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Subject: A solo player in search of an immersive game world of any type rss

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Christian Fox
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I am on a quest to find a game world that is so immersive I forget the real world for a while - a game world where winning is just a means to have a goal to enjoy the game. I am looking for deep immersive fun on my own, but I am not restricted to solitaire games as long as it is well-known as offering a good solo experience, even if I play more than one person or switch sides. It would be nice if there is an immersive map, and a story unfolds, but I am not limited to fantasy games - wargames and other types of games are candidates as well. Since I am over 50 and enjoy some degree of reality, I am not a fan of pure zombie/monster killing games per se.

I recently purchased A Touch of Evil for this purpose, and Magic Realm is on my shelf ready for digging in. Marco's recent experience with Thunderbolt Apache Leader comes to mind as a potential immersive wargame.

While I am focusing on board games only, this quest is similar to a video game search for an open world RPG. I recall playing Gothic 2 years ago and became a mountain climber and botanist, but these specialties were not a part of the game. It was so open ended, I was able to enjoy these roles. I collected rare plants in mountain peaks, and in doing so, the hours went by so fast.

I realize immersion is relative to all of us. An ACW enthusiast may become uniquely immersed in a game due his knowledge of a certain Civil War battle, and a specific game maintains his interest in it.

I'd be delighted to review your suggestions, but I also like to know how the game feels deeply immersive and fun over many plays.
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Chris B
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I play lighter wargames (i.e. Standard Combat Series by the Gamers/MMP) usually solo and find them quite immersive. Some of my favourites are Crusader, Gazala, Fallschirmjaeger, Stalingrad Pocket II. One thing I sometimes do to make the playing solitaire thing work better is write orders for each side's units. I find this keeps me from favouring one side over the other.

2 other games that you may want to check out are Space Empires 4X and Struggle for the Galactic Empire. SE4X has some 1 person scenarios and it would be easy to play multi player scenarios solo. SFTGE is a 1 person grand strategy space game. I haven't played either enough to comment as to how well the immersiveness holds up to multiple playings.
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Josh Bodah
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I found TAL more fiddly than immersive. It's a good game, but there are just so many rules that I feel get in the way more than increasing my enjoyment.

I tend to like Mage Knight more. Still heavy and involved but a little more streamlined.
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Joe
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Ambush! is exceptionally immersive, especially in campaign mode. If kinda feels like the tactical portion of X-Com in board game form. You can really customize your characters as they advance in the campaign and though you really only give them names, they begin to take on personalities based on what's happened to them. There will be that go to guy for the tough shots and that one guy who's rather accident prone you have to watch a bit more carefully.

It's OOP so picking it up can get pricey but I found Ambush! and the Silver Star expansion in a store for $30 total used but complete. I figure though, based on the value of gameplay I'm getting out of it at 4 hours per mission over 8 missions in the base game alone, I would have gladly paid $60 or possibly a little more for it.

EDIT: I second Space Empires 4x. Play it multiplayer solitaire with the random set up. That really takes on a life of it's own once borders start drawing in on one another. Just to expand on what the other poster said about SE4x, I believe the replay for just the base game is great and you could probably play it about 15 times before you get the expansion which should REALLY make things interesting.

EDIT: Last edit, I promise. Immersive video game? Do you have a PC? Get Master of Orion from gog.com for 10 bucks or so. Best strategy PC game ever. Incredible detail and wildly fun.
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Michael Off The Shelf Board Game Reviews
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Mage Knight Board Game
Space Empires: 4X
Runebound (Second Edition)
Off the top of my head.

Edit forgot the obvious one Arkham Horror.
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Sky Zero
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Highly recommend Defenders of the Realm
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Igor Sangulin
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For me the most immersive of all worlds is REAL world. Whether it is 16th Century (Here I Stand), 19th Century (Age of Napoleon) or 21st Century (Labyrinth). I also found that grand strategy games are good fit for solo gaming regardless of having solo rules or not.
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Eric Lai
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I can recommend Europa Universalis III for the PC, its a very consuming game, huge scope and very historical. It really depends on your interests, what may interest one person another may find boring, what seems difficult and fiddly to one person another may find it easy. It depends.

What genre/era are your favorite?

My favorite immersive solitaire experiences usually involve complex wargames, I really enjoyed Pursuit of Glory and recently La Grande Guerre 14-18 because WWI is one of my favorite periods. I've played all of the above suggestions by the others and here are my personal takes on them:

SCS by the Gamers: Take a battle you're interested in and run with it. A very varied series even with the SCS rules. Some are better than others by a lot!

Space Empires 4X: Interesting game if Sci Fi is your thing. I didn't find it very immersive though, the theme is a little too abstract and dry for my taste.

Struggle for the Galactic Empire: I really enjoyed this game, great narrative, very chaotic and the game takes you for a ride, but it's worth your while.

