5 Board Games with Amazing Solo Modes
My partner is into amateur dramatics. The group she is a part of perform one show a year in a theatre near us, and so every Wednesday night in winter she disappears off for rehearsals. This, as a board gamer, presents me with a bit of a dilemma. I love board games, and board games are usually a multi-person activity. If my partner has gone – then what do I do?
Well, lonesome Luke tends to then do one of two things. He tends to either watch Sons of Anarchy or reach for a solo game.
Now, this is my partner’s third year with this amateur dramatics group (they really are very good!), and so I have spent the past couple of years building up games to play that are solo. These “Wednesday Night” games are games I have grown to love, and, if you are anything like me, you may enjoy them as well.
So, there is a caveat to this list in the above title. This list is a list of games that are multiplayer but that have solo modes of play. Some of these games (two out of five actually) are games I really enjoy playing solo more than multiplayer, and two are games that are freaking awesome multiplayer, but they have a solo mode as well. The final one has a multiplayer mode…but I have only ever played it solo.
Multiplayer Games with Awesome Solo Modes
Right, let’s kick this list off. Here are five multiplayer games that happen to have awesome solo modes.
Let’s start off with the two games that I prefer multiplayer but which have great solo modes nevertheless.
Scythe. There is a lot of love for this game on the web. There is a lot of love for Scythe on this blog. Scythe is my all time favourite game. It has so many facets to it that it just works every single time, and I love that.
One of the many reasons Scythe has done so well in the board game space is by making itself accessible to all kinds of players – whether you are a group of seven friends wanting a battle royale, or whether you are a solo player wanting to play against the machine.
Scythe, like with other Stonemaier games, comes with a Automa mode where a series of cards act as the opponent. Those cards are challenging and ensure a game that is both highly strategic and a little bit random. What the Scythe solo mode does is adds a new dynamic to the game where you have to work out this puzzle, whilst having an imposing threat loom down on you from afar, slowly getting closer.
All-in-all, Scythe is excellent no matter how many players. The solo mode adds something completely new, whilst also being the same Scythe we all love.
Scythe takes around 1hr 20 mins to play solo, but there is also around 20 minutes of set up to take into consideration.
Ahh, Welcome To… I love Welcome To…, even if I struggle to end a sentence with it because of the ellipsis.
Welcome To… is a draw and write game by Blue Cocker games that is worth looking at. Welcome To… is a game that can go from 1-100 players, where each turn a series of numbers and action pairings are drawn from a pile, only for the players to place one of them within three rows of houses. The player at the end, with the most points, wins.
Of course, it isn’t that simple. Rows can only have each number once, and the actions change how those numbers react to one another. It’s a fantastic little game that works with any number of players.
When playing solo, the game changes ever so slightly. The piles are changed in how they interact, and a card is put in the deck to denote when half-way through the game is. This changes the format of Welcome To… and kind of turns it into a soduku style puzzle, meeting with a race against the clock.
This is a completely different mode, and it takes around 20 minutes to play – maybe 30 minutes depending on how long you want to think about it.
The following games are games that I actually prefer playing solo, but that are multiplayer games.
This War of Mine
Now, the next two games on this list actually share a lot in common – most notably they share the fact that they are experiences. These are games that tell stories. Secondly, I just realised, they are both based on video games.
This War of Mine is an epic game, with a variable play time, in which it sees you control a group of survivors who are all trying to survive the Civil War of an unnamed country. You need to scavenge for supplies, find food, water, and make it through the winter. Characters will live, they will die, they will get depressed, they will get addicted to cigarettes, they will grow friendships and bonds. It is a truly remarkable game that does the Video Game justice. All-in-all, simply superb – human and well worth a play.
This is a game where the game doesn’t really change between playing it solo and with multiplayers. Instead, you find yourself playing all roles all the time, and that is absolutely fine. Solo, however, I have personally found it easier to sink into the story. It is easier to become lost in what is going on with your characters, and easier to react the way you think they will react.
I think This War of Mine is a superb story telling game that presents a true challenge. This War of Mine can take 40 minutes to 4 hours to play.
Fallout: The Board Game
The second story-telling RPG video-game-themed board game we have on this list is Fallout.
Oh Fallout. Fallout is a broken game, and there are a lot of mechanics that aren’t optimum for playing the game. The VATs system is terrible, the levelling system not hugely useful, and the exploration isn’t that interesting. That being said, Fallout has a charm to it. I find myself semi-regularly breaking it out to play through a mission.
So, Fallout has something that a lot of solo games tend to miss out on and that is charisma. If you are a fan of the Fallout game series (and you are also a fan of board games in general) then there is a high chance you will enjoy the board game because the theme is superb. There is a lot of randomness to the game, and leaving aside the VATs, you find yourself constantly smiling and laughing at the references. From the bad guys to the bottle caps, Fallout has it there.
Now, I am a big fan of the Fallout series. New Vegas, for me, is one of the pinnacles of gaming. Fallout 3 and 4 are also great games, and so I love the way the board game nods in their directions. The missions are fun and thematic. The board feels like the wasteland. There are a few mechanics that are less than polished, but because I am a fan of the series I can look past them. Whether you can or not is up to you.
Now, confession time – I have only played Fallout solo. My partner and gaming group don’t like the game series, so I am destined to play it solo. It takes around 2 hours to play.
The Bloody Inn
And now we come to the final game on this list – The Bloody Inn.
Regular readers of this blog won’t have heard me mention The Bloody Inn before as it is one of our newest card games – that being said, it is really good, and the solo mode is a fantastic puzzle.
So, what is the concept of The Bloody Inn? Well, the idea is that you run an inn. Every night characters will come to you to stay in your rooms – and this earns you a little bit of money. You earn more money however, if you team up with certain guests to kill other guests off instead, and this is where the game comes in.
Every night you can do two of a number of actions, and those include hiring a guest as an accomplice, killing a guest, burying a guest, or building an annex. What is more, there is this really enjoyable economic puzzle wrapped up in the game, meaning you have to balance your income accordingly, or else you will simply score 40 points as a maximum at the end of the game.
You can play The Bloody Inn in any number of ways, including as a pacifistic just building additional rooms in your inn, and that is what makes it really interesting. It is dark and macabre. When played with other people, it is excellent and can become darkly comic. When played solo it is a really enjoyable 20 minute puzzle.
The game length can vary as more cards are added, but I tend to keep it at 20 minutes.
And that is that – so there we have it – 5 multiplayer games that have brilliant solo modes. I recommend you check these “Wednesday Night” games out. In the meantime, what games would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.
You can read the full reviews to the games
mentioned in this article here:
This War of Mine