“All by myself. Don’t wanna be all by myself anymore.” It’s like Celine Dion was writing a song about the pandemic. I guess most people would say they are ready to get back to a game table and play with their normal game group. However, even when things are normal, getting together with your game group isn’t always possible, so having a couple games that have a great solo play is well worth the investment! No matter what your reasons are for playing solo, whether it be a new baby keeping you home, no one to challenge your amazing skills, or you just want to play a game by yourself, here are three games that work just as well solo as they do multiplayer.
Marvel is everywhere. Movies, tv, toys, waffle makers, beard combs (I wouldn’t make these up), and of course, board games. There are a ton of marvel themed games out there, but Marvel Champions, an LCG (living card game) from Fantasy Flight, is one of the newest and most popular ones around. In Marvel Champions you choose your favorite hero and battle against a villain and their scheme…just like in the movies.
You can choose to play as characters like Black Panther, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man or Iron Man in the core box, not to mention the other villains and heroes available as expansions as is typical in the LCG format. Then you give your hero an aspect like justice, leadership, aggression or protection, and create a deck using the main hero cards and those of the chosen aspect. Every time you play you can choose a different combination of heroes and aspects, which gives this game a lot of variability.
Next, you create your deck and choose the villain you will attempt to defeat. Each villain can use multiple different schemes to try to defeat the heroes. The players will use items, allies, and locations in order to do damage to the villain and henchmen that arise throughout the game. Just as in the comics or movies, the villain will throw everything at their disposal at the heroes while simultaneously trying to complete their nefarious goals.
Players must use their resources wisely. Each hero has a special ability, both when they are used in their secret identity as well as when they are in hero form. Each card in the player’s hand can be used for its ability, or as a resource to play another card. Balancing which cards to use for the ability and which cards to use for resources is the crux of the player’s turn. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a great card in order to play a different one that is needed in that moment.
The only difference between the solo and multi-player games is that the other player cannot play cards that might aid you on your turn. Beyond that it plays almost identically, making this a great solo game that you can also bring to your friend’s house and play multi-player.
Twice as Clever
Just a few years ago roll and write games were all the rage and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Twice as Clever, the successor to That’s Clever and precursor to Clever Cubed, is one of my favorites. It plays relatively quickly, is easy to understand, and the solo version doesn’t add too many additional steps or rules, so if you know how to play multi-player, you know how to play solo.
In all of the Clever series of games the gameplay is the same. One player rolls a set of multi-colored dice and selects one to keep and immediately marks off a space in the section on their player sheet of the same color. Any dice of a lower number than the chosen die is set aside, and the player then rolls again. This continues until the player has selected three dice and marked off corresponding spaces. Then every other player may choose one of the not chosen dice to use on their player sheet. Play continues until every player has had a certain number of turns based on player count.
It may not sound exciting, but I’ve got one word for you that might just make you smile: combos. This game is chock-full of combos. In every section on the player sheet there are rules for how and where you can check off boxes with the chosen dice. In addition to that, though, you’ve got bonuses that are awarded when you mark off a certain space or set of spaces. Some of those bonuses allow you to mark off spaces in other sections, which could then allow you to mark off spaces in another section, which could then…you get the picture. It doesn’t always happen that you trigger multiple bonuses on your turn, but when you do it just feels so good, like you’ve accomplished something major, maybe even a bucket list item. Ok, maybe not that major, but it still feels good. Triggering just one of those cascading bonuses in a game makes me want to immediately play again.
As I said before, the solo game is super simple. In between each of your turns you roll all 6 dice and set aside the lowest three dice. Then you can choose one of those three dice and check off a box on your sheet. That’s it, nothing else. You aren’t playing against another opponent, but instead you are trying to reach certain point levels so you can claim you are “Twice as clever!”
Viticulture Essential Edition
Have you ever dreamt of being a vintner, a viticulturist, a oenologist or some other word I would have to look up? Have you spent hours daydreaming about planting vines, harvesting grapes, and then turning them into your very own vintage? Yeah…me neither. That sounds like too much work to me. I’ll just drink some wine while I’m playing one of the best mid-weight worker placement games: Viticulture. Viticulture is the heaviest and oldest game on this list, but it is still readily available and incredibly awesome.
In Viticulture, you own a winery and are trying to produce the best wine to meet the needs of your customers. The game is broken down into the seasons of the year, and each year you get a certain number of workers that may only be used in one season. Like in real life, certain tasks are only available at certain times of the year. Each season you must plan out your moves so that you can accomplish what you want to accomplish by the end of the year.
Each spot on the board allows the players to carry out specific actions like planting new vines, harvesting grapes, converting grapes into wine and, of course, selling wine to customers. The first player to go to a location typically gets a bonus. In addition to worker placement, players must manage a hand of cards including vines, visitors and order cards. Vine cards allow you to grow your vineyard, visitor cards give you one-time abilities, and order cards allow you to sell wine, earning you income and victory points. All in all, Viticulture simulates winemaking in a way that is very enjoyable and yet not so detailed that you need to know anything about the economics of running your own winery.
The Automa opponent in the solo game works quite simply. In the two main seasons you draw an Automa card and place meeples according to what it says. Those spaces are not available to you for that season. It’s as simple as that. You simply need to score more points than the Automa by the end of 7 years. Do that and you are the best wine maker in the world!
So, if you like to have some flexibility in your game collection allowing you to play with groups as well as on your own, I recommend you check out these games. Lets all play alone together!
We would love to know about your favorite soloable multi-player games. Share them below and suggest a great game shelf staple for someone else.