I recently failed to complete my 12 Gamedays of Christmas on schedule as my time proved surprisingly limited just after New Year. I found myself with little time and energy to setup a big solo game on a couple of evenings and had few titles on my shelf which had a short setup, play and pack away time.
In terms of shorter solo games by playtime I really only have Sprawlopolis/Agropolis, Tiny Epic Galaxies and One Deck Dungeon. I have things like Nusfjord, Le Havre, Horrified and V-Commandos which notionally have a shortish solo playing time but the setup/teardown time adds significantly to the session, as well as several games with solo modes involving significant setup - A Touch of Evil, Firefly etc. On order this month are Railroad Ink: Lush Green Challenge and Star Realms: Frontiers for variety.
What short (say, 15-30 minute) solo games do any of you have and can recommend?
This can be an inertia thing for me: I’d love to be playing V-Commandos but the progress from here with a box and an empty table to there with the game starting seems like a lot of non-fun before I get to the fun.
Some relatively low-setup games in my collection:
Baseball Highlights 2045 (pick a starting deck, shuffle the main deck, draw main deck cards for the solo opponent)
FUSE (arrange the deck, which is a bit fiddly but doesn’t take ages)
Star Realms Frontiers box (depending on which solo mode you use)
Rallyman GT, sort of – the main setup is laying out a track, and that’s a thing I enjoy in itself.
I recommend Calico but it may not be a quick game for everyone. I play it in around 20 minutes.
Sagani is also quick to setup and play. Like Calico it is quite thinky.
For really quick solos a lot of Roll & Writes work fine. Railroad Ink being my favorite.
I’ll throw out a couple relatively quick single-player-only games that I’m a fan of:
Under Falling Skies is probably my favourite single player game. The setup is pretty straight forward (put out an arrangement of sky, city, and base tiles, grab dice and plastic spaceships, and you’re off), but the campaign mode is really well done. The decision-tree is also really neat, addition some depth and variety to what basically is a simple dice rolling game. Plus, when you lose? 100% not your fault, you just rolled badly. Nice to tell yourself lies like this sometimes…
Warp’s Edge is a top contender. I wanted it to be better, but what it is is still pretty good… no narrative whatsoever (the “comic book” is actively horrible and makes the game much worse), but the decisions are meaningful and the mechanics are really solid. A game where better play will result in a win and loose play will result in a loss. It’s really good… but very pretty, and a lot of variety and depth baked right in.
Astra Titanus is solid, although it is pushing your length up a bit (I recall my games taking about 30 minutes, but that could be because I was getting my teeth kicked in). Tiny bit of narrative, but a really interesting “needs of the many” kinda game where a perfect victory is almost impossible, but a layered approach to sacrifices (and when to sacrifice, and what to sacrifice) is really deep and interesting. Plus, the semi-intelligent way that the Titan operates keeps the game interesting and fresh.
Right, other than those, I usually recommend roll n’ writes (I think Super Skill Pinball is particular good as a single player game in meatspace, but I have played hundreds of games of Railroad Ink solo through the very well done app) since setup and teardown is super quick.
I would second Village Green. It’s a lovely little puzzle and very quick. Floriferous may not be the crunchiest solo experience, but it’s quick, visually appealing, and has some fun decisions. If you’re more in the mood for something narrative/adventure Escape the Dark Sector is always satisfying for me, and it comes in around 30 minutes (maybe a bit longer at times).
Fleet: The Dice Game is my go-to for a quick solitaire game right now. Unusual for a roll and write, it offers not-inconsequential player interaction in its base form, and as a result it actually has a dedicated solitaire mode. It works as a foil against your scoring potential, which adds some much-needed dynamics into the solo experience.
I forgot to mention imperial Settlers: Empires of the North. Solo for that is nice and crunchy, short, and it has several different scenarios that create a ton of replayability with the 6 different decks.
Let me add Mini Rogue as a suggestion if there’s any reason to keep this thread rolling? I’ve been enjoying it over my morning coffee quite a bit. The first game can run long as you grapple with the (considerable, but very good) iconography, but subsequent plays have all been around 30-40 minutes. It’s a light attrition puzzle, really, but has a fun arc reminiscent of the app Reigns.
I’ll second Mini Rogue and if that’s not a enough fantasy I’ll add Set a Watch. It’s probably going take a longer, especially on your first plays but it’s a simple and fun fantasy game that works well solo. I’d also recommend Set a Watch: Swords of the Coin over the original too.