Solo Games - Hits & Near Misses
Nevin Ball
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I don't play games solo out of circumstance. I feel blessed to have lots of gamer friends and there are invites and meet-ups almost weekly. Also, my daughters still play games with me and my wife occasionally joins in the fun for scheduled "family game nights." Even with all of the opportunities to game with family and friends, I still like to play solo.

Sometimes I play solo to learn a new game before playing it with others. I play games solitaire that I want to play, but might not find any takers in my circle of friends. With that said, I enjoy the downtime that solitaire games offer.

The following is a list of some of my favorite games that are either designed specifically for solitaire play, include rules for solo play, or are cooperative games that can be played solo.

Feel free to add your favorites solitaire games and recommendations.

12/21/11: Renamed old title "Nevin's Solo List."
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1. Board Game: Yggdrasil [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:741]
Nevin Ball
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Yggdrisal was a pleasant discovery (thanks to Marco and his video reviews). It is a solid, fun co-op and solitaire game with a unique theme. It is very reminiscent of Victory Point Games’ States of Siege solitare games. In Yggdrisal, you choose a Nordic God to play and do battle against your enemies to save Asgard. There are nine actions that you can do each turn, but you can typically perform only three of them. The artwork on the map, counters, and cards are beautiful and help the theme come to life. As the monsters appraoch Asgard, they become more powerful and desperation starts to set in...
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2. Board Game: Zulus on the Ramparts! [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:1594]
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Zulus on the Ramparts was my introduction to Victory Point Games’ States of Siege solitaire games and is my hands down favorite game in the series. Unlike the other games in the series I’ve tried, Zulus has card management and events are handled by chit draw instead of drawing a card and applying the results. The cards are either Heros who provide special benefits or orders that can be played to fire various types of volleys at the enemy. There always seems to be more to do than you are able to each turn. Do I resupply the men? Organize a reserve platoon? Strengthen the defenses? Put out the fire that started? You get the picture. Zulus on the Ramparts is a tense and nail biting game that is portable and plays quickly.
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3. Board Game: Nemo's War [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:3448]
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Nemo’s War is another solitaire game by Victory Point Games based on Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. Here you play the original steampunk, Nemo.

There are lots of elements from the the classic novel integrated into the game. One interesting feature is that, during the Initial set-up, you can choose Nemo's "motivation" for the game (science, exploration, anti-imperialism, or war) which determines how you play the game to score the VPs you need to win. The turn sequence starts with the Preparation Phase where you add additional ships or place treasures on the map and possibly draw an adventure card. Then it's the Nemo Action Phase where you can choose one of several possible actions: Rest, Repair, Refit, Incite, Search, Move, Stalk (ships), or Attack. After taking Nemo's action, you advance the turn (calendar) marker by 1 turn (Week).

At the end of the game, you add up your VPs then discover how your story ends by consulting the Epilogue Table and cross-index Nemo’s Motive along with the Victory Level that you’ve achieved. Nemo’s War needs more exposure to the gaming community as it is a gem of a game.
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4. Board Game: D-Day at Omaha Beach [Average Rating:8.25 Overall Rank:515]
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D-Day at Omaha Beach is my favorite solitare wargame. It’s a medium complexity wargame, but it’s pretty easy to get into because the rules are well written and include lots of examples. The different phases of the game are handled by cards which are placed on a track on the map. Colored dots show the fields of fire of each German position which is an elegant and interesting mechanic. (It serves a great study as well!). Speaking of studies, D-Day at Omaha Beach comes with a quality historical booklet. I have stayed up late many a night because I wanted to do just one more turn. If you are looking for a fun and addictive game that is tense and moves at a good clip, then this game is for you. John Butterfield is currently working on bringing the game’s system to the Pacific; I’m looking forward to bringing the Marines ashore under murderous fire at Tarawa & Peleliu!
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5. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:113] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
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I’m just getting into The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game so I’ll have more comments on the game later. My first impression is that it’s a meatier version of Death Angel, but that might be an unfair comparison. I heard the new expansions really open the game up so I plan to spend some quality time with this game after BGG Con.

Update: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game fired this.
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6. Board Game: Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:573]
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Once you get a turn under your belt, Death Angel is a tense and fast-pased game. Did I say it’s deadly? Your Space Marines don’t take hit points in this game. If they get hit, they die. This is a game I like to throw in my briefcase when I have overnight business travel since it is portable.
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7. Board Game: Raid on St. Nazaire [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:2048]
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I played this game recently after having it sit on my shelf for almost 20 years! Raid on St. Nazaire is an exciting game of derring-do by British Commandoes as they try to wreck havoc on a German u-boat base during the dark days of WWII. It’s painful to have your commando teams get caught in the searchlights as they make their approach by sea then get chewed up by German defensive fire. You’ll cheer as survivng British demolition teams feverishly try to blow up their targets while other teams engage the growing German threat of reinforcements pouring in. The detailed map is hand painted and really draws you into the action. Exciting stuff!
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8. Board Game: Elder Sign [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:500]
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I first played Elder Sign at Gen Con 2011 in a six-player ticketed event. After our two hours were up, we were unable to finish the game and it could have gone either way. Interestingly, the table next to us was way ahead of us - making great progress and winning their game. I think the consensus at our table was that it was a solid, themey, and fun dice game.

I bought Elder Sign after I got back home and played it solitaire a couple of times. It plays really well as a solitaire game and is a fun diversion if you get that itch to play a game. However, the game seems too easy to win so it lacks the tension that other solo/co-op games provide. It seems there are too many opportunities to help get the dice rolls you need to make a challenge. In addition to item cards, you can also reroll a die with a clue token, "focus," or have another player "assist" (the last two locks in a die to help you make your next challenge). Hopefully, there is an expansion that with ramp up the difficulty level. Easy or not, Elder Sign is still a fun game and I’m glad to have it in my game library.
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9. Board Game: Rune Age [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1011]
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Rune Wars has two solitaire scenarios that double as good training exercises for face-to-face games. I really like RuneWars Age as a solitaire game because it sets up and plays quickly. The four different races play differently so it’s fun to learn the best strategy for each one. While I like this game I am on the fence if it will stay in my collection. On the surface, it looks like it has a lot of replayabilty with four factions and four scenarios but the options for deck building is limited; the games I’ve played seem to stall after racing to get the neutral cards needed for your engine (every pun intended).
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10. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:77]
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I think Pandemic will become a classic. The theme integrates well into the mechanics, delivering a fun and intense gaming experience as you feverishly work against the clock to save mankind. Just a wonderful game overall and plays as well solitaire as it does with other players. I have played Pandenic’s sister games Forbidden Island Defenders of the Realm only face-to-face, but I imagine they also work very well as solo games.
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11. Board Game: Silent War [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:2140]
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Silent War is an impressive simulation and does an outstanding job modeling the U.S. submarine war in the Pacific during WWII. Although I can understand why people like - even love - this game, I sold my copy. There is a lot to like about this game. It's an innovative simulation that represents the attritional nature of the submarine campaign very well. Silent War can be engaging and very frustrating at the same time. When contact is made it takes a little while to set up everything on the combat display - so it's frustrating when you can't even get off a shot or come up empty handed which is often the case. This is due to a variety of factors such as high ASW values, Diligent Escorts, Combat Events, bad torpedoes, bad positioning, etc. Of course when you do sink a ship, you feel that you earned it. I do recommend this game. While many will find it engaging, I found it to be a bit dry and it takes waaaayyyy too long to play.
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12. Board Game: B-29 Superfortress [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:3815]
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B-29 Superofrtress is an all-around solid solitaire simulation based on the old classic B-17: Queen of the Skies. I appreciate the research and effort that went into making this game. The design and player's notes are spread throughout the rulebook and are interesting reads. Also, the quotes from those who participated in the campaign are a really nice touch. The books for the rules and charts look intimidating, but the game is not complex at all. Did I say game? It’s really a simulation that provides a great narrative and can teach you a few things while you're having fun. Unlike it’s sister game B-17: Queen of the Skies, you spend more time battling mechanical failure and the weather than the Japanese.
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13. Board Game: The Fires of Midway [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:3630]
Nevin Ball
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Fires of Midway includes solitaire rules that provides a tough challenge as the AI just throws planes at you relentlessly and doesn’t worry about card management the way you have to. Fires of Midway is a fun game with lots of clever ideas, but it's is not without its frustrations. There is LOTS of dice rolling in this game and winning or losing often comes down to the highest roll. I recently traded this game away. I liked it ok but felt like there are better choices on my shelf for solitaire gaming. If I want to play this face-to-face, I have friends who own copies.
 
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14. Board Game: Frontline: D-Day [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:3972]
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I need to get Frontline: D-Day back on the table. The game comes with a deck of cards that function as the AI for solitaire play and it it TOUGH to beat. I really love Frontline: D-Day. It’s a keeper but it’s not without its flaws. I’m my face-to-face games, the player who went first sometimes got a huge advantage by locking the other player into a situation where all of their actions are spent trying to recover. It’s very difficult to recover from a situation like that if at all. This can be mitigated however by having more sections than the other player. Hopefully some of these issues will be addressed in their next game in the series, Frontline: Guadalcanal.
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15. Board Game: Oceania [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:6152]
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I've only played this game solitaire while away on business and I found it to be an enjoyable, light tile laying game. Since it only takes about 20 minutes to play, it can be quite addicting.
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16. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:678] [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
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Castle Ravenloft is the only game in the series I’ve played so far and, as a solitaire game, it’s a winner. It’s a straight forward dungeon crawl that sets up quickly despite all of the bits (thanks to excellent box control) and plays to completion in a fraction of the time compared to other dungeon crawls. Move and/or attack, explore, events, move monsters, wash, rinse, and repeat. The game comes with lots of interesting scenarios and the monsters all have uniques behaviors and attack abilities. Fun stuff!
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17. Board Game: A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:851]
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A Touch of Evil has become a Halloween tradition in my house. It’s one of my nine-year old daughter’s favorite games; playing co-op mode to defeat whatever villan happens to haunt the town of Shadowbrook. A Touch of Evil rates from good to excellent when the Something Wicked expansion is added. With it, the game and the narrative really opens up and it’s a lot of fun to explore. The game includes solitaire rules and I have a lot of fun it it’s simple but immersive play. The map looks like it was pulled out of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow movie. I painted a few of the heroes this year and boy do they look great on the board!

Update: I also played this with The Coast expansion and all three maps make for a huge game but still fun and doable solitaire.
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18. Board Game: Gears of War: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:400]
Guido Gloor
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This is your list, so I'll just add two titles to it

Gears of War is a game I'd heard about quite a bit but was on the fence about actually buying it, because of the theme. I started playing the video game once, but didn't get through the first level because the teenage-centered omnipresent marketing approach was so annoying.

But I'm quite glad I got over my prejudice with the board game. It's great. And reminds me a lot of Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game somehow, despite the entirely different mechanics: It's tense, sometimes a bad roll of dice or an unlucky card draw is what screws you, but overall good tactics and planning always pay out and are necessary because the game is so damn hard.

There's also quite some innovative mechanics. The strong link between your health and available actions and how going out of your way to do extra stuff hurts your stamina and your survivability, simply by tieing health and cards in your hand together. Or the AI deck that changes depending on what enemies you face and makes them do stuff that makes thematic sense. A great game.
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19. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:24]
Guido Gloor
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I obviously only just got this game this Essen, and it is so totally awesome. Lots of planning and puzzle-like aspects of getting the maximum out of your cards, with a strong levelling component and a hero that gets a lot stronger throughout the turns, randomness that restricts you in what you can do and where you can go without screwing your plans in the short term (because nearly all the random stuff is decided and can be seen in advance and included in your plans), huge replayability because of that long-term randomness, and such an awesome mix of components and mechanics.

People have described this as "Heroes of Might and Magic the Board Game", and they're right. Gain followers, spells, mighty artifacts, slaughter enemies, conquer castles and cities and mage towers, visit villages and monasteries, learn from monks and let mages teach you spells, all while constantly improving your skills and combat prowess - this game has it all.

I find that currently, I think I like the game best with three. But that doesn't change that it's an awesome solo game, too.

