Introducing: Alone Time
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.
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.
First up, Shadows of Lassadar. Get stoked, because it’s awesome.