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You’re all alone and bored out of your mind. You don’t really want to go out, and you’re sick of solitaire, nor do you really feel like playing video games. Watching TV or a movie doesn’t excite you either, so what’s a person to do?
Let us introduce you to the world of board games. When most people think of these, popular mainstays like Monopoly most likely come to mind. But did you know that there are equally-engrossing versions that can be enjoyed with only a single player? The best solo board games can keep you entertained for hours.
And a lot of them are comprised of rich stories in an adventure setting. If this intrigues you – or you are a seasoned veteran in the world of tabletop games – have a gander at some of the very best available using our nifty guide below.
Players: 1-4 | Ages: Approx. 13+ | Time: 1000+ hours of gameplay
When it comes down to the board game that has it all, look no further than The 7th Continent. Filled to capacity with content, this game serves as the ultimate in choosing your own path of gameplay. It’s heavy on exploration and allows you to craft items along the way – all while adding in the complex strategy of survival to give you just the right balance.
Not only is The 7th Continent easy to learn, but its competency ensures that you’ll never find yourself stalling by having to dig through a bunch of text. Gone is the hassle of dice-rolling and chance, replaced by cards to enhance the game’s engrossing story while providing total player control.
Set in the early 20th century, your objective is that of an adventurer set out to purify a curse-stricken land. The 7th Continent is story-heavy, with a compelling narrative that further serves to pull you deeper into its mythical atmosphere.
Simplicity is what makes this board game so much fun. Being card-driven, each one’s actions progress the game at a comfortable, yet engaging, rate. With only two types of cards at play – action and adventure – The 7th Continent never gets tired or overbearing. Nothing is wasted here.
And that is what sets this game apart from its competitors. Where most games require you to take a turn and then deal with the resulting consequences, you won’t find that here. Your character is constantly moving forward, stopping only when you’ve completed your objective.
The makers of The 7th Continent claim that there are over 1,000 hours of play time. They aren’t exaggerating. You’re likely to find your first play-through well into the double digits. Add in three more players and you start to get a sense of how much time can be spent on a single game.
With a monumental amount of cards to randomly choose from, the sheer volume of possibilities is staggering. And that’s what makes The 7th Continent the clear winner out of all of the entries listed here. Sure, there are games similar to it, but none do it quite so well. It is perfectly polished and its following is absolutely massive.
What is perhaps the most incredible aspect of this Kickstarter project is the fact that fans of the game have donated well over $7 million in its funding. That in itself is very telling of just how beloved The 7th Continent truly is.
It doesn’t get any better. Play for hours and lose yourself in its engrossing world – alone or with friends. With endless playability, you will never find yourself bored or confused as to what to do next.
Players: 1-4 | Ages: 12+ | Time: 60-120 minutes
As a tactical combat game, you take on the role of a wandering adventurer who must utilize special skills to gain the experience required for progressing. Along your journey, you will increase your abilities, earn loot, and open up new locations to explore.
Gloomhaven’s universe changes often, with every decision you make effecting what happens later. Ideally, this will take place over the course of multiple sessions, using the provided card system to progress the game’s narrative.
The gameplay is rather straightforward, with each turn allowing the player to choose two cards that will determine what happens next. Throughout the play, cards are lost in a fashion that forces you to make the most out of your turn. If you completely exhaust your hand, you lose the battle.
What’s most interesting about Gloomhaven is its legacy mechanics, wherein every session serves to build upon its story and thereby never resetting the adventure. Coupled with the ability to level up your character, these aspects provide an engrossing and rich gaming experience.
This unique little card-driven game is just the right type to allow for random time-filling throughout the day. It’s great to get your brain running and it’s compact as all get out. Different goals serve to increase replayability.
Players: 1-8 | Ages: 13+ | Time: 60-120 minutes
If you have ever longed to step into the shoes of London’s greatest fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective will provide you with an unforgettable experience. With its engrossing gameplay, you’ll often feel as if you are on the chase for Professor Moriarty.
Search the docks for the giant rat of Sumatra, walk up the cobble-stoned stretch of fog-drenched Baker Street, and consort with some of London’s most memorable characters. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective captures the mystery and excitement of Holmes’ era in this ambitious and illuminating board game.
In Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, you are presented with a mystery to solve, and it is then up to you to trace the threads of evidence through the byways and mansions of nineteenth-century London. You will interview suspects, search the newspapers for clues, and put together the facts to reach a solution.
Another engaging entry in the Sherlock Holmes universe. Here you’ll find hours of play while making you use your brain to do it. Be wary of its content, though, if you’re going to be buying this for a young one; it’s occasionally graphic.
Players: 1-2 | Ages: 14+ | Time: 60-120 minutes
Inspired by the world of H.P. Lovecraft, Arkham Horror is a unique card game that plays a lot like Magic: The Gathering, but without the need for trading or buying more decks to get that much-desired rarity card.
Playing more like a campaign, you soon learn that every action you perform has long-reaching consequences that come into play throughout the game – some good, some bad. This title is mighty complicated, with no less than two rule books that must be followed.
However, if you commit to its strict format, you will find yourself lost in its robust story. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, Arkham Horror is very player-friendly with imaginative use of mechanics that serve to progress its deep story. You’ll find that this game has a loyal community behind it, so you’ll never be at a loss as to what to do next.
There is, unfortunately, a downside to Arkham. While it’s true that you don’t need to buy extra decks in search of rarity cards, you do need them in order to get the most out of the game. Many first-time buyers have felt burned by the fact that you’re really only getting a tutorial to start.
After you’ve gone over the nuts and bolts of the game, you need those extra packs just to progress through the game’s story. If Arkham wasn’t so good, this would be an inexcusable detriment, but the gameplay is so solid and engrossing that it’s hard to knock it too much.
Yes, you need to buy more decks to progress, and yes, it can become a money-drain. But with such a rich gameplay system set in an amazing atmosphere, you will soon forget this minor squabble. Add in its rabid following and you’ll soon find yourself hooked on Arkham Horror.
Players: 1-6 | Ages: 13+ | Time: 45-90 minutes
Acclaimed as one of the best solo variants on the market, Viticulture drops you smack in the middle of pre-modern Tuscany, Italy. Your story is that of a simple villager who has inherited a meager, yet promising, vineyard.
Your dream is to turn this vineyard into the best winery that Tuscany has ever seen. With limited resources, it is your job to make the most of what you have in order to see your dream come to fruition.
And with nothing but a worn crush pad, a little bit of land, three workers, and a small cellar, your task is going to be a challenging one. Changing seasonal conditions will factor into gameplay, along with competitors vying to get to the coveted resources before you do.
Throughout your journey, you will amass more workers and visitors of Tuscany to help aid you in your quest by building structures, planting vines, and filling wine orders. Get more players involved to add further competition to Viticulture, and race to see who can own the best winery in town.
What sets Viticulture apart from other games of this nature is the fact that you can play at your own pace, without the worry of sabotage to your precious resources. With a variety of gameplay and high replay value, this is one board game you don’t want to overlook.
Players: 1-4 | Ages: 12+ | Time: 120 minutes
Now here’s a unique concept. By adjusting the temperature, making your own oceans, and stabilizing oxygen levels, your objective in Terraforming Mars is to make the red planet capable of sustaining life. To assist you along the way, you will come across a plethora of resources to maximize your chances of turning Mars into a hospitable local.
Terraforming Mars is very heavy on the incorporation and combining of an ever-growing deck of cards, helping you to successfully reach your end goal. It’s also ingeniously perplexing, serving to make you think about each decision in the hopes of having the best outcome.
Each round, called a generation, consists of four phases. In the first phase, order shifts clockwise. Secondly, each player buys cards in the research phase. Thirdly, turns are taken to allow for players to perform one to two actions. And lastly, players enter the production phase to compile resources. All of these phases combine to make for some truly compelling play.
It’s a bit of a shame that the quality in production is somewhat lacking, as this is a very solid entry. Many players have noticed early wear and tear of the game’s cards. This certainly doesn’t detract from the experience, but it’s an issue one wouldn’t expect to find in a game of this caliber.
With its multiple expansions available that add even more scenarios to the game, you’ll find Terraforming Mars to be a rich, engrossing, and brain-busting adventure that provides hours of varying and well-balanced gameplay.
Questionable build quality aside, if you’re in the market for a game that is both unique in design and will test your mettle, you can’t go wrong with Terraforming Mars. It’s set in a great universe – literally and figuratively – and provides just the right balance of gameplay to set it apart from its competitors.