The games I won't add to your list, by the way, because they might be good solo games but not as awesome solo as those two:
Space Empires: 4X
Ghost Stories
Onirim
Peloponnes

I guess since you like Pandemic, you could like Flash Point: Fire Rescue, too - personally I haven't even completely read the rules yet
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20. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:348]
Nevin Ball
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I bought Friday at the Funagain Store at BGG.Con 2011. It's an interesting solitaire deck-building game where you're trying to help Robinson, who's stuck on a desert island, overcome the island's many hazards in preparation for a final showdown with pirates.

Each turn, you draw two Hazard cards and choose one to fight. You then draw your Fighting cards up to the number allowed by the Hazard card but you can draw additional ones by expending Life Points. Your decision is to either beat the Hazard card or lose the fight. If you win, you add the Hazard card to your Fighting card discard pile where you can use it later on as a Fighting card. If you choose the to lose the fight, you have to pay the difference of your fight value with the hazard value and pay the difference in Life Points. The Life Points you lose can be used to remove your weak cards from play so losing is a part of your strategy. Many cards also have special abilities that create interesting options.

Each time the the Hazard deck is exhausted and needs to be reshuffled, it increases in difficulty. After playing the third level with the Hazard cards, you have to fight two pirate cards that were randomly drawn during the game's set-up. After the showdown with the pirates, you score. As of this writing, I played my first game and won with 14 points.
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21. Board Game: Dungeon Run [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:2892]
Nevin Ball
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New York
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Dungeon Run comes comes with solitaire rules that simplifies an already simple game. Ability cards are not used and you basically move through six dungeon tiles before placing the boss monster's tile and trying to kill the boss. It plays very quickly which is a plus, but I think the D&D co-op games such as Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game or even DungeonQuest (third edition) provides a better solitaire dungeon crawl experience. Don't get me wrong, Dungeon Run is a really good multi-player game, but is a bit lacking solitaire.
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22. Board Game: DungeonQuest (third edition) [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1432]
Nevin Ball
United States
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Some wonder if DungeonQuest is even a game. While I understand where they're coming from, DungeonQuest is a fun "experience" game where you try to push your luck to make it out alive with the most loot. As a solitaire game, I find it a lot of fun wondering what's in store for me as I take the next tile or card. Meanwhile the game has a timer - when the sun goes down, you are trapped in the dungeon and lose the game. I've made it out with the Dragon's treasure and I've also been killed on the very first turn. DungeonQuest is deadly but fun. (That's my daughter in the picture).
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23. Board Game: Onirim [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1047]
Nevin Ball
United States
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Onirim is a neat little co-op/solitaire game where you are trapped in a dream and need to gather eight doors to escape. Nightmare cards are seeded in the deck which work against you. The artwork is really cool and adds to the theme. Onirim game is fun, quick, and easy to get into. The gamebox is small so it is a good choice when travelling on business, etc.
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24. Board Game: Where There Is Discord: War in the South Atlantic [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:2066]
Ryan
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I don't know that I'm offering much by suggesting Where There Is Discord: War in the South Atlantic since it is OOP, hard to get & expensive, but I'm going to plug it anyway. I'm sure you've heard of it with your taste in gaming.

It's long and thematic. More of a game than a simulation. The range of choices I get make the whole turn engaging, whether I'm deciding on some policy event, how to arrange my task force, or where and how many of my Super Harriers I should sortie on a given day. I feel every loss while I'm playing, whether it's an aircraft, ship, or ground unit. I've felt consumed by the game each time I've played it.

So if you ever come across it for sale and have the money to expend, I recommend it. You just need time & space.
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25. Board Game: Bios: Megafauna [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2093] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
Steve Carey
United States
West Coast
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Listed for 1-4 players, and containing a solitaire "Two-tukser" scenario, this game is an excellent release for solo play.

I prefer handling several sides and doing the best I can to ensure the survival of their species. It's a blast.

Warning: rules are only 12 pages, but they are dense (be sure to check out the Living Rules file posted to the game's page), and this also is a conceptually complex design.

But easily worth the effort; a top-notch game solo (or multi-player), IMHO.
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