There are so very many board games – more than a thousand new ones hit the market every year, not including self-published titles or ones that don’t get published in English – yet there are few games designed with solo play in mind. More new games come with solitaire modes, typically asking you to beat some specific score, but truly solo games, ones designed from the start with the single-player in mind. I’ve reviewed three, in particular, Friday, the best I’ve played; Onirim and Aerion.
One of the top-rated solitaire games on Board Game Geek is a Japanese game known as Coffee Roaster, which has been out of print for a few years but which is coming back in a new edition this fall from Stronghold Games, now available for pre-order. I just obtained a copy of the original a few months ago, right before word of the new edition leaked, and it more than lives up to its reputation.
Wingspan is an emulative, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game for 1-5 players from Stonemaier Games. It plays in 30-60 minutes. This is the latest version of Wingspan, which includes all services likes’ swift-start pack.
I can’t think of the last time a new board game received the kind of prevalent cheer and mainstream regard as Wingspan, a game about birds and bird-watching that truly affix its theme into gameplay and features beautiful artwork. Designer Elizabeth Hargrave loves birds and decided to turn her passion into a game. But rather than just paste the theme onto an abstract design, she took the actual characteristics of over 150 species of birds — where they nest, what they eat, how many eggs they lay — and incorporated it all into the game itself. You build your habitats to try to attract those birds and score points by those characteristics as well as other bird powers (do birds have powers?) listed on the cards. Best of all, it plays comfortably in under an hour, works well with younger gamers (with a lot of reading required, however), and offers a lot of replay value because of the diversity of card options. Hargrave won the Kennerspiel des Jahres, the expert’s Game of the Year Award, for Wingspan, becoming just the second woman ever to win any of the Spiel des Jahres awards as a solo designer. The honour was more than deserved.
Now we introduce the campaign of the CO2: Second Chance boardgame by Vital Lacerda. Second Chance game is for 2-4 players, lasts about 2 hours and its suggested age is 14+.
This project is on two crowdfunding platforms cumulatively: Giochistarter and Kickstarter. The game, the stretch goals and add-ons are the same on both platforms. The official amount of funds raised by the campaign (which determines the stretch goals that will be unlocked) is the sum of the amounts raised on both campaigns.
Finger Guns at High Noon
At the outer reaches of the board, gaming is a dark place frequented mostly by the drunk and the curious. It’s a place where few dare to tread, yet those who do will often swear by the invigorating ambrosia that they find there. What am I talking about? The realm of the party game, of course; the most embarrassing and hard to gauge of the entire gaming spectrum. Will my friends like it? Will my mother play it? Can it entertain the children? If you’re looking for a party game that shouts “YES” to all these questions, then you’re looking for Finger Guns at High Noon.
This incredibly simple party game from Indie Boards & Cards takes the childish concept of shooting your friends with finger bullets (or lasers, if you want to internalize a completely alternative theme) and watching them act out a comical death scene. Without wanting to cut this review jarringly short, that’s it. That’s what Finger Guns at High Noon is.
Silver & Gold
In each round, the start player will turn over seven of the eight palomino cards, with one card not revealed in each round. The result is that you can plan a little bit around what shapes are coming as you try to fill in your two cards, but there’s always a chance the card you need won’t come up in the current round. It’s also quite easy to end up unable to use the revealed shape on your cards because you’ve filled in too many other squares; if this happens you must fill in one square on either card, which is better than nothing but obviously worse than getting to fill in two to four squares. These factors turn Silver and Gold into a continuous puzzle game, but one that keeps shifting in a way that most of the other great palomino games (like Patchwork) don’t offer. You get to plan, finish, and then plan again and must keep your planning nimble enough to react if the card you need doesn’t appear or your needs shift when you get a new card.
Imhotep: The Duel
You know what I look for in my world leaders? I want giant monuments erected just so that they’re bigger than the other guy’s monument. I want to build pyramids that are different than anyone else’s pyramids. And I want my burial plots to be ceremonial and way too close together.
Luckily, I’ve got Imhotep: The Duel to make all my dictatorial dreams come true. While they presumably are like, this game has probably been built with two players in mind. The game flows much more smoothly due to a lack of rounds in which the boats must be reset each time. When the boat is emptied, you simply grab three more tiles, add them to the boat, and you’re ready to go.
The placement of workers on the grid also provides a strategic element that the original is missing for two players. While I appreciate the way in which boats are loaded when there are more players in the original, I don’t think it works as well when you drop down to two. The approach in Duel assures that you’re impacting two boats every time you place a worker, forcing your opponent to make several considerations before they take their turn.
Its fun to play, suitably challenging, brings lots of replay value, and its theme is as well-integrated into its gameplay as any game I’ve seen.