Calvin Keeney pointing at a wooden Black Dragon as he plays a fun board game that has a great single player mode for solo board gamers

16 Enticing 1 Player Games for Solo Board Gamers

I don’t play many games by myself as much as I do with others. So I asked my friend Aaron to create a list of fun games that are made for one player (or that play well solo). I wanted to have this list created after seeing one player games shoot up in popularity such as Desolate and the huge solo game Kickstarter, Unbroken.

Here is the list that Aaron created with some light editing by me (Calvin).

Amazing One Player Games or Board Games that Play Well Solo by Aaron

Solo games have an interesting history. A variation of the game we think of as solitaire began in the 1700’s as a two player deck vs. deck style game (early MAGIC?!?!) competing to be the first to use all your cards. The solo version of that game likely came out of people practicing on their own and realizing that it was still an entertaining game even when you didn’t have a partner. The same holds true for many modern games. One thing is for sure, solo games (or solo variants) are becoming much more widespread!

Many game designers have found that adding a solo variant to their games draws an additional group of interested players. We’re seeing more and more games including solo rules as stretch goals in KS campaigns or as an additional feature on the box.

Here are some excellent examples of entertaining solo games across a wide variety of popular board game types.

1. Nemo’s War – Board Game Based on the Classic Novel and Initially Designed Purely for Solo Play

Difficulty – 6/10
Ages – 13+
Players – 1-4
Length – 60-120 min

Nemo’s War is a game focused on the main character of Jule Verne’s classic book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. You take on Captain Nemo’s mission of exploration, science and anti-imperialism in this deep and beautiful solo game. There are a lot of rules and a lot of interesting things can happen during your journey including an optional 2-4 player coop version if the situation arises.

Also Consider:
Deep Space D-6

2. Thunderbirds – A Great Cooperative Board Game that You Can Master Single Handed

Difficulty – 5/10
Ages – 10+
Players – 1-5
Length – 45-60 min

In general, cooperative games turn into solo games pretty easily. Thunderbirds is my personal favorite cooperative game by Matt Leacock. Out of the box it includes solo rules that have you play the game normally but controlling three separate characters. It requires just a little extra attention to keep them separate but otherwise requires no unique solo rules.

Also consider:
Elder Sign
Pandemic
Gloomhaven

3. Clank! – A Well Designed Deck-Building Adventure Game with a Solo Variant

Difficulty – 5/10
Ages – 12+
Players – 1-4
Length – 30-60 min

Pure deck builders don’t work very well solo but there are a number of adventure deck builders that do. One of our favorite deck building games, Clank!, doesn’t work solo right out of the box. Instead, Renegade Games created a free app for iOS or Android that creates a quest based solo version. The main goal stays the same, but the added quests provide rewards and penalties while pushing you in different directions.

Also consider:
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
Friday

4. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective – A Great Deduction Game for the Solo Sleuth


Difficulty – 6/10
Ages – 10+
Players – 1-8
Length – 60-120 min

Deduction games generally rely on using the knowledge of the other players to make your deductions as quickly as possible. With Consulting Detective, you are provided with a non-linear narrative from which to draw deductions. This can easily be as fun to do alone as it is with additional detectives.

Also Consider:
Exit: The Game

5. Flick’em Up – A Fun Dexterity Tabletop Game to Master in Your Down Time

Difficulty – 3/10
Ages – 7+
Players – 2-10
Length – 30-45 min

The nice thing about dexterity games is that playing them solo is a great way to practice and build up muscle memory to crush your opposition! Flick’em up is a great example. It doesn’t have any official rules for a single player game but setting up those meeples and mowing them down is a lot of fun on its own!

Also Consider:
Pitch Car
Junk Art

6. Roll Player – A Medieval Dice Drafting Game that Transitions into Solo Play Fairly Well

Difficulty – 4/10
Ages – 9+
Players – 1-4
Length – 45 min

Roll Player takes the process of creating a character for an RPG and turns it into a fun dice drafting game. There’s a lot of options for the character creation making replay interesting. Solo play requires some additional rules that are included in the manual. The drafting mechanic isn’t as exciting without other players but it is still a fun solo game.

Also Consider:
Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Lisboa

7. Terraforming Mars – See if You Can Survive Mars in this Relaxing Solo Variant of a Popular Strategy Board Game

Difficulty – 7/10
Ages – 12+
Players – 1-5
Length – 120 min

This excellent Euro game quickly became a much lauded solo game as well. The complexities of returning water to Mars can be overwhelming in competition to see who can do the most. The solo game, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to relax into your own personal strategy while you panic over the limited time you have to finish terraforming (all by yourself).

(Additional Read: Learn how to make your own board game here)

8. Giant Killer Robots: Heavy Hitters – A Tabletop Miniatures Game that is also Exciting for One Player


Difficulty – 6/10
Ages – 12+
Players – 1-4
Length – 60-120 min

Giant Killer Robots pits giant robot against giant robot in an arena style combat strategy game. The design is top notch and the game play is pretty smooth. For solo play, the game includes rules that function almost like AI for one or more opponents. It’s random which means it’s not smart but it is unpredictable!

