17 Best Solo Board Games to Play Alone in 2020
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Have you ever tried playing a board game alone? Or are you thinking about trying?
Maybe you are fond of solo-play, and are looking for the best solo board games?
If so, then you have landed on the right page. In this post, we share with you 17 of the best solo board games that you can play alone this year.
Whether you play in groups or by yourself, you can benefit from playing board games. So before we present our list, let’s discuss the benefits of playing alone.
What You Will Learn
- What are the benefits of playing alone?
- Best Solo Board Games to Play Alone
- 1. Gloomhaven
- 2. Scythe
- 3. Terraforming Mars
- 4. Arkham Horror: The Card Game
- 5. Eldritch Horror
- 6. Tiny Epic Galaxies
- 7. Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
- 8. Onirim
- 9. Mage Knight
- 10. A Feast for Odin
- 11. Wingspan
- 12. Viticulture
- 13. Spirit Island
- 14. Gaia Project
- 15. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
- 16. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures
- 17. This War of Mine
What are the benefits of playing alone?
It develops your sense of independence and individuality. Playing alone is one way to tell yourself that you can be happy and content on your own. It teaches you not to depend on others to keep you entertained and distracted. Consequently, it gives you a sense of social liberation and helps you feel comfortable no matter where you are.
It boosts your imagination and creativity. Board games are born from their creators’ imaginations. And when you play them, they also expand your imagination and bring out the creativity in you. It can sometimes takes a lot of independence and solo time to tap into the potential of your thoughts and resourcefulness. There are no other people to tell you what to do, so you are forced to think and come up with creative yet effective solutions to problems.
It helps calm and relax your mind and body. People often play board games to relieve whatever stress they are feeling at the moment. In fact, board games have been proven by science to reduce stress and anxiety. If you play alone, you are able to relieve your stress without any added performance anxiety from having others around.
It makes you feel more comfortable about being alone. There are some people who think that they cannot do anything alone. They have a strong sense of dependence on others, and being alone makes them feel unwanted and insecure. Playing board games can be a stepping-stone toward independence for these people. It can be a gentle way to build their confidence and slowly take away their dependence on others.
Now that you’ve read the benefits of playing solo, it’s time to see the best choices when it comes to solo board games. Let’s get to them!
Best Solo Board Games to Play Alone
Gloomhaven is the perfect choice for those who want a “choose your own adventure” type of game. It is designed for one to four players, so it is ideal for both solo or cooperative gaming. The manufacturer describes it as “a game of Euro-inspired tactical combat in a persistent world of shifting moves.”
In this game, you assume the role of an adventurer wandering through one of the darkest corners of the world, called Gloomhaven. You have a special set of skills, which you must use to defeat monstrous beasts and survive frightening dungeons and ancient ruins. As you go on with your journey, you enhance your abilities, discover new locations, and learn to make wise decisions to determine how the story continues.
You have to choose two cards to play out of your hand for every turn. The number on the top card determines your initiative for a specific round. Every card has a top and bottom power, and you can choose whether to use either the top power of one card and the bottom power of the other, or vice versa.
This game involves a “persistent and changing world,” so it can be played many times without getting repetitive. You can play it by yourself or with your friends—either way, your strategy is most important. If you fail to devise an effective strategy, you might lose all your cards without accomplishing your mission and winning the game.
This is an excellent option for fans of the Roaring ’20s (or the “Jazz Age”), but with a little twist. As the manufacturer says, it is an “alternate history” that enlivens the time of “farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, and innovation and valor.” It reflects a time when Europe was dealing with the aftermath of the First Great War.
In this game, you take the role of a fallen leader seeking to restore your honor and lead your faction to its former power and glory. You do this by conquering territories, enlisting new recruits, reaping new resources, recruiting villagers, building structures, and activating mechs around the center called “The Factory.”
You begin the game by using different resources, including power, coins, popularity, and combat. Starting positions are available based on the faction of your choice. Each player has a hidden objective card, and they also draw encounter cards to continue boosting their builds. This means that the game requires strategy more than luck.
Scythe may be played by one to five people. It is the perfect game for parties and reunions with friends or family, but it can also provide a good dose of ”me” time if you are the introvert gaming type.
