If you can be alone in a crowd, can you be in good company board gaming solo?

ICON 2016

This past year (and a bit) I’ve been running this blog as a kind of self help to get over the fact that life gets in the way of living and to do more of the things that I love. In this case it’s playing games. Not digital games but table top games. In that regard it’s been a huge success. I’ve got a South African board games distributor sending me games to review. I have 3 semi regular games nights per week and I’ve found a love of playing games by myself.

A lot of people that  know me would say I’m an extrovert and I’m always up for playing some games. Almost always. It’s usually a social affair, with some drinks and food and lots and lots of laughs. In fact being social was one of my main reasons for playing games. Even when I boot up my xbox I’m usually sharing a whiskey with some friends from all around the country.

It’s generally looked down upon

Last week I read a post on Board Game etiquette over on CarboardQuest. It’s an excellent site and I read it often I even chat with the authors a fair bit, great bunch of guys that I’m looking forward to sitting across the table from. However there was something in one of the posts that actually got under my skin. Punishment for a breach of etiquette was something along the lines of being rewarded with links to the Top Ten Solo Board Games on BGG. I know it’s just a joke but it did get under my skin for a few seconds. You see I’m a solo gamer.

That’s right I play board games on my own.

Solo Gaming
Sometimes I play solo games while waiting for others. Other time I play solo games because I want to.

In some groups that I’m part of, the idea is frowned at or even looked down upon. I don’t understand why. I understand that some people are of the opinion that it’s just easy to play video game than to setup a table for one but why is it seen as a bad thing?

People go fishing alone, they read alone, or watch TV alone, that’s acceptable. Even doing a Crossword or playing Sudoku is fine but board games are looked down upon.

Solo gaming is on the rise

I don’t think that attitude will continue for much longer though. Solo gaming is growing. There’s an increasing number of 1 player games that are available. Kickstarter campaigns are either having solo support from the word go or adding it in as a later stretch goal. Game designers are noticing that people want to play board games on their own and they are catering for them.

There’s also a guild on BGG for solo gamers. The 1 Player Guild. It’s the 3rd largest guild on BGG and it’s been active for 5 years. I found it by accident earlier this year and since then my activity on BGG has gone up in leaps and bounds. It’s a great place with lots of friendly people all brimming with advice on how to go broke buying games 😉

Through the guild I’ve found blogs and a podcast and YouTube channels that embrace solo board games. I love it.

Solo Gaming
Viticulture has a Automa for solo play. I recommend playing on the Hard difficulty.

Why do I play solo games?

It started off as a means to do something while everyone is busy. The kids have homework and Pria always has something to do in the afternoons. This year she is studying. Since I don’t want to distract anyone with anything noisy I started playing solo board games.

Then I found myself enjoying the games and I was on the look out for more and more of them. Sometimes it’s just a quick, fun push your luck kind of game, other times it’s some serious mental exercise that can be heavier than playing against other people.

Now with the guild, I’m playing alone but with other people. There’s monthly challenges that people setup and others try to beat. I take part in the Rallyman cup. It’s actually a lot of fun. I wish I had the time (and the games) to join in a few of the other challenges.

Solo Gaming
X-com is tough solo, very tough. Winning is rewarding though.

Going forward….

I’m sure that some of you have noticed a “How does it play solo?” section in some of my more recent reviews. I intend in keeping that up. I’m going to put a solo gaming slant on things. I’ll be updating my older reviews with solo musings where I can.

I’ve got an icon SoloD6  that I’m going to add to the game index to denote solo games. I’m also going to try to get my hands on some purely solo games. I know that will most likely mean importing them myself but if there’s no other way to get them then it’s what I’ll have to do.

The main thing I’m going to do is keep playing by myself. If you’re wondering about my heard image, there’s 2 solo games there that I have recently collected.

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4 thoughts on “If you can be alone in a crowd, can you be in good company board gaming solo?

  1. Great Article Luke! We’d love to have a game around the table with you. Apologies for the inference regarding solo games, and it was never an intention writing that to infer that solo gaming is a punishment as I’m quite fond of my Automa Viticulture play throughs! It was possibly a poor choice of dramatic hyperbole to show social disapproval than to knock the Solo Gamer.

    Let us know more details about the Rallyman Cup as I’ve never heard of this at all and sounds intriguing. Solo gaming should never be frowned upon as its a great way to challenge yourself to beat the system and often allows for a greater understanding on a completely different level of a Title.

    Congrats on the Blog, its definitely one of our favourite local ones!

    Stuart & the CBQ Team

    1. No stress Stuart! I understood that it was a joke, it just took me a few second to laugh at myself 🙂

      I’ll get you some info on the Rallyman Cup, it’s actually pretty cool.

  2. A great article! My favourite aspect about this hobby is the social interaction and camaraderie of playing with a group, but in those off nights – there is nothing like a GOOD solo game to pass the time or engage your mind and release your imagination. I read your “How does it play solo?” segment with interest as it could often be the deciding factor between purchasing game or not.

    1. Thanks Albert!

      I have to say, I’m an impulsive shopper. I often buy games without researching them first. Just seeing that it caters for solo play bumps it up a notch in my eyes.

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