davidcoleman's Top 20 Solo Games - 2018
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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Kevin Erskine
United States
Alexandria
Kentucky
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Kevin from the 1 player guild has put together the People's Choice Top 100 Solo games, over the last few years. Last year I failed to put my list in on time (despite having it ready for a few weeks) - so Big fail. As penance, I put together a geeklist of my favourite games and why I like them - although I guess my comments can be a bit samey after a bit. But I do like looking at other peoples list and marvelling at the madness....
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1. Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:40]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#20 Robinson Crusoe, like Eldritch Horror, has dropped away markedly for me as a solo game, and yet it is really fun as a multiplayer game. The reason – mainly the (almost) relentness negative nature of the events. In multiplayer it can be funny as you share the pain, but solo wise, not so much for me. Still an amazing amount of replayability through the game design but I suspect it won’t be on my list for next year. Then again it might, if the expansion is good.
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2. Board Game: Nemo's War (second edition) [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:441]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#19 This game was a surprise for me, but unfortunately in a negative way that I would rank it so low. (Still, I have 65 soloable games so it ain’t all bad). I was so happy when this game went to kickstarter, and came out with a beautifully illustrated edition. And yet, for me it is a small game in a big box. I have a few small VPG games in their respective polybag editions, which is the same as the 1st edition of this game. I think that the design is good, and yet for me something is missing. I suspect that it is because each of the enemies more or less acts in the same way, staying in the same ocean that they were first found in. Maybe if there had have been enemy ships that begin to roam. Still, I purchased the expansion, and I have no intention of getting rid of it soon, and therefore I haven’t written it off.
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3. Board Game: Gears of War: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:370]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#18 I haven’t played this as much as I would like – mainly as my collection is divided across two continents, and it is in the secondary locale. Great game – I could see myself tiring of it if I played it as much as games higher on my list – but a few times a year it remains fresh. I like the cards as life mechanic, and a couple of the scenarios are outstanding.
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4. Board Game: Age of Industry [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:502]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#17 Age of Industry is one of my favourite multiplayer games that I really don’t get much of a chance to play. More shiny games I guess. I like many Wallace games, but solo options are limited. However, I tried a variant called the PA Resource Baron by Elad and I really liked it. I find it quite engaging and frustrating as well – the Baron is tough to beat, and it breathed new life into this game for me. I do wonder about whether it is transferable to the other (unplayed) maps that I own
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5. Board Game: Dawn of the Zeds (Second edition) [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:1316]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#16 My favourite VPG game of the half dozen I own. I only have 2nd Edition, but despite the fiddliness it works for me- and I havent been tempted to pick up the third edition. Most cinematic game that I own. My biggest regret was that I didn’t pick up the Directors Cut. I did look to order from VPG but I couldn’t justify the shipping price being more than the purchase price, and at that time I was a little off VPG games anyhow. Oh well. Maybe one day…
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6. Board Game: Clans of Caledonia [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:45]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#15 Another game for which the solo game didn’t seem compelling or engaging enough for me, but was saved by 1-Player Guild challenges that I really enjoyed. I think that having defined parameters works in a challenge as you get to reset and see if you can beat your last score. I like it better multiplayer, but it has become more engaging. I did read that the designer is contemplating an Automa approach for solo play as well. Excellent.
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7. Board Game: Ground Floor (second edition) [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:5607]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#14 I only got this game a couple of months ago, although I was quite interested in the first edition but didn’t pull the trigger. I haven’t had a chance to play it multiplayer, but I have played against various Automa’s that come in the game. They can be very challenging, whilst simple to run. I think of it as quite a relaxing activity, trying to use your time and money wisely and building up your business. The number of rounds were ‘Short’ened for this edition, which I think was a good idea. I also don’t mind the art style – think sixties Europe rather than 90’s US.
