Board Gaming · Solo Gaming · Solo Month

Solo Month has arrived!

It is now May 1st and that means solo month is here! This went from an idea of just doing a few reviews and an interview or two and has transformed into a full-blown celebration of solo gaming. There is so much stuff I will be packing into 31 days, and I hope that you enjoy this special feature. If you’re enjoying the featured month like this, please let me know with a comment/email/tweet so I can consider additional feature months to plan out.

For the first post of solo month, I wanted to turn it over to the gaming community. I asked, in several places, for gamers to answer these two questions:

 

“Why do you play solo board games?”

AND

“What do you enjoy most about playing solo board games?”

And so here are the responses I’ve received from this fantastic community:

From BGG User Nighteyes77:

1. I play solo board games because I have always been a loner and quite simply, prefer to do things on my own. At least I like to try things first on my own and then I don’t mind doing things with a friend or a group. I got into solo gaming because I did not have a game group that was interested in the games I was interested in. They prefer Catan and Seven Wonders and I do not.

2. The thing I enjoy most about solo gaming is the meditation. I do not look at games as a distraction but rather an escape from distraction. Today we have minute by minute distractions with our smart phones, social media, televisions, etc. Solo board games allow me to be in the moment, doing one thing and one thing only for a designated time. It permits me to be present and embrace what I am doing in that moment. Powerful.

From BGG User NewbieGamingDad:

My primary reason for playing solo is that I can game more often; my daughter who lives with me doesn’t care for very many games, and I am relatively new to the area. I participate in a gaming group on Mondays, but the hosts are moving away next month, so that is coming to an end. If I didn’t solo, I wouldn’t get to play much at all!

Besides that, I enjoy playing new games solo because I find it less stressful than teaching a new game to a group, and running into rules issues (my fault, usually!). I am able to digest and process rules at my leisure, and can leave a game set up for an extended period of time, when I play solo.

Finally, I find some games are BETTER solo than multi-player. For instance, I’ve attempted to play The 7th Continent with a group, and it just wasn’t as fun or as engaging than that game is on my own.

As a result of the above, I definitely focus my purchasing on those games that are solo-friendly, or even exclusively solo. Also, I love the 1-player community here on BGG with the annual Solitaire Print-and-Play Contest!

From BGG User kenileyd:

1. I play solo because my daughters are away at college and my husband rarely wants to play games. I also do not have any other gaming group.
2. I enjoy solo gaming as a stress relief. When I concentrate on a game then I am not thinking about all the other stuff going on in life.

From BGG User lucky henry

Top five reasons I play solo:

1. Play only what I want to play.
2. Play whenever I’m in the mood. No waiting for “game night”.
3. Play as quickly or slowly as I want.
4. Play large complex games a couple turns at a time over weeks if I want to.
5. Play games to experience the game, not to socialize. (I socialize in other settings not game related).

From BGG User Danneq:

“Why do you play solo board games?”
Sometimes I play solo games because I can’t get a group together, but often it’s for the same reason I play video games. Games are fun. Telling stories is my favorite part of gaming, and many solo games do that just as well (or better!) than most video games. I also like to (try to) solve puzzles, and many of those are solo by definition.

AND

“What do you enjoy most about playing solo board games?”
The tactile nature. Working my brain at the same time as I can pick up a physical object and see how that changes things is fantastic.

From BGG User Party Hats

One reason I like to play games solo is to explore many different avenues of the game play all at the same time. I enjoy making up a little meta game where I will play three or four different player slots all at once and give each an agenda, such as player 1 will be very aggressive in their actions, player 2 will play very defensively or conservatively, player 3 will be a wild card and just make random decisions in an attempt to break the game, and then I’ll play my “real” way as player 4.

Sometimes I will get fancy and make decision trees or logic hierarchies on post-it notes for each but for the most part I just kind of wing it to see what the game can do. As an RPG GM I’m always trying to think of what the PC’s will to break my adventures as write them, and this is kind of an extension of that in a way.

