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Top Board Games Recommendations and Buyer's Guide

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Oooft - I don't know if I can even order mine.. but here's a collection of my favourites.

 

Spartacus - cracking theme and hilariously devious levels of evil bastardness

Arkham Horror - the original and still the best 

Arkham Horror LCG - an amazing system that is huge amounts of variation in it.

Gears of War - run and gun and die - fast and fun

Scythe - don't get to play as often as I'd like but I just love the flow of it as you play

Fury of Dracula - dripping with theme.  Play it with the Bram Stokers Dracula movie soundtrack on and your heart will be pounding.  Love love love this one.

Gloomhaven - we play this every week, going through the campaign.  It's an excellent system, although I think the campaign could do with some better writing and paths that support mission failure

Warhammer Quest Card Game - WHY DID THIS DIE SO SOON

X-Wing - absolutely brilliant tactical war game.  Could play this forever

Game of Thrones LCG - don't get to play this enough, but when I do, I love it.  

Unfair - I've got a thing for games where you are a bastard 

 

and of course

 

Mansions of Madness Second Edition - probably still my favourite game all round... the app transforms the game and the theme is just superb.  Plays brilliantly solo as well.  

 

and loads of other stuff too that I love 

 

Got Clans of Caledonia coming any time now and really looking forward to that

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22 minutes ago, scottcr said:

Oooft - I don't know if I can even order mine.. but here's a collection of my favourites.

 

Spartacus - cracking theme and hilariously devious levels of evil bastardness

Arkham Horror - the original and still the best 

Arkham Horror LCG - an amazing system that is huge amounts of variation in it.

Gears of War - run and gun and die - fast and fun

Scythe - don't get to play as often as I'd like but I just love the flow of it as you play

Fury of Dracula - dripping with theme.  Play it with the Bram Stokers Dracula movie soundtrack on and your heart will be pounding.  Love love love this one.

Gloomhaven - we play this every week, going through the campaign.  It's an excellent system, although I think the campaign could do with some better writing and paths that support mission failure

Warhammer Quest Card Game - WHY DID THIS DIE SO SOON

X-Wing - absolutely brilliant tactical war game.  Could play this forever

Game of Thrones LCG - don't get to play this enough, but when I do, I love it.  

Unfair - I've got a thing for games where you are a bastard 

 

and of course

 

Mansions of Madness Second Edition - probably still my favourite game all round... the app transforms the game and the theme is just superb.  Plays brilliantly solo as well.  

 

and loads of other stuff too that I love 

 

Got Clans of Caledonia coming any time now and really looking forward to that

Looks like we have pretty similar taste. Can't wait for Gloomhaven to arrive, still not got my shipping email! The stickers came yesterday to rub it in.

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7 hours ago, Benny said:

UPDATED!

 

Just a little entry at number 2, no biggy...

 

Does the new version shave much off the play time?

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I've not played 3rd edition, but from what I understand it could take up to 12 hours or more with 6 players. 4th edition seems to take a maximum of 8 hours with 6 players if you don't dally too much.

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I've played 3rd edition with eight a few times and it never got to 12 hours. Closer to eight would be normal. 4th is definitely streamlined significantly, and not just because it's capped at six players. But yeah, very dependent on how much arguing etc there is.

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My group has finally managed to schedule our first game of 4th ed. in September. We've played TI3 a handful of times with 5 and 6 players and it's definitely been a whole-day affair. It easily takes half an hour just to set up. Looking forward to seeing how the changes in 4 impact the game's length because I'd like to play it more often but it's difficult to arrange.

 

On a related note a new expansion to the Game of Thrones board game was announced at Gen Con this week, bringing the official player count up to eight. I've heard good things, but has anyone here played it? Does it offer the same kind of experience as TI?

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Unfortunately I have to say the base GoT boardgame is not anywhere in the same league as TI. It's definitely a good game, but lacks the sheer depth of strategy or scope for dealings and plans within plans that TI has. Which is a shame considering the IP. It feels a lot more ponderous when waiting for other players too, from what I remember. If the expansion changes that significantly I'd be surprised, as more players would bog it down I think.

 

With TI you definitely need to set a day aside just to allow for the variability of round lengths, but by gosh it doesn't feel like a day when you are in the throes of strategy.

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I'd love to play TI - but none of my group own it.  We all fancy it, but the price and the need for an entire day to play it has just put us off.  One day.....

