Joseph works as an editor in one of the magazines dedicated to video games. Here, at RecRoomPick, he’s given the opportunity to enjoy the reverse of the medal – the no less engaging world of offline games.
Ryan knows everything when it comes to gaming, both online and offline. Since his early years he’s been in love with arcades, air hockey, and foosball. Finally, he’s given the opportunity to share his knowledge and opinion on the hobby of his life (and even get paid for it!).
Last updated: June 06, 2021
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Just because you don’t have any company coming over doesn’t mean that you need to spend the evening binge-watching the same old shows. Instead, you can pit your wits against diabolical demons or marauding monsters if you have one of the best solo board games at your disposal. These amazing games are great for keeping your mind sharp and having a lot of fun, even if you have no one to play with.
While it was no easy task, after considering 25 options, we have found the six best solo board games around. Our favorite is Mage Knight. This game has it all. A compelling story, RPG elements, and tons of fun, all while being perfect for one or more players. Of course, even though this is the game we like the most, don’t be afraid to check out the other five games on our list so that you can be sure to find the right game for your playing preferences.
For our listing, we first looked at lots of different features on tons of different games before we found the six best. First, we looked at the recommended age for each board game, since this will help you to determine whether it is something you would like to play or not. Next, we looked at how many players the games can be played with so you have a better understanding of whether it can only be played solo or with a group. Finally, we looked at the gameplay time, as this shows you how involved each game is. This careful research helped us to not only put together our list and detailed reviews for each game but also allowed us to put together an in-depth buying guide so that you can make a more informed decision about the game you buy.
If you are looking for the best overall game for solo players, then this is going to be our recommendation. This game is plain and simple, a ton of fun to play. Perhaps its best overall feature is that it has an intricate storyline that will allow you to become completely immersed in the world of the game as you guide one of the four Mage Knights towards their goals. This game can be played with 1-4 players. If you choose to do it with your friends, you can play competitively or cooperatively, which only adds the replay value of the game.
Something else that helps to make this such an enjoyable game, at least for older players, are the intricate rules and mechanisms within the game to make each level feel unique. There are tons of cards to build your deck with, with some being beneficial and some making your character’s life a whole lot harder.
Of course, the flip side of having all of these cards, figures, and rules, is that there is an extremely steep learning curve. It can take a lot of time to get up to playing speed, and even when you do, each time you play could take up to two hours, even when you are on your own.
Another key aspect of this one player board game that helps to set it aside from its competitors is its distinct RPG elements. In this game, with each quest, you accomplish and enemy you defeat, you will get closer to leveling up your character. This is hugely important, as this will allow you to continue on in the game as the challenges become even greater. Within this game, you can also choose to be as good or as bad you want, which will have a direct effect on how you complete future missions. This unique system helps to make the game even more immersive.
If you are looking for a game that has one of the playable campaigns on the market, then Gloomhaven is a great option. This game comes with tons of figures and cards as well and has a litany of adventures to play through. While many different games only have a basic number of levels and a lot of different expansion packs to purchase, this game has everything that you need to play for a good long time. This does make it a bit more expensive upfront, but it is well worth it if you are looking for a game you can play for years beyond the first time you play it.
The only real drawback to this otherwise great solitaire board game is that it will take a very long time to set up and tear down, especially if you are playing this game on your own. This shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise since there is a lot to go along with this game. Even though this is a very involved game, the rules are relatively straightforward. Even if you have never played a game like this before, you shouldn’t have any issue getting up to speed pretty quickly with this game.
One of the reasons that this game is so easy to understand is because of its streamlined card systems. The way that the game is designed, you can choose either the tops and bottoms of cards to manage your hand, which is a different take on this type of game. These easy to use cards make the tactical battle system a whole lot easier, and enjoyable, to utilize while you are playing.
One of the biggest issues that a lot of younger gamers have when it comes to solo board games is that there are not a lot of different options available to them on the market. Most solo style board games are heavily involved and have tons of rules or need a whole lot of time to be set up properly.
Thankfully, that is not the case with this game. Onirim is a great option for younger gamers, simply because the gameplay is so straightforward. Another bonus is that each level only takes about 15 minutes to complete, so you don’t run the risk of the game extending beyond a younger player’s attention span.
