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I love playing board games but often there's not many people around that share my passion. For that reason I'm looking for board games that can be played with just one player. I've discovered Arkham Horror few months ago and I think it's a fabulous game but I was wondering for some time now if there are other good board games that are as good or even better for single person?

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closed as not constructive by Pat Ludwig Jan 8 '12 at 6:32

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Are you interested in games specifically designed for one person, or are games that can be played by 1 player with small modifications acceptable? –  Pat Ludwig Oct 19 '10 at 20:44
    
Both types will be fine. –  RaYell Oct 19 '10 at 20:49
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Flagged for wiki conversion. See: meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/66/… –  Jon Hadley Oct 21 '10 at 11:34
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23 Answers 23

Agricola has a supported one player option. I find it doesn't have the same feel. It's more of a puzzle, but it is still very enjoyable.

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You can look for games with single-player mode. There are few realy good games with this.

  • One of the best game - Agricola has single player game.
  • Race for the Galaxy with an expansion "The Gathering Storm" has also single player mode.
  • Pandemic - designed for 2-5 players, but you still can play alone (because it its cooperative game).
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While not necessarily "board games" there are a few card games that have a nice solo option:

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Death Angel looks pretty good and it's cheap. I'll probably get this one soon. Thanks. –  RaYell Oct 21 '10 at 8:04
    
Death Angel can actually be played with up to six players. It's really quite good. I've never come close to winning the single-player game. –  Robert Rossney Oct 26 '10 at 19:31
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There are a couple fun ways to play Carcassonne with one player:

  1. Build an outline of a 10x10 grid with randomly chosen tiles. Attempt to fill it in completely.
  2. Just play solo (possibly with a limited number of tiles and/or meeples) and try to maximize your score. Two examples.
  3. The version in the Carcassonne iPhone game. Draw+place tiles with no meeples. Complete roads and cities of successively larger sizes starting at size 2 (features completed out of order do not count). There are a few ways you could score this. The iPhone game uses a method that may be too heavy for use by hand: tiles to compete scoring features are free, other tiles cost based on the size of the rectangle that encloses the area of play (cost=length+width after the tile is placed); you lose if the total cost exceeds 1000 before your size 6 road and city are built. For less bookkeeping, you could try to maximize the road+city size you build while minimizing the size of the area of play.
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The recent Castle Ravenloft boardgame has a few scenarios for a single player that are quite fun to play.

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Le Havre has an enjoyable one player experience.

The game involves managing many goods while buying up valuable businesses with an eventual goal of having a shipping empire.

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Lord of the Rings is a cooperative game, but a friend of mine highly recommends playing it solitaire. I would guess that other cooperative games could be played this way, but it would depend on how much information was intended to be hidden from the other players.

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Roll Through the Ages. This is a terrific civ game disguised as Yahtzee! It's a fun game in general, but I play it as a solitaire all the time on my iPhone. The app is a great deal at 5 or 6 dollars. In fact, I own only the digital version! But it's a great game in either form.

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Arkham Horror supports single player play. However, it would probably be more fun to have someone else to co-miserate with!

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I play many games (Settlers, Puerto Rico, Ticket to Ride) against the computer. Their strategies get old after a while, but it gives me some practice. Lots of the popular games are also online.

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Board game against the computer? –  RaYell Oct 20 '10 at 8:50
    
@RaYell, yep, there's ton's of board Games on the computer now. –  Lance Roberts Oct 20 '10 at 12:30
    
For me the best thing about board games is that you touch and see game elements. If I want to play on the computer I'll probably pick Modern Warfare :) But that's just me. –  RaYell Oct 20 '10 at 14:27
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I think the initial idea was what games could be played solo without a computer. –  My Turn Yet Oct 20 '10 at 21:47
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A lot of people don't know that there are good board / turn based games online, I think it's a fair answer. –  Joe Zack Oct 24 '10 at 15:48
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Even if the two games I first thought of are already mentioned in other answers:

Nearly every cooperative game is ideal for single play, because you can just play two or more players without having to make any rule changes. (The two that I play alone are Pandemic and Arkham Horror, both already mentioned.)

The only exception is of course when the game is cooperative, but every player has his own information and is not allowed to share it with others. I consider that rather strange for a cooperative game (and didn't like the idea), but I played one where this was the case, Witch of Salem.

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I've had lots of fun with a few free print-and-play dice games. The rules and game boards can be printed out for free, though you'll need to provide your own dice (obviously). Here are a few good ones that I keep coming back to:

D-Day Dice

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This dice game depicts the attack on Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944. You start with a few soldiers and a printout of the beach divided into sectors. Roll dice to recruit more soldiers, recruit specialists, gain courage (allowing you to advance), and so on. It's a lot of fun, and actually quite difficult to beat. I won the first game I played, and I haven't won since!

