Everyone loves a good game night with friends, but there’s nothing more satisfying than a one-person game night when you’re enjoying some quiet time at home. Far from dull or lonely, the
best solo board games provide all the challenge and excitement of a multiplayer board game — minus the other players, of course. That means you get to play what you want when you want it — at your own pace, without social niceties or conflicts.
Most solo board games are designed to be
played with a friend or few, but offer the option for solitary play with some alterations. This makes these games a great way to practice gameplay on your own before trying them with others. As with any games, solo board games have a suggested age range, so make sure any intended players are old enough. You’ll also want to think about how long you’d like to play, as some games take a few minutes (or less) to play, while others can take hours.
Many people like their games simple and easy to set up, with just a deck of cards or a few game pieces. Plenty of others don’t mind taking the time to lay out a variety of boards, tokens, cards, and tiles. If you have the patience for a complicated setup, go for it — but if not, try to steer clear of anything with too many moving parts. Beyond the physical pieces of a game, you’ll also want to think about your preferred type of play. Do you like
intensive strategy, or creating a storyline? Do you want to play against the game, or against yourself? Do you prefer to play the same scenario over and over, or would you like to mix things up with expansion options? If you’re not sure, think about which games you've enjoyed in the past, and take it from there. In a hurry? Here are the best solo board games: 1. For True Solo Gamers: Friday 2. For RPG Enthusiasts: One Deck Dungeon 3. For People Who Like A Shorter Game: Onirim 4. For Strategic Thinkers: Terraforming Mars 5. For Anyone Who Loves Catan: Scythe 6. For True Board Game Fans: Mage Knight 7. For Word Game Aficionados: Boggle Classic Game
Regardless of your gaming needs, these incredible solo board games are sure to provide you with hours of fun — and you can play them all by yourself.
1 For True Solo Gamers: Friday Players: 1, aged 13+ Duration: 25 minutes
Unlike the other games on this list,
Friday is designed only as a solo game. That's right, it's not a multiplayer game with a solo play mode, it's just a one player game. That's how you know that a) you're playing the best (and only) version of the game when you're by yourself, and b) you never have to share it with anyone else. Ah, the joys of solitude!
In this deck building adventure, you play as a man named Friday. When Robinson Crusoe finds himself shipwrecked on your deserted island, you must help him survive the hazards of the island and fight murderous pirates. Life on the island is hard, and Crusoe's abilities change over time as he ages and encounters new dangers. You win when he defeats the pirates and is able to leave the island — but although the game is fairly simple, Amazon reviewers report that it's very difficult to win. They also report that the challenge keeps them coming back for more.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Very challenging, fun and addicting solo-only game. The scoring system is great since you'll be losing a lot - it lets you see your progress (or lack thereof, but I've improved every play so far). This is a great and affordable game to have in your collection." 2 For RPG Enthusiasts: One Deck Dungeon Players: 1-2, aged 14+ Duration: 30-45 minutes
What if you
could play Dungeons & Dragons by yourself, minus the role-playing, and still enjoy it? That’s essentially the concept of One Deck Dungeon, in which you explore a dungeon with a character you build up from scratch. As you make your way through the deck of cards, you’ll encounter enemies and other dangers to overcome, gaining experience points, items, or skills when you’re victorious. The difficulty scales up quickly and Amazon users report that it’s fun but difficult to beat. If your character survives for long enough, you’ll eventually have to fight a dragon. You can also play standalone games, or use the "campaign" feature to grow your character's skills and abilities over time as you play game after game.
Unlike many other games, One Deck Dungeon really is just one deck and some six-sided dice, which minimizes the amount of setup time it requires. You can play alone or with one friend, though it’s possible for more than two people to play if you purchase additional decks.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I loved EVERY MINUTE OF IT. It was challenging, but it really felt like my character was progressing with each battle I won. [...] The game definitely involves some luck, but with the right planning of increasing your stats and addition of new skills, you can give yourself an edge against some tough dice rolls. [...] I can't believe everything that came in the small box of 'One Deck Dungeon,' including the crazy amounts of fun and excitement with each card turn. Highly recommend." 3 For People Who Like A Shorter Game: Onirim Players: 1-2, aged 10+ Duration: 15 minutes
If you like board games but only have 15 minutes to spare,
Onirim’s your best bet. In the game, you use a series of cards to navigate the labyrinth of a dream, searching for an exit. To escape the labyrinth, you must find all eight doors before you run out of cards. But beware of Nightmare cards, which can thwart your efforts! With beautifully illustrated cards and seven expansion packs to add complexity and variety to gameplay, Onirim is a joy to play by yourself — but you can play cooperatively with another player if you’d like. Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Great game! [...] Far better than regular solitaire. Cute graphics. Good little story base. So many options with the added 8 expansion options. I’ve only ever played solo but I’m sure it would be plenty fun with others. It is very challenging even at the base game with the incubus to help. Easy enough to pick up. Highly recommend." 4 For Strategic Thinkers: Terraforming Mars Players: 1-5 Duration: 120 minutes Terraforming Mars is a game set in the future. You play as a corporation working to make Mars habitable for humans by raising the oxygen level, temperature, and ocean coverage. As the game progresses, you acquire the resources you need to accomplish these goals, collect income, fund projects, and advance human infrastructure throughout the solar system.