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Find at least 3 people in your group that really want to play it, agree to split the cost between you, and book a day off to play it (once you've all familiarised yourselves with the rules). You'll have a blast. And whoever likes it the most can buy it off the other players. Or you can sell it on easily for most of the price.

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I'm planning to get my act together and post here soon in relation to games which can be recommended for multi-handed solo or co-op play (since that topic comes up fairly frequently, and that's what I seem to be spending increasing amounts of time doing).  

Edited by Cosmic_Guru
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I found the second edition for £50 at the UK Games Expo, but your mileage may vary. I had been meaning to upgrade from first edition for a while and that was the cheapest I've seen it.

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So, some thoughts on games which could be recommended for solo play or a mixture of solo and group play.  I’ll be updating this list from time to time with new discoveries or second thoughts.  

 

Criteria for consideration:

  1. No significant hidden information or “hunt the traitor” mechanism.  Individual objectives or scoring bonuses don’t count as hidden for this purpose.
  2. Alliances & betrayals are not core to the experience.  You can deal with opportunistic palling-up or bribes, and also with auction mechanics - how important is this item from X’s perspective? - but nothing much more.
  3. Obstruction and interrupting the schemes of others is neither paramount to enjoyment (e.g in Hansa Teutonica) nor unduly frustrating - it happens naturally sometimes (e.g Concordia, Trickerion) but there are enough variables to provide alternate priorities & routes to success in any event.

So, what remains tend to be purely co-op games, and also competitive games with sufficient depth and, ideally, an attractive design, to warrant detailed examination of their mechanics.  Even when some sort of automaton mode is included I usually prefer to play multiple hands, the number depending on the game, it’s space requirements and the variables you have to juggle in your head.

 

The list then (in no particular order after the first two).  
* = new entry, initial enthusiasm may fade with time.  

Warnings given where space and/or mental agility needed seem particularly high.

 

Gloomhaven - not going to repeat Benny’s write up, enough witterings from me already in the thread.  Arguably, a finer solo than group experience since you can dictate the party composition and the pace at which it is refreshed.  Long set up times and some organisation required but a very easy game to play solo with the cards all laid out in sequence and rigid AI rules in place for enemies.

 

Terra Mystica - Surely no coincidence that this is Isaac Childres’s favourite game.  A magnificent creation and one in which you can happily spend days investigating the strengths and weaknesses of the fantasy factions and how they interact, keeping that power pump going all the way. (alternatives - Gaia Project - TM in space adding another level of complexity and yucky plastic components, Dominant Species).

 

Feast for Odin* I’ve quickly fallen in love with this Viking Tetris game because of the variety of things you get to do - hunt, farm, pillage, whale, explore, craft, all to get and upgrade STUFF to improve your cashflow and score.  Admittedly it’s very expensive, but offers massive replay-ability as you hunt a New High Score and explore the hundreds of possible occupations.  Luckily, it’s quick to table and the big box contains organisers for the bulk of the components. Random weapon and occupation draws keep things fresh as priorities shift in game.  There is an automation mode but 2H works just as well. (alternatives - Agricola, Caverna, other Uwe Rosenberg games).

 

Rise of Queensdale * Be the first to complete a tower for your Queen! Another really quick game to set up each time, this dice placement affair is simply gorgeous.  It is a PvP game but only the final game counts to determine the overall winner.  It works best if you invest your team of 4 lads and lasses with individual personalities, name (Max Kapital!!) and [redacted] them accordingly, match them with their [redacted] and [redacted] but even without that it’s a generous game with new content and scoring opportunities every game - you don’t need to do any heavy duty turn planning at all.  (alternative - Charterstone, a much drier experience).

 

Sword & Sorcery.  A co-op fantasy RPG campaign offering adventure book stylings and replay-ability with different classes and choices. Warnings - possible brain fatigue, large space requirement.  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth was witnessed when I first played this because I found it to be very fiddly and seemingly inconsistent in places.  However, once you get more experienced at it and find the best way to bring it to table, there is a rock solid experience here with interesting mechanics and much fun to be had in using different classes, equipping them and howling when they “die” and get bumped down a level. It also trumps Gloomhaven in one sphere - treasure - e.g Onamor, the summoner applied the finishing blow to the Orc King boss and was rewarded for his efforts with the arch-mage robe (see photo below) - a one in 35 or so chance, which enables him to use his higher level fire spell or Efreet summons once per quest despite being only level III presently.  *punches air*

 

Trickerion. Become the most famous magician by the end of the week by learning, preparing and performing your spells on stage in this sophisticated worker placement game.  Warning - large space requirement . This game combines elegant design with deep and satisfying gameplay.  Granted, the design may not appeal to all - the sepia tones, muted colours and so forth go with the Victorian era Steampunk theme, and the symbology is on the more complex end of the scale until you get familiar with it.  Lots of variables at play in this once you have selected your magicians - which specialist to hire? which tricks to prepare and learn? which performance to select?  So it adds up to a deep experience with high replay-ability.

