Recently, my gaming friends have all been taken out of our regularly scheduled game nights by work, kids, or just random craziness. So, I got to thinking: what would it be like to game solo?
Don’t get me wrong: groups are great; but, sometimes a good group is hard to find. So, I bought some games with solo play options and got some as gifts, too. That way, when no one else was available, I’d at least have a standby way to pursue my hobby.
Fast-forward to more recently, when I thought I might be witnessing the apotheosis of my solo gaming trend: the release of Handelabra’s Sentinels of the Multiverse iOS app. I’d loved the table-top game, and this port of the game wouldn’t require more than a few taps to get started on super-heroic strategic game-play.
Unfortunately, the release in the US hit a little snag. I really don’t blame either Apple or Handelabra. It’s not like either stood to gain from not releasing a highly popular title, so I’m sure their hearts were in getting the game to as many possible consumers as efficiently as they could.
In the hours of not having the game, I reflected on why I’d pinned so much of my R&R hopes on it. The best I came up with was that the video game format would allow me to play a card game I enjoyed in a way that had a veneer of social acceptability, despite not actually being a social activity. That’s kind of the default for a tablet or phone game, really. Have some time to kill? Bust out your mobile device and blow off some steam.
Setting up cards on the table when alone, had always seemed a bit…awkward. Yet, after a few more hours of waiting, I broke down, got out my iPad, and powered up Handelabra’s Sidekick app. I laid out the hero, environment, and villain cards, and started playing Sentinels the old-fashioned way. The ability to tweet about it, like some sort of geek confessional, made it feel less strange. Strange or not, I had fun, and felt a bit silly for not having played sooner.
All that to say: don’t knock solo, tabletop gaming until you try it.
Looking for where to start? I’ve got you covered.
See, recently did an inventory of my games and I have thirty six (not counting their expansions). Of those, sixteen lend themselves to solo play, and eight of them have specific rules to govern it. The other eight are simply games where I can manage to control one or more character in a cooperative game.
Here’s a list of Aschenglut’s Sanctioned Single Player Games:
Games with Special Single Player Rules
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
Ascension: Return of the Fallen
Race for the Galaxy (with the Gathering Storm expansion; fair warning: this one is a bit more technical than some others)
Dungeon Roll (same as multiplayer, except you’re measuring your success against a range of scores; the higher the score the more epic your heroic feat)
Pandemic (you and the CDC vs. the world’s diseases)
Games Where You (Potentially) Manage Multiple Characters
D&D Board Games (Wrath of Ashardalon, Legend of Drizzt, Castle Ravenloft)
Mice and Mystics
Sentinels of the Multiverse
The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
Finally, there’s the game that started me down the path to solo gaming:
Single-Player Only Game
In “Friday,” you play the role of Crusoe’s faithful companion; your motivation is to take the hapless Crusoe from weak and stupid to strong and resourceful through three rounds of increasingly difficult challenges.
After three rounds, ideally, you’ll have weeded out any weaknesses (i.e. removed ineffective cards from your deck and acquired better ones), and then you’ll send Crusoe off to face a couple pirate ships that happened to be sailing by, thus allowing him to leave the island and leave you in peace.
O.k., so the whole random pirate ship thing is random, but it’s still a fun game. You add up your score and see what’s the best you can do.
So the next time you’re alone with a stack of games, you know what to do…
Have a game you like to play solo? Is solo play just not your thing? Let me know in the comments.