Best Solitary Games

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LordMortis
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Best Solitary Games

Post by LordMortis » Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:33 pm

I've got a $50 Amazon card and nothing to do with it. I don't get out much or see pretty much anyone any more, so I'm thinking an enjoyable solo game to make me even more of a hermit is in order.

So what solo games to you love and what about the dynamic makes you love it?

I was tempted toward the Descent online game but when I saw the completist price tag, I was turned off. The idea of having a long solo adventurer campaign of miniatures really appealed to me but when it starts looking like a $1000 to get all of the bits and pieces going backwards, I was hit with nope.

Remember Advanced Space Crusade? How cool would it be have a solo computer run version of that as a minis game?

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by killbot737 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:10 pm

There are these things called "video" games where you can play by yourself as much as you want! :D

Pandemic has solitaire rules (in one of the expansions...)
I've heard Mage Knight is good for solitaire play, as well as that Star Trek game based off of it that just came out.
There are a lot of "solitare gamer" threads on Board Game Geek, with links to alternate rules and suggestions and all that.
A ton of the (android or otherwise) board game implementations have decent computer opponents. I picked up the recent bundle that included Galaxy Trucker, Ticket To Ride and Splendor
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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by LordMortis » Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:15 pm

I've got plenty of video games. They don't satisfy the need for something tactile, something there, and I stare at a computer screen for much too much of most days already.

I don't have a smartphone but even then I'm not really looking for computer versions of board games, though, since the coming of the Descent Overlord, I am interested in the dynamic of a board game that is "run" by the computer.

I did the mage knight solo. It was interesting but nothing I'd play again. You've got me curious about Star Trek though.

You got me looking through BGG, anyone played XCOM/XCOM solo

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/163 ... board-game

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by Smoove_B » Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:51 pm

I've been trying to become more interested in solo gaming, mainly as a way to get away from the computer and engage my brain in a different way. I've learned that I really like the social aspects of board gaming so playing solo definitely has that missing element for me. I can recommend two solo games I've been enjoying lately, though they are very different from one another.

First is Hostage Negotiator. It seems simple enough because it's just dice and cards, but there's actually a bit of strategy involved in deciding which cards to hold and when to play them. I like the theme and the story the ends up developing as you try to figure things out. It's also really, really quick. Like 25-30 minutes to play - which can be a huge benefit.

I'm currently trying to get my mind around Warfighter but it's been a steeper learning curve than I anticipated.It too allegedly plays quick, but I'm not there yet. What I like about it is that it really reminds me of the old days of playing Rainbow 6 or Ghost Recon - but in card and chit form. You get to create a team and select their loadouts. Then you select a mission and your objective and try to complete it based on a timer. There's card playing and die rolling. Tons of replay value and you can even set up a campaign to "level up" your soldiers and give them new skills. I guess it's like a card game / war game hybrid (so many chits) and I'm still trying to process all the minutiae of the rules. It's not puzzly like Mage Knight, there's just a lot of little moving parts and decisions to make.

I've also enjoyed Death Angel (the theme is great) and Elder Sign - Cthulhu Yahtzee - in solo mode. A game that I've only played with someone else but is primarily solo - Dawn of the Zeds. This one is like playing a B Zombie movie - tons of theme, but a constant uphill struggle. It also scales real nice starting you off simple and then slowly adding in new rules and options as you want to do more and more. Theme is really great.

What I've learned over the last year is that solo gaming really is its own special category and there are solo purists that will only play games that are truly solo - not ones that scale to allow for more than one player.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by LordMortis » Wed Dec 21, 2016 4:29 pm

Smoove_B wrote:What I've learned over the last year is that solo gaming really is its own special category and there are solo purists that will only play games that are truly solo - not ones that scale to allow for more than one player.

I've found a lot of co op games in the past to really be solo games that were expanded to multiple people by making the game too unwieldy for one person to manage. LotR coop board game was my first experience like this. Pathfinder Card game was my last.