This quick gameplay is aided by a very simple set of rules that can quickly and easily be grasped by the player. Basically, you have a deck of cards, and you need to escape a labyrinth by unlocking 8 doors, all while trying to avoid being caught by the nightmares that lurk within. Each level is very similar in this way, which might make it a bit monotonous for older, more experienced gamers. It should be, however, more than enough of a challenge for younger players.
Another great feature of this game is that it comes with lots of different levels. It comes with the basic game and then 7 additional expansions. This is a huge value, since getting these expansions won’t cost you anything extra down the road, and will provide plenty of entertainment.
What are our favorite features?
Easy to understand rules and directions
Good for younger players
Includes 7 expansions
What could be better?
Simple gameplay might not be challenging enough for some gamers
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be stranded on a deserted island with nothing but your wits to help you survive? This is the exact premise of this game, which has you trying to help Robinson Caruso survive on his island. Friday is a deck-building card game, which helps to give it a high level of replay value. Since you are constantly adding and subtracting from your deck, you can add to the abilities of Robinson to help him survive on his island.
One of the best things about a 1 player board game like this is that it takes very little time to learn the rules of the game. It also doesn’t take a ton of time to set up and play, which is key for a solo only game. All in all, this game will probably only take you about 25 minutes to go through a level, even when you count the setup. This makes it a great option for newer gamers since the rules are not that intricate.
As we mentioned above, this is a game that is designed to only be played by one person at a time. While this isn’t the biggest deal, it does limit it a bit if you are hoping to sometimes play board games with your friends. Thankfully, with such a short setup and gameplay time, this game is still a great value and a perfect option if you are looking to only play by yourself.
If you are in the market for a fast-paced, one person only survival game, then this is the game for you. Unbroken is a deck-building style game that is very easy to set up and breakdown. This game is also very easy to understand, as all of its cards work together seamlessly. This game is a unique mix of both survival and dungeon games, which helps to make it a unique gaming experience.
One of the best things about this game is its characters. There are four types to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The cool thing about these four classes is that, unlike many other games out there, none of them feels that much better than the others. They are surprisingly balanced, which helps to make each of them just as difficult to play with as the others, which helps to increase the replay value of the game tremendously.
This game is perfect for use on the go. The compact box is very portable, and for the most part, all of the different pieces can easily be laid out to play pretty much anywhere. The only real drawback would be the monster cards. These cards are a bit larger than the others, which might make it more difficult to fit them onto smaller playing surfaces. Of course, this does give visual expression to just how overpowered you are in the game, which adds to the suspenseful nature of the gameplay, so you can understand why the developers made them that way.
What stands out?
Quick and suspenseful gameplay
Easy to understand rules and directions
What cons did we manage to find?
Oversized cards are too large for smaller playing surfaces
While it is nice to be able to play a game on your own, it can be just as much fun to share that experience with your friends. This game, like many others, provides you the option of playing alone or with your friends. What makes this game unique, however, is that if you do decide to play with your friends, you have the option of playing with them or against them. This different sort of taking on the dungeon-crawling genre is a breath of fresh air and should provide you with hours of fun, no matter if you choose to play by yourself or with/against your friends.
The gameplay in this game depends on you building your deck while you explore a variety of dungeons. It involves 17 different characters which you can assemble into parties of four. This variety helps to make each adventure different than the last, which helps to keep the game entertaining.
It must be said, however, that the game can get a bit repetitive if you don’t switch up the characters too often. While the game does give a huge variety of monsters that you need to vanquish to achieve your goals, many of them act in a very similar manner. These similarities make the game a bit less immersive than it could have been since it could feel like you have already completed certain tasks before.
Another cool feature of this game is its upgrade cards. These cards come in three different tiers, with each one being better than the last. These upgrades can serve to spice up your tactics a bit, which can help to make the game feel a bit more fresh as you play through it.
What makes it special?
Allows for solo or multiplayer gaming
Can be played competitively or cooperatively
What cons did we find?
Things to Consider
As you can imagine, there are lots of different features that you need to take into account when you are looking for any board game, but especially when you are thinking of getting one to play solo. In this section, we will go through everything you need to know to find the right game for your needs. We have also taken the time to answer some frequently asked questions, so be sure to read through those as well if you need more information.