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8. Board Game: Small City [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:1769]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#13 I work in urban and watershed planning, but this is one of the few city building games that I like. It was an accidental game – in that I saw in come up for sale on Austria’s version of ebay, and then looked into the game. It is quite fiddly (not Mage Knight fiddly but..) but I like the way that residential areas etc grow automatically if different conditions are met, mirroring urban growth. Admittedly I think that the base game is not sufficient for extended solo play due to a limited range of buildings, but I recently picked up one of its expansions to expand the range. I tend to feel that solo games often need extended variety in game play options, along with expansions, to keep on coming back, whereas in multiplayer, the variety is provided by the people playing and therefore there is less need for expansions.
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9. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:22]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#12 A big drop in the rankings for me. MK has slowly been dropping for me over the last couple of years, mainly because I have regularly have to refresh the rules, and so I will often reach for a different game instead. When I do play it, it tends to be played several times before I put it away again. And it does bring out the worst in me in terms of game rage when those stupid tokens come up and I realise that I am going to be hurt – very hurt. I generally play with the Lost Legion expansion, and I like this has it creates limits on my play – but I really cannot beat a city and then Volkares army. Grrr
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10. Board Game: Myth [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1966]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#11 I didn’t back the original game, but later purchased a retail copy and then a kickstarter copy. I also kickstarted the journeyman expansion, which saw heavy delays - with different bits coming out at different times. I only managed a couple of plays this year, mainly as it is found in a different city to where I am working) but I find it fun and the Darkness a really good innovation. I think that things like the Darkness meter work well in solo games as it creates limitations on what you can play or risk. I surely will play it more next year - mainly solitaire but with friends on occassion. Certainly the recent news about changes in IP ownership to a more stable company increased my desire to play it as well. I was quite sad when it seemed to have a limited life and was hwpy thereafter. I might even paint (some of) it- although 200+ miniatures is a bit overwhelming.
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11. Board Game: Core Worlds [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:554]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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# 10 One of the few 'card games' on my list, but the highest of the games with an unofficial solo game that I really enjoy. I have always loved Core Worlds but never really got to play it much and so using a variant by Soloplay was great. I have looked into many of Soloplays’ variants, and some of them change the rules of play/objective quite significantly from the original (e.g. Thurn and Taxis). Core World Soloplay is also of this nature as it adds in a spatial element not found in the original – one that I quite like and makes me feel more like a galactic emperor. Flash aah aaaaah Saviour of the Universe.
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12. Board Game: Russian Railroads [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:70]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#9 This is the highest of my solo-able euro games, where a small deck of cards acts as an Automa (Emil). The solo version is not particularly complex, either to play or to run, but I find it relaxing and enjoyable and often play two or three games in a row. I am also not very good at it, and I am yet to explore the German boards. I read the other days that Soloplay is trialing a solo variant for this. Woohoo.
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13. Board Game: Comanchería: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:1839]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#8 The younger, more streamlined sibling to Navajo Wars. I quite like the theme, and enjoy the idea of building and empire then try to avoid having your warbands destroyed by successful waves of enemies later coming from all angles. I enjoy this game, but prefer its older sibling – mainly because of the family element in NW that enables more story telling on a canvas, whereas this uses more historically flavor filled events decks. I do find it scary that it was realised a couple of years ago - it still feels recent.
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14. Board Game: Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:1704] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#7 I’ll be honest, I remain a bit mixed about GoK. So why is it so high on my list? I like the artwork, of course, and the game is reasonably simple – although I feel that the original rules book made it more complicated than it is. But mainly, I think it is because of the challenges that people come-up with, the passion of the designer, and it does create an interlinked story. It is a good game – and I am looking forward to the expansion to add variety to the encounters. Funnily enough, this was also the game that made me realise that I really like a physical board in my games – whether modular or singular. I think I would have preferred the location cards to be modular location tiles. Whilst there are exceptions to this, i.e. Lord of the Rings and One Deck Dungeon already on this list, I am finding that I am increasingly drawn to the presence of a physical board in my purchases.
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15. Board Game: Pandemic: Iberia [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:78]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#6 I am not a big fan of the original Pandemic, but I really enjoy this iteration both for solo play and for group play. In solo, I tend to play with the advanced rules, where people moving hospitals really impacts on your capacity to contain the outbreak. The artwork is really good, and, as I work in water development and sanitation, the water purification is a bonus. I tend to use Pandemic: Iberia to introduce board games to new players as well.
