This is a list of my favorite solitaire board/card games. There are tons of old school games that are very hard to even find these days. This list will focus on modern single to multiplayer cooperative board/card games. If you want a full list of solitaire board games, check out Board Game Geek's Solitaire Game List and Board Game Geek's Solo Variant List.
This list consists of games I have played so far. Please send me your favorite solitaire games to [email protected].
1. Mage Knight: The Board Game
This is by far the most entertaining solitaire game I have played thus far. It is an adventure game at heart in the midst of a deck building game. The game comes with 11 scenarios, 2 of which are solo variants. One of these is the walkthrough game which if you to try playing the game by yourself for the first time it is a must. I still find myself referring back to the walkthrough book to make sure if I am doing things right.
While there is only one true solitaire scenario, the game is really a system in which millions of scenarios could be crated. The game rules encourage you to think outside the box and create your own scenarios with your own special rules for those scenarios. For instance you could decide that all monastaries are infested with some sort of monster and must be liberated before you interact with it. This is by the most replayable game I have ever played. I'm in love with it so much for solitaire play, I will probably start posting some solo scenarios of my own, because I have already beat the default solo game twice.
Plus, it's an even better multiplayer game which include several competitive and cooperative scenarios. Unfortunately at the time of this review, the game is sold out almost everywhere. Apparently there should be a reprint in March 2012. Currently one of the highest rated board game on Board Game Geek, it is even Tom Vasel approved. Check out his review.
2: Space Hulk: Death Angel
This game does have a lot of randomness, but is extremely addictive and works really well as a solitaire game. It is set in the Warhammer 40k universe but you don't need to be familiar with the setting to have fun with it. Essentially you control a few combat squads of Space Marines running through a Space Hulk (a giant alien ship). You struggle to stay alive while you slaughter aliens trying to get to the next room. The adventure is randomly generated and even the rooms will look different in every game.
Each combat squad has a set of three actions to choose from (Support, Move+Action and Attack). Support allows you to place support tokens on your space marines to allow the re-roll of dice. Move+Action allows you to move your marines around to look behind them, move up and down to defend against spawn points and activate various doors or control panels which will do different things in different rooms
The game is very difficult and the worst feature is the dice can literally wipe out squad pretty quickly just through a few bad rolls. Your space marines will most likely dwindle down to a last few, but tis the nature of the dark Warhammer universe. Lot's of people die. For $20, this game can't be beaten and comes in a small box. The rules are terribly written, but the game itself is simple once the rules sink in.
I really enjoy Tom Vasel's review of this game
3. Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft
This game is surprisingly not complex for how big it is. This is a dungeon crawler with several scenarios in the box. The nice thing about the game is it has a lot of randomized tiles in it and a lot of variation from scenario to scenario. However the rules are extremely simple, almost too simple. However this makes for a great game to quickly play solo or cooperatively. You can teach people to play very easily. There are 3 phases and each player has a card that shows them what they can do. The minatures that come with the game are nice, but they are type of plastic that is bendable, so there is no way to go about painting them. They are however color coded based upon the monster cards used to randomize the dungeon you are in.
All in all this is a great solo game. Most the time involved is in the setup, but even that becomes quick after a few players. Also since this is a cooperative game every scenario can basically be played solo. My only complaint is there isn't much complexity and a lot is based on randomness, but that doesn't mean it isn't a challenging game. There is also plenty of room for creating your own scenarios, creating your own monsters and villains or adding your rules.
4. Elder Sign
This game is an adventure that uses dice. It's main mechanic is very similar to Yahtzee, but that certainly undersells the game. While I don't generally like a lot of randomness in games, it is sometimes a major plus with it comes to solo board games. This game does it just right. You will have to use dice to defeats events and monsters in the game. Scary things lurk in the corner sometimes. The games makes you feel comfortable and then suddenly a surprise comes from an unusual directions to take you down a notch. Strategy comes with making the rights risks. You would be right to risk your money on this as a great solitaire board game. It comes in a fairly small box, with a surprising amount of components. Great for a game on the go.
5. Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
I'm still not quite sure what to think of this game. The base game does not quite feel like a full game. It is what Fantasy Flight Games terms as a "Living Card Game". That's really just fancy marketing talk meaning that they are going to keep releasing campaigns for the game as long as it stays profitable for them to do so. I like the concept of that but the base game just feels bare. The fun part of the game is when you have played a few games and you start building your own deck. Four base decks come with the game. However it is best to find a mix between the decks. It is a deck building game that is not in the CCG genre. This is where the game has serious potential.
My rating of this will most likely change after I play all of the base scenario game.
6. Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm
I'm not particulary fond of this game in general because it literally is a race. You build up only for the game to suddenly end. The solitaire aspect of The Gathering Storm is a really great mechanism once you learn how it works. The symbolism of Gathering Storm however is not very intuitive. If you happen to be color blind, you are really going to have some trouble with this game. The game in general can be hard to learn. If you want to try out the game, then you can actually download a copy and play. Race for the Galaxy Download.
7. Castle Panic!
Castle Panic is an okay game solo. It's main problem is that it is too random and for seasoned strategy gamers of any sort, the strategy is all too obvious. You have a set of 6 cards and you are defending your Castle from waves of attacks. The cards are random and the monster spawning is random. Most of the cards offer no sort of options, except for a few. You play the card when you are allowed to play it. The deepest strategy in the game is knowing when to discard a useless card. It makes a much better cooperative game than a solo game.