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Subject: Seeking a Meaty Solo Game... rss

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Ian Toltz
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I'm in the market for a solo game.

I don't like co-ops as far as multiplayer goes, but I'm quite open to them with respect to solo potential.

I don't do much solo board gaming at the moment; most of my solo gaming is of the video game variety. When I do have the overwhelming urge, though, my go-to is Ascension.

If you've got the time to spare, feel free to take a look at my collection. I've got most of my games rated, so it should give you a feel for my tastes. In general, I...

* Theme matters. I don't want a game with a 'realistic' theme (including historic). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy plenty of euros, but even the ones I know for a fact I like, I still can't get excited to play. Theme matters to me, even if it's just pasted on. Give me fantasy, sci-fi, etc.

* Rules matter. I like working through the process of things, both mentally (figuring out the best way to do things) and mechanically (I love clever mechanisms and gimmicks, like the wheel in Tzol'kin or the population and influence tracks in Eclipse).

* Variety matters. Almost moreso than rules, I'm a sucker for games with a large amount of variety.

Here's my short list... I'm open to suggestions, but I'm primarily looking for comments on the solo viability for each of these...

* Mage Knight Board Game I've actually played this once, and remember really enjoying it. I don't remember anything about the game itself, though, except that figuring out how to play your hand every round was a bit of a puzzle. My primary concern with this one is potential lack of variety. I get the feeling that every game is going to end up playing out similarly...

* Sentinels of the Multiverse Haven't played this. I like the superhero theme. I love the potential for variety. My main concerns are that I'm worried the gameplay might end up being shallow, and/or that it's not intended for one player and playing multiple characters could be rather bothersome.

* The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game You'd think theme would be a hit for me here... and you'd be wrong. I love fantasy, but I have strong negative associations with anything Tolkein-related. Once I get into a game, I tend to completely ignore the theme anyways, so I could probably get past it. But if this were just generic fantasy, I'd be all over it. One of my main concerns is that everything's going to be a bunch of weird names with umlauts that I'm going to have to memorize, and references that I don't understand nor care about. I also don't have much of a sense for how it plays... How tactical is it? How strategic? Is it the sort of game where when you draw your hand, it's fairly obvious what you should do?
 
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Byron Campbell
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From your short list, I only own Mage Knight Board Game (I have played SotM on Vassal and wasn't blown away by it). There should be no worries about lack of variety. Each time you play, different actions/spells/artifacts/units/skills will be available to you. These all offer unique strategic possibilities, especially in combination with each other. Furthermore, even though many of the map tiles use the same features, the arrangement in relation to each other is very important given how difficult movement can be. As far as meaty solo games go, I think there is nothing better.

I've recently gotten into Space Alert as a solitaire game. I'm not sure how "meaty" it is, but it has a very puzzly feel to it that you might enjoy if you like working things out mentally, and there is a lot more variety than there appears (because of the different threats that can appear on different trajectories in different orders even if you replay the exact same soundtrack). There will probably be a point at which you know how to deal with everything as it comes up, and then you can get the expansion.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island (coming out in August) is another good option. It has meaty euro mechanics but lots of theme.

I'm sure somebody will suggest Arkham Horror, so I'm going to weigh in right now and say that I think there are far better solo choices out there. It is less "meaty" than "fiddly," and the time and mental effort involved to play a four-character solitaire game is not reflected in the strategic depth, IMO.
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Sky Zero
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I do quite a bit of solo gaming, here are some of my favorites:

Legendary
Defenders of the Realm
Race for the Galaxy

I did quite a bit of LoTR: The Card Game at one time, but got burned out on the constant flow of new cards, new rules, rule changes, etc... The entire system felt like it was being held together by bubble gum and duct tape so I sold off the collection.

I'm also hoping my Robinson Crusoe pre-order arrives soon because I think that will be a great solo experience.
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Ian Toltz
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kittenhoarder wrote:
I'm sure somebody will suggest Arkham Horror, so I'm going to weigh in right now and say that I think there are far better solo choices out there. It is less "meaty" than "fiddly," and the time and mental effort involved to play a four-character solitaire game is not reflected in the strategic depth, IMO.
You and I are of a mind on this, and it makes me trust your judgment a little more.

Space Alert is an interesting idea... I've played it before, and really disliked it, but it never occurred to me that it might be soloable. Are the solo rules official? Are there any weird hacks necessary?
 
