I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy solo games. There’s just something about a tactile, mentally challenging experience which video games or TV cannot provide. I’ve always felt like I alone in SA but recently I’ve been finding more and more solo players; the local stock of Friday sold out before I could even get a copy!. So I thought I’d put together a bit of a guide for solo gamers.
Where to begin?
I guess the most logical place would, at first glance, be with games. However I think a better place would be with communities. Having a community that shares a hobby helps you to uncover aspects of it that you missed or refine things that you need help with. Personally I’ve found the solo gamer communities to be very welcoming and inclusive, which is kind of odd because it’s all about playing games alone.
First off I’d like to recommend the 1 player guild or 1PG at BGG. It’s the 2nd largest guild on BGG and its constantly growing. It’s also the friendliest place that I have found on the geek. Everyone is welcome and there’s very rarely any disputes. Topics discussed are not just about games, a lot of people consider it a safe space to share personal things and others often give advice and support.
The guild is about gaming though and by far the main attraction is the SGOYT list. Solo Games On your Table. It’s a list that everyone adds too as they play games during the given month. Updates are like mini reviews or play a through. It gives you insights into games that you might have missed and can spark discussions on various games. There’s always something that I’ve never seen before, some gem that’s too small to make it main stream.
One of the guild members has been kind enough to create an SGOYT aggregator. It’s a site that pulls data from the SGOYT list and provides it in an easy to consume format. You can see what games are popular in a given month or year or you can find even more niche games in this niche corner of the hobby.
I’ve recently found a FB group that’s all about solo gaming. It’s also a friendly place to join with lots of chatter. In case you’re wondering the groups are not cross sections of each other. A large portion of the Solo Boardgamers group have never heard of the 1PG and vice versa. I’ve found a few South Africans hiding in there 😉
Another interesting FB group is Miniature Boardgames. It’s not really solo games but it’s kind of a sister group. It’s heavily biased towards miniature gaming though. So be warned.
The last FB group that I’d like to recommend is the Solitaire Wargames group. This group is dedicated to wargames, not miniature games but hex and counter or card games that are playable solo. I’m not very heavily invested in wargames, yet. It’s not for lack of trying though, we just don’t get enough of them locally. I’d rather spend my money locally than directly importing, even if it’s more expensive.
Be warned, all of these groups will make your wallet cry.
If you search you will find a plethora of information on solo gaming. From dedicated blogs to podcasts and YouTube channels. I recommend the following.
1 Player Podcast– it’s a podcast from the creator of the 1PG. Albert is a really nice guy (based on my conversations with him)
Radho Runs Through– I’m sure you know Radho already, most people do. What they don’t realise is that in the majority of his videos he is playing solo. Play as 2 players is a thing. I’m not keen on it but it works and I’ve enjoyed his series.
There’s quite a bunch more but you can find some of them here, others you are going to have to find yourself J
What about the games?
So what to play? Well if you’re just starting out with board games then I’d recommend having a look at the Orinim series of games, and if you can find a copy Friday. Last years hit games Scythe and Terraforming Mars both have great solo options and have received nominations and awards in the 2016 BGG awards. I’d say that they are medium to heavy games.
If you want a heavy game then Mage Knight is really good. It’s very heavy and can be quite polarising though. A hot new game to watch out for is Gloomhaven. It’s not been released locally yet but it’s currently all the rage.
Check out the aggregator for other games to look at.