If you ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut or a NASA employee, this is a game that can make that come true. Imagine you are in the year 2400 and Earth is overrun, so you have to find a new planet to live on. Mankind unites and large corporations began to terraform Mars as an alternative.
In this game, you take the role of a corporation contributing to the terraforming process. Your goal is to start projects that will balance the temperature, oxygen level, and ocean coverage on Mars until it becomes habitable. Victory points are given for every contribution you offer to the process, for every bit of advanced human infrastructure you donate, and for each commendable thing you provide.
Terraforming Mars may be played by one to five people. If played by many, it is a combination of a cooperative and competitive game. You and the other players strive to make the Red Planet habitable, but you also compete to get the highest number of victory points by the end of the game.
Arkham Horror is a great solo-play board game for those who love horror and suspense. It is another 1920s-based game based around H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. The goal is to keep the dark entities (called “Ancient Ones”) that are lurking around the city of Arkham from dominating the world.
This game is designed for one to two players only, with an option to have four players divided in a set of two. There are sixteen cards representing investigators who have unique sets of talents, including predefined strengths and weaknesses. You take the role of one of them to unravel the mysteries and conspiracies at work in the city of Arkham.
Before beginning the game, one of the eight Ancient Ones is chosen for the investigators to defeat. While playing, you have to upgrade your investigator character by acquiring skills, finding allies, raising items, and doing other things. Upgrading your character and making wise decisions are the keys to successfully solving the mysteries and driving away the Ancient Ones.
As mentioned above, this can be a solo-play board game or a cooperative one. If you are in the mood to solve mysteries on your own, you can play it solo. But if you want to experience the thrill with your friends, you can invite them to have game night and solve the mysteries behind the Arkham Horror.
Eldritch Horror is recommended if you want an upgraded version of Arkham Error. If you are tired of roleplaying as an investigator in New England, then this game expands your investigation to the whole world. The goal is the same—to defeat an Ancient One—but on an international level.
Since the two games are basically the same, the rules are somewhat similar. However, Eldritch Horror seems to offer more features since the setting is broader. Here, you defeat more and stronger monsters, and you get the chance to travel to other places. Your primary objective is to prevent the awakening of one of the Ancient Ones.
Similar to Arkham Horror, this game may be played solo or cooperatively. In this version, there can be as many as eight players. You all have the same goal, and strategy is key to attaining victory.
If you are a fan of galaxies and other celestial bodies, you will probably enjoy this solo-play board game. The gameplay revolves around ruling and controlling a galactic empire while aiming to expand your popularity and influence. You do this by obtaining heavily contested planets and growing your cosmic armada.
The game has a dice-rolling combo mechanic—the strength of your galaxy determines the number of dice you get to roll, and each die has a symbol that represents the actions you can take. These include moving spaceships, advancing political or economic influence, and increasing culture or energy resources.
You can take available actions in whichever way you deem to be beneficial. But you need to be careful, as your opponents may react to the actions you take. In the end, your strategy could backfire on you.
This game relies both on luck and strategic skills. It also hones your leadership attributes and decision-making abilities. It’s the perfect solo-play board game to develop your cognitive skills.
This is a wonderful addition to your collection if you are a die-hard fan of Lord of the Rings. Your chance to lead Middle Earth out of chaos and defeat the darkness has come. The goal, of course, is to prevent the Dark Lord Sauron from completing his power and forces before he casts the shadow that will lead to eternal pain and suffering.
The game is designed for one to two people only, with an option to have up to four players divided into two sets. Each player chooses three heroes and a deck of allies, events, and attachments to support them in achieving quests and fighting enemies.
As with any other game, it is important to have a strategy and decide whether it is more important to attack and defend or complete a quest. This is because, as you exhaust yourself (your cards) in fighting and questing, your options become insufficient to deal with the possible damage you could suffer. You have to be careful with your every move in order to defeat Sauron and protect your land.
Lord of the Rings: The Card Game was the first-ever living card game (LCG). Every month, the manufacturer releases new adventure packs, heroes, and scenarios. If you want to make playing board games an ongoing hobby (whether for you alone or the entire family), we recommend trying this one out.
This is the perfect choice for those who want a maze-style game. In Onirim, you get to navigate a mysterious labyrinth and avoid meandering nightmares as you roam and wander in search of freedom.