I don't think I'm a purist but there's an itch I'm looking to scratch, probably because I only seem to do group board gaming once or twice a year any more and it's a big void to fill and so is not buying board games. I can't justify spending money on board games that will literally never be played.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by Smoove_B » Wed Dec 21, 2016 4:38 pm

LordMortis wrote:I've found a lot of co op games in the past to really be solo games that were expanded to multiple people by making the game too unwieldy for one person to manage.
There are definitely some games that handle it better than others. For the Zeds game, they simply change how many actions you get and how you spawn bad guys when you start adding real players. I think my favorite element so far is in Warfighter. There are three different types of solider cards. The first is designed as a solider player. You select that card and then are given points to completely outfit them as you see fit. Guns, ammo, accessories - everything. To help balance the play (without making it too difficult to handle solo) you then have non-player character soldiers and squad soldiers. The non-player soldiers come with gear (so you don't have to spend time selecting everything) and the squad is what it sounds like - a single card that represents 4-5 other soldiers. As that squad health drops, their attack and defense adjusts. Essentially you are told how many "points" you are given for a mission and you select your solider cards to that level, mixing and matching in whatever options work for you. So for my first game I picked one soldier and a squad - just two things to keep track of. But if I was more capable I could have selected 4 or 5 individual soldiers for the same number of mission points and given then all special gear.
I can't justify spending money on board games that will literally never be played.
I hear you there. That's why 90% of my new purchases are for 1+ players. That flexibility is huge to me though I understand solo purists might scoff at what I will play.

EDIT: I do think theme is likely my biggest attraction to a specific game. That might help narrow down your search for the perfect solo game to add to your collection.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by NickAragua » Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:44 pm

I've watched a couple of videos and read some let's plays and I really badly want to play Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations

The idea of a persistent squadron of aircraft where the pilots gain veterancy and "git gud" or get shellshocked, shooting down MIGs and such... man, the whole thing just gives me goose bumps.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by El Guapo » Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:53 pm

NickAragua wrote:I've watched a couple of videos and read some let's plays and I really badly want to play Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations

The idea of a persistent squadron of aircraft where the pilots gain veterancy and "git gud" or get shellshocked, shooting down MIGs and such... man, the whole thing just gives me goose bumps.
FYI Siljanus did a Hornet Leader AAR awhile back.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by LordMortis » Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:57 pm

This could be an early front runner for my Amazon bucks.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by Smoove_B » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:07 pm

Yeah, same developer as the Warfighter game. I have no draw to air combat but it's the same basic idea for Spec Ops soldiers. They just released a WW2 version of the game as well - figure out what theme draws you and I bet there's a solo game out there for you. :D

Just as an FYI: Warfighter (and I'd assume anything from DVG) are definitely coming from a wargaming perspective. I had never played (and still don't really prefer) wargames, so there's a bit of an adjustment coming over from the world of board gaming. It's not bad, it's just...different.
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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by El Guapo » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:14 pm

Smoove_B wrote:Yeah, same developer as the Warfighter game. I have no draw to air combat but it's the same basic idea for Spec Ops soldiers. They just released a WW2 version of the game as well - figure out what theme draws you and I bet there's a solo game out there for you. :D
With the "persistent" part...does that mean you have to leave it out and set up between playtimes? Or do you write down the "persistent" part? Keeping it set up could be difficult with kids around.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by Smoove_B » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:19 pm

Nah, for Warfighter you can print out what are essentially character sheets that will keep track of gear and skills as you progress through a campaign with the same group of soldiers. I'd assume all the DVG stuff works that way. The one on BGG is a 13 page PDF. I'm starting to think war gaming nerds are hardcore. :D

It would also be easy to put away the solider cards in individual baggies with all their chits and gear.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by $iljanus » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:24 pm

El Guapo wrote:
NickAragua wrote:I've watched a couple of videos and read some let's plays and I really badly want to play Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations

The idea of a persistent squadron of aircraft where the pilots gain veterancy and "git gud" or get shellshocked, shooting down MIGs and such... man, the whole thing just gives me goose bumps.
FYI Siljanus did a Hornet Leader AAR awhile back.
Unfortunately never finished it but I think near the end the Russians were going to rule the day and the survivors were going to live in a workers utopia (or gulag) under the all encompassing banner of Communism.

I do love the game and if you like the whole dynamic of choosing pilots and weapon loadouts with some mission planning it's a solid game. I was originally sold on it after watching this video review.

I'm also a big fan of Thunderbolt Apache Leader which is a bit of an evolution of the game system used in Hornet Leader Carrier Air Ops. This time you're targeting ground units on the game board which also has hexes that model some terrain. The campaign system is quite robust. I'm currently involved in a Solitaire Gaming contest involving Thunderbolt Apache Leader which is a lot of fun. Here's a link to that and a link to a good video review of the game.

Video review

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I didn't know you had Warfighter, Smoove. I love that game too but I haven't played beyond the "drug cartel in the jungles of Latin America" setting. That timer is a real bitch but pulling off a win is quite satisfying. "Shopping" for gear is quite fun. I have all the expansions for this game so someday I'll play the US vs. our old friends the Russians.