 

Scythe - Wonderfully designed as a alternative history (mechs!) steampunk central European arena, and one of the most tactile board game experiences I’ve had to date; it is also great to play.  Unfortunately in solo mode you will will likely play the factions repeatedly each game (in contrast to say TM) and you quickly come to realise that the way to success in each case is to make use of your special abilities, so it runs out of steam ;) fairly quickly once you have gotten better at getting your minions out and about more efficiently (note there is also an automation mode).  However, this is one to keep around and get out from time to time even if you don’t play it terribly often. 

 

Concordia - Gorgeous primary coloured Euro-game set in the Roman Empire  - see pic from Benny.  It’s very simple indeed to play but the synergies take a while to tease out.  The SU&SD review made me realise that you lose out somewhat in solo play because card hands are normally hidden and you don’t score as you go along, so there is an element of surprise with a group in not knowing who is in the lead.  However, there is still much to enjoy solo, and I played it numerous times on both provided boards until I finally got a game which seemed “perfect” in terms of scoring based on hands focussing on different Gods.  Nice historical reference notes too.

 

Medieval Conspiracy - Cosmic’s wildcard pick (it conforms least well to my self imposed criteria)!  Despite it’s lowly critical ranking, and many obstacles to easy implementation (gothic font, hundreds of stickers to apply) it is a really interesting game for those who like a European historical context.  The title is rubbish though.  

Spoiler

What you actually doing is competing to be elected as the next Holy Roman Emperor using the arrangements in place in the 12th century -  i.e a majority of the 7 electorates, and it’s strictly each player for himself.  Starting from a motley collection of small and likely unconnected fiefdoms you have to build influence where it matters and to do that you need to sire heirs, get them trained up and ready to go when an opportunity arises (they can however die or be kidnapped :() and, critically, you also have to raise cash via improving / connecting up of your fiefdoms  so as to be in a position to purchase an electorate via auction when an elector dies.  You also need to pay attention to military matters on your borders, and can gain the master of War badge to help with influence but this isn’t a war game per se, war is not permitted other than in certain prescribed situations, such as a period of general anarchy following the death of an emperor, or if you lost an auction for a new fiefdom and happen to have some troops conveniently to hand nearby, and I found it could more or less be avoided (a bit of a shame since there are some lovely little rules around taking knights prisoner and having to ransom them back).  There is a suggestion that military victories could be used as a tie breaker and that would be a nice little tweak to incentivise this aspect of play. Nice historical reference notes with this one too.]

 

The photo below is just an indicative starting position for blue with his 5 fiefdoms and actually quite a good result income-stream wise with the export markets and adjacent fiefdoms creating trade links from the off - the electorates are the territories with the large coats of arms on the map.

 

Honourable mentions - Brass (being rebooted soon), Lorenzo il Magnifico (lovely worker placement),  Dragonfire (sweet D&D campaign deckbuilder),  Mage Knight (although for the time commitment I’d rather power on with Gloomhaven).  

 

Jury out - City of Kings - game or design experiment?


 

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On the basis of this thread I ordered fire in the lake.

 

Not sure it will ever arrive because I chose free postage and American postal service.

 

Nevertheless I've been reading the rules and getting very excited.

 

But! How the holy shit are you supposed to learn how to play the game? I can't imagine that I would remotely be able to start picking up in the tactical nuances until I have the rules nailed down. And Inca t imagine that happening until at least a couple of playthroughs...

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I have an urge to revisit this under different headings so as to award a maximum of 3 "Cosmic Black Hole awards for excellent solo play" to each:

 

A Legacy games

B Campaign co-op games (replay ability through different paths or teams)

C Solo P/F puzzlers / high scorers / similar with playtime <90 minutes

D Heavier others

E Medium weight others

F Maybe a 6th category for "explore-athons" such as Mage Knight, Hex-explore (kickstarter) and City of Kings

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I thought I'd return to my list of games, and see how my tastes of changed, and what else has been entertaining me, as well as maybe looking at a few lefter-of-centre games that I wholeheartedly still recommend.