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Ian Toltz
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skyzero wrote:
Legendary
I enjoyed Legendary, but I didn't really feel it did anything new or interesting. I already own Thunderstone and Ascension, and the lack of innovation paired with annoying card art decisions (seriously; 30-50 years of comic history for most of the characters and they couldn't get unique artwork for each card?!?) make me not want to purchase this.

Also, the glaring omission of En Sabah Nur from the core set. I'm glad he was added in an expansion, but Apocalypse is seriously core-set material IMHO.

Quote:
Defenders of the Realm
Wasn't even on my radar. Will look into it.

Quote:
Race for the Galaxy
I did this for a while. I do really like the robot/AI system they have for it. It's run its course for me, though.

Quote:
I did quite a bit of LoTR: The Card Game at one time, but got burned out on the constant flow of new cards, new rules, rule changes, etc... The entire system felt like it was being held together by bubble gum and duct tape so I sold off the collection.
I'm a big fan of the LCG model and frequent updates. Plays right into my need for variety. I am curious about your second comment, though, about it feeling "held together by bubble gum and duct tape". Any chance I could get you to elaborate on that?

Quote:
I'm also hoping my Robinson Crusoe pre-order arrives soon because I think that will be a great solo experience.
Hmm, two random recommendations for this in a row. Will look into it, although the theme's not very compelling to me.
 
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Byron Campbell
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Asmor wrote:

Space Alert is an interesting idea... I've played it before, and really disliked it, but it never occurred to me that it might be soloable. Are the solo rules official? Are there any weird hacks necessary?
The solo rules are official. The "weird hack" is that you play all 4 characters simultaneously, having access to the entire deck of cards. This means you pretty much ignore any computer announcements other than the ones announcing threats. It is still quite a challenge, though, having to plan and double-check everything by yourself. You will read mixed reports of the solo game, but one thing that convinced me to check it out (other than just really wanting to try the game) was the fact that most people who were weighing in against the solo game actually never tried it, whereas most people who did try it said it was surprisingly good.
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Ian Toltz
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Cool. Not convinced enough that I'd be willing to purchase it blindly, but I have a friend I can probably borrow it from. Thanks for the suggestion!
 
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Thomas
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I won't suggest anything as you seem to have done some research, I suggest you check this out:

Solo games that look as awesome as they are to play
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Beau Bocephus Blasterfire
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I own both Mage Knight Board Game and Sentinels of the Multiverse. I've played many more games of SotM solo than MK as I just recently picked up MK. I think they both make for pretty good solo experiences; however, I favor MK at this point. It could be argued that part of it is due to the newness, but I think even after many plays, I like the depth of thought better with MK. With SotM, I feel like there is so much bookkeeping and double checking to make sure all cards are accounted for. Both are good games, but if I was only going to pick one up I'd pick up MK.
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Asmor wrote:
I'm in the market for a solo game.

I don't like co-ops as far as multiplayer goes, but I'm quite open to them with respect to solo potential.

I don't do much solo board gaming at the moment; most of my solo gaming is of the video game variety. When I do have the overwhelming urge, though, my go-to is Ascension.

If you've got the time to spare, feel free to take a look at my collection. I've got most of my games rated, so it should give you a feel for my tastes. In general, I...

* Theme matters. I don't want a game with a 'realistic' theme (including historic). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy plenty of euros, but even the ones I know for a fact I like, I still can't get excited to play. Theme matters to me, even if it's just pasted on. Give me fantasy, sci-fi, etc.

* Rules matter. I like working through the process of things, both mentally (figuring out the best way to do things) and mechanically (I love clever mechanisms and gimmicks, like the wheel in Tzol'kin or the population and influence tracks in Eclipse).

* Variety matters. Almost moreso than rules, I'm a sucker for games with a large amount of variety.

Here's my short list... I'm open to suggestions, but I'm primarily looking for comments on the solo viability for each of these...

* Mage Knight Board Game I've actually played this once, and remember really enjoying it. I don't remember anything about the game itself, though, except that figuring out how to play your hand every round was a bit of a puzzle. My primary concern with this one is potential lack of variety. I get the feeling that every game is going to end up playing out similarly...

* Sentinels of the Multiverse Haven't played this. I like the superhero theme. I love the potential for variety. My main concerns are that I'm worried the gameplay might end up being shallow, and/or that it's not intended for one player and playing multiple characters could be rather bothersome.