What is a solo board game?
As the name suggests, solo board games are ones that are designed to be played by only one person at a time. They can also be multi-player games that have solo elements. These games are a bit more versatile since they give you the option of playing with a group of friends or by yourself if you would prefer. Some solo board games are quite short, while others can get extremely involved and take hours to complete, due to their intricate storylines, figures, maps, and card elements.
What are the benefits of solo gaming?
While most of us are probably used to playing games that can only be used with more than one player, there have been solo games on the market for years. In all truth, it is no different than someone playing a video game or classic card game like Solitaire on their own. The only difference is that there is a bit more setup involved. After that, it is not much different and actually has some added benefits over playing with a bunch of people at once.
Enjoyable – First and foremost, these games are tons of fun. Though it might seem a bit strange to set up a game for yourself to play through, once you get into it, you are going to have a lot of fun. These games come in lots of different varieties and take different amounts of time, with some being 15-minute jaunts and others taking hours to complete. No matter how long the game you choose happens to be, you are sure to have a great time playing it.
It can always be played – Unlike multi-player board games, you don’t need to schedule a time to play a solo version. Everyone is always busy nowadays, which can make getting together to play a game a huge challenge. This challenge is nonexistent in the world of solo gaming; however, since all you need to play is time to yourself.
Play as little or as much as you want – Another big bonus to this type of game is that you can play for as long or as little as you want. Since you don’t need to fit your gaming sessions around anyone else’s schedule, you can play for long or short periods of time with no qualms.
No arguments – Another big benefit of playing a solo board game is that you don’t need to deal with any arguments amongst your friends. These arguments are inevitably going to happen in multi-player settings, especially in more involved games. By playing by yourself, you can avoid these nasty confrontations.
Easier to learn – Since these games are played on your own, you can take as much, or as little, time as you need to figure out the rules and play the game to its fullest potential. This makes them a lot easier to read since you don’t need to deal with anyone else’s interpretations of the game’s rules.
Allows for more exploration – Finally, one of the coolest aspects of a solo game is that you can take time to really explore the expanded universe that the game is trying to create. Since you don’t need to move the game at anyone else’s pace, you are freer to play exactly how you want to, without having to worry about what anyone else wants.
Features to consider when choosing a solo board game
Finding the best solo player board game can be a bit challenging since there are so many to choose from. In this section, we will go through everything you need to know in detail so that you can find the right game for your playing style.
The first thing that you will want to determine before you make your decision is the sort of story that you want to follow. Many board games follow similar stories in that they have a fantasy setting. Of course, within this genre, there is a lot of room for variation. Games like Mage Knight, for example, will give you access to an expansive map, all while allowing you to play the game in a more open-world setting that has you making choices between good and evil. Other games, like Dungeon Alliance, are a bit more linear in that they have you exploring various dungeons while following along a specific story.
On the other hand, there are other options out there as well, though most games follow a basic adventure theme. Friday, for instance, is not set in fantasy land but is ground in a more realistic setting. It still shares elements with other solo board games, however, so it would still be enjoyable for pretty much anyone.
The next thing that you need to consider is the age of the people that are going to be playing these games. There are two reasons for this. The first is the more obvious of the two. Some of the games on the market are not designed for younger players from a content standpoint. The last thing that you want to do is to get a game for someone to enjoy that has something in it that you wouldn’t want them exposed to.
The second reason that the player’s age is such a big factor when it comes to finding a game is simply from an understanding standpoint. Some of the games that are designed for older players, like Gloomhaven, are much too complex for younger players. Your child won’t be able to have very much fun playing a game if they can’t understand it.
While it is certainly fine to play some of these games with younger gamers, it does take away from the solo playing element, so be sure to get a game that the intended player is not only going to understand but also one that they will be able to enjoy playing.
Another big factor in finding a good solo game to play in understanding the type of learning curve you be faced with in trying to understand how to play your game of choice. Many of these solo games are, by design, exceedingly complex. You need to make sure that you have the right amount of time to set aside so that you can not only function within the game but enjoy it as well.
