Looking for a solo worker management/economic/building game - not too long/complex

Following on from my request for solo dungeon crawlers, I’m also looking for suggestions for another solo game - this time I’m thinking of something economic, worker placement and/or city/empire building.

The only game I currently have even remotely close to these themes is Terraforming Mars, which I do love, and I can cope with things a bit more complex than that too but it’s rare that I can get more than 60-90 minutes for a solo game so the gameplay time factor is important. I’d love to get something like Brass: Birmingham but have no one to play it with so a solo-player game is essential.

My initial thoughts were maybe Architects of the West Kingdom or Everdell. Do any of you have experience of playing these solo, or can you suggest other games which might fit my criteria?

Thanks in advance.

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Teotihuacan works okay solo. It’s definitely more worker/resource management than economic though.

According to the box, Tokyo Metro can be played solo, and that seems more economic plus action selection. However, I haven’t had a chance to play it yet so I can’t comment on how good it is, solo or otherwise!

Edit: 60-90 minutes might be a bit ambitious for Teotihuacan…

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I’m a big fan of the solo mode for Terraforming Mars.

What about one of the Rosenborg’s? A Feast for Odin plays well solo and I believe that Agricola and Njusford also play well on your own.

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I have played Architects of the West Kingdom solo but from what you write about Terraforming Mars, I would recommend Paladins of the West Kingdom over Architects. The solo mode in the second game works better also the complexity of Paladins is closer to TM in my opinion. (edit: but Architects is better if you ever want to play with a group, as its somewhat light-weight worker placement is much easier to sell to people than the giant puzzle that is Paladins-small box doesn’t mean small game)

I would second Nusfjord, the solo is awesome.

If you like empire building, you might want to take a look at the Imperial Settlers games, as far as I remember (it’s been a while, since the game didn’t work out for us as multiplayer, I gave it away) the solo mode was decent enough.

Gaia Project has a solo mode that is supported by https://myautoma.github.io/ I’ve only played the solo without the web though and that was a bit of a “figure out where what goes” thing but it worked better than playing Terra Mystica against myself. I’ve played the web-automa for Wingspan several times and must say that it streamlines the process extremely and makes the solo for Wingspan quite smooth.

I have not tried the solo for Viticulture (also on myautoma) but I have heard good things about it.

If anyone has played Tapestry solo (just saw it on myautoma), I’d like to hear about that.

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I have played Everdell solo, and it works okay, and is rather simple to implement. Any time you get a card, you take a random card from the meadow (determined with a d8) and add it to Rugwort’s pile of cards, ignoring the effects. At the end of the game, he gets any events you did not complete. Meanwhile, during the game, his pieces block off different locations each season and start locking down some meadow cards so you can’t buy them.

If you do not already own Everdell, you can try it out solo on Tabletopia for free. For it’s cute theme, it can really be a bit of a brain burner as you try to make your city into an engine.

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I found Architects of the West Kingdom to be unsatisfying as a solo game, because the automa doesn’t really interact with you so much as it occasionally drags you down. Each turn is pretty small, so you’re generally chaining multiple turns together to achieve something; when a random card flip comes out and captures your workers, it doesn’t make you reconsider your strategy, it just slows you down for a turn or two.

I might recommend Underwater Cities. It’s a worker placement engine building game with some tableau building, and I really like it solo. It’s more of a slow burn compared to Terraforming Mars, but that sense of balance and tension makes it a lot more exciting, as it makes every decision feel intensely important. It’s a little lighter than Terraforming Mars, plays a little faster, and I like it a lot better.

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You might be surprised about that. BUT! The first few games certainly wouldn’t be anywhere near that, no. And then the first game with the automa…

Still, as a simple score chasing solo game, it can be surprisingly effective at simulating a second player (and it’s pretty easy to mod for added difficulty/pressure).

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If you’re interested there is an unofficial Brass Birmingham solo variant, the rules are available on BGG. I’ve not got the game, but have been tempted. Also not sure about the 60-90 min limit.

