

Comments: Putting together a puzzle can be quite fun some times, but there is no replayability once you figure out how to stack all the pieces. While I like playing this with my daughter, and with gaming groups, this was not meant for solo players. No replayability once you figure out the puzzle means I can't recommend for solo gamers. Worth looking at though for a family fun game with 2-4 people. thumbsdown
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22. Board Game: The Bloody Inn [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:703]
Kevin Eastwood
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Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 8
Current Rating: 8
Solo Rating 8
Number of plays: 6.66

Comments: The Bloody Inn is tableau building game which allows the solo player to use cards in a variety of ways. Thematically the game is dark, with the objective to kill off people staying at your Inn and bury to steal their money, convert those into bank checks and earn as much money as you can. In the solo game you have to be careful not to get caught, or to have any unburied bodies at the end of the game. With the cards you can enlist the support of other people to help you on your bloody spree, to either create more locations, hide bodies, help kill someone, or bribe other to come along with you. Since the deck is randomized based on the number of cards that you will use, you don’t know exactly what will come up in each game, and because you go through the deck twice you can better plan your end game strategy when you hit the mid-point of the game. However, you can’t just keep cards in your hand, because when you have cards you also need to pay out money each turn – essentially costing you end game points – so here balance is the key.

Besides the tension and decision of the card play you also need to decide when to use an action to covert money into bank checks as you are limited to 40 “cash” based on the board position – so knowing when to do this during the game is critical – and here it’s something that the player need to learn.

The game plays relatively quick – in about 30 minutes, and the artwork and components are quite nice and are packaged in a medium small box; though not all people will appreciate the art style of the game.

Overall I really like this game. If you’re looking for a dark themed card game, which has a lot more depth in gameplay that what you see at first glance, like cards with multiple uses difficult decisions and plays quickly, then make sure you give this one a look. thumbsup
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23. Board Game: Blue Moon City [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:504]
Kevin Eastwood
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Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: Variant on BGG here: http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/40895/soloplay-bluemooncit...
Initial Rating: 7
Current Rating: 7
Solo Rating 7.5
Number of plays: 6

Comments: Blue Moon City is quite an interesting race game that requires good card play and forethought to win. The solo variant allows a person to play the game with an AI that can be changed in difficulty without increasing the rules - and that's a major plus for me. There's also other supporting information on different setup and tile placement, that dramatically increases the replayability of the game. The game doesn't come off the shelf that often because I have other games to play, but it does stay in my regular rotation because it takes about 30 minutes to play from setup to breakdown once you know how the game is played. The artwork on the cards is very interesting to look at, and the tiles and dragon tokens are quite thick. The plastic dragons add another little aesthetic touch to the game. Thematically you could reskin this game as something else and have an equally good time, but it's ok as the gameplay doesn't rely heavily on theme.

Recommended for gamers that appreciate a nice light game, with easy and straightforward rules and gameplay but requires some tactical management to win against a variable AI. Solo rules are very good for this game and I'd recommend this game for solo or group play without any reservation. Since the game is OOP, the cost may be above the previous published price, but if you score a copy for around $40-$50, then you'll find a quite interesting game for your collection. Thumbsup
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24. Board Game: Bremerhaven [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:3178]
Kevin Eastwood
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Windham
New Hampshire
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 7.5
Current Rating: 7.5
Solo Rating 7.5
Number of plays: 6

Comments: Bremerhaven is a blind bidding game which has a solo mode driven by cards. During the game you are concerned with taking your cards and placing them on areas that you would like to take, but the AI places their cards based on the cards they draw, which can create competition in those areas which you need.

You are trying to fill orders by taking goods from container ships and moving them across your dock and onto trucks, but this can be complicated because you need the right timing to do so, and your docks need to be able to allow for the ships to come in – which requires upgrading. Even when you have the space they leave based on a timing mechanism which can clog up your board if you are not careful. The same is true for the trucks that you load – those also will sit there until they need to leave.

You can also expand your player board by constructing buildings and paying to open spaces which are initially blocked – giving you more choices.

However, the most brilliant part of the game isn’t that you are moving goods around and those constraints, but requires you to gain fame by gaining stars, which only happens when you have the ships at your docks, on the buildings that you construct, and a few other ways. This acts as a multiplier with your total money that you have at the end of the game. So you need to decide if you want to spend that 1 coin, because in the beginning it’s just one point, but if you end up with a large multiplier it takes away a lot more points (e.g. 16 fame = 16 points for each coin). Here you are encouraged to be very efficient.

In the games that I played I didn’t have too much trouble scoring well, and hitting the top tier, and that would have been disappointing… however there is a variant that requires you to pay to move goods around your board, which is not only more thematic to pay the people to do extra work, but makes it harder to get high scores.

Overall: I think this is an underrated and underappreciated game on BGG – and maybe that has to do with the cover resembling Le Havre - setting false expectations for the game. My plays of it have been quite fun when I’m in the mood to work on optimization puzzles with an AI which can really mess up your plans. The components are average, and the box has a ton of empty space, which I wish was smaller. The game plays in about 60 minutes and is fairly quick to setup. It’s worth a look if you like optimization puzzles and you should be able to find it for a reasonable price. thumbsup
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25. Board Game: Bright Future [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:5648]
Kevin Eastwood
United States
Windham
New Hampshire
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Chaos is a ladder
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Solo Rules: OFFICIAL
Initial Rating: 7.5
Current Rating: 7.5
Solo Rating 7.5
Number of plays: 7

Comments: Bright Future is a post-apocalyptic themed game where you are trying to find a cure before all humanity is wiped out. The game contains exploration elements which pressure the player to push forward as you need to discover the right areas in order to be able to help the cure and win the game. However, exploring can be deadly, and encounters can be difficult to overcome, though it’s less about winning each encounter, and more about mitigating enough damage to continue on your way.

When you start the game, you select a character, which is either human or mutant. There are equipment cards (armor and weapons) for both types of characters, but they cannot use each other’s type of cards. You pay for these cards that you can use in your tableau by spending currency, which is also your life. To that end, you already start off with an interesting decision before the game is even played. The equipment cards have stats on them, each of which are used to help with encounters, though some equipment does not help or protect you from each encounter – which is both thematic and really makes for some tense decisions.

Each round you draw a card which gives you a bonus for the round, but also triggers changes in the code you need to break to create the cure. In this way, you may choose something less beneficial to you now only to mitigate some changes towards the code. To solve the code you need to find the right locations, spend currency (aka life), and give up codes in order to clear some tiles. If you haven’t been careful the codes stack on each other, making it harder and harder to cure as time goes on.

Thematically the game is interesting, and I like the card art. The map cards can be hard to see the icons, and they start to spread all over the table but I also like how that evolves during the game. The rulebook needs to be reworked, as there are multiple modes to play this game, and some areas in the rules could be clearer (e.g. setup), but once you figure out how to play it’s straightforward and quite fun.

For me, I have too many games, and while this is a good game and worth the time both seeking it out and playing it, I’m purging games that don’t see my table often. I’ve passed along my copy for someone else to enjoy because it’s hard to find in the US. Overall, if you are looking for a post-apocalyptic game with NO Dice, where every encounter matters, and how you allocate your scarce resources (life points/currency) is key to success then this is worth a look. thumbsup
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