 

Scythe - has been a big hit with my friends, and continues to be.  The relatively short play time, and the extremely tactile nature of the deluxe edition (along with the lovely art) makes for an appealing experience.  The threat of war, and the ability to see who is doing well with the placement of stars makes for some interesting table/trash-talk too.  I generally like 'worker placement' as a game mechanic, and this nods its hat to that.

 

Snowdonia - A worker placement game themed around building a railway.  It should be clear this was never going to be a very aggressive game, but it is always satisfying and gently entertaining.  You never have enough labourers (actions) and you just wish you could just do this or that, before the weather turns.  Classic worker placement frustrations, in a lovely package.  There's the new deluxe edition with all the expansions coming out soon - so maybe a good time to pick up either of the first two edition (there's no appreciable difference in 1st or 2nd editions).

 

Race For The Galaxy - I just come back to this again and again.  Probably my most played game (especially if you count the excellent digital version with the "Keldon" AI).  Tableau building, and it is a race, the ending comes so quickly.  Generally I'm only playing with the first couple of expansions, and only then for the extra cards.  The less favourable aspects of this game are it's slightly 'tacked on' theme (the sci fi setting, and cards making sense mechanically, but hardly being integral to what's going on) and the initially impenetrable iconography on the cards. This isn't anything like as bad as it first appears, and the more complex cards have words explaining the card abilities anyway.  The card-as-currency/action/goods is a really elegant game design too that leads to horrible 'spend the card, or keep it for its action' decisions.  I've mainly played this in its two player variant, finding it harder to follow with more players and try to guess what they might be planning (in order to choose the phase I wish to have introduced optimally).  This last sentence will mean very little if you've not played the game, apologies.

 

7th Continent - I feel cheeky putting in such a new game (to me) in my list, but this choose-your-own-adventure cum card management game has really impressed me.  The fact that it's not quite (just) the explore-a-thon that it first appears is appealing to me, actually - and that the card management/combo-ing skills in order to replenish the action deck appeal to the same part of me that really enjoys...

 

Mage Knight - It has so many systems, and every time I play I need the instructions to remind me what I should be doing when I do something because there are a lot of different things to be doing.  And it makes your brain ache.  But the card/hand management!  Ooh, it's great.  Just great.  Cards having their multiple uses, and trying to maximise the effectiveness of mana... It feels so good when you pull off a clever way of using the cards to defeat a monster (or similar).  That feeling is what makes this game worth playing.  I've now tried it with other people (but not PvP).  One day, perhaps ... but for now it is mainly still a one player experience for me.

 

Epic Card Game - Despite Mage Knight and this being here, I'm not actually a big fan of high-fantasy/DnD style settings.  It is more of a tribute to MK and this as games that make me see past that and still love them.  So Epic... this is my go to Magic The Gathering alternative.  To call it derivative of MtG would be understating it.  It is highly derivative.  However it's not got a massive meta, and it isn't full of overpowered banned cards, and can be played incredibly satisfyingly from one box (costing just over a tenner) for two people in a number of constructed/random ways.  (It'll actually play up to four people, but I've found that less satisfying).  Each of the 120 cards are either Events or Champions in one of four 'colours', and each card cost either nothing or 1 gold to play.  Rather than MtG's mana cards, you have 1 gold each turn to spend.  And the creatures are generally ridiculously powerful, and you'll be sacrificing them in order to block attacks, or banishing the opponent's over powered monstrosities.   It's great fun - either in dealing off 30 random cards each, or both choosing one or two colours and focusing on those.  If you are playing with a MtG nerd, they can get a bit 'well why can't I... or you can't do that...' because the rules aren't exactly the same as MtG.  I'd argue it's potentially a better (or at least more fun) game, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg.

 

V-Commandos - This has recently been reskinned, I think, as an Assassins Creed tie-in but I've not got that.  I've got the WWII version - lovely co-op that really evokes the stealthy feeling of playing Commandos Behind Enemy Lines on the PC.  I mean, essentially that's what it is.  Assemble a team, infiltrate and try not to set off alarms.  And it you do, silence them quickly!  I've played this both solo and multiplayer, and despite being co-op the multiplayer doesn't seem to have the same 'alpha player' problem I've seen in Pandemic.  (Could have been who I was playing with, though).