From BGG User The Professor:

Great questions…

I’ve been solo-gaming for the past 10 years and have designed and developed games for the past three years. My first game TAU CETI, published in 2016 is the only cooperative, sandbox, space 4X game on the market. As it’s coop, it includes a set of AI cards for solo play.

My second game, this time as a designer/developer, is Tradewars: Homeworld, in which there are a number of scenarios, including solo play.
I designed, based on the direction and guidance of Automa Factory’s Morten Pedersen, an AI deck which captures the essence of another player’s actions.

Why do you play solo board games?

I enjoy either the narrative (Arkham Horror) or puzzly nature (Pandemic) of a well-designed system and given the hectic schedules we face as adults, I can’t always guarantee, despite my best effort, to get folks around the Gaming Table every week.
nature

What do you enjoy most about playing solo board games?
It’s probably the sense of achievement in terms of defeating a series of AI opponents (Nations or Historia) and the fact that I have the luxury of setting-up a game and playing a few turns/rounds every day as I have a Game Room as a dedicated space for this activity. This allows me a place to get away from the electronics and media for awhile and simply play games.

From BGG User BSoMT (Note: he has a similar feature on his website):

I solo game because it is the only chance I get to have sensible conversation whilst gaming…all though that said…me, myself and I frequently degenerate into heated debate over which game to play next and decisions made during big games…
(I am especially looking for quality solo variants of multi-player games, in my quest for solo play, that offer the soloist as close an experiance to the multi-player game as possible)

From BGG User magic_erwt:

“Why do you play solo board games?”

Similar to other hobby’s there are many reasons involved.

Take running for example. I do run a lot. Mostly 10K.
I do it because it’s (1) healthy, (2) it keeps me fit, (3) it keeps me in good shape, (4) because I love to get outside, (5) because it gives me a good feeling, (6) because I can clear my head, (7) because it takes away stress

Back to solo board gaming
I do it because (1) braintraining, (2) freedom, (3) My thoughts, my world, my unique board game experience, (4) total control, (5) cocoon feeling, (6) relax

All together those elements make that I have a good time and enjoy the activity. Whether it’s running or playing a board game.
Since I run a lot, people talk a lot about starting running themselves with me. The first thing I always ask is if they enjoy running. If the answer is no, I always advise them to try something else. As with everything in life, make sure you enjoy the things you take on.

AND

“What do you enjoy most about playing solo board games?”

That’s an easy one for me. Definitely Total control. I control for a start the game, time and place. I control setup, I control pace. I control the outcome of arguments (that I have with myself ), …

From Ashley on Facebook:

 First thoughts to both:

Easier to organise, no need to carry games elsewhere.

The ability to try new strategies without feeling you’re going to impact someone else game negatively by doing something inevitably really dumb

From Carlos on Facebook:

1. I play solo games mostly because my friends have either moved away or our schedules conflict to be able to meet during week days.

2. I also enjoy playing solo once I get back home from work, or when I need to recharge my thoughts and forget of the outside world. A solo game is always a useful tool to help think or declutter the mind.

From Paul on Facebook:

 I play solo games to relax and unwind from a stressful job. There are no screens to strain my eyes on and the tactile nature of the cards and pieces is a nice feeling.

I most enjoy being able to lose myself for a few hours in an immersive narrative and to be able to take m time to totally get into a game without any pressure or worry about taking to long and holding other players up.

From Jennifer on Facebook:

 I am home, by myself, quite a lot of the time, so solo-gaming allows me to enjoy games at any time (I do also game with hubby, son, and friends).

I think one of the things I enjoy most about solo gaming is I can go at my own pace, whether that means thinking about a single move for a long time, or just zooming along. I also don’t have to deal with anyone else’s attitudes (either sort of obnoxious bragging when they are winning, comments on mistakes someone else has made, or anger/pouting when they are loosing). Even when the game isn’t going well, it’s a much more zen experience for me to play on my own.