Thunderbolt Apache Leader: The best of the Leader series by far, I didn't find the rules complex at all. Flowed very well. Looking back, its a game that I want to play again at some stage (which is saying a lot coming from me.)

Ambush!: Great game, rules are definitely more fiddly than TAL! But not too hard. Great narrative, its like reading a choose-your-own-adventure book.

Mage Knight Board Game: Very good game, only problem I had was it was too easy to win. It became a "what's your high score game" which didn't work for me. Looking at the expansion, it doesn't seem to address this at all. If I were you, break out Magic Realm, its much better solitaire.

Runebound: ... hmmmm... you'll need to bring your imagination with you on this trek that's for sure, because there sure as hell isn't much of a "game". I like this sort of thing, but I have to be in the mood. Use the time tracking solo variant for best results.

Arkham Horror: much better than Runebound for the same effect, but different theme. Another "in the mood" type game. But I've played the heck out of it. A good choice.

Defenders of the Realm: Good game, pandemic with a fantasy theme. Has more chaos and choices and game-to-game variability then pandemic. Not sure if its an "all immersive game" though.

Here I Stand: You will need your solo breeches on to play this multiplayer wargame! Lots to hold in your head to play solo. But if you can, it's a historical romp. Very good choice.

Age of Napoleon: Meh, lots of better choices for Napoleonic games.

Labyrinth: Nice two player game, I found the solo flowcharts a little too easy to exploit single player and overall a little dry solo experience.

You can try the current issue of S&T with Operations Olympic & Coronet, an SPI solo classic remade. Its very good.
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Alex Brown
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Garfink wrote:

Mage Knight Board Game: Very good game, only problem I had was it was too easy to win. It became a "what's your high score game" which didn't work for me. Looking at the expansion, it doesn't seem to address this at all. If I were you, break out Magic Realm, its much better solitaire.


I think Mage Knight is a much better game than Magic Realm, but in reading the OP I think Magic Realm is more the experience you are after.
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Eric Lai
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Alex Brown wrote:
Garfink wrote:

Mage Knight Board Game: Very good game, only problem I had was it was too easy to win. It became a "what's your high score game" which didn't work for me. Looking at the expansion, it doesn't seem to address this at all. If I were you, break out Magic Realm, its much better solitaire.


I think Mage Knight is a much better game than Magic Realm, but in reading the OP I think Magic Realm is more the experience you are after.


I am of the opinion that Magic Realm was never fully realized and incomplete. But even in its incomplete state, its a truly amazing and innovative game way ahead of its time. It was amazing how different all the characters played (no two played alike!), whilst in Mage Knight the different knights weren't that different.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Mage Knight (a lot), just thought it was too easy to beat and not as "elegant" or as "clever" as Magic Realm, no mechanics really jumped out and wow-ed me, but what was done was very polished. Nothing a few well thought out expansions won't fix. At least this game is still alive!

Since the re-release of Merchant of Venus, I am hopeful Hamblen will reprint Magic Realm and do it the way he envisioned it (Avalon Hill did a lot of pruning in the day, they didn't want to go down the expansion route and force Hamblen to scale down the game to fit in one box and a lot was left out and no future expansion was done apart from his personal use).
 
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Lawrence Hung
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Why Age of Napoleon wasn't a good choice of solitaire wargame? Especially it is an excellent strategic level on Napoleonic warfare, it really inspires me a lot of the insight into the Napoleonic times like why they fought, what were they looking after, the tactics employed prevailing at the time etc. I played the game face to face and I think someday I should do it solitaire and that's why I still keep it in my closet not in the warehouse.
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Michael Weber
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You might want To go for the Lord of the rings as a game world you can drown in. There are so many good and deep games on this topic.

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a perfect solitaire game to start your quest with

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Igor Sangulin
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Garfink wrote:

Age of Napoleon: Meh, lots of better choices for Napoleonic games.


What would you recommend for grand strategy Napoleonic game? I'm still looking for my 2nd game. Tnx
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Michal Sebik
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Very immersive is Robinson Crusoe.. Story develops as in a book, you have to cope with hunger, weather, wild animals.. various encounters. For a solo player it is a must have
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Eric Lai
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Lawrence Hung wrote:
Why Age of Napoleon wasn't a good choice of solitaire wargame? Especially it is an excellent strategic level on Napoleonic warfare, it really inspires me a lot of the insight into the Napoleonic times like why they fought, what were they looking after, the tactics employed prevailing at the time etc. I played the game face to face and I think someday I should do it solitaire and that's why I still keep it in my closet not in the warehouse.


Results are wild and map is cramped and the cards are a little unbalanced. Good for a first time design for the designer, but meh.. compared to the many games from this era.


 
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Eric Lai
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igor1970 wrote:
Garfink wrote:

Age of Napoleon: Meh, lots of better choices for Napoleonic games.


What would you recommend for grand strategy Napoleonic game? I'm still looking for my 2nd game. Tnx


There has been a ton of Nappy games but truth be told, there hasn't been too many grand strategy Napoleonic game, the only one that covers the whole era is Avalon Hill's War and Peace. The one that I am dying to get my hands on is Nations in Arms: Valmy to Waterloo from compass game, due out very soon (shipping on the 14th of November), looks like a very interesting treatment of the strategic nappy situation.

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Michael Weber
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Garfink wrote:
igor1970 wrote:
Garfink wrote:

Age of Napoleon: Meh, lots of better choices for Napoleonic games.


What would you recommend for grand strategy Napoleonic game? I'm still looking for my 2nd game. Tnx


There has been a ton of Nappy games but truth be told, there hasn't been too many grand strategy Napoleonic game, the only one that covers the whole era is Avalon Hill's War and Peace.


? Empires in Arms covers the entire napi era as well?! Though I would not recommend it as a solitaire exercise.

I quite like the GMT card driven games as the cards add a lot of flavour to the game. Napoleonicwars would be a card drievn game in the napi era
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Eric Lai
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Empires in Arms is probably my favorite gaming experience of my life. Not soloable though. Takes weeks to months to play. Nappy War is a valid choice but like Here I stand, multiplayer wargamers are not extremely solo friendly. Good game though and if you are interested in The Napoleonic Wars, you can also consider Kutuzov & Wellington as well. Kutuzov is very good.

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Richard Ham
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Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island seems like exactly what the OP is looking for.

Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game would be a viable contender as well...
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Igor Sangulin
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Garfink wrote:
Nappy War is a valid choice but like Here I stand, multiplayer wargamers are not extremely solo friendly.


Yes, but I find card-driven wargames to be very, very immersive. Even more when they combine politics with war like those three (HIS, AoN and Labyrinth).
 
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Nathan Hortness
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Even though you are only concentrating on board games I cannot recommend playing Elder Scrolls: Morrowind enough.
 
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Dennis de Vries
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I recently acquired Escape: the curse of the temple. This game is tense solo: together with the music you really feel like being cramped inside a temple you must leave somehow. And it can be played alone very well and you can change the difficulty as much as you like.

I also recently acquired Friday: purely a solo game. I like the solo deckbuilding aspect, but it's really a personal matter whether you are immersed in the theme or not.

Good luck with your solo quest!
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John McD
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Where There Is Discord: War in the South Atlantic is apparently to be reprinted, can't get better than that.
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In my opinion, you already have a great, immersive game in A Touch of Evil. You definitely need to pick up Something Wicked and The Coast though. Once you have all three, ATOE offers a smooth narrative that is both challenging and fun. I am really impressed with it and find it just challenging enough to come back to it again and again for solo play.

Also look into:

Lord of the Ring: The Card Game
Mage Knight
Gears of War
 
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Ryan
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hiimjosh wrote:
I found TAL more fiddly than immersive. It's a good game, but there are just so many rules that I feel get in the way more than increasing my enjoyment.


I have a different take on Thunderbolt Apache Leader. I don't think it's rules heavy at all. In fact, I think it's fairly light. But it does require a fair bit of book keeping to track the game conditions and stats for your pilots and aircraft. You're also constantly moving counters around and building new maps, so I can see some people calling that aspect "fiddly". I think the game is great fun, it's very challenging, and I think it also creates a great narrative. One man's treasure is another man's junk though.

Garfink wrote:
Struggle for the Galactic Empire: I really enjoyed this game, great narrative, very chaotic and the game takes you for a ride, but it's worth your while.


I also really enjoy this game. It may suit your needs.

Additionally
I find Arkham Horror is very immersive & offers a rich playing experience.

In the same vein as TAL, you might give Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations a look. I enjoy it more than TAL and rate it my favorite game. Obvious similarities abound between the two, but they are also significantly different. I find it creates a good narrative and I enjoy the RPG feel to watching my pilots improve and handle the stress of the campaign.

I'll also throw out a recommendation for Nuklear Winter '68. It's not solitaire by design (2-3 players best), but the chit draw mechanic adds a great deal of uncertainty to the turn order (which helps greatly with solitaire play). It has three very unique factions. It's set in an alternative post WWII setting complete with some advanced sci-fi elements along with unexplained phenomena & mysteries as a result of nuclear devastation. It comes with 15 scenarios. The designer is also very active here on BGG and politely answers questions. There is an expansion, Nuklear Winter '68: Heart Of Darkness which has been funded but not yet produced. I could see further content for this game being developed over the coming few years if things go well. The production & art values are great in my opinion. It's a traditional war game within a unique setting and some fun/unique elements.
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