The d6 Shooters

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In this game, you play the role of the leader of a posse escorting an outlaw to his trial in Reno. By rolling dice, you gather food, mine for gold, move toward Reno, and fight any outlaws you encounter on the way. There's a lot to like about this game, and it plays in about 20 minutes. It's a game that falls into that "Just one more time!" category.

One nice thing about both of these games is that there are several different scenarios available, and new ones come out periodically. Just follow the links above to their respective pages on BoardGameGeek.com, and check out the "Files" sections for the rules and downloadable material.

P.S. - If you enjoy these games, it might be worth your while to laminate the player sheets. That way, you can use dry-erase markers and simply erase when you're done. No need to keep printing the game boards over and over again!

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Word games would be great for this, especially Bananagrams and Boggle.

You can play against yourself to improve your fastest time in Bananagrams or your highest score in Boggle.

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I think some great games have been named, but we should not forget (Peg) Solitaire, one of the best known games made specifically for just one player.

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+1 It's good to remember that there are just games that are designed for one player from the ground up! –  Alex P Nov 27 '11 at 19:43
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The Age of Steam expansion Barbados is a one-player map. The random cube distribution at the beginning makes it interesting to replay. Note that this map is included in the 3rd edition of Age of Steam.

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I've played Scrabble often as just a single player.

All rules stay the same, but you're just looking to optimize every play for the most number of points (and I personally disallow myself to turn-in my tiles).

You could also optimize for always playing the longest possible word, or finishing your personal game in, say, 25 minutes.

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Al Cabohne (a Bohnanza-spin-off) has a single player option. In that case you draw random cards for your opponents (the bean mafia). Works quite well in my opinion.

Other than that I know some riddle-games, there you solve crimes or similar things. You given some hints and place markers on the grid to represent encounters. That's more like a puzzle than a game though.

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Blokus

Blokus has several interesting single player puzzles listed in the rules if that's what you're looking for.

Finding a way for four players to all get all their pieces on the board is a pretty cool challenge of analysis and spatial calculations.

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Not directly what you asked for, but:

If your problem is that there are no other people around in person who want to play board games, you could play with other people online.

I think the most known site for this is brettspielwelt.de. It's a German site, but you can switch the site language to English, there are lots of international players around and nearly everyone there speaks English.

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As I said before I don't want to play those kind of games on a computer. There are lots of other, probably better video games. I'm looking for something to play when I want to have a break from video games. –  RaYell Oct 27 '10 at 9:08
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Labyrinth

Labyrinth takes 1 or 2 players inside the Islamist jihad and the global war on terror. With broad scope, ease of play, and a never-ending variety of event combinations similar to GMT's highly popular Twilight Struggle, Labyrinth portrays not only the US efforts to counter extremists' use of terrorist tactics but the wider ideological struggle—guerrilla warfare, regime change, democratization, and much more.

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Wilderness War is a fantastic game. I'm looking forward to seeing what Volko Ruhnke does with this. –  Robert Rossney Dec 6 '10 at 0:12
    
I played my first game of this yesterday using the learning game. Its very good. –  cfeduke Dec 6 '10 at 16:22
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Ricochet Robot is very cool and funny, if you like puzzles. It's "the game with which you shout numbers in your garden". You must find the shortest way from a place to another, using very dumb straight-going robots.

If you prefer strategy games, you have Vinci, which is the first version of Small World and has a single player version which is very good! I tried it, the player doesn't win every time! The idea is: you play with "automatic players", that can be compared to AI in video games. They obey very basic rules and the player doesn't decide for them what to play, it's impressive how it works well! Maybe the game can't be found nowadays, though, but you can still get a Small World and play with this special single player rule from its ancestor, the two games are exactly the same.

It's very easy to play alone at Once Upon a Time, in which you must create a fairy tale. If you do, use a microphone to keep a track of your masterpiece! Maybe Disney will make a movie out of it someday.

As other mentionned, cooperative games are good as well! My preference goes to Forbidden Island, playable in less than an hour.

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Elder Sign is closely related, obviously, and can be played normally with one player. It would be better to play as least two investigators (three if you feel like it), as one investigator tends to end in either certain doom or boring steamrolling. (It's also quite cheap and very, very compact compared to Arkham Horror.)

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A dice game similar to the ones suggested by Matt Dillard is Booty for Booty. You are in command of an unruly pirate crew and have to sail from place to place trying to collect booty. It has nice, whimsical humor and plenty of odd events which can happen to your ship.

Another idea would be to take an existing game and set up an AI algorithm (I've done this myself with several Dvorak decks, and also the game of Hearts; just think of how you play and apply it to the opponents.) This option can amount to playing against yourself, though, and if you don't set up the algorithm well enough, you will find the AI making horrible moves. Sometimes I actually do both good and poor algorithms, since playing with both intelligent and unintelligent opponents livens things up.

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