The goal of this game is to discover the oneiric doors that can set you free from the labyrinth before time (your cards) run out. There are eight door cards you need to gather, and you can acquire them by playing cards of the same color three turns in a row. Under specific and special circumstances, you can discard one of your most powerful key cards to obtain a door card.
It may sound easy and simple, but you still need to have a strategy. Your gameplay will determine your fate against the 10 nightmare cards, which are all hidden in the deck. These cards trigger problems that may block your way to freedom if you do not play wisely.
Onirim may be a solo board game, or a cooperative one. It can be played by one to two people, but you only play as one character. It has around 10 to 15 minutes playtime, and is suitable for adults and children ages 10 and above.
9. Mage Knight
If you ever dreamed of becoming a mage full of wisdom or a knight in a strong armor—or both, for that matter—this board game is certainly a good way to live that dream. Mage Knight satisfies your thirst for a combination of RPG (roleplaying game), deck-building, and traditional board games while set in the universe of the Mage Knight.
There are four powerful Mage Knights in the Mage Knight universe that are controlled by the Atlantean Empire. In this board game, you are to take the role of one of these knights to explore and conquer powerful cities and restore the empire’s former glory. You do this by filling your deck with powerful magical spells and actions and exploring dangerous caves and dungeons.
Mage Knight may be a solo or cooperative game. You can claim the lands with the help of your friends, or rule the universe on your own. Interestingly, it can also be a competitive game. While you and your friends may become powerful allies, only one Mage Knight can claim the land, so it is up to your strategy who gains victory at the end of the game.
10. A Feast for Odin
A Feast for Odin may be an excellent choice for those who want a saga-like adventure in the form of a board game. It is designed for one to four players, and suitable for both solo and cooperative gaming. It was created and developed by acclaimed designer Uwe Rosenberg, and was the grand winner of the Cardboard Republic Daredevil Laurel award.
In this game, you assume the role of a tribe ruler who commands his band of Vikings to hunt, raid, trade, plunder, and pillage. Your goal is to explore new territories and increase your wealth and glory. At the same time, you do daily tasks and activities to provide food for the Vikings. Basically, you lead the tribe to produce resources that you can trade or sell to acquire more valuable resources.
When you play this game, you have to be wary of the tile sizes, as they are not all the same. Ensure that your tiles are placed strategically so you have plenty of room to adjust to your tribe’s wealth and basic necessities. For cooperative gaming, the Viking chieftain who accumulates the greatest possessions shall be the winner.
If you want to experience the Viking way of life, we recommend trying out this game. It has 30 to 120 minutes of gameplay, which makes it suitable for any type of gaming, whether solo or cooperative.
Wingspan is a great game for bird lovers. It is a “competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game” that is perfect for those who are enthusiastic about the different kinds of birds. It is designed for one to five players, with 40 to 70 minutes playing time.
In this game, you act as a bird enthusiast (researcher, ornithologist, collector, or a mere bird watcher) and try to find ways to attract the best birds to your aviary. Each bird then provides a powerful combination that contributes to your habitats. These habitats serve as actions that focus on three aspects of growth.
The three aspects of growth include gaining food tokens through custom dice, laying eggs and using them for several functions, and drawing from hundreds of unique bird cards. The game has four rounds, and whoever has the most points at the end is the winner.
According to reviews, Wingspan is somewhat similar to Terraforming Mars. If you enjoyed that game, you might also enjoy Wingspan. In particular, if you are a bird lover who likes playing solo board games, then this is a perfect fit.
If you ever fantasized about owning a vineyard or winery, then this is the game for you. Viticulture is a game that is great either for solo play or cooperative gaming. It is designed for one to six players, with 45 to 90 minutes of gameplay. It contains 154 cards, including Mama cards, Papa cards, and Automa cards.
The game is set in pre-modern Tuscany, where vineyards and wineries were very popular. You have inherited a vineyard with a few plots of land, and your job is to build the best winery in Italy. To do that, you have to complete a series of tasks like planting vines, building structures, and filling wine orders. You have workers and visitors that can help you finish these tasks during different seasons.
Viticulture is suitable for both solo gamers and partners. If you are looking for something light and easy, then we recommend checking this game out.