I think coming up with a good loadout for all of the above games is not only much of the enjoyment for me but takes a bit of time. For Warfighter you can spend some time choosing gear and separating out what you need in advance then play on a different day since I think the actual gameplay can go rather quickly.
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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by Smoove_B » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:21 pm

$iljanus wrote:I didn't know you had Warfighter, Smoove. I love that game too but I haven't played beyond the "drug cartel in the jungles of Latin America" setting. That timer is a real bitch but pulling off a win is quite satisfying. "Shopping" for gear is quite fun. I have all the expansions for this game so someday I'll play the US vs. our old friends the Russians.
Yeah, I'm a recent convert - I've only owned it now a few months or so and finally busted it out a few weeks ago. I knew about it for a while but was avoiding it because it looked too war-gamey with all the chits (did I mention there's like 3000 chits?).
I think coming up with a good loadout for all of the above games is not only much of the enjoyment for me but takes a bit of time. For Warfighter you can spend some time choosing gear and separating out what you need in advance then play on a different day since I think the actual gameplay can go rather quickly.
Yes, the amount of replay is off the charts - not only from tweaking the missions and objectives but the ability to figure out gear loadouts. My buddy picked up the WW2 version that was just released and it seems similarly excellent. But it's as simple or complex as you want to make it. In terms of being flexible, the system really seems to allow for a high amount of variation - which is appreciated.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:11 pm

In terms of solitaire gaming, Star Trek: Frontiers (which reimplements and streamlines the Mage Knight board game and IMO has a much better theme), Hostage Negotiator, and good ol' Race for the Galaxy with The Gathering Storm expansion (which adds the robot template, dice, and chits for solo play) are my favourites. You really can't go wrong with any of 'em.
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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by baelthazar » Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:40 pm

As people mentioned, the DVG (Dan Veressen Games) lineup is really full of solo wargames. Any of those are good - Hornet Leader (and its Cthulhu Expansion) are the classic. He has two sub-based games that are supposedly fun, and Warfighter is a fairly new line (with great buzz). I am looking forward to the B-17 Leader game coming out (I missed the Kickstarter, but it was too high priced for me at the time).

GMT has a few games, notably Comancheria and Navajo Wars. This are fairly deep games, not for the faint of heart, and have a long learning curve. That said, the tutorial game is far better than Mage Knight. They are also historical, if that floats your boat, and of periods/topics not often covered (Native American expansion and contraction from pre- to post-European colonization). You can also solo a lot of the COIN series of games, like Cuba Libre, Falling Skies, etc. I would not say this is the best way to play those games, but they do have a solo AI system.

Since you are looking at Amazon, you might not be able to find those at their cheapest. You should be able to find games like Galaxy Defenders, Zombicide, Super Dungeon Explore (the Forgotten King version has an "Arcade Mode" where the monsters use AI cards), or Shadows of Brimstone. Of those listed, I prefer Shadows of Brimstone as a solo game (that can be occasionally played with others). It is a lot to set up and keep track of, but I have no problem doing that, really. And it scales fairly well if you only play a couple of adventurers. The second edition of Mansions of Madness is also good - but you will need your PC nearby for the app (if you do not have an iPad).

Oh... if you love minis, I hear that the new Warhammer Quest: The Silver Tower, is actually pretty good. The boards and cards are flimsy, but the minis are Games Workshop. I think it solos pretty well, at least as far as I have heard. You will need to play a couple of adventurers, I think, but the management of the characters is pretty fast and easy.

Almost ANY of the D&D dungeon crawl games are good solo - Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, Legend of Drizzt, and Temple of Elemental Evil. I prefer LoD and ToEE, as they are the most updated ruleset and have more tricks than the other two. Castle Ravenloft is the simplest of the series, but the monsters are cool undead.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:59 pm

LordMortis wrote:I did the mage knight solo. It was interesting but nothing I'd play again. You've got me curious about Star Trek though.

You got me looking through BGG, anyone played XCOM/XCOM solo

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/163 ... board-game
I've played XCOM solo. If you appreciate tense real-time gameplay under pressure, you may like it. But for me, what makes that particular game so enjoyable is the shared tension and pressure that comes from playing with the full four players. The solo version just doesn't compare at all as far as I'm concerned; you get all of the pressure and tension (if not moreso, since you're juggling all four separate roles), minus the fun.

