Introducing: Alone Time

Third question: "Are you really friends with Mark Wahlberg?"

The question I’m most often asked, once people recognize me as the editor-in-chief and lead writer of Space-Biff!, is “How’d you accomplish all that?” Maybe that’s irrelevant, though it’s still nice to hear. The second question is usually “You write about all these amazing board games. But what if I don’t have any friends to play with?”

For the man on the street, I have all sorts of answers. “Use BoardGameGeek’s Gamer Database to find gamers near you,” I sometimes say; or “Call up old friends and wean them into it with simple games,” or “Improve your hygiene.” But for those who have tried all and failed, or those who just have some extra time on their hands, or those who really don’t want friends anyway, we’re happy to present a new series all about the board games that you can play with exactly one person: yourself.

An inspiration to all introverts.

In all seriousness, there’s a robust sub-genre of board games that embraces the notion that once in a while, a body might want to sit down at the table and push around some cardboard pieces and roll some dice and flip some cards by herself. Or himself, as the case may be. And think twice before assuming these constitute some sort of misanthropic booby prize — they’re often every bit as clever, imaginative, and fun as the real thing. Which is to say, they are the real thing, just for fewer players.

I’ve gradually become fascinated by this style because I play so many games as it is. I play with my wife Somerset throughout the week, and we hold a game night every Friday; I spend the rest of my time working, going to school, and online (and online I am very rarely alone, since I’m regularly corresponding and chatting with friends and colleagues). Even my nightly reading time is spent with someone (not that I’m complaining). As satisfying as all that human interaction usually is, and as glad I am that I’m never lonely or bored, now and then I could use a break from it all.

Enter solo board games, which I’ve found are a great way to pick up some quality alone time. Of course, they’re not for everyone. You need to have enough imagination to surrender to the fiction you’re taking part in, which can be hard without the affirmations of your usual crowd of nerds. You need to be honest enough to keep yourself from cheating — far harder than it sounds, but you’re doing yourself a disservice every time you reroll a die or flub a combat because no one’s around to referee your actions. And you need to be disciplined. Why? I dunno, I just like the sound of it and a third item makes the list feel complete.

I don’t know how often I’ll be doing this series, but I can say the first real installment should be pretty soon in coming. And I already have a sizable pile of titles I’m dying to tell you about.

I find this strangely evocative. Whatever's in that tower, I bet it smells like mildewy paper.

First up, Shadows of Lassadar. Get stoked, because it’s awesome.

Posted on February 28, 2013, in Board Game and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. digitalpariah76

    I look forward to this series, I have a fair amount of interest in solo games myself. I’m pretty tempted by Phantom Leader (

    Also, good choice of first solo game, it being a print&play game can’t hurt!

    • I have Phantom Leader on iPad, but it’s one I’m too intimidated to figure out right now… maybe I’m the wrong person to be doing this series.

      SIMPLE Alone Time

      That’s better.

  2. I hope that first sap is a relative but I really hope the second one is. Looks like a cool dude, I think I’ll try that 🙂 . Looking forward to the games, I don’t know of many besides the really boring and ubiquitous ones out there (I’m looking at you Solitaire). Haha, just realized that guy is on a laptop.

  3. Crap now I feel like a jerk 🙂

    • Hey, that’s usually MY job around here!

      But yeah, this series looks cool. As one of those people who asked Dan about what to do if I don’t have friends, maybe some single player games are the way to go.

  4. My son keeps promising to come over and play board games but he never does, so maybe I’ll try some of the solo games.

  5. My son reads your Blog – needless to say he came over tonight and we played a board game!

  6. I don’t know if you’re taking suggestions, but I’ve been having heaps of fun playing Sentinels of the Multiverse and Death Angel solo. Worth checking out!

    • Good recommendations! Sentinels of the Multiverse is high on my list. I’ll probably talk about it in a roundup article or something, since I already have two SotM writeups under my belt from about a year ago.

      Death Angel is also on my list, though a bit further down.

      • Hehe, I’m still working my way through your archives, so I’ll look forward to reading your impressions of SotM 🙂

        Death Angel is quite neat solo, though it can be ferociously difficult. It loses a little played solo (the Instinct cards), but is good fun, and pretty quick which is always a bonus.

      • Therein is my worry with Death Angel: every time I’ve played, it’s been highly thematic in the sense that I’m playing as some very dead Space Marines. I’ve yet to win. =/

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