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16. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:109] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#5 This was the first solo game in my collection, and I even remember when I first heard about it in a podcast from the UK so many years ago. It remains my most played game, but didn’t see many plays in 2018 as I did burn myself out a bit. But I still love to reading about it in excellent blogs and buying adventure packs, both old and new. And, I have realized lately that I have started to miss it, which is a good sign. There is almost too much content, especially if you are like to play a range of different games and therefore can’t/won’t commit to one game, but this is not that bad a complaint. I don’t feel creative enough, even after hundreds of plays, to come up with really innovative decks – but then there is a great community card/deck building site for that.
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17. Board Game: One Deck Dungeon [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:507] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#4 A new game to the list – mainly as it is a great lunchtime or travelling game. I wasn’t that keen on it after the first few plays, and wondered if I made a mistake, but it definitely grew on me and I can get quite absorbed in manipulating the dice to deafeat the monster. I know there is criticism of it and views that it is overhyped or can be too random, but I like it for what it is- a dice roller/placement kind of game that can be played in 30 mins. The campaign game mainly consists of multiple run throughs of the same dungeon over many games, slowly building your skills to defeast difficult bosses.
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18. Board Game: Navajo Wars [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:1190]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#3 This was my first purchase from GMT games and is still my favourite wargame (hybrid-weuro). It has slipped a little this year as I haven’t gotten it to the table as much as I would like, mainly as I like to play multi-period games of NW. I still regret the fact that it didn’t come with a few extra event cards to add more surprises (e.g. taking a couple of cards out of the event deck before play) as you use the same cards each time, but this is a minor quibble, and the design stands. There are a lot of procedures in the game, but surprisingly I find that they mesh together well. I still think that the AI is excellent, and helps to generate a story in my head. Often the stories are sad, but occasionally there is triumph.
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19. Board Game: Spirit Island [Average Rating:8.40 Overall Rank:24]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
Wien / Abidjan
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#2 This game has come out of nowhere in terms of it being a recent purchase, and I am still in the early stages of exploring it. To date, I have only played with all singular spirits to learn their different traits, but I am really looking forward to playing multi-spirited later on and building the combinations. I feel that it takes the place of Mage Knight for me – in that there is less randomness going on and a major puzzle to solve - but in a shorter space of time and less fiddliness. but man, I really enjoy it - and it seems to be a nice fantasy companion game to Navajo Wars in my collection.
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20. Board Game: Too Many Bones [Average Rating:8.56 Overall Rank:185] [Average Rating:8.56 Unranked]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
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# 1. Who would have thought that fighting on a four by four square could be some much fun. It took me a while to arrive at the party, but so glad I did. The battlemap is the best bit, with the encounter cards creating variety on the field. I have played this solo with all character numbers, but using three characters at the casual adventurer level is my sweet spot. Enough to make it challenging but not as grinding going on as the seasoned adventurer level. I can set it up very quickly, which adds to its regular table presence for me.
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21. Board Game: Bright Future [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:5792]
David Hebart-Coleman
Ivory Coast
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Not the game pictured. But a preview...

I have a reasonable collection these days, and whilst I still acquire quite a few games, my need for new solo games has definitely reduced. A number of popular solo games that I own didn’t make this list, including Conflict of Heroes, Leaving Earth, Cuba Libre, Colonial Twilight, Space Empires, Days of Ire, Ottoman Sunset and so on. For some, it was because I really haven’t had a chance to explore them properly, whereas for others, they just didn’t see enough play this year to warrant being on the list. In terms of next year, I don’t intend to buy many titles (of course!) but I feel that Gaia Project and SpaceCorp will make it on next year – when I receive them or get a chance to play. Plus, my most played game of the year Gloomhaven (multiplayer) might be on my list when the expansion comes as I intend to played a number of scenarios that our group missed out on.
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