Players: 1-4 | Ages: 14+ | Time: 60-240 minutes
You start out as one of four powerful Mage Knights with the objective of gaining control of the Atlantean Empire. You must build an army, gain powerful spells and actions, and spelunk through caves and dungeons, all while conquering powerful cities.
Mage Knight is great for solo play, yet it can also be enjoyed with multiple people. By combining elements of popular role-playing games, deck-building, and traditional board games, Mage Knight features an engrossing universe that can be explored for a self-contained gaming experience.
While Mage Knight is extremely complex and detailed, it does sometimes result in a lot of downtime that some players may find a fuzz too slow. If you can deal with some stagnant pacing along the way, Mage Knight provides a deeply-rewarding gameplay experience.
It can be a somewhat intimidating board game with its grand production and massive scope. But once you get the hang of it, look out. Many players find that it sucks them in for hours at a time with its addictive style and strategies.
For many, however, that is what makes Mage Knight so rewarding. By providing hours of intellectual gameplay, you are sure to get your money’s worth.
While it can tend to stall at times and stifle gameplay, Mage Knight is still a blast to play. You’ll find yourself sucked in for hours at a time if you aren’t paying attention. Not simplistic by any stretch, this one will really put your intellect to the test.
Players: 1-4 | Ages: 14+ | Time: 60-120 minutes
Created by Ignacy Trzewiczek, Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island starts you in the middle of a deserted island where you must face varied challenges like building a shelter, finding food, fending off wild beasts, and protecting yourself from different types of weather.
You take on the role of a shipwreck survivor and work either together or on your own to build up your settlement. Much is available to be discovered, doing so by the use of event cards. To help further the gameplay, you can craft weapons, fortify your town, and even grow livestock.
Given that the game has an already-rich history intact due to its namesake, Robinson Crusoe is deep in the gameplay department. By offering up so many varied contingencies, you’ll be hard-pressed to find yourself bored with it.
Many players will contend to this board game’s brutal play style. It is very unforgiving and extremely difficult to master. There are no small victories along the way, without any boosts to your confidence, which some may find defeating. You really have to grind hard and often to make it to victory’s end.
If you are just starting out in your venture into the world of board games, you will most likely want to steer clear of Robinson Crusoe. It will probably take you several attempts to master the game’s style of play, let alone conquer. But for some, that is the best part; it’s such a rewarding feeling when you finally overcome its challenges.
If it just wasn’t so frustratingly difficult at times, Robinson Crusoe would rate higher on our list. As it is, though, it’s still a wonderful experience. A large variety of gameplay makes this a great investment for veterans who are looking for a challenge.
Players: 1-100 | Ages: 10+ | Time: 30-45 minutes
A cartographer in the service of Queen Gimnax, you are sent on a mission to map the territory of the northern lands. When the queen announces which lands she most prizes, you must work to increase your reputation by meeting her demands.
But you are not alone in the game’s vast wilderness; a force known as the Dragul battle against you in your efforts of reclamation. Fulfill the queen’s wishes and you will be declared the greatest cartographer in the kingdom.
A roll-and-write game where the dice are replaced by cards, you must draw shapes and their matching terrain in order to meet its random scoring conditions. With a total of 16 possible goals, Cartographers offers up many challenges.
Throughout your journey, you will be tasked with building a village, filling out rows and columns on a grid, and drawing forest spaces on the edge of your map. Properly completing these tasks will result in you being rewarded reputation stars, with the player earning the most stars winning the game.
For the artist in you, Cartographers is unique in that you have to physically draw shapes and other objects in order to advance its story. Its reliance on cards gives the player more control over the game’s outcome while nixing dice completely.
Players: 1-2 | Ages: 8+ | Time: 15 minutes
Taking on the role of a Dreamwalker, you must escape a labyrinth before time runs out – otherwise you will become trapped within forever. You can either wander through its corridors, hoping to come across the right doors by chance, or you can stay within its many rooms to fight enemies known as Nightmares.
While Onirim allows for two players, it is best experienced in single-player mode. Your goal is to work toward obtaining eight “Door” cards that ultimately lead to your escape of the labyrinth in which you are trapped.
