The Complete Chronological List of Solo Fantasy Dungeon Crawl Boardgames
Sifting through the 2019 Kickstarter list to single out the 1p games wrote:the component pics look like it’s another generic dungeon crawler.Sifting through the 2019 Kickstarter list to single out the 1p games wrote:I only looked at this because I couldn't imagine what it could do to justify having another generic dungeon crawler existing in the world.The names are removed above because they aren't relevant. They point to a feeling I've noticed, sometimes voiced more explicitly, in recent times (and sometimes shared by myself - I'm not pointing any fingers here). That boardgame publishers are pumping out soloable dungeon crawlers on a weekly basis. It's understandable, to an extent - we live in an age where more boardgames are published every year than ever before, where more and more boardgames are published with official solo rules and where more and more games come with a shameful amount of plastic miniatures. Those last two trends, in particular, have largely been promulgated by Kickstarter. It is, therefore, easy to equate the two and think that there are a gazillion different dungeon crawlers now available. To treat the announcement of every new one with a shrug of the shoulders.
Not so long ago, though, I remember when the reaction was rather different. A lot of good soloable dungeon crawlers launched in 2017 and each one was met with excitement. Until then, it was in part the absence of any other soloable dungeon crawlers which had driven the secondhand market for Warhammer Quest. 2017, itself driven by several Kickstarter campaigns in 2015, was a revelation heralding a golden age of solo dungeon crawlers to sit alongside the 'golden age of solo games' we're all now experiencing. I had thought, therefore, that there was a certain amount of recency bias in the fantasy dungeon crawler fatigue that has set in.
I thought I'd do a little research and start a thread to discuss it in the 1 Player guild (1PG). Then I got into it a bit further, spending more time then I should, and decided to create a geeklist (this geeklist) as a resource for people looking for soloable (fantasy) dungeon crawlers. In the process, I realised that it's not simply a recency bias that sees us think games like this are a dime a dozen. There are more produced now than previously but 2017 remains exceptional - as it turns out, both in quantity and in quality. It's the 2017 games that continue to be most popular and get recomended. Do we live in a golden age of soloable fantasy dungeon crawlers? Arguably, yes, but not quite in the way I might have imagined - many of those 2017 games continue to get support through reprints, expansions and reimplementations.
So, the geeklist as resource:
The chronological layout was inspired by my initial research question and by sorg UR's Chronological List of Dungeon Crawlers. This doesn't just replicate that list though - it excludes dungeon crawlers with non-fantasy themes and anything that doesn't have official solo and/or co-op rules. Also, I've applied a slightly more strict definition of what a dungeon crawler is.
sorg UR dfined a dungeon crawler assorgur wrote:Dungeon crawler: a (fantasy) RPG setting in which characters explore/navigate a labyrinthine environment (dungeon, maze, cavern, etc.*), battling various monsters, avoiding traps, solving puzzles, and looting treasure.That's useful but I'm adding something else - it must have a board. This means that any dungeon crawler card games on his list (of which there are some with solo rules, such as One Deck Dungeon and Mini Rogue: A 9-Card Print-and-Play Game) are relegated to 'dungeon crawler themed games' in my head and not a dungeon crawler as such. It's my list and I make the rules.
To make the list a useable resource, each entry has:
First published: The year of first publication (because that's where I started).
Reviews: A link to up to four reviews.
SGOYT: A link to the game on N/A SGOYT Aggregator, which collects game reports published on Solitaire Games on Your Table.
1PG People's Choice: A breakdown of the game's positions (if any) in the 1PG's People's Choice Awards, which have been organised every year by Kevin Erskine. This was a top 100 from 2014-2016 and a top 200 since.
Comments: Initially, there are some of my own comments on some games. Eventually I'll add some comments people leave to the items themselves.
Why four reviews? How did I select them?
Four because I had to draw the line somewhere for games that have a lot. They aren't necessarily the most popular reviews, a metric which often favours the earliest reviews. Instead, I've selected reviews from users I recognise where I can (because they're likely to be solo players) or ones where 'solo' is mentioned in the title. After that, I've favoured reviews which note more games played rather than first impressions and I've tried to balance negative and positive reviews, falling back on popularity as a last measure. All linked reviews are text because it didn't feel right linking video reviews and all are in English - the geeklist's in English so it didn't make much sense to link to reviews in other languages. I've also tried to avoid previews where alternatives exist.
Finally, the list is open for public submissions. Please feel free to suggest titles to me that you think I've overlooked and to add titles using the same format - but bear in mind that I have the right to delete them if I feel they don't fit or if there's a strong argument that they don't fit (I have the final say because, well, it's my list).
- [+] Dice rolls