Solo gaming only occupies a smallish portion of my overall gaming time, but I do enjoy playing a game by myself when chances to get to the game store get slimmer due to work or personal commitments. The games I’ve listed still offer a satisfying experience when played alone that’s equal to the experience you’d get playing them with others.
#5 – Octo-Dice
An adoptive baby brother to Stefan Feld’s AquaSphere, this roll and write game from designer Christoph Toussaint is super fast and offers a ton of variability when it comes to set-up. It’s easy to teach even if players aren’t familiar with its more complex sibling and you can play multiple rounds easily, letting new players try again after seeing how things come together during the three rounds. The solo rules change almost nothing, making it easy to switch from multiplayer to solo without getting confused, & I often play it while waiting on dinner before switching to two-player once my husband joins me. I will admit that the printing on the dice is notoriously problematic and frequently owners of the game end up requesting replacements, but once you have a playable copy, it’s a quick playing solo game with a compact footprint.
#4 – Siggil
Siggil is the perfect solo game to wind down and relax after a long day at work. Setting up the cards is a meditative experience, clearing your head for the game itself. It’s beautiful, it’s quick, and it plays smoothly while retaining enough challenge to keep me interested in playing again. It almost reminds me of childhood afternoons playing hand after hand of solitaire while on vacation. Given that the game is a smallish deck of cards in a tiny box, and that at least a couple of the set-up options have small footprints, this is also a great option for throwing in a bag when headed out to my local coffee shop on an afternoon off.
#3 – Eldritch Horror
Fantasy Flight’s world-spanning, streamlined version of Arkham Horror is a fantastic game, whether played solo or with others. Once you have a storage solution figured out, set-up is pretty simple despite the large number of pieces, and so you can grab one or more investigators, create your Mythos deck, and jump into saving the world relatively quickly for a game of this scale. That being said, you likely actually watch the world burn rather than actually save it, but you can easily reset everything and go again, in the hopes of beating back the Great Old Ones trying to tear through the barriers to enter our world. Mansion of Madness, Second edition, my eventually displace this game as my solo adventure game of choice, but for now Eldrich Horror is holding on to its place on the list.
#2 – At the Gates of Loyang
This Uwe Rosenberg classic is being reprinted by Tasty Minstrel Games and it’s about time. Players grow and harvest crops to deliver to both regular and one-time customers with the aid of other traders and townsfolk. They then use their hard-earned cash to buy victory points, but they’re more expensive, the more you buy. The game plays relatively quickly and smoothly, and looks great on the table, not in the least due to its adorable vegetable meeples. The solo variant uses a marketplace ((the offer) for purchasing cards rather than a draft, but otherwise plays and scores the same as the multiplayer, and in fact I’ve heard quite a few people recommend using the solo set-up for two-player games. I’ve actually only played this game solo, and while I’d like to try it at least once with other people, I’m not particularly upset by that fact.
#1 – The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game
The CoB card game from Stefan Feld pits the player against a virtual opponent Aaron. At the end of every round, you compare your score to his, and if you’re aren’t at least even with him, you instantly lose. Make it through all five rounds to win. I like the fact that you can lose the solo mode in this game rather than it simply being a case of trying to best your last score. The game is a really nice distillation of Castles of Burgundy into a compact package that’s also worthy of inclusion when packing for game night, though it is quite the table hog so make sure you’ll have enough space when you reach your destination when you decide to play not-solo.