7 Board Games You Can Play Solo
Check out these games with solo modes, including brand-new rules variants for Carcassonne, Hadara, and Pandemic
While board games are a great social activity, sometimes you just need to take some time for yourself. Whether you’re unable to meet up with your regular group or you need a fun way to pass some extra time, we’re here with a list of games that you can play solo.
First, let’s take a look at some games that come with solo modes straight out of the box. Read to the bottom for three all-new solo variants for some of your favorites!
With beautiful components and serene, abstract gameplay, Noctiluca features a calming puzzly solo mode. In the usual multiplayer, each player is a master diver competing to collect the “embers of the sea,” the bioluminescent noctiluca, represented by over a hundred colorful dice. But if you flip the board over to the opposite side, you can play against a powerful tempest!
In solo mode, your goal is to save as many noctiluca as you can before they’re scattered by the mighty storm. Instead of opponents, the tempest will startle the noctiluca after each of your turns, giving you only a limited time to catch them and keep them safely in jars. You’ll lose points for noctiluca that you fail to save, so think carefully before you commit to your path through the water.
Noctiluca, $34.99 (USD)
FALL OF ROME
Based on the original Pandemic, Fall of Rome presents an epic, historical challenge: Can you prevent the collapse of the Roman Empire? In the game, you’ll raise armies, defend your cities, and make alliances with barbarian tribes to ward off incursions. When playing the Solitaire challenge, you’ll assume the burdens of the Roman Emperor, command three different roles, and attempt to prevent the Fall of Rome single-handedly.
Take turns with each of your three roles in clockwise order, just as you would in a multiplayer game. While your hand size will still be limited to 7, as the Emperor you can utilize the Treasury to store cards above the usual limit. If you’ve completed the Solitaire challenge with ease, you can attempt the Roma Caput Mundi challenge—rewriting history will be even more difficult when the Roman legions can’t enter Roma!
Fall of Rome, $49.99 (USD)
The Oniverse: not just one game, but a series of five games designed specifically for solo (or 2-player co-op) play. Experience a different puzzle in each one, from the labyrinthine Onirim and the verdant Sylvion to the formidable Castellion, the oceanic Nautilion, and the dirigible Aerion. Each one features a different mechanic and a distinct visual design. Travel the Oniverse and find out which one is right for you!
Take a sliding puzzle, throw in some adorable dinosaurs, and you have Mesozooic! This fast-paced puzzle game challenges you to create the best dinosaur zoo possible with the various features you have available. In the Mesolozooic variant, you build three zoos as normal, but you draft different feature cards for each one, trying to create the highest-scoring arrangement possible.
Mesozooic is truly a game you can play however you want. Between the base game, two mini expansions, and a few free online rules variants, you can play timed or untimed, multiplayer or solo, competitively or cooperatively. To play the Mesolozooic variant, all you need is the base game.
Get the solo rules here!
Mesozooic, $19.99 (USD)
OLD GAMES, NEW TRICKS
In the Carcassonne solo rules variant, you’ll select three meeple colors and play each of them individually, taking turns with each of them and scoring as normal. Your final score will be the lowest of the three, so neglecting any one color isn’t an option!
You can make the solo game easier or harder by adding or subtracting meeples during setup, as laid out in the rules. You can also try adding any of the Carcassonne expansions, though you may have to make additional adjustments when adapting the game for solo play. Try to beat your own high score or compare scores with your friends!
In the Hadara solo rules variant, just as in the multiplayer game, you’ll build a civilization over the course of three epochs and compare your score at the end. In solo mode, you’ll compare your civilization against a non-player character.
As you draft cards to build your civilization, the NPC will receive the cards you don’t choose, so keep that in mind when making your selections. You can scale the difficulty of your solo game across 12 levels (the highest being God Mode) to find the right challenge for you. Can you build the most sophisticated civilization?
The 2008 hit cooperative game is getting an official solo treatment from Pandemic designer Matt Leacock. In the Pandemic solo mode—similarly to the solo rules for Fall of Rome—you’ll use three roles, taking each of their turns in order as normal. All three roles will play from your single hand of seven cards, but you can put cards into the “Archive” to effectively surpass the normal hand limit.
You can use the Pandemic solo rules with almost all of the game’s expansion content, and the rules document specifies a few roles, events, and challenges that can’t be used in solo play. Can you singlehandedly find all four cures before the deck runs out?
Get the new solo rules for all three games below: