One Isn’t The Loneliest Number – Solo Board Games

There is always that sense of excitement when I buy a new board game, I want to bring it home and play immediately. Unfortunately, I don’t have a group of people on call 24/7 ready to play a board game any time I buy one. That’s where solo gaming comes in. Perhaps playing alone might seem like an unusual idea to some of you but it can help scratch that itch to play it straight away. You can immerse yourself into the games world completely and it can also help you learn the rules to teach everyone at your next game night. In fact, in the past year I have bought games with the sole intention of playing them on my own.

Solo board games have been growing more and more popular over the past few years. This is evident with half of the Top 50 board games on BoardGameGeek having official solo variants. While, there are also many games without official variants that will have fan made ones if you search for them online. It’s not just solo variants too but there are also games out there that are designed specifically as solo games. For example, just last month Paperback Adventures by Tim Fowers launched on Kickstarter as a solo game and only a second player added later through a stretch goal.

Given how appealing a solo variant is to many, it is something that shouldn’t be ignored when designing a game. To create a solo variant you need to someway represent other players artificially. In fact, you’ve probably already developed a basis of your artificial opponent during play testing and not even realised. While play testing my car racing game I wanted to come up with a system that allowed me to simulate the other cars without me having to play as six different players. I developed one deck to determine all cars movement instead of having to use six different decks. Through that the base for my artificial opponent were created. It doesn’t just have to be for solo play either, in my game you can add the artificial opponent to any game to increase the player count to as high as six.

Adding a solo variant to your game already increases it’s value without having to add any extra pieces. It opens the game up to a larger market and gives your current market an extra way to play their game. The Automa Approach by Morten Pedersen has been instrumental to me as I develop the solo rules for my game and I would highly recommend reading it if you want a more in depth overview of how to create a solo variant.

Let me know if you’ve ever played a game alone or what your favourite solo game is. For me, I’ve lost hours getting sucked into the world Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.

3 Comments

  1. The only game I have ever played alone was solitaire when I was a kid. I have only two friends who play solo board games, and I think that the reason is we consider this kind of gaming more like a social act.

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    1. For me (and probably most people) gaming started off just like a social act but the deeper I fell in love with games the more I wanted to play in between game nights. As a kid I also played tons of solitaire

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