From Thomas on Facebook:

I’m a single father and also have issues with ptsd. Solo gaming allows me to distract my mind from the crap inside it. I can only get together with friends once a week and I need to keep my brain occupied more than that.

From Emma on Facebook:

I enjoy the tactile aspect of boardgaming ! I don’t have to ask anyone to play with me ! It keeps my mind working !

From Iain on Facebook:

 I play solo because I have two young children and there’s very little time to leave them and go play games with any regular gaming groups. And sometimes, my main gaming partner, my wife, is too tired to play anything, so solo is the way to go!

I like when it’s a different challenge and not just trying to beat some arbitrary score.

From Bumn on Facebook:

 I play different kinds of games solo. Normally when I play in a group we’ll play something pretty big, 1-3hrs like Arkham Horror, BSG etc and very rarely play anything with a short play time.

When I’ve got half hour free on my own I’ll bust out Friday, Dungeon Roll, Zombie in My Pocket, etc. Which wouldn’t make it to the table with a group.

There are exceptions both ways, but in general I play shorter, smaller games on my own.

From Zachary on Facebook:

 1. Solo games are easy to organise for a sudden flash of gaming inspiration.
2. I can be alone in my thoughts and imagination in a very loud world without resorting to a screen.

From Bob on Facebook:

Happy to answer your questions on solo gaming, though not sure I will add anything people have not already said. My solo gaming comes mainly as a craving to play games at anytime. So if I don’t have friends interested in a certain type of game, or just not able to meet for a while then a solo game is a more accessible option. My wife really has little interest in playing games so solo is a good option over leaving the house each evening to play games with others! I enjoy solo because it allows more of an emotional interaction with a game, so I am more likely to play a difficult to win game on my own, or one with a dark theme. This War of Mine is a good example that I would enjoy more alone than in a group. 7th continent is another, so while exploring as a group would be fun I think I would get more immersion in the world playing alone.

From Dustin via email:

Why do you play solo board games?
Solo games are great because they allow me to get gaming in when I normally couldn’t. Between my beautiful family, my job, and starting our new business it’s tricky to get together with my normal group. It’s nice to be able to get a game onto the coffee table after the kiddos go to bed and while the wife is working.
What do you enjoy most about playing solo board games?
I’ve always loved puzzles, trivia, math problems, etc. and solo gaming ties directly into that. They help clear my head and get my thinking muscles going. And when you have a great game it can add that additional layer of telling a cool story too!
From game designer Chris Hansen:
Why do you play solo board games?
I enjoy playing historical wargames and it can be hard to find opponents who share my interests and have time for a longer game. Solo games allow me to enjoy my favorite hobby any time I would like.
What do you enjoy most about playing solo board games?
I love the accessibility of solo games. I have larger games like Mage Knight which take more planning to get to the table, but there are lots of smaller games that can slip into my backpack so that I can play anywhere.
From game designer Todd Sanders:
“Why do you play solo board games?”

I don’t have a group to play with but I really enjoy the aspect of working out the narrative of the game and the conditions of winning it. while some says there is little difference between a solo game and a puzzle, i feel that is an unfair comparison. games, solo or not, feel a need of creativity and problem solving and an escape to another time of place or character to dive into.
AND
“What do you enjoy most about playing solo board games?”
seeing how a designer creates their AI engine and how it reacts against you as a real player might or might not
My answers:
I play solo games because I can’t expect my wife to always want to stay up late, or to even want to play a game. Solo gaming allows me to still be home and able to help out while being able to dive into some outstanding games.
I enjoy the ability to plan out decisions and to go on adventures with solo games. Like many others, it allows me the chance to really slow things down and go through the options available without inconveniencing anyone else at the table. It also gives me something to physically do with my hands and mind, rather than sit and tune out to a TV show or get sucked into a digital world.
There you go, a lot of voices in the community have shared why they play solo games and what they enjoy most about playing solo. Leave a comment below and let me know your answers to those questions!
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3 thoughts on “Solo Month has arrived!

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