How To Solo Play - Part 2

In my previous entry, I started describing the various ways you can play board games in your collection regardless of the player count during this time of isolation and social distancing. There are dozens of good solitaire-only games (the best being Onirim and Deep Space D-6) as well as cooperative games with functional solitaire modes (like Gloomhaven and Castle Panic). This leaves a bunch of games still in your collection…well, I assume. 

The first of these are competitive games with solo modes. Often these games employ a deck of specially designed "A.I." cards that emulate an enemy player.  The Automa mode included with many Stonemaier games are incredibly well made. These include, Scythe, Viticulture, Tapestry, and Wingspan. I checked, and you all have one of these in your collection. Other big hits with solitaire modes include Terraforming Mars, Dinosaur Island, Kepler 3042, Nemesis, Underwater Cities, Tiny Epic Galaxies, Mage Knight, and Ex Libris, though many of those involve just trying to reach a specific high score.

Alas, that does leave a bunch remaining, the games limited in player count with no included rules for solitaire play. Ones with deception and subterfuge like Sheriff of Nottingham or straight-up party games are basically out, but even looking at my own collection, that still leaves dozens I could play.

Actually, my fiancé does. I enjoy playing with people, and thankfully, I have someone here to play with. My fiancé, on the other hand, is an even bigger introvert than I. She enjoys setting up a big game and playing by herself, often for hours. Even as I type this, she is on her third straight game of Bastion. We had just finished, and won, our second game. I then departed to work on my writing. Two hours later, and she is still there, committed to a victory after three straight losses.

But its not just the cooperative games, my fiancé will also unpack a competitive game with no solo-mode and simply play competitively assuming all players. And this is not limited to short games. Even ones that can be played with two players, she'll play as five. If curious as to how and why she does this, the answer lies with puzzles.

Everyone knows how popular traditional puzzles are, now more than ever, any many people have accused cooperative games as being glorified puzzles. Except, you can't lose a puzzle. Eventually, if you commit yourself, you will solve it. You can’t fail a puzzle unless your patience gives out. Your reward at the end is the image you created. With a lot of games, the satisfaction of creation is still there.

My fiancé owns a large chunk of Carcassonne games ( She has taken whole weekends unpacking every one to erect colossal tapestries of fictional abstract landscapes. Any game where players create something is one where a single player could create two or more puzzles simultaneously. My fiancé has also spent all day playing an extended game of Feast for Odin or Caverna.

Additionally, many games involving a narrative element can satisfy our desire to read books. My fiancé and I both play Above & Below as well as Near & Far for the story and not for the establishment of a winner. By playing on your own, you can enjoy the stories of multiple people and control the end game. You complete your experience when you wish. Whoever wins is ultimately unimportant.

If the game requires an eventual victor, it’s really not that difficult to assume each player and maximize tactics for that round. You would then assume a rival and do the same. Any game where the concealing of player information is not a vital game mechanic can be played this way. So, unpack Alien Frontiers, Century Spice Road, Sagrada, Xia, Great Western Trail, Roll For it, or Formula D.

Admit it, if you have seven board games or seven hundred, no matter the ratio involved, there are probably more games you can play during this quarantine crisis than you probably thought. This is also based on if you can handle playing by yourself. Outside of that, there’s still always Fortnite.