These Door cards are hidden within the card deck and, when drawn, trigger different dilemmas that impact play in a multitude of ways. Each labyrinthine room has several outcomes that advance gameplay and narrative.
As an added bonus, included in the basic game are three expansion packs that serve to enhance Onirim even further. These are known as “The Towers, “Happy Dreams and Dark Premonitions”, and “The Book of Steps Lost and Found”.
Onirim is great for both children and adults alike. Players find that it is a relaxing game that simultaneously provides a great workout for the mind. Many use it as a great wake-up tool to get the brain functioning in the morning before starting off for the day’s tasks.
With expansion packs, unique ways to advance, and great for both kids and adults, Onirim is a nice little distraction that you can play anywhere. It does require you to shuffle its cards often, however, which is a minor inconvenience in an overall excellent pick-up-and-play game.
This can be difficult, as it’s awfully subjective. You first need to ask yourself what you want out of your new game. Are you looking for something that’s going to provide you with a few minutes of boredom-busting entertainment, or would you prefer something much deeper?
If it’s the former, there are several solitaire-type games available on the market that will provide you with simple, quick gameplay that you can easily play again and again in short succession. If you’re the latter, however, consider a grand adventure from some of those listed above, with which you are guaranteed to enjoy endless hours of play time.
Next, you need to gauge your skill level. You certainly don’t want your first solo board game to be one that is way over your head – this will only serve to frustrate and turn you off from playing altogether. We’ve provided details in our above guide to point you in the right direction, but always do research to find out what other players are saying.
To get even more replay value out of your purchase, adding a friend or two can completely change the dynamic of any given game. Many add layers of competition that weren’t there when playing all on your lonesome. Multiplayer also serves to add even more objectives that might not have been there before.
With the vast majority of board games available, it is important to first know what you want. Most board games will help in this matter by providing a short description on its packaging as to what the game entails or what genre it belongs in. There are a plethora of websites that specialize and cater to board game enthusiasts, with in-depth product descriptions and reviews to help in your quest.
An excellent online source is Board Game Geek (BGG). They provide a vast catalog of information on the latest board games to hit the market, as well as older ones. Within their repository you will find all of the important details like age recommendation, play time, minimum and maximum number of players, and even the weight of the game.
BGG also provides the creator of each board game, detailed history, average cost, and much more. A large community of dedicated users regularly chip in to supply their opinions in order to assist you in making the best-educated decision in your potential purchase.
What are the Benefits of Solo Board Games?
Let’s face it; it’s not always easy to get a bunch of people together to have a good time. With solo board games you can enjoy the complexity of these enlightening brain teasers without having to wrangle in a large gathering.
Sure, video games are enjoyable to play at times, but you’re going to find board games to be more engaging and a better workout for your brain – all with the benefit of no download or install times.
Board games can be much more collectible, too. Many are small worlds in and of themselves, with beautiful artwork and craftsmanship. Some even have highly-detailed figurines and set pieces, further adding to their uniqueness.
Like video games, board games can have content that needs to be carefully researched before buying for a child. Some may have gore, strong language, sexual themes, or all of the above. You can generally find this information on the package to ensure you’re making the right purchase.
Individual ability also needs to come into consideration. Some games are extremely advanced and may require a certain level of reading and basic comprehension in order to play them. You will also find this labeled on most games, along with the game’s length, to aid you in your buying decision.
Board games are leaps and bounds more complex and engaging than what they used to be. Contained within their boxes are vast worlds and endless wonders to explore. Gone are the days of rote gameplay and boring mechanics.
Evolving into masterpieces that rival many other forms of media, their depth is equally as engrossing as some of the best written novels. These grand works of art and engaging narratives draw you into their manufactured fantasies.
What was once only found in literature and movies, you can now enjoy the same sense of wonder with a multitude of board games available. Decide on the type of adventure setting that you want your mind to escape to and chances are that there’s a board game out there with everything you desire.
The best part is that you can partake in these epic tales all on your own. When you don’t feel like numbing your brain to video games, solo board games can provide you with a great experience that makes you think and calms your nerves all at the same time.
You may be new to how far board games have progressed in recent years. You’re doing yourself a great disservice by ignoring the limitless possibilities available to you. Give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at just what this unique world of gaming has to offer.