The rise of Solo Gamers!
2020, is the year ‘Back to the Future’ chose to ignore… But for solo gamers, it was a better story.
Personally, solo board and card gaming has never been my thing, as I have long enjoyed the social aspects of other humans, and occasionally not so human interaction. In fact, often in competitive games, especially Eurogames, I felt l had been terminated by the opposition. They seemed to enjoy that for some reason. Without a doubt, the rise of solo gamers has been a positive development for many, gamers, designers, and publishers.
Nevertheless, the social special time is my mental buzz, and I have seen it bring happiness and joy to many.
However, over the last few years board and card games that offer a solo rules option have been on the increase. In fact, for some publishers, it’s the first thing they look for in a design. But why?
There are of course many reasons, other than the lockdown restrictions imposed under the label Covid19.
For some, and me personally, I have found it a useful method of learning games, before demoing them to others. But with that, I realised that I prefer this to online boardgames, as I get time to experiment and test strategies without committing to a full game. I’m not saying I have not enjoyed playing online boardgames, in fact demoing Ninja Squad and Codinca with so many people on Tabletopia in Gen Con Online was great fun. But really it was the social interaction element of demoing games I already knew inside out, as opposed to my fun buzz from playing.
I suppose I have always liked tactile elements of a game and they aren’t on a computer screen.
Others simply enjoy playing at their own pace or playing a short game simply to chill out. It offers the freedom to combine playing with watching something on television, listening to music that you want, or just wanting to play a few rounds then pack it up without ever finishing it.
Another reason is that you can do it whenever you want and not have to get other people together. This during 2020, has of course been a challenge for many of us. Solo gaming allows the player to get deeper into a game. It allows personal time to think about elements of the game, admire the artwork, components, etc. without someone else waiting for you to take your turn.
Then of course we have all heard of ‘House rules’. There are many wannabe game designers that believe they can improve on what has been published. Perhaps they can, and perhaps they don’t, as we all like different things, that is not an easy one to answer. However solo gaming does allow ‘time’ for gamers to play around with their own spin for games and that for many is fun.
Some card games like Pathfinder Adventure game (Paizo Publishing) and One Deck Dungeon (Asmadi Games) actually seem to lend themselves better to solo play. They seem designed initially and are more fun to play individually, at least perhaps to begin with for some of us. Wargames like Silent Victory (Consim Press) may not be intriguing for mainstream gamers due to the massive rule books and complicated rules that must be adhered to. Playing solo games can be about the telling of a story, nearly like reading a book. The buzz generated perhaps by investigators going mad in the Arkham Card game (Fantasy Flight Games) may just be the perfect tonic.
To be honest, gamers can be like kids in a candy store. First and foremost, sometimes we just gotta have a certain boardgame. If our gaming groups or families are not interested, it doesn’t matter, we’ll buy it anyway. As a result, those same people may even tell us they are too busy to play our game, erm, really. Finally, some of us don’t want to be social, or some people/environments are not just where we want to be playing.
Whatever the reason, people who play solo games love board and card games enough to play by themselves. Ultimately they get great satisfaction from doing so. I could start with the positive mental health benefits, the release of dopamine when you win, but that is for another time.
From our perspective, our best-selling game (with a solo rules variant) Discworld Clacks, is sadly sold out…but hopefully, in 2021, we will have some great news about it!
In the meantime, all of our games are currently on-sale from our website. Ninja Squad & MourneQuest can be played solo. Choose two characters with different individual abilities for a different gaming experience.
So, if you have not experimented with playing solo, perhaps you should give it a try. You may even like it!