During gameplay, you acquire project cards that allow you to build cities, introduce plant life, or establish greenhouse gas industries to heat up the atmosphere. As you transform the planet, you place tiles to represent oceans, forests, and more. Playing solo, you’re tasked with successfully terraforming Mars in 14 rounds, but if you lose, it’s no hardship to try again — with more than 230 cards, you’ll find no shortage of unique projects to tackle. And if you really want to mix things up, you can invite up to four friends to play with you.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "If you enjoy strategy games - this is the bomb!! I even love playing the SOLO version! (same box) We keep a score card in the box so if others want to play solo we can compete that way as well! Super fun and the more you play - the better you get at it. Cannot say enough!" 5 For Anyone Who Loves Catan: Scythe Players: 1-5, aged 14+ Duration: 115 minutes
Set in a bleak steampunk version of 1920s Eastern Europe,
Scythe is like an edgier version of Catan. You play as a fallen leader attempting to restore your people to glory during a period of unrest — opposed by a rival represented by a deck of cards that essentially allows the game to play against you. You attempt to conquer territories, gather resources, and gain popularity, but your ultimate goal is to have more coins than your rival by the time one of you has completed six achievements in the game. This solo system is called “Automa” and can be set up for different levels of difficulty, but you can also play the game in groups of up to five players.
Scythe truly is a great solo game for anyone who enjoys the game mechanics of Catan but would like to be able to play alone or shake things up a bit. Like Catan, Scythe is an engine-building game, where players set up systems that continually produce resources. But in Scythe, basically everything you do, from building structures, employing recruits, and conquering land generates resources, money, and influence.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This is game is definitely one of a kind. Its a time commitment and complex with lots of variations. Would recommend for all the board game lovers out there who like Settlers of Catan but want something with more strategy and time commitment." 6 For True Board Game Fans: Mage Knight Players: 1-4, aged 14+ Duration: 1-4 hours
If you like RPGs,
deck building games, or traditional board games, you’ll be happy to know that Mage Knight has elements of all three. You play as a mage knight entering a land that is threatened by evil. In each round of the game, you explore an epic world, crawling dungeons, gaining fame, building armies, and conquering your enemies. The board game is extremely elaborate (240 cards, 196 tokens, and 20 map tiles are just some of the pieces that make up the game), which means it might be a little intimidating for beginners — but if you’re someone who frequently hosts game nights, Mage Knight offers hours and hours of unique and intellectual gameplay. And once you get really good at playing by yourself, you can even try pitting yourself against up to three friends.
Mage Knight has lots of replay value, but if you really want to mix things up, grab
the ultimate edition for the base game plus three expansions. Enthusiastic Amazon review: "There's a ton of content in this game (and that's without mentioning the expansions) and it makes you work your head as far as decision making and making the most out of your hand. What held my interest is the ability to play solo, and I must say the game is terrific in that regard [...] the game is outstanding for those who are not easily intimidated by a rough learning curve." 7 For Word Game Aficionados: Boggle Classic Game Players: 1+, aged 8+ Duration: 90 seconds per round Boggle is a classic game for a reason: it’s straightforward, challenging, and legitimately fun. Attempt to find as many words on the grid as you possibly can before the timer finishes. Players compete against one another in a multiplayer game, but you can play solo and simply attempt to beat your high score. (Want to play Boggle with a twist? Opt for the Big Boggle, which features a larger grid and more cubes, including a cube with double letters like "Er" and "Th.") Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Boggle is the best game ever, so why not have a travel version to take with you everywhere? I love the compact case that keeps everything together, which is super easy to just throw in my backpack whenever I'm feeling like it's Boggle time. Which, to be honest, is always."
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This article was originally published on
March 28, 2020