Daily Illuminator

September 19, 2020: COVIDing Alone? Time To Try Some Solo Games!

Like many people out there, I live alone. I haven't had an actual in-person tabletop game in almost six months, and it's driving me a bit bonkers. (Ask my coworkers.) I've played some digital games but I'm one of the people who really prefer to be sitting at a table with iced tea and some chips and salsa to munch on with my friends.

What's keeping me sane, or what passes for it when you write Munchkin for a living, is solo gaming. I'm especially fond of a sort of half combat game, half puzzle from Renegade called Proving Grounds. Designed by Kane Klenko, also known for FUSE and Flatline (both of which have solo rules as part of their frustrating and delightful gameplay), it's a great little mind bender that doesn't take too long and challenges you with variant scenarios once the base game is too easy for you. I backed Renegade's Kickstarter for their second solo game, Warp's Edge by Scott Almes, that might be on my table by the time this posts!

If you like campaign-style boardgames like the many Legacy games out there, see if any of them provide a solo player mode . . . more do than you might expect! I'm considering busting Charterstone back out and using the Automa as a virtual opponent just to see what it's like. I will try not to set my table on fire this time! (That, sadly, is a true story. I don't want to talk about it.) If you have a game that you've reset for a second try, maybe giving it a solo whirl is just what you need to have a different experience the second time around. The down side is, of course, that you don't have anyone else to blame if you keep losing . . . (That, sadly, is also a true story.)

Maybe my favorite of the new solo games out there isn't a boardgame at all, but a series of graphic novels from Van Ryder Games. These clever stories can be appreciated on their own, but they have puzzles to decode and mysteries to solve, which only adds to the fun! (Pro tip: Get the bookmarks. They really do help.) VRG also produces the Hostage Negotiator series, which was way too stressful for me but which I ought to suggest to my mom and sister who live and die for Forensic Files and other true crime shows.

Finally, if you're looking for a lot more suggestions for solo games to keep you mentally active while you're physically stuck in place, BoardGameGeek.com has plenty of recommendations . . . as they always do. It's worth taking some time to search their reviews and see if there's a nifty solo you may have missed . . . and it may already be on your shelf!

-- Andrew Hackard


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