For a lot of people, sitting down to a board game is about the social interaction they get to enjoy. Seeing friends, family, or just other gamers is its own reward. We think of gaming as being an innately social activity. However, for many people, the board game hobby is as much about the game as it is about the people you play them with. That begs the question: What do you do when no one is available for gaming? The answer, of course, is solo gaming. People play video games on their own all the time, but that trend in board games is just starting to really build in popularity. There are a number of titles that are designed specifically for one player, and even more games that have a solo variant. Solo gaming gives people the option to continue to play even if they’re enjoying a night on their own.
Cooperative titles are usually good options for solo gaming. Whether you’re playing with a full compliment or on your own, the rules are designed so that you play against the game itself. The difference is that you are in control of more characters, although some games go further, with a different rule set for their solo versions.
In Zombicide, players team up to survive a zombie outbreak and complete a set of goals for the particular mission they’re playing. In the solo version, really nothing changes, aside from the fact that you’ll be controlling all of the Survivors in the game yourself. This can be a very satisfying experience if you’re the type of person who loves solving a puzzle on their own. It can be quite an accomplishment to get through a round of Zombicide with no backup, and because you’re controlling the whole team, you never have to worry about how much (or little) you’re contributing to the success of the mission. You just have to complete your goals and keep those Survivors… well, surviving!
The Grizzled is another cooperative title that won over gamers and critics alike, but one thing missing from the base game was a single player option. With the recent expansion, The Grizzled: At Your Orders, fans have a way to step into the trenches of The Great War on their own. In the solo version, Speeches are removed as well as some of the Hard Knocks cards. You’ll control three different soldiers and use a single hand of cards for the entire group. The Team Leader token moves from soldier to soldier to indicate which one is the active player. Instead of the standard Support tokens, there is a pool of four Solo tokens. Three of them indicate one of the different soldiers on your team, and one of the tokens indicates no Support at all. At the end of each Mission, you draw one of the Support tokens at random, and that soldier receives the Support. The token then gets discarded until they’ve all been used and can be shuffled into a random pool again. The Grizzled is a war game, less about defeating an enemy than about learning to survive under terrible conditions. Playing on your own can be a reflective experience. War can be a tough and isolating time for those caught in its grasp and being able to overcome them on your own is immensely satisfying.
XenoShyft: Onslaught plays like a tower defense game set in a gritty sci-fi universe. Players control the marine forces as they do battle with an alien insect force known as the Hive. It’s tough taking on the bugs with a team, so you better believe the solo variant is a challenge. In a solo game, your base has a defense strength of 15 (you add 15 points of defense for each additional player). Also in the solo version, you’re only tasked with defending one area of the base over the course of three waves broken up into three rounds each. Even in a solo game, you won’t be truly alone. You’ll be able to find comfort in useful equipment like Titan Armor, Pulsar Bombs, Plasma Shotguns, and a good, old-fashioned chainsaw. You’ll be happy to have that arsenal too because the Hive is going to throw a lot of nasty creatures your way. If you don’t feel like dealing with all the upkeep and clean up on a solo game, you can check out the XenoShyft app. It plays just like the tabletop game without having to use the top of a table. The app is a really great way to get a lot of solo plays done in a hurry, and the smooth gameplay and beautiful graphics will have you concentrating on survival and not fumbling with the rules.
In short, a quiet night at home doesn’t mean you can’t get your game on. No more arguing what game to play. With so many options for solo gaming and more being developed all the time, you just have to sit down to your favorite title and lead yourself to victory!