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9 Best Solo Board Games to Play Alone in 2020 - Happier Human

9 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 9 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 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

1. Gloomhaven

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.

Pros

  • The game is story-driven and has longevity.
  • Unique card system, as you get to choose between top and bottom during your move.
  • The game mechanics are simple and easy to understand.

Cons

  • Some customers report that it takes a long time to set up.
  • Missions and challenges are quite repetitive, which decreases the excitement level.
  • Story longevity reduces the game’s replayability.

2. Scythe

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.

Pros

  • Highly rewarding because you get to construct long-term strategies.
  • Territory control is backed by resource control, making it more challenging.
  • The combat system is a huge plus for the gameplay.

Cons

  • Has complex game mechanics, which can be difficult for very young children.
  • Story longevity gives the game low replayability.
  • Solo play is only recommended once you get a good grasp of the game.

3. Terraforming Mars

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.

Pros

  • Game theme and story is well written.
  • There is a balance between card play and board play.
  • A new strategy is needed every time you repeat the game.

Cons

  • First-time players might find it hard to grasp the gameplay.
  • Some customers have reported low-quality card and board materials.
  • Playtime takes longer than expected (manufacturer says it’s around 90-120 minutes).

4. Arkham Horror: The Card 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.

Pros

  • There is variety in the investigator characters.
  • The game story is easy to learn and understand.
  • High replayability because there are several possible endings.

Cons

  • Set up might get confusing; takes too long to officially start.
  • Rules are quite long and require deep comprehension.
  • Luck plays a big part in planning your strategic goals.

5. Eldritch 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.

Pros

  • Has a fun, thematic gameplay and excellent game components.
  • Has the ability to keep players interested the whole time.
  • Conditions cards are a huge plus to the game’s mechanics.

Cons

  • Some reports say that it is only good for up to six players (but it’s still great to play solo!).
  • Low on character development, with limited character upgrades.
  • The game can last for hours and become a little boring when there are many players.

6. Tiny Epic Galaxies

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.

Pros

  • Doesn’t take up a lot of space in your travel bag, so you can take it anywhere.
  • Has relatively deep gameplay, but is easy to learn.
  • Has high replayability.

Cons

  • Some customers report that it is more of a luck-based game than a strategy-based one.
  • Game materials are not of high quality.
  • Planets with low value are often not useful to help you win.

7. Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

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.

Pros

  • Design and gameplay really provides a LOTR feeling.
  • Playing it solo is as good as playing it with a partner.
  • Has a nice storyline and game flow that is easy to understand.

Cons

  • Can cost you some money, since it is a living card game.
  • Owning only the base game and not the expansion packs will be less satisfying.
  • You need two sets of the base game to play it with two or more players.

8. Onirim

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.

Pros

  • One of the best time filler games—you can finish it in 10-15 minutes.
  • The base game, without the expansion sets, is unique and satisfying on its own.
  • The rules are simple and easy to understand.

Cons

  • The solo mode is not as challenging as the cooperative one.
  • Too much shuffling is involved, which might age the cards easily.
  • Some customers report that they are not big fans of the game’s artwork.

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.

Pros

  • High replayability, since there are tons of ways the game can end.
  • Game components are made of high-quality materials, and the design is great.
  • Good game, whether played in solo mode, cooperative mode, or competitive mode.

Cons

  • The game has many rules that are hard to remember.
  • Reference guide (rules) are wordy and too long.
  • The game can be long and boring if played by more than one person.

Conclusion

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!

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