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Thanks @RubberBullets and welcome!

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Welcome.

Brass Birmingham definitely plays that quickly. Setup is another matter.

BB is top of my post social distancing play list. Don’t love it so far, but I’m hoping my pbf of Container is going to make me enjoy it more.

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So I am in a similar boat, my bday is coming up and my present to myself (other present giving having been stopped a couple years back) is going to be–what a surprise!–a boardgame. Due to the situation we find ourselves in I am also looking for a complex solo-able game.

There is one more on my shortlist that hasn’t been mentioned here: Clans of Caledonia
(My shortlist also includes A Feast for Odin, Underwater Cities, Scythe and Teotihuacan and it would have Everdell on it if I could find it anywhere close by). My question regarding Clans of Caledonia is: how similar is it to Terrra Mystica and Gaia Project? Is it different enough? The Tom Vasel review I watched mentioned TM quite a bit… now TM is a lot older than Clans of Caledonia…

I found this BGG family helpful in looking at candidates.

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SVWAG reviewed Clans last month. They said it’s similar to TM.

Not sure about low player count. IMO TM is 3 players plus.

TM is 2-5, but it can easily be two handed–three handed is a challenge but I’ve done it. Clans has two bots on myautoma so I am assuming it’s solo-able.

The Dicetower review also said similar, in fact it seems to be based on TM. So it makes me hesitant because I already have two variants of TM (Gaia Project is basically a repainted TM 1.5)

Personally I don’t find TM too satisfying at 2 players. I think it needs a bit more jostling for space and especially the building bonuses

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Completely agree, it needs more people filling the space. 3 or 4 is best. But when your partner keeps reminding you of that one time, when he messed up on round 4 and spent 45 minutes watching the others play round 4 after he passed… and TM is your favorite game (at the time), you do with two-handed because game nights will not see TM on the table.

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I haven’t played TM, but Caledonia plays well at two players. The edges of the board are blocked off, and you cover up some additional tiles with hexes, so the board naturally cramps down in a way that TM doesn’t seem to with 2 players.

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I’ve not played it, so may be totally off base, but does Castles of Burgundy fit the bill?

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So the new version for Castles of Burgundy includes the expansion with the solo mode which I didn’t know existed until a minute ago when I checked BGG.

I’ve only played the app and while it’s a fun game it seems to be more of a tile laying / drafting game rather than something with economic elements. One could argue that the dice act a bit like workers but I find that farfetched.

I really enjoy Everdell as a solo play game. It’s a beautiful game with quality components. The game in general is not a ‘take-that’ game even when you play with others, so the fact that the AI is strictly going by pre determined ‘block’ locations and a dice roll to determine which cards he draws from the meadow works just fine. Becuase I love the artwork and the flow of the game, I find it very relaxing. I enjoy looking at the imagery and imagining the characters. I’ve got a few booster card sets for it, including Rugwart who is the AI so its nice to have his cards and his meeples ($15). There is a light strategy involved, and there are three levels of difficulty for the AI. Also, you can have fun with the expansions for it if you really get into it—Pearl brook, Spirecrest, and Bellfaire, although the last one is intended to add components for 5-6 players.

As far as Architects of the West Kingdom, I recently got that specifically for the solo play, and I really like the artwork (I’m a fan of MiCHo). But like some others (acharlie1377) I’ve been disappointment with the lack of AI personality and challenge. I feel like I’m playing a fast game of chess. I move here, he moves there, I move here, and so on. And once you figure a few things out, you end up playing a very similar game each time. There has been a lot of chatter about the lack of challenge with the AI, even at the most difficult AI setting and the lowest ranking character. HOWEVER, hold on…I have heard from Shem Phillips himself that he is working on a completely new AI for this game. And, I’ve also heard that the expansion, Artisans of the West Kingdom, make this game a lot more interesting. I’ve yet to get it though. I’m reluctant to get expansions to ‘fix’ a game I’ve already paid good money for. But we’ll see.

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Welcome to the forums @StacieH!