(Additional Read: See ways to print your own card games at home)

9. ESCAPE! The Curse of the Temple – An Easy to Learn Press Your Luck Game that Translates Well for Solo Gamers

Difficulty – 3/10
Ages – 8+
Players – 1-5
Length – 10 min

Escape! is a great game of frantic dice rolling as you explore an ancient temple. The game is always 10 minutes long so it’s a good game when you don’t have a lot of time. The solo game plays much like the normal game with only minor changes.

Other Games to Consider:
Pandemic: The Cure
Roll Through The Ages
Yahtzee

10. Rallyman – A Racing Board Game that is Great for Solo Players Looking to Obtain the Highest Score (Fastest Time)

Difficulty – 4/10
Ages – 9+
Players – 1-4
Length – 45 min

Racing games are generally about who gets to the finish first. Rallyman racing on the other hand is about who has the best overall time and not about head-to-head racing. Making it a great fit for a solo racing game! Rallyman captures the press your luck aspect of rally racing in trying to achieve the best time while providing a compelling solo game of attempting to beat your own race times or those from the online community.

(More Games! Try these fun 2 player board games)

11. The Pursuit of Happiness – A Resource Management Game Like the Game of Life that can be Enjoyed Solo


Difficulty – 5/10
Ages – 12+
Players – 1-4
Length – 60-90 min

Kind of like a Euro version of The Game of Life, Pursuit of Happiness has the players trying to lead the most fulfilled life. Balancing resources comes out of the way you choose to live your life with Knowledge, Creativity, Influence, Money and Time being used up differently by your job, hobbies and relationships. A very cool take on a solid resource management game.

Other Games to Consider:
Scythe
Nemo’s War

12. Untold: Adventure Awaits – A Board Game Great for Solo Gamers that Love Storytelling

Difficulty – 3/10
Ages – 8+
Players – 1-4
Length – 45-60 min

Powered by Rory’s Story Cubes, Untold uses the story dice along with scene and reaction cards to provide a random framework for a scene from your favorite adventure movie. Using your imagination and creativity you fill in the details of your character across multiple scenes as you create your own unique story.

Also Consider:
Rory’s Story Cubes (the original)
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

13. Mage Knight Board Game – A Longer Board Game with Tile Placement that is also Fun Solo

Difficulty – 8/10
Ages – 14+
Players – 1-4
Length – 60-240 min

While not a pure tile placement game, it is one of many mechanics that make Mage Knight one of the games that comes up often in discussions about solo games. The depth and variety in Mage Knight creates a very compelling gaming experience.

(Related Reading – Ways to help others feel more welcomed at gaming conventions)

14. Mint Works – An Easy to Learn Worker Placement Game that Fits in Your Pocket that You can Play Solo

Difficulty – 3/10
Ages – 13+
Players – 1-4
Length – 10-20 min

Mint Works approaches Solitaire in its portability and game length. This mint-tin size game plays quick and includes a couple variations of the solo game using some additional rules. It’s a fun, easy, and portable game to play on your own or with some friends.

(Want to learn about making and selling your own board game? Get the answers to many questions new board game designers have here.)

Board Game Design Frequently Asked Questions Call to Action image for Streamlined Gaming. "Board Game Design FAQs" typed in the left side with "Get My Answers" typed in the bottom right with pamphlets in top right.

15. Trading Card Game Content for Solo Play – MAGIC the Gathering “Defeat a God” Challenge Deck

Difficulty – 6/10
Ages – 13+
Players – 2 (normally)
Length – 20 min

Trading card games are not really designed with solo play in mind. The vast majority of MTG is geared towards competitive play. There have been challenge decks made for solo play, such as the Journey into Nyx Defeat a God deck. These are uncommon and difficult to find but if you’re interested in it, they do exist! Don’t confuse ‘challenge decks’ with ‘challenger decks’ though which are pre-built competition decks.

16. Legacy of Dragonholt – An Exciting Game for RPG Fans that Plays Well Solo

Difficulty – 2/10
Ages – 14+
Players – 1-6
Length – 60-999 min

Pure RPGs aren’t really meant to be played solo. Legacy of Dragonholt is something of a Choose-your-own-adventure/RPG-light game treading the line between book and game. The role playing aspects of the game allow you to create a character and level up through the game. Like any RPG, you can get more out of this game if you put a bit more into it and do some actual role playing, even on your own.

What Do You Think the Best Solo Games are?

Thanks for reading Aaron’s picks for best solo games for the different game types. I want to hear what games you enjoy playing solo as well. Please share in the comments section so other solo enthusiasts can enjoy them too!

Want to Read More from SLG?
My Creation Process for Making My Own Game
Popular Board Game Pieces to Use in Prototyping Your Game
Some of the Best Card Games for 2 Players

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