* The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game You'd think theme would be a hit for me here... and you'd be wrong. I love fantasy, but I have strong negative associations with anything Tolkein-related. Once I get into a game, I tend to completely ignore the theme anyways, so I could probably get past it. But if this were just generic fantasy, I'd be all over it. One of my main concerns is that everything's going to be a bunch of weird names with umlauts that I'm going to have to memorize, and references that I don't understand nor care about. I also don't have much of a sense for how it plays... How tactical is it? How strategic? Is it the sort of game where when you draw your hand, it's fairly obvious what you should do?
Mage Knight way, way, way before LOTR Card game. I had invested a bunch in LOTR but the solo game ultimately felt tedious, having to essentially play several players at once. I've posted about this phenomenon elsewhere, where solo versions of multiplayer games tend to turn into memory exercises trying to keep track of all the bookkeeping and card powers and making strategy decisions not on optimum strategy but rather, best choice based on how long I'm willing to sort through all the options. Solo Space Hulk: Death Angel suffers from this same problem in my opinion. Selling my LOTR Card game (w/ lots of expansions) and getting instead a single copy of Mage Knight was one of the best game collection decisions I've made. Mage Knight works like a charm as a solo game, and the ratio of cards, abilities, strategy, upgrades, etc, is spot on.

Haven't played Sentinels, but I'd wager the depth isn't anywhere close to Mage Knight.
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Sky Zero
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The rules for LOTR: The Card Game seem to evolve and change with every minor adventure pack release. In addition, there were rules that broke other rules and FFG started making blanket statements in their FAQ about cards not working as written. By the time I had gotten to Heirs of Numenor, I was fed up constantly referencing BGG, FAQ's and rulebooks when I played. The system is far too cumbersome with way too many rules to be an enjoyable solo experience IMO. Others will disagree, but it's just too complicated for what it is.
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Dave Horn
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If you have an IOS device have no fear about Sentinels being too cumbersome. Sentinels Sidekick on IOS is excellent and makes it a breeze. I can't fathom playing Sentinels without it, solo or otherwise. You do need to play multiple heroes to stand a chance against most villains. If you don't like that idea regardless it may not be for you.

There is not enough good things to say about the MK solo experience IMO. Of all the things I would of thought someone might have as a concern about MK, I never would of thought lack of variety would be one on them. The nature of the game (which actions, spells, artifacts, recruits will be available in any particular play) plus the random map tile draw makes game after game very unique and that is without even playing a different scenario or even different heroes. Then you throw in the other heroes, other scenarios, difficulty levels, expansion stuff... I'm not sure one could ever run out of variety with MK. If that is your only concern with MK, run don't walk, and buy right away.

 
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Hm. As a Mage Knight novice, playing solo, what strikes me about the game is how there really isn't time to do all the things I want, and how powerful this makes each individual card choice. So on the one hand, I'm already (fourth game, second time solo) feeling like "oh, I've seen that Advanced Action before"... but it's not like I got to USE it the last time I saw it. And at my current rates, it'll probably be a dozen more games before I've had every single artifact in my deck even once.

The characters also feel pretty different from one another and, though you'll be seeing the same skills pretty often if you replay one character, it seems like the skill you get *first* has a big effect on how the game feels. Getting the same skills in a different order would lead to a very different midgame.

I haven't played enough to have any idea whether certain colors of enemy have commonalities, so that in one game you have an easy time with purple units and a hard time with grey ones, while in another game it's vice versa; if so, that's going to be a big source of variation, because quite often it's like, do I attack that keep, or spend influence to get better cards, or go adventuring to level up?
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Jonathan Challis
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Mage Knight is probably your best choice, although Archipelagois another contender.
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I love playing Sentinels of the Multiverse solo. Running the characters, the villain and the environment isn't too daunting if you're using the included "status" markers. Sentinels has great theme and the story writes itself as you play so I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you do solo Sentinels make sure to use at least 3 heroes because any less doesn't scale with the "hero number" mechanic well.
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I would go with Mage Knight. The main expansion adds more variety to each of the characters and adds a 5th hero. There is a newly announced character expansion for a 6th character, so replay shouldn't really be an issue.
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Jim Hansen
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I think the LotR LCG is a great solo game. You can play with just one deck. But I think it's best when you control 2 decks, which is very manageable and they provide counters to keep track of everything (much easier than trying to play Sentinels solo).

The rules can be tricky with a lot of edge cases, but it's not much worse than other CCG/LCG's I've played. Most of the time it is covered in the rulebook, and BGG can answer the rest.

