JG's 2017 Top 20 Solo Games
J. Atkinson
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It's that time of year again over at the 1 Player guild where members vote for their top 20 solo games. Once all the votes are tallied, the much anticipated big reveal of the top 100 solo games by Kevin Erskine begins around November/December time frame. It's always an exciting event to see unfold as Kevin slowly adds entries each week to the list while everyone wonders if Mage Knight Board Game will finally be dethroned from its lofty perch.

This year, I decided to post my own personal top 20 even though I'm not that popular a guy around here This is more for posterity as I continue to grow my collection, and I finally can say I have played enough games to have a true top 20 solo game worthy list. I'm not strictly a "solo" player, but I do enjoy a good solo game. If you're not a solo gamer, you should really give it a try. There are some really excellent solo playable games out there.

My top 10, for the most part, is fairly solid, but as you go past the top 10 things get a lot looser.

Relevant Thread: People's Choice 2017 Top 100 Solo Starting

Past Top 100 Solo Geeklists:
2016 People's Choice Top 100 Solo Games (+)
2015 People's Choice Top 100 Solo Games


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1. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.38 Overall Rank:5]
J. Atkinson
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Terraforming Mars is my new number one as of this year. It barely squeaked out last year's number one which was Thunderbolt Apache Leader. Even though this is a multiplayer game, it has an excellent solo variant in back of the rulebook. The focus of the solo game is different than the multiplayer game, but for the most part, it plays the same. One thing I don't like about certain solo variants of multiplayer games is that a lot of them sacrifice a large part of the core experience found in the multiplayer game. I'm looking at you Castles of Mad King Ludwig...grr! TM does a fantastic job of retaining most of the core elements of the multiplayer game and delivers a challenging solo play experience as you try to accomplish a terraforming planet in fourteen generations or rounds.

The reason it wins out over Thunderbolt Apache Leader is that the game is easier to get to the table and started than TAL. It plays in about 45 minutes. Lastly, new content is being added to the game in ways that can keep the game fresh. I just got the first expansion, Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium, and I hear three more expansions coming.
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2. Board Game: Thunderbolt Apache Leader [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:716] [Average Rating:8.13 Unranked]
J. Atkinson
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This game was last year's number one by a country mile. It practically blew me away with its immersive feel of the combat air group commander role you take on as a player. You manage your pilots and aircraft as you make decisions about which pilot to put on the next mission and what aircraft is able to fly. I love how the enemy squadrons march toward your base as you decide which one is the most important one to take on that day of the campaign. Then there is the actual execution of the mission on this wonderful tactical map that just adds that extra something. The single 1d10 is unforgiving at times as you roll attacks and watch your pilots miss the target expending precious limited ammo for the mission. Every campaign tells a story.
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3. Board Game: Warfighter: The WWII Tactical Combat Card Game [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:2109] [Average Rating:7.92 Unranked]
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Another new game this year that has captivated my imagination. I've always been a bit of a sucker for the WW2 theme, so this is why I jumped at this over the original Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game series. It's really fun trying to decide what soldiers to put in your squad along with their gear. This is very similar to planning a campaign in Thunderbolt: Apache leader (same publisher). However, it deviates from TAL by being a card game primarily and each session is a single mission whereas TAL is a series of missions in a campaign. Also, it can be played as a co-op up to six players while TAL is a single player only. Both are very immersive and tell a great story when you're done. The many d10's are just as unforgiving here too!
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4. Board Game: Freedom: The Underground Railroad [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:305]
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This is an amazing game, but not one I can play all the time. The experience this game brings with it is in a class of its own. It's a gut-wrenching experience sometimes when you have to make those tough decisions to spring some slaves free at the expense of some others. This is a game with a controversial theme done right. The game is extremely challenging. The components are great. It drips with a rich historical theme and educational value.
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5. Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:10]
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This is the first entry that doesn't have an official solo variant, but a really good fan-made one: Simple, fast, solo variant . First off, I really enjoy this game to start and I had to try a solo variant. Turns out, this is a good one. Scott is a jerk for sure, but I have been able to beat him a few times. Even though the AI is predictable in it choices, it still provides a good challenge. Every time I play a quick round of this, I get a solid satisfied feeling.
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6. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:87] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
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I've played a lot of this solo, and I'm not talking about the app which I have also played. The Gambit expansion comes with a couple of good official solo variants, but ShaunGamer's unofficial solo variants are the bomb. They are all very creative and challenging.

Geeklist:
Star Realms Solo Challenges
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7. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:58]
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This is another game with a few good fan-made solo variants. My favorite is pastorbin's AI bot that cheats really bad. I'm not sure I've even beaten it yet. This is a game that gives me my engine building and dice-chucking fix. Terraforming Mars gives me the tableau building and card playing fix. So.. no need for Race for the Galaxy and it's goofy iconography here.