Another one just occured to me, namely Tiny Epic Galaxies. The back of the player mats each have scripted "Rogue Galaxy" AI opponents of varying levels of difficulty. The Rogue Galaxies don’t follow your actions, but you can still follow theirs, which helps retain some of the feeling of interactivity from the regular multiplayer version of game. I haven't played the solo versions extensively, but from what I recall, they do provide a reasonable and entertaining approximation of the regular game. It's good dice-chucking fun, and certainly makes for a great travel game (the inside of the box even doubles as a nifty dice tray/cheat sheet).

Still, if you're after something deeper, I'd definitely recommend Vlaada Chvatil's Star Trek: Frontiers. IMO, the theme fits so much better than Mage Knight, and the streamlined gameplay is a definite improvement. The only thing it really lacks at the moment is the wealth of additional content and expansions available for Mage Knight, though there's certainly no shortage of content and replayability with what's included in the base game. However, I do recommend using the Away Team Random Missions available on BGG, as they add some welcome additional thematic flavour to the game.
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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by LordMortis » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:05 am

Thank you for the feedback. I don't want a real time experience so I guess XCom is out.

Some followup will be due this weekend.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by Holman » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:01 pm

If you're at all interested in the COIN games (Fire in the Lake, Liberty or Death, etc) from GMT, they can be played solitaire. They come with elaborate solo "bot" rules out of the box, but they can also be enjoyed by just playing every side to the best of your ability. Since there's no hidden information, they don't suffer in solo play the way many card-driven games do.

EDIT: I see baelthazar got there first.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by YellowKing » Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:18 am

I just mentioned it in the Arkham Horror: LCG thread, but I have to go with LEGENDARY ENCOUNTERS: ALIEN as my favorite solo game. I've got a ton of games that are technically solo-able like the Lord of the Rings LCG, Robinson Crusoe, etc. But LE: ALIEN is the only one I actually break out and play from time to time by myself.

You asked what dynamic makes it fun, and for me it's the fact that your deck building is all done in-game as you play. I tend to get paralyzed when confronted with too many choices, so I love that I'm not having to pre-build a deck. I go in empty, and it's my choices as I play that determine the deck I have at the end. I'm not a min-maxer, so I hate testing and tweaking decks - it doesn't appeal to me at all. This gives me all the fun of a deck builder, but without all the preliminary work.

STAR TREK:FRONTIERS is fantastic if you like really deep games, but be forewarned that game sessions can be really lengthy even when playing solo. That's the only reason I don't break it out very often - I don't usually have three hours to play a game solo, and I have no room to set it aside and pick up where I left off the next day.

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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by $iljanus » Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:00 pm

YellowKing wrote:I just mentioned it in the Arkham Horror: LCG thread, but I have to go with LEGENDARY ENCOUNTERS: ALIEN as my favorite solo game. I've got a ton of games that are technically solo-able like the Lord of the Rings LCG, Robinson Crusoe, etc. But LE: ALIEN is the only one I actually break out and play from time to time by myself.

You asked what dynamic makes it fun, and for me it's the fact that your deck building is all done in-game as you play. I tend to get paralyzed when confronted with too many choices, so I love that I'm not having to pre-build a deck. I go in empty, and it's my choices as I play that determine the deck I have at the end. I'm not a min-maxer, so I hate testing and tweaking decks - it doesn't appeal to me at all. This gives me all the fun of a deck builder, but without all the preliminary work.
Excellent recommendation! And once you get set up the game flows really well. The game mat makes setup easy but the labor intensive step for me was organizing all the cards after getting the game but you only need to do that once. Oh you do tend to die a lot but it's quite fun.(OH NO NOT THE FACEHUGGER CARD! NOOOOOO!)

I tend to play with two decks/two handed so I can take advantage of certain cards which allow you to coordinate actions between two or more characters. It's really easy to keep track of multiple hands though and I haven't felt overwhelmed. I'd watch some gameplay videos on BGG to get a sense of what the game is about.
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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by MonkeyFinger » Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:31 am

YellowKing wrote:You asked what dynamic makes it fun, and for me it's the fact that your deck building is all done in-game as you play. I tend to get paralyzed when confronted with too many choices, so I love that I'm not having to pre-build a deck. I go in empty, and it's my choices as I play that determine the deck I have at the end. I'm not a min-maxer, so I hate testing and tweaking decks - it doesn't appeal to me at all. This gives me all the fun of a deck builder, but without all the preliminary work.
This describes me to a "T"... added this to my Santa list. :wink:
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Re: Best Solitary Games

Post by MythicalMino » Wed Dec 28, 2016 1:08 pm

After now owning it, and playing a solo game...I could recommend Black Orchestra. In it, you are one of the historical figures conspiring to assassinate Hitler. Very tense and thematic game, and plays 1-5 players.
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