You said you're a fan of the LCG model and variety, so LotR should be great for you. If you're open to spending $100 to $200 on the available expansions, that would provide you with a couple dozen scenarios and a huge card pool. If you're into Magic-style deck building, this game is great for you. I've had a lot of fun making some crazy themed deck, then running through a half dozen adventures to see how it does. With the current card pool you could easily play a few hundred games without getting bored.

I would definitely recommend it over Sentinels (at least for solo play). Haven't played Mage Knight.
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Asmor wrote:
I'm in the market for a solo game.
* Mage Knight Board Game I've actually played this once, and remember really enjoying it. I don't remember anything about the game itself, though, except that figuring out how to play your hand every round was a bit of a puzzle. My primary concern with this one is potential lack of variety. I get the feeling that every game is going to end up playing out similarly...
Excellent solo but much better with the Volkare expansion. It makes the game much tougher and the solo experience less fiddly. There is the visual element that reminds you that you need to hurry up and take advantage of the situation before he runs off. The extra tiles and monsters is a big, big plus. Does make the game a bit pricey though.

After 40+ games moving up to the harder levels it started to feel samey. You will lose if the tiles don't turn up right or the units don't provide the range or siege capabilities.

Asmor wrote:
* Sentinels of the Multiverse Haven't played this. I like the superhero theme. I love the potential for variety. My main concerns are that I'm worried the gameplay might end up being shallow, and/or that it's not intended for one player and playing multiple characters could be rather bothersome.
I agree with another poster. Unless you like maintenance to be more than half of the 'action' in the game running 3+ characters is a bit much. Playing with 2 and a sidekick was better and more challenging. Still, I like it better multi-player. It just has a better feel.

I have not played LotR

Being somewhat knowledgeable about solo gaming I would recommend, besides Mage Knight

Robinson Crusoe when it is available. All theme and very, very tough although there is a concern that the challenge falls within the luck factor which worries me. Still this will be one that I will pick up when it becomes available.

Yggdrasil is not my style but is very challenging again on the luck side and the drawing tiles from a bag seems a little wonky. Since you mention theme as important I put this in.

You already have Ghost Stories ... play that. Excellent and challenging solo.

From my SoloPlay variants for games that you already have: (all were developed to challenge experienced players of the games and give the illusion of playing against others)
Innovation
Dungeon Lords
Glory to Rome
Dominion (with all of the expansions that you mention)
Guild Hall
San Juan
Puerto Rico

You can find the links here:
SoloPlay Variants Posted on the Geek

Trying these might save you a little cash and tide you over until Robinson Crusoe comes out or you pull the trigger on Mage Knight.

Good luck
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Tiffany Stolk

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Sentinels of the multiverse is so much fun. I have played solo with four heroes many times and enjoyed every game. Many times the Villian destroys the heroes I have chosen but it is fun to try out the different combo's of heroes against the different villains and environments. I have the enhanced edition plus all expansions and promo's. Well worth the purchase
 
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Seriously, check out At the Gates of Loyang. It plays very, very well as a solo game. It's all about maximizing your profit in your veggie business. It doesn't have zombies, aliens, or cavorting elves, but it does have nice wooden vegemeeples!
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+1 for defenders of the realm. I really enjoy it solo, probably my favorite solo game.

Zombicide is another game I enjoy solo.

As for your list, I haven't played anything but Mage Knight. It is a great game ( I haven't played it solo yet though)
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+1 Defenders of the Realm

Variety comes in the form of different characteristics of heroes and villains. One of the decks can be expanded with a purchase from the geek store, and there are a few heroes expansion packs available separately.
Once you have played the base game to death, there's also a large expansion that introduces more dragons! Defenders of the Realm: The Dragon Expansion.


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I wouldn't worry much about the theme of LOTR. It is there, but requires a bit odd suspension of disbelief.

Here is a link to a comment I made on the theme. I would copy the text, but it is a bit hard on this phone.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/listitem/2143796?commentid=2947...


Have you played you're Agricola solo?
 
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Ian Toltz
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fractaloon wrote:
Have you played you're Agricola solo?
I've only played Agricola with other people who were also playing it with me at the same time.

So yes, I've played it solo. whistle

Like I said, the theme is a killer here for me.
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I have owned all the games you are considering. You want Mage Knight. Sentinels is great and I play it solo often but since you mentioned theme first, followed by rules complexity followed by variety, then you have to look no more-go get Mage Knight and go ahead and pick up the expansion as well.

Lord of the Rings has its own merits but Mage Knight is going to challenge you in all the areas you want.

You will not tire of the challenge that Mage Knight offers.
 
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