going solo 2

So, you have been enjoying board games for some time now. You enjoy the mental exercise of solving problems. You savor those high-five moments with friends. You like the feel of cards, tokens and miniature in your fingers. You even started to build your library of games. Happy days.

Then you realize life caught up with your gaming (which is not a bad thing). Perhaps you have found a suitable partner. You may have been blessed with kids. Chores and errands occupy most of your days. Work requires more of your time. And it’s not just you. Your playgroup’s members’ lives also started to change leading to less frequent (often with fewer players) gaming sessions.

So, why not go solo?




Game: Lord of the Rings, the card game (one of my favorites; I can spend hours doing deck construction).


I have been playing solo since 2017 when my friends and I took bigger steps with our respective personal and professional lives. Some even moved to different cities. I tried playing video games to scratch the gaming itch but soon found that electronic games didn’t have the same tactile experience of moving game pieces. When I browsed my collection, it was a eureka moment when I saw that one game indicated “1-4 players” on the label (Lord of the Rings LCG).

Below, I will build the case for solo board gaming. Why is it good? Why is it good for you? 




Game: Cthulhu: Death may Die (scalability of this game is really good).


Simply put, “solo board gaming” is playing tabletop games alone. You don’t wait for other players’ turns to be over. You don’t have anyone else to rely on for rules. You don’t have anyone to compete with. You don’t have sudden explosion of happy emotions when you finally beat the game. You don’t have to worry about someone cheating. It’s just you and the board game (and maybe a cat).

Solo board gaming is also liberating. You can play a game at your own pace, staring at game components for minutes while contemplating on your next move. You can do “backsies” and it wouldn’t feel like you were cheating. You can listen to music to accentuate your gaming experience. You don’t have to maneuver around friends' personalities and sensitivities. You don’t have to deal with scheduling. You can gloat, mope, or be a sore loser (or winner). The best part is that you can play games you really like.

Playing solo doesn’t mean you will completely turn your back from multiplayer games. You can still schedule a monthly gaming session with friends. It’s just you squeezing in some gaming into your busy life and often that opportunity to play comes suddenly or late in the night. 


These days, there are several games you can play solo. I categorized them into four types. All are acceptable ways to play solo and will depend on your preferences and existing collection. 

There is a good number of “Scalable games” where the number of players is 1 to many and without changing the rules. These games are good to have in your collection as you can bring this out when you play solo or when you have friends over. Usually, these games are cooperative in nature (such as Marvel Champions LCG, Dungeon & Dragons Adventure Board Games, Descent: Journey in the Dark). Recently released games often have good scalability wherein the difficulty adjusts based on the number of players.


Game: Marvel Champions, the card game (a recent addition to my collection; the expansions are worth it). 


“Multi-Handed” solo are games that were not meant for solo but you decide to play as 2 independent players. Usually these are competive games and will require some mental acrobatics. The results of your games will be you losing and winning at the same time. However, the objective of doing this is not winning per se but the mere act of playing. If you have a lot of PvP (player versus player) games in your collection then can consider doing this to give these games some attention.


Game: Lord of the Rings, Trading Card Game by Decipher (I found a fan-made solo rules. So, I took this oldy-but-goody from hibernation).


“Solo Variants” are games designed for multi-player but requires a little bit of tweaking before you can play it solo. This may require you to remove or add certain gaming components or adjust game mechanics. Some manufacturers release games with a solo variant already designed and mentioned in the rulebook (like Roll Player) and this is what I call “Designed Solo Variants”. While there are games that do not officially come with a solo variant rule but a fan decided to tweak the game to make it solo-able (such as Marvel Legendary Deck Building and Star Wars LCG), which I classify as “Fan-Made Solo Variants”. For fan-made solo variants, you can look for the rules in Board Game Geek or YouTube.


Game: D&D Legend of Drizzt (nice dungeon crawl; a little weak on scalability that's why I usually play with two heroes).


Finally, there are a small number of games that were specifically designed for solo gaming only. These are meant to be played by one player, and one player only (such as Unbroken). Try these out but if you want your games to be flexible for multiplayer games then you may want to choose the right “Solo Only” for your collection.



Short answer, it depends.

While there are tons of “Top X Solo Games” all over the internet, I wouldn’t rely on them so much. It’s not that some games are good or bad but it boils down to a matter of personal preference. For example, I played One Deck Dungeon and Roll Player which usually lands high on “Top X” lists but I did not develop a long-term fondness for these games. Both games have pretty good mechanics but I didn’t find them exciting for solo. The final word I have about choosing a game for your solo gaming is “follow your taste”.

Here are a few things you may want to consider when choosing your solo game:


Game: Legend of Dragonholt (I have strong preference for story-driven games).


Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (each of these scenarios offer their own variation to the gameplay).


The beautiful thing about solo gaming is you can choose whatever you like and what suits your budget.


Here’s a few suggestions on how to have maximize your enjoyment playing solo board games:


  Game: Lord of the Rings, the card game (with a 20-25% win ratio, I decided to keep track of my failures and successes).




Game: Arkham Horror, the card game (I tend to get lost in the narrative; perfect for long weekends and Holiday breaks).


Solo board gaming is a valid playing option, especially for the busy gamers. If video games no longer entertain you, then consider tabletop games. Consider solo gaming as a therapy as well, a way to relax and just be with yourself being yourself.

Happy (solo) gaming!