 

Incursion - An asymmetric two-player action-point spending world-war-weird game.  This sits very much in the Doom / Space Hulk mode, if you're familiar with those.  One of you will be lobbing hoards of Zombie Nazis onto the board as the others pilot a team or Allies to get somewhere.  It's actually cleverer than it sounds as units without line of sight go into overwatch mode, making for some tense battles.  There's a new edition of this with loads of minis, but I've got the first one with standees.  I think I sometimes prefer standees to be honest, as the art is nicer (and I'm not/never going to be a mini painter).

 

Heroes of Normandie - still playing this.  A lot.  One-on-one WW2 minis games, without minis.  Confused rulebook should be ignored, translated /errata corrected one from bbg should be used.  The scenarios are great.  There is loads of game in the box, and the card play and dice rolls makes for a much sillier version of ww2 than some of the chits and tables wargames out there. It does mean there is luck involved, but using suppressive fire and good placement will minimise this, and make for a tactical game where winning means something.

 

Twilight Struggle - I'll reiterate how good this game is.  Two player, card driven cold war era battling for dominance of the world.  This isn't great if you're playing someone of an unequal skill, as the strategic depth and knowledge of some of the cards being in the deck is going to mean the more experienced player will win by a mile, but in my experiences (with the same person, over and again) we always have a great, brain burning times with this.  It's not quick to play though, if you suffer from analysis paralysis.

 

 

Some others that pop to mind

Above And Below - A beautiful worker placement with elements of paragraph (choose your own adventure) gaming.  It's not perfect, but is so charming it wins you over anyway.  The paragraph element doesn't quite pay-off nicely, with just rewards given, rather than any narrative ending which is an oddly dis-satisfying end to any encounter.

Tales of the Arabian Nights - gloriously daft non-game of stuff happening.  But it'll make you laugh, as long as you don't mind winning/losing/being willfully frustrated by a game that keeps you locked up.  I also acknowledge the perhaps lack of PC sensitivity in this game.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective - you verses the designer of the puzzle, and enjoying a choose your own adventure book really... but it's great while you've still got new ones to play.  I'm deep into the first edition, and the Gumshoe sequel-of-sorts set in the hardboiled PI world of1930s America.

Jaipur -still great two player fun, buying and selling goods and camels in the market.

Fugitive - this gets more play than you'd imagine - just a number game of playing sequential cards, and the opponent working out what you've done.  But the nice Ryan Goldsbury art lifts Tim Fower's game.

Cosmic Encounter - It's nearly always great fun, with lots of stupid powers and teaming up.  But some combinations of alien powers/people can occasionally make the game fall flat.

Letters From Whitechapel - there is something a bit broken about one of the elements of this, that I won't detail here (for fear of ruining it for those playing it).  Suffice to say that it's not really possible for me to play as Jack now, because to use the exploit feels like cheating - but to not means I'm only half playing to win.  I can still enjoy it as the police, though.

Libertaiia - I enjoy this, as there is more game here than appears initially.  If anyone watched Wil Weaton's tabletop with this game it shows exactly how someone not-playing (randomly playing cards) can ruin the enjoyment.

Fiasco - a tabletop RPG that I've just though off that was also completely ruined on Wil Weaton's youtube video thanks to a player playing the ending narrative 'to win' which just shows you need the right people for the right game!

City Of Horror - with the right people this game is a blast.  Stab one another in the back as you go back on deals you made to save the team from zombies by sacrificing them in a vote.  Ideal.

Dawn Of The Zeds - A solo game of saving the city from invading zombies.  The theme may be tired, but this becomes a clever puzzle of trying to efficiently trying to use the actions available.

Codeword Cromwell - A weird one this, and probably not on many people's radar.  A solo simulation of a German invasion on a small English village in 1940.  The board is too large, the cards are inefficient (having just a number on them, that you then look up in a book, rather than printing the text on the cards).  The Characters are unique, but again you're looking up their skills in a book.  But the story it tells, as you try to save the village, and find the traitor (there's also a slightly redundant 'person of interest' mechanic that I think was abandoned in the design when it made things too hard)... is greater than the sum of all the problems.  A curate's egg of a game.