13. Spirit Island
We recommend this board game for those who love magic, spirits, and all things supernatural. Although it is specifically designed to be a cooperative game, it can also be thrilling and fun when played alone. Most reviewers agree that it is a good game whether played alone or with a group.
In Spirit Island, your ultimate goal is to defend your home island from the invaders who want to colonize it. There are tons of spirits to choose from, and you take the role of one of them. Each spirit possesses a unique power and ability, and you have to use them strategically so you don’t lose lots of energy.
While playing this game, you may choose how to use your energy. You can reclaim used power cards, seek new power, or spread your manifestation into new island areas. As a spirit, you have to plan your strategy well to keep the invaders from conquering the island.
This game is highly replayable since the rules can change depending on whom the invaders are. As the game progresses, the level of difficulty can vary as well. If you are up for a challenging, meaningful board game experience, try Spirit Island.
14. Gaia Project
Gaia Project is highly recommended for those who are fond of playing galactic-themed board games. It is the follow-up game of the critically acclaimed Terra Mystica, and is meant to be an improved expansion of the series. It has the same action system, and the setting is in a futuristic universe.
The game provides 14 different factions, and you have to choose which one to lead. Each faction has its own unique set of powers and abilities, so it is important to align your strategy with your strengths and weaknesses. There is also a specific planet or environment where each faction feels most comfortable.
The normal game can be played alone, but there is another version that is better suited for solo players. If you are playing by yourself, your goal is to find a new home instead of competing for the most number of points.
Robinson Crusoe is not just ideal for cooperative play, but also for solo games. It can be played by one to four players, ages 14 years old and above, and has around 60 to 120 minutes of gameplay. This board game is an excellent choice for those who like adventures and exploration.
In this game, you take the role of a castaway on a deserted island. Your goal is to build a shelter, eliminate potential dangers, and survive until the end. There are seven different scenarios you can choose from, and the game offers an immersive storytelling experience no matter what scenario you use. You may also choose from four different characters—cook, carpenter, explorer, and soldier—each with their own unique abilities.
Robinson Crusoe is considered to be one of the best RPGs out there. It has received several awards for its stunning artwork and detailed rulebook. If you are looking for a game that won’t disappoint, then you should check this one out.
This game is perfect for couples and groups, but can also be played solo if you want longer gameplay. It is an excellent option for Sherlock Holmes fanatics who would love to role play as the infamous detective.
What is unique about this board game is that each case takes around two hours to solve and finish. They may last even longer than that if you have a hard time connecting the dots. There are 10 crimes you need to solve, so do not expect to finish everything in just one sitting.
Note that this game involves a lot of reading, so if you are not too fond of reading and solving mystery cases, then it might not be the right fit. Your goal is to solve each crime and arrive at a major conclusion to find the culprit. You will be reading newspapers, interviewing suspects and witnesses, and connecting details that lead you to the perpetrator.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and all its expansions is a game that involves using your mind. If you want to test your investigative and deductive reasoning skills, then this is a great option.
17. This War of Mine
This War of Mine is an excellent choice for those who are fond of playing survival games. It is the board game adaptation of the award-winning video game bearing the same name, and has both multiplayer features and a solo variation. The game’s story revolves around a group of people trapped inside a war-torn city.
In this game, you play as a member of a group of civilians. Your goal is to survive and avoid dying of hunger or sickness. The items you collect include medicine and food to help you last.
If you are looking for something new, fun, and exciting, you may want to try this board game. It has 45 to 120 minutes of gameplay, and is most suitable for players 18 years old and above.
- Game is 100% unpredictable—you will never know what will happen next.
- The overall mood of the game provides a realistic survival of the fittest vibe.
- The rules are not confusing, and can be easy to learn and understand.
- Some people report that it takes way more than 120 minutes to finish the game.
- May be played as a cooperative game, but customers do not recommend it be played by a team.
Playing alone doesn’t have to be as lonely and boring as you might think. A little “me” time is healthy for everyone, so we recommend playing board games alone once in awhile. Give these games a try and see for yourself how relaxing this hobby can be.
Have you tried one or more of the games we mentioned above? We’d like to know which one! Share your thoughts in the comment fields below and tell us about your favorites!