One of my favorite things about board games is being able to sit down with friends and create some enjoyable memories. I suppose that’s why I’ve never gravitated much to solo board games. Most of the time, I’d much rather just play a video game. But desperate times call for desperate measures. With all of us being stuck at home right now, I still need to get my board game fix in. So, I’ve been playing more games by myself than ever before. And you know what? They are not all that bad. So, I decided to list out my Top 10 Solo Board Games.
Before I get to the list, I wanted to make my criteria clear. I decided to choose only board games that are either strictly single player or play best with only one player. Since pretty much any cooperative board game can also be played solo, and many multiplayer gamers now include solo rules, it would have broadened the scope of this list way too much. So, keep that restriction in mind when browsing my list. While games like Marvel Champions, Scythe, or Nemesis are great when played solo, they are all way better with more players.
Top 10 Solo Board Games
10. SoS Titanic
SoS Titanic is a riff on the classic game Solitaire from veteran game designers Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc. This game takes the classic solitaire gameplay and throws in some action cards and player powers. The goal of the game is to sort the passengers into rows based on their value, and eventually work them into lifeboats to rescue them. I’d actually have this fun little game higher on my list, but it’s near impossible to find, having been out of print for years.
1-5 Players • Ages 8+ • 30 minutes • Out of Print
This quick playing card game has you wandering through a realm of dreams, trying to find keys for doors before the deck runs out. The gameplay in Onirim is fairly simple, and with games only taking about 15 minutes, you can play quite a few games in a row when you inevitably lose. The second edition of Onirim also comes with 7 expansions that can be added to the game for increased variety.
Part of the wallet line of games from Button Shy Games, Sprawlopolis will have you building a city with only 18 cards. Each round, you’ll play one card from your hand, trying to score the most points. And thanks to the variable scoring system, each game also plays out a little differently, giving this one some solid replay value with only a handful of cards. If you are looking to fill that city building itch, Sprawlopolis works is a great option for those by themselves, or even on the go.
7. Palm Island (review)
A game that fits in the play of your hand, Palm Island will have you trying to earn victory points as you move cards from the front to the back of your deck. Palm Island uses only 17 cards, and over the course of 8 rounds you’ll be using resources to try and upgrade cards, which earn you an ever-increasing amount of victory points. This one also has the smallest footprint of any game on this list, as you don’t even need a table to play!
This classic solo game has been around since 2011 and is still played quite often. Designed by Friedemann Friese, Friday tasks players with trying to survive and eventually escape from being stranded on a desert island. You start off as a lonely castaway with no real skills. But over the course of the game, you’ll face hazards which if defeated, turn into upgraded cards for your character. Friday is a game of deck building with a strong emphasis on deck optimization.
5. Hostage Negotiator
This game drops you into the shoes of a law enforcement agent responsible for negotiating the release of hostages. Each turn in the game represents a conversation that you are having with the hostage taker. You’ll be playing cards and rolling dice, all while trying to manage the threat level. The goal is to try and free as many hostages as possible and to prevent the madman from killing hostages. What’s unique about Hostage Negotiator is that it’s a hand building game. Cards you buy will go directly into your hand, rather than a discard pile to eventually work their way into the game.
4. Nemo’s War
This game of underwater exploration and combat is themed around the classic Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas. You take on the role of Captain Nemo and his electric-powered submarine, the Nautilus. While the rules are somewhat heavy in this one, it’s also a highly thematic game with a solid amount of replay value. Nemo’s War isn’t a linear narrative that runs parallel with the book, instead, the motivation chosen at the start of the game will drive your objectives and strategy
3. This War of Mine (review)
Based on the video game of the same name, this incredibly thematic game drops players into the shoes of survivors in a war-torn city. You start out in a partially wrecked house and must build up your shelter, scavenge for supplies, and try and protect your group from outside forces. This War of Mine is a highly narrative game, with a book of stories that will present a variety of situations throughout the game’s lengthy play. As games of This War of Mine can take upwards of 8 hours to complete, it thankfully has a save system so you can play once game over multiple sessions.
2. 7th Continent
This game of exploration and adventure just barely missed out from the top spot in my rankings. 7th Continent is choose your own adventure type of game where you must explore an unknown land full of wild terrain, dangerous animals, and mysterious people. You’ll also need to find resources to survive, which are used to craft equipment that will help you on your journey. Much like This War of Mine, 7th Continent is a long, narrative game that also has a save system so you can enjoy it in bite-sized chunks.
1. Mage Knight (review)
This heavy weight game combines elements from RPGs, deck building, exploration, and combat into deep and immersive experience. Mage Knight puts you into the role of one of the titular characters as you attempt to explore and/or conquer the realm. Mage Knight isn’t for the faint of heart, as it’s probably the deepest and most rules heavy game on this list. But for those that take the time to learn it, it can provide a gaming experience that’s guaranteed to keep you entertained for hours upon end. And the new Ultimate Edition recently released by WizKids include 3 expansions to add on to what was an already impressive amount of replay value.