Sprawlopolis - just 18 cards that you (solo/co-op) are tasked with laying out in a way to maximise scoring as determined by some randomly selected rules of combination.  A great fun head-scratchy filler this one, and cheap.  (Though some of the combinations of rules you can draw are harder to play together than others)

 

Notably I've grown tired of social deduction games.  I don't mind hidden roles (Dead Of Winter, with it's potential betrayer etc.) but pure social deduction has lost its appeal somewhat.

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Is code Cromwell the one designed by some batty daily mail journalist who only designed one game (or something)?

 

If so I really want to get hold of it but it seems to be rarer than hen's teeth...

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2 hours ago, Tourist said:

Is code Cromwell the one designed by some batty daily mail journalist who only designed one game (or something)?

 

If so I really want to get hold of it but it seems to be rarer than hen's teeth...

Yes, by Daniel Hodges the Mail on Sunday (eughh) journalist and son of Glenda Jackson.  His other game was "Where there is discord" a Falklands war game, which attached some positive attention but I didn't get to play.  Also very rare.

 

I had all but given up on getting Codeword Cromwell myself, but it came up in a discussion forum of people taking about games they own but dislike, despite other people's positive reviews.   Ended up paying £80.  Ouch!  

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Cosmic’s Black Hole awards for Stellar Solo Board gaming experiences

 

I’ve decided to cut back to categories of games which are either designed for solo play or which aren't in any way diminished by it, so leaving out all the Euros etc which can still be enjoyable to explore, particularly the more complex ones.  I find solo modes can often get a little too predictable too quickly.

 

The main criteria for inclusion in this prestigious company (no particular order):

  • High production and design quality
  • Replay-ability
  • Complimentary game mechanics and theme

Spoiled only for length / gushing.


A Legacy Games

 

Only 2 outright recommendations in this category (I’ve not played Pandemic, find Charterstone to be so-so, would avoid Seafall)

Spoiler

A1 Gloomhaven - I’ve posted many times in the relevant thread highlighting how this works for soloists..  If you like Icewind Dale, this could be the game for you.  With a little prior organisation, it is relatively compact on the table, is perfectly self contained, and also benefits from very clear rules.  Allow 2-3 hours per scenario.  

A2 Rise of Queensdale. I’ve also posted about this but I don't want to spoil anything which makes it tricky.  As a soloist, play with all 4 characters, male or female, and invest them each with their own personalities and play styles.  The game is never seriously impacted by player interaction, and if anything an experienced group will find it too easy.  You, on the other hand, can slow right down to enjoy the delightful side stories which fill the game between each stage.

 

B RPG style campaign co-op games.

These are for replaying with different parties and choosing different outcomes, with far more of a story or CyoA vibe than Gloomhaven possesses.  Inevitability, they they tend to improve in later acts and more sophisticated additional characters, so rapidly become expensive.  I haven’t played the Shadows of Brimstone games or they might also figure.

 

Spoiler

B1 Sword & Sorcery. 
Acts I and II of the first season are now out with the final quests and ultimate showdown incoming, and a Kickstarter completed for Season 2.  I really love this game but it is also a monster.  If Gloomhaven is Icewind Dale, then this is Baldur’s Gate 2. Gather your party and venture forth.  Can’t argue that soloists aren't at a disadvantage here in the level of detail which needs to be considered - enemy AI scripts, character skills, benefits arising from gear (hence the BG2 comparisons); all need to be reviewed for each enemy activation and engagement. Initially its also extremely confusing as the rule book isn't the best, and very similar items or skills may be differently categorised.  I’ve found the best approach is to relegate the map to a side table and leave your party, (party skills and gear), and enemy cards as your main focus, using a few coloured cubes to identify limited actions or generic re-rolls, and a little crib sheet on a post-it note of key stats. The rewards come from a sophisticated dungeon crawler which also offers a decent story and high level of randomness.  Also, excellent treasure!   Most of the characters have 2 different skill trees dependent on their morality' and some stories won’t feature in all campaigns.  The later stories often involve the group moving between multiple maps, doing things other than slaying all enemies, and take a long time to complete with a big party (4 hours+).   All photos I’ve taken of this don't do it justice - the lovely detailed maps look out of focus, the table appears to be a chaotic mass of cards and tokens, but it’s excellent, honest!.

