A Few Of The Best Solo Games For Lockdown!
Written by Jonnii Small - Apr 30 2020
Even prior to lockdown I have been a solo board game pariah, searching for anything that could be played on my own! (Sometimes it’s just easier when there isn’t someone else in the way of my unbelievable plays!) I’m always on the lookout for something that can be enjoyable as a single player experience, especially as someone who grew up playing mostly single player video games, but that’s not always easy. Yes, there are surely hundreds of games that would say that they ‘could’ accommodate solo play, but most of the time you’re playing two-handed (with two decks or two characters) or taking part in a severely stripped back version of the full game.
Today I want to delve into the world of board games and card games that do accommodate solo play really well, but also can be great at higher player counts too! This is not a numbered list because I’m sure there are tons of amazing games that play at 1 that I haven’t touched yet in my gaming lifetime.
We start with Marvel Champions, an incredible living card game from Fantasy Flight Games that puts you in the shoes of your favorite superhero from the Marvel Universe. Whether you want to step into the boots of Black Widow, the suit of Ironman or put on the cape of Dr. Strange, there’s a huge amount that this game can offer. Your aim is simple, stop the bad guy from scheming and defeat them! While this sounds easy, it’s usually more difficult due to the minions that they have and encounter cards that might pop up to hinder you. But, through some clever plays and a little bit of luck, you may just be able to destroy them before they take you out!
You can play Marvel Champions at up to four, which is still very good, and you do truly get that experience of working together as a team to thwart Rhino or Green Goblins’ plans! Even so, you still get that exact same experience at lower player counts too! In fact, there are loads of people, including myself, who view Marvel Champions best as a 1 to 2 player game. It essentially takes it from a big team up scenario (think Avengers-esque) to a film all about you beating up the enemies single-handedly, all whilst foiling their plans too!
Deckbuilding is hugely important in Marvel Champions and if you’re getting it purely for solo play it’s probably even more important as you have no other heroes to help you out when the going gets tough! The significance of taking the time to build your deck and test it provides further encouragement to a solo player, which is a theme you might see more of when we get into further co-operative LCG’s going forward.
Marvel Champions also provides a steady stream of content going forward, with new Heroes and Villains being released all of the time (with the Rise of Red Skull box coming soon!) to increase playtime infinitely. I know I’ve HAD to try out the newest Hero I’ve gotten my hands on in solo play against each of the Villains to see how good they are. Captain America and Black Widow are a genuinely incredible puzzle in solo play.
ARKHAM HORROR: THE CARD GAME
Continuing on the Fantasy Flight Games run, we’re heading straight into the gruesome and brain-bending world of Arkham Horror: The Card Game (AH: TCG). Another living card game with a flood of seemingly never-ending releases, AH: TCG tells stories of investigators solving mysteries all around the globe. Whether you’re probing the scene of a crime, fighting Cthulhic creatures or casting magical rituals to destroy everything around you, AH: TCG is the epitome of great storytelling in our board gaming community, as well as tense gameplay.
While AH: TCG plays up to four, it, like Marvel Champions, is a far smoother experience at 1 – 2 players with quicker rounds and far less enemies clogging up the locations too! It also has a huge emphasis on deckbuilding in order to face the foes that lie ahead, encouraging the player to spend some time seeing what works and building the best deck of cards for their investigator, as well as improving it throughout a campaign. Yes, that’s right, this game is campaign-based! Each ‘cycle’ provides a story that you will play session after session in. Whilst the campaign style is dependent on your own likes and dislikes in gaming, it’s 100% easier to grab yourself for a solo campaign adventure than it is to gather three others for 6 or so sessions of the same game!
Whether you see yourself as Agnes Baker, Daisy Walker, Mark Harrigan and so many more, you’ll be immersed in the world of Arkham Horror. With the new starter decks coming out soon too, it becomes even easier for players to take control of someone they like the look of and be their guide through whatever horrors they face!
LORD OF THE RINGS LCG
There’s definitely a theme with the first few and that’s Fantasy Flight Games with another cooperative living card game; this time it’s the Lord of the Rings (LOTR LCG)! And once again, this game can accommodate up to 4 players, but is far superior (at least to me) at lower player counts as turns become shorter and there’s a far more manageable palate of monsters to face.
Taking on a little bit more of an abstract approach than both Arkham Horror: The Card Game and Marvel Champions, LOTR LCG has you leading a party (usually 2-3) of characters into a single scenario, attempting to defeat the enemies put in front of you and continue to your adventure’s conclusion. This is done through playing allies, events and attachments, in addition to managing your resources and deciding which of your heroes will attack, defend and explore! It’s definitely more of a puzzle than the other games previously mentioned, which may attract or detract depending on your point of view. And again, deckbuilding is hugely important as characters are part of different ‘spheres’ dictating which aspect of the game they are better designed to face.
Solo play for LOTR LCG is essentially exactly the same as with more players, just on a smaller and quicker scale. Sure, there’s less heroes to take hits, but there are also less enemies, so it all balances out really well. There’s also a lot of heroes and encounter sets to choose from with this being a game that’s over 9 years old now. It also doesn’t necessarily have to be strung along into a campaign like Arkham Horror: The Card Game, but the packs in each ‘cycle’ is connected, so can be if desired.
Check back for Part 2 of the Best Solo Games soon!