Pastorbin's AI bot:
Roll for the Galaxy Bot (Unofficial)
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8. Board Game: Leaving Earth [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:632]
J. Atkinson
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Man... what can I say about this game? Just mind-blowing. The ultimate "planner" game of juggling many things at one time that exists. This is not for the faint of heart, and I'm really not sure this is a multiplayer game at all. I can't fathom playing this competitively at all because I imagine turns would be extremely boring waiting for your turn to come back around. This is almost a strictly solo game in my opinion. I say almost because my son and I came up with our own co-op variant we like to play together.

I love this game because it reminds me of my grandfather who worked at NASA during those glory days of the space race. It's also a tough little game to pull off the prerequisite missions for a win.

Even though the base game is quite the table hog, I still need to get the Outer Planets expansion.
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9. Board Game: Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! (second edition) [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:461]
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Okay.. technically I don't own this game, but I've played the second edition rules. I ... did own .. the first edition.. WHAT??! You don't own the game you say!! I promise, I plan to get the 2nd edition as soon as I can along with the solo expansion!! Just got to figure out how to cough up another $80 with the other games vying for my attention. It's high on my wishlist.

I got the first edition in a math trade and didn't know what to expect. The tactical goodness of this game just blew me away. Memoir 44 was one of my early favorite games and still is, but this game is just amazing. I can't wait to get the beautiful and organized updated edition along with the highly regarded solo expansion. I'm also salivating at the Guadacanal game in the series because I'm partial to the Pacific theater.
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10. Board Game: Wings for the Baron (second edition) [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:3697]
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I won this during the GenCant 2016 solocon. It was quite the surprise, and my first official Victory Point Games with all its sooty laser-cut counter goodness. This game is a real gem of an economic game that surprised me. The official solo variant is quite intriguing as well.
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11. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:302]
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Friday is considered a classic solo game among the guild. It's a tricky little deckbuilder where you try to help poor hapless Robinson Crusoe off the island as his plucky sidekick, Friday.
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12. Board Game: Core Worlds [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:509]
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Elad is a prolific solo variant designer here on the 'geek. This variant is one of his best. It incorporates the Galactic Orders expansions very well.
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13. Board Game: Commissioned [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:1892]
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Commissioned is a really excellent co-op game. It's one of the few "Christian" games out there that doesn't come off wonky or cheesy or cheaply made. I have yet to beat this game solo, so it's a tricky one. A very well designed game with good replayability.
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14. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
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My first co-op ever and one I still enjoy playing. However, I don't play it solo as much. I really need to check out the "In the Lab" expansion, because I hear it takes it to another level when played solo. I thoroughly enjoyed Legacy Season 1, but I can't imagine playing it solo given the shared experience I've had with my kids playing it.
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15. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
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Not a game I pull out to play solo much unless I'm just wanting to play some Memoir '44. This has fallen out of favor with my kids, since playing Conflict of Heroes, so it doesn't see as much play time as I would like.
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16. Board Game: Corsair Leader [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:6090]
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I bought this PNP version of the game, so I could do some "research" for a game idea I have for incorporating Wing Commander theme into the Leader series. This is definitely a "Leader" lite kind of game, but still fun. I'm very tempted to get the second edition of this game once it comes out after being Kickststarted. However, I'm not so sure about the incorporation of some of the Down in Flames mechanics into the next edition of the game, so it will be a wait and see.
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17. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:66] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
J. Atkinson
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The best detective game on the market so far! We'll see if that still holds up once Portal Game's "Modern Detective" comes out. I actually don't play this solo as much as I want, because I know my daughter loves this game. If I play solo, then it means I can't play the same case with her since I'll know the solution. So conflicted...
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18. Board Game: Forbidden Desert [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:263]
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A really light puzzly co-op of a game! This is something I might pull out for a "quick" puzzle of a game when I get in that kind of mood.
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19. Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:80]
J. Atkinson
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Absolutely detest the official solo variant of this game! So why is it on my list?

Shameless plug - Castles of Mad King Ludwig Unofficial Solo Variant - 1d6 Market

I just had to make my own variant, because I really enjoy this game. I love the scoring combos with the tile laying and the tile drafting. It's fun to see the zany castle you've made at the end. Appeals to the kid inside in me who used to love to draw things like this.
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20. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:56]
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I'm really digging the Automa being developed for this game. I'm currently a playtester, and I don't know if the variant will ever see the "official" light of day. I'm so glad I found it though!
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