B2 Folklore the affliction.  A complete contrast.  Shares a lot with P&P RPGs (whilst DM free).  Drawback - constantly updating stats and status, need to manually track enemy health, in short lots of bookkeeping which the soloist has to assume for all party members (and which makes the party leader role far less significant).  Also lacks some tracking components and mixes up tokens, cards and non-represented items in a bit of a hoch-poch which takes a bit of acclimatising to after complete packages such as GH or S&S.  Advantage - its possible to play this for much shorter periods than S&S with each story being broken down into chapters, and it also requires less space and far less mental concentration.  Adding more advanced features such as craft recipes, rumours, world events help to improve the experience.  Decent branching in places.

 

C Puzzle type games for the soloist

 

Potentially the longest list, could be anything from 15 minute "quickies" to 90-120 minutes.  For the moment, these 3 are highly recommended. 

 

Spoiler

C1 Black Sonata   This is a recent kickstarter and is absolutely gorgeous.  The idea is that you are running around London seeking Shakespeare’s dark lady of the sonnets (who has never been unambiguously identified).  You win if you deduce her 3 suit symbols before time expires, based on clue cards you obtain after visiting each area and by catching up with her 3 or 4 times.  If you fail to find her she flees and you lose the trail for a time.  I’m sure this “lock and key” game mechanism has been used elsewhere (each card in the main deck corresponds to a single location but there are multiple cards with the same back), but here it works extremely well, a perfect match of theme and mechanic.  There are 16+ routes along which the lady travels, and ways to increase difficulty, plus a scoring system.  Finally the whole package is beautifully compiled, with high quality components and an illustrated booklet with details of the potential real life dark ladies and other background information. It's compact enough to suit travel.   20-30 minutes. 

C2 Nemo’s War.  This is much longer and more complex affair (2 hours or so).  You play as Nemo, choosing one of 4 motivations for him and undertaking an encounter- driven adventure to it’s finale by moving around the oceans finding treasure, sinking ships, inciting revolutions and upgrading your vessel.  Each turn, as well as resolving the encounter, more ships come hunting for you and if the oceans become full you fail, so even a pacifist Nemo must take action to clear spaces.  Sinking ships creates notoriety though and too much of that is a problem! Again, beautifully presented, true to the story, lovely detail on the ship tokens,  a very nice rule book and lots of reminder detail on the board itself.  Some of the motivations are easier than others, but high scores are always tricky and randomness adds greatly to re-playability.

C3 Gloom of Kilforth.  Always tricky to include a new game but I think this justifies its place here.  As a soloist, pick a random character, add a random class and a random quest line and off you go.  The idea is to obtain experience of particular types  through resolving (by stat testing) encounters during your travels around the map (e.g sneak into a location, charm a stranger, defeat an enemy).  Matching keywords enables you to complete your quest and thus level up, and also to add allies, spells, items and titles to your cause, until finally, when you feel ready, you face up against one of four bosses.  The snags are that you start very weak, have a 25 day time limit in a progressively a more hostile environment, and will encounter other hindrances such as high level encounters and bad weather along the way.  The rule book and terminology aren't the clearest, but the underlying experience is satisfying and the artwork gorgeous (get the larger place cards). Allow 90 minutes.

 

 


I might revisit this to add a  fourth category of “Explora-thon” for lengthy solo rambles if either HEXXplore or 7th continent deliver as anticipated.  I should also get Mage Knight out again one of these days.

 

Bonus pic of Black Sonata at completion, with successful identification at Blackfriars.

 

 

 

 

IMG_0755.JPG

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Finding out Dan Hodges made a mediocre patriotic board game has got to be one of the most unintentionally amusing things I've read all week.

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The new edition of Arkham Horror (the board game) plays very well solo too. Does a much better job at telling a coherent story than the earlier editions did.

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I have copies of Telestrations, Risk, Scrabble and various card games, and am looking to build my own library to play with the BF, when we have visitors, and to take to dinners with family.

 

I'm thinking of starting with a nice mix of games that are good to play with two people or a larger but non-gamer group, and preferably portable and lower cost. And most of which I've played except for Hive, Jaipur and Love Letters.

 

Hive

Jaipur Card Game 

Quiddler

Codenames (picture edition)

Sushi Go

Exploding Kittens

Skull

Love Letter Card Game 

 

And then build it up with some medium size games. Catan being the only one I've played so far and the rest being recommendations except for the last two which I've only seen online but find very intriguing. 

 

Reef 

Catan

Twilight 

Ticket to Ride 

Quacks of Quedlinburg 

Secret Hitler 

Photosynthesis 

 

Any advise on my selection, or where to buy them, would be really appreciated

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