If you are looking for the most complex game you can get your hands on, then games like Mage Knight or Gloomhaven will be perfect for you. These games come with tons of cards, figures, statistics, and many other aspects that you will need to master to play the game correctly. Of course, if you are just looking for a quick game to have some fun with without having to learn a lot, then games like Onirim or Friday are a good fit. Their quicker setup and playthrough make them excellent options for anyone looking for fun without too much of a learning curve.
Number of players
While all of these games can, obviously, be played with only one player, you might also want to consider if any of them can be played with more than one. While you might think that that defeats the purpose of this game for you, think about it for a moment.
Playing solo in a game you love is tons of fun, but what if you have some friends over and are looking for something to do? Playing your favorite solo game as a group just might be the right ticket to share the wealth a bit and expose people to a game that you enjoy.
If you think that you might want to play with some friends sometime, then a game like Dungeon Alliance is a good option. This game allows for up to four players, making it ideal for many different sized get-togethers. It also doesn’t have too steep of a learning curve, either, which is important if you are trying to bring one of your friends who has never played it before up to speed quickly.
One of the biggest things to think about when you are getting a new board game, whether it be for solo use or for playing with a group, is the amount of time it takes to complete a game. You need to decide if you are looking for a quick adventure or a more involved one. Something else you need to consider is how much time will be added if you play the game with a friend. Some games will expand exponentially with each added participant, so be sure to keep that in mind. Of course, if you are only looking to play by yourself, you only need to think about how much time you have available to get a game finished.
If you are someone that is looking for a quick game, then you should check out games like Onirim, Friday, or Unbroken. These three games have gameplay times that clock in under half an hour, making them perfect for playing in limited amounts of free time. If you have all the time in the world, then the games Mage Knight, Gloomhaven, and Dungeon Alliance are perfect options for you. These games take a minimum of an hour to complete, and can sometimes last as long as 2 to 3 hours, so be prepared to use up lots of free time with these titles.
One of the biggest reasons that the more involved games are so time-consuming is due to all of the playing materials that come along with them. This includes figures, cards, manuals, and boards/maps. The cool thing about all of these different parts is that they help the games to become much more immersive, especially once you get the hang of using all of the materials at your disposal to play effectively. On the other hand, all of these different parts might seem a bit overwhelming at first, especially if you are new to this genre of game.
The games that have a shorter playing time will usually have a lot less to set up and manage while you are playing, which can be quite helpful if you are just getting started playing solo board games. The good thing is that, regardless of what type of game you settle on getting in the end, you will have everything that you need to play correctly. Of course, some games, like Onirim, have several expansion packs available, which is a really cool concept. The original game is not too daunting to get involved in but can grow as your skill level does.
If you don’t want to have to worry about a whole lot of setup when it comes to finding the best solo board game, then you have a couple of different options. The fastest game is going to be Onirim, which only takes about 15 minutes to play through a level. Friday is another good option in this regard, as most of the adventures presented in this game will only take you about 25 minutes to complete.
Several of the games on our list are considered to be in-depth RPG/strategy games. Perhaps the best example of this is Mage Knight. In this game, you can choose multiple different paths to complete various quests. You can choose exactly what kind of character you are in that you can choose to be evil or good, or somewhere in between the two. These choices will have a direct effect on whether or not you are successful in later missions, so you need to be sure to plan your moves carefully so that you can continue your quest.
Of all the different games that we looked into, the best one for kids to play on their own is Onirim. This game, while tons of fun for all ages, has easily digestible directions that most children over ten years old would probably understand without too much difficulty. Each of the quests or levels are also quite short, which makes them ideal for players who have shorter attention spans than older players.
If you are in the market for the best overall solo board game, then we highly recommend that you check out Mage Knight. This game has something for everyone, from its highly involved stories to its intricate design, and complex gameplay systems, this game is built to last a good long time. Whether you want to always play by yourself or with your friends, this is a great game to get.
Gloomhaven is another highly involved game that is great for group or solo play. It comes with plenty of content to keep you busy, making it perfect for anyone looking for an immersive new pastime.
Onirim is the best solo board game for anyone that is new to the genre. Its simple rules and quick gameplay help to make it a fast-paced and fun game. This would be a perfect game for younger players as well.