Different styles of solo mode

Unsure as to which thread to put this in, but I am in the need for a mini-rant.

Will games that claim to have a solo mode which is just “Play as though it’s two players but on your own” just stop it thank you very much. It’s lazy, unsatisfying and annoying.


Done well: Arkham Horror LCG
Done badly: Tiny Epic Dungeons


What is the difference between the two? (I have played Arkham Horror TCG solo)

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I usually consider any fully co-op game to basically already have a solo mode from that… do you feel there needs to be another solo mode beyond that?

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Co-op without hidden information between players, anyway.

Flash Point, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Aeon’s End: no hidden information, so you can solo it 2- or more-handed with no new rules needed.
Pandemic: players aren’t allowed to show their hands to each other, so you need more rules to compensate for that.

Yes! I know - controversial. :smiley: Either give me a true single character solo, or don’t bother. :frowning:


Similarly Gloomhaven should, in theory, have hidden information and as a solo mode you’re supposed to increase the difficulty to compensate, but I must say I find the game hard enough without it so I don’t bother. I’m pretty sure the video game version doesn’t increase the difficulty there either, but I might be wrong.


Interesting, is that ‘cos you really don’t like 2-handing? I don’t mind it, although I’ll admit that depends on the game quite a lot.

Thinking about if further, I’ve found Spirit Island allows you one character solo, but I also think it puts you at a significant disadvantage without the interaction between spirits, so I agree a game probably needs to be specifically designed for a single character or have a separate single mode in many cases.


I know some die-hard one-handed Spirit Island players, but most people I hear from seem to favour two-handed play.


Absolutely, the only reason to play 1 handed is the app which makes 2 handed complicated. But Spirit Island lives of synergies. Play 1 spirit is just needlessly hard. 2 handing is easier.

I multi-hand coops no problem. To test games I two-hand non-coop games.

I do think a different label for “just 2 hand it” as a solo mode would be nice. Also: I like that most games advertise their use of Automas because I am mostly not a fan of those. I rather two-hand a game then learn additional rules. If I do need to use an automa it better be supported in some digital form.

(btw. I think “Different styles of solo modes” is worthy of a thread…)


Yup, I agree. Oh! And I one spirit Spirit Island. Love it too!


I saw a game yesterday that described itself as a semi-cooperative game for 1-6 players.

Extremely suspicious.


I think Uwe Rosenberg does some of the best solo modes out there because well… his games are multiplayer solitaire anyway (did he invent that?)

I love the way you just block yourself in Nusfjord. Almost no additional rules needed, you just play your turns in alternating colors. Feast for Odin does the same thing. Hallertau has a different but equally good trick by just removing fewer cubes from the action market if you have fewer than 4 players. I don’t remember Arler Erde but that’s a solo-game from the start. I remember Agricola was just a beat your own score but I never cleared the threshold for winning back then–I wonder if I could do it today (I play a lot more games now and have played more different ones)

@mistercrayon I actually backed Stationfall which is a game of hidden identities and that has a solo-mode. I am really curious how that’s going to work out.


I know a GM who portrays characters so realistically that during one argument between two NPCs several of us at the table were afraid it might come to blows.

I’m generally happy to two-or-more-hand a game but I’ve just been thinking about working out a single-player training mode for Sentinels (i.e. “I want to learn how this new hero works without all the complexity of managing others”). No hidden information, but the game is set up for 3-5 heroes who reinforce each other, and that will need a bit of tweaking.


Agricola is a miserable solo experience.


It is quite often nicknamed ‘misery farm’ so that would seem appropriate.


Since folks mentioned Sentinels otM, I’ve gotta put in a vote for Marvel Champions. Works brilliantly as a two-handed solo play.

Also good as a one-hero solo, but sometimes the maths don’t work well on how much Threat the villain accumulates before winning, so two-handed solo is often even better than one-hero solo.

But yes, there’s no info that’s not shareable between hands, you were allowed to ask for an action from the 2nd hero at any time anyway, and the villain deck is still hidden until you draw, so converting to solo is just very smooth. There’s practically no difference between two players with one hero each and a two-hander solo, and it’s very rewarding.


I remember reading a thread on BGG arguing that in this day and age, every game should have some form of solo mode that is not just two-handing it. Poster was literally demanding it of every game, and that it is lazy of designers not to create such rules.

I am curious on people’s opinions on that, as this thread brought it to mind.

I felt the poster was being incredibly entitled in demanding such things. I also felt that it would mostly result in crappy solo modes, as now designers would be making the game they envision, and then putting in extra time and effort in a variant that they don’t really care about. Plus the extra cost of possibly adding more components for the solo mode, and the (hopefully) hours of extra playtesting.

It could negatively effect the designer’s and the publisher’s reputations if they market a game for 1-X players, solo players buy it and it is a crap experience for them. After a game or two like this, they would stop buying that designer’s games and likely give bad reviews which could stop other people from buying them, even if the games at 2-X players are fantastic.

What do you all think?


You make the game you want to make and hope to find an audience. That’s my opinion on that. [regarding COMaestro’s post above].

Further to Mr. Jackdaw’s complaint, I can definitely sympathize. Once player characters get involved there’s a tricky balance between the juicy details you want to dig into (embody) and what you can feasibly manage as a single player. Solo modes with concessions are (more often than not in my opinion) fine, but it’s indeed a rare thing to find games that [explicitly] support lone wolf play in any kind of holistic sense.


I think that the attitude is a holdover from the days when solo modes were rare. If I’m primarily a solo player and I can’t play hot new game X because there’s no solo mode, now there are games Y, Z, etc. that do have one.

I’d rather have no solo mode at all than one that was slapped together in a hurry because the audience demanded it.

And some types of game are intrinsically unsoloable: social deduction, for example.


My preferred gameplay is high player interaction with 4 to 6 player count. But I dont expect every game to be like that.

The poster lacks knowledge on general game design. Frankly, I would call them a word that is less friendly.