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Favorite Solitaire Games
Rallyman GT - this is a newer love for me. Solo play is a time trial race which forces a continual challenge of pushing yourself in the highest gear while trying to maintain control. The best way to play this solo is to compete in the BGG online league where you submit your scores over the length of a season.
Tainted Grail - this is probably my favorite scripted narrative game. Expensive and hard to come by alongside a decent amount of mechanical flaws (grinding is obnoxious at times). But the story is fantastic for me.
Core Space - my current preferred solo miniatures game. It has AI opponents built into the game, fantastic bits and scenery, and a campaign to add long-term investment.
Gears of War - if I want a grueling get in and blast shit game, this is perfection. I play two COGs and manage each hand. Don't find that much of a chore.
Space Hulk: Death Angel - this one succeeds due to its minimal fuss yet still great atmosphere. It's incredibly difficult which enhances it as a solo game for me.
This War of Mine - probably not pulling this one out anytime soon due to the misery quotient, but it's profound and best solitaire.
Friday is quick and light, but still an interesting challenge.
Lost Expedition is okay, but too random and often too punishing.
As for games that have solo options:
I really enjoyed Space Cadets: Away Missions. You don't get the fun camaraderie that you would with other players, but the AI for the aliens works great.
Gloomhaven works really well solo, but I haven't been back to it in over a year.
Spirit Island works well for exploring the different Spirits, but you completely lose the synergy that makes the game shine.
Similarly, March of the Ants has a decent solo game, but it just makes you long for actual opponents.
I have the original Rallyman (not GT), which I'll probably break out in the coming weeks. It works just like Charlie said, but in a different racing style.
I suspect I'll be trying out a lot of solo variants for the foreseeable future.
1. Arkham Horror 2nd is still one of my all-time favorites, but the setup time and table space required are sometimes a deterrent. With at least one big box expansion, it's a big, deep sand box offering nearly endless replay.
2. Space Hulk: Death Angel is relatively quick to setup, and with offers plenty of replay value with the various mini-expansions.
3. Room 25 is a fun puzzle to work out, and the solution is different every game.
4. Magic Realm is another great sandbox to explore, but the learning curve has been ridiculously steep.
5. Dark Venture is a more finite sandbox, but still offers accessible fun.
That said, I agree with Death Angel, although part of the point of that game originally was to try to develop a sense for what your playing partners were doing (i.e. not showing your cards), so that you were actually like a Space Marine squad that worked together seamlessly. A couple of the TE series: Tiny Epic Defenders and Tiny Epic Zombies are ideal for solo gaming. The first is a co-op, so basically set up for solo from the outset and it works the same if you just play two characters. The latter has co-op as one of its game modes, so likewise can be run as a solo just by playing two characters.
Recently I've been playing Maquis which is a really neat worker placement game designed specifically for solo play. It's about the French resistance during WW2 an there's a lot of story in it for a 20 minute game.
Runebound 3rd ed. is a pretty good adventure game and it works well solo even without the expansion that adds solo combat and a solo scenario. You just have to resolve combat as the bad guys, and even though I wouldn't normal want to play two sides, it's fine in this game since the choices aren't that complicated during combat.
I've been wanting to solo a WW2 board game, but haven't pulled the trigger on Conflict of Heroes yet. Instead I found a used copy of V-Commandos, but after my first mission I'm a bit undecided. It's a stealth game which is a different flavour and that is good, but at the same time it's maybe a bit too much of a puzzle for my taste.
Death Angel is always super. I don't play it that often anymore because I've played it so much so the prospect of experiencing the story isn't that exciting. But when I do it always deliver.
Jackwraith wrote: I'm on kind of a philosophical jag against solitaire games, largely because I regard gaming as an inherently social activity and I'm not particularly interested in playing by myself. But also because recently the screeching from the "solo only" brigade on BGG has become something of an irritant. Leder wasn't two weeks past the initial announcement and playthrough stream of Oath before they started complaining that it didn't seem to be a solitaire-appropriate release and it was "disappointing that Leder didn't seem to be trying too hard to fix that." (Here ends the rant about self-entitled nerds for today; yes. I'm aware that not everyone has a regular group or even a large circle of friends.)
This is where I'm at, both philosophically and regarding entitled nerds. To the extent I "play" solitaire, it's to run through a few turns to get a feel for the game.
(Non-entitled nerds who make do, rock on.)
Oddly, Legendary is the only non-campaign game that I solo regularly. The others are long-term adventures that I like to leave out and play for weeks.
And these are basically the same game, but whatever:
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Yes, it's a simple dice game. But the long-term character development makes it fun. The Crimson Throne expansion is the best adventure using the new Core rules, if that means anything. (I'm not too hot on the mini-campaign that comes with the Core set, for lots of reasons.) I always play this with 3 characters, as that's the most my brain can handle without making 7-10 mistakes per turn.
Apocrypha: This + all expansions has 99 scenarios. 99 SCENARIOS. You could play this for months, and it's even on sale right now. But if you don't like Pathfinder, you probably won't like this. Very similar DNA, though there are key differences . I play solo with two characters, as the real estate gets awkward with more than that. Specifically, the card halos crowd me out.
Really, that's the full list of games that I've played solo. And mostly because my kids are out of the house, so I no longer have Pathfinder/Apocrypha pals to play with.
Gears of War - for all of the reasons Charlie described
Street Masters - ditto
Dawn of the Zeds 2nd Edition - I need to write up a review for this one. It falls squarely in the "flip a card, shit happens, react with your action points" category, but adds so many options in difficulty and rule modules without seeming overcomplicated despite the... handful of rulebooks.
Nemo's War - Beautifully produced, clean graphic design, and the risk/reward game in spending ship/crew/Nemo resources for dice roll modifiers is always fun
I still return to adventure/overworld games for a solo fix on a regular basis: Runebound 2nd Ed + any big box expansion, Gloom of Kilforth (Runebound in card form)
Robinson Crusoe - I usually get a little fatigued with some of the Action Point budgeting on this one by the end of a scenario, but it always tells an entertaining story
Jackwraith wrote: I'm on kind of a philosophical jag against solitaire games, largely because I regard gaming as an inherently social activity and I'm not particularly interested in playing by myself.
I would rather play every game on my list with at least one other player, but solitaire is my only realistic option right now. As of today, I can't get a haircut, go to the gym, check out anything from the library, or play board games at local venues. The Mall of America is also closed, so I expect the other local malls to also shut down soon.
I've also pulled out Friday for a few games this past week. It's solid. I'm not sure how long it will last, but for now I'm enjoying its puzzle and quick play.
Otherwise I'm looking forward to getting Ralllyman GT, Vengeance and SEAL Team Flix for some reps in the coming weeks. At some point I'll be starting up a Gloomhaven campaign, too, since my wife let me convert a guest room into a game room that I can lock from the wee children.