The 12 Best Solo Board Games of 2020

Best High End

Gloomhaven

Best Mid Range

Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Lord of the Rings Card Game

Best Inexpensive

Rio Grande Games Friday

Rio Grande Games Friday

Last Updated: 24th Apr, 2020

Some of you may think playing a board game by yourself sounds pretty boring or even lame. Well, we dare you to give one of these games a try! If you're already spending hours each day looking at your phone, watching TV, or playing video games by yourself, why not instead spend that time strategizing, exercising your mind, and stretching your imagination. This is what the world of solo board games offers. Trust me, play any of these games just once, and you'll be hooked! 

There are hundreds of new board games released every year, across RPG, War, Fantasy, Horror, Cooperative category. So, to make things easier for you, we've compiled a list of the top 12 games people are buzzing about this year.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced gamer, here are the solo board games you have to try in 2020.

Our Top Picks for the Best Board Games For Solo Play

Best Solo Board Games

1. Spirit Island


  • Price: $53.99
  • Game type: Cooperative 
  • Duration: 60 to 120 minutes
  • Ages: 13 and up
  • Players: 1 to 4
Greater Than Games Spirit Island Core Board Game

Why we love it: Spirit Island is one of the most popular co-op games out there. It's complex and multi-layered, and yet once you get playing, the strategies quickly become clear, and the game's brilliance shines through. The gameplay is story-driven with an intricately developed world that captures your imagination. You play as an Island Spirit defending its homeland from European settlers. There are many different Spirits you can play as and different colonizers to play against. There are also different power cards to draw and unpredictable events that will take place. All of this ensures the game never plays the same way twice!

Gameplay: First, you choose one of the Spirits to play as and an adversary to play against. Each Spirit and adversary has slightly different abilities and advantages. As the game progresses, the invaders settle over the map in a semi-predictable fashion. After they have been in one place for long enough, that tile of the map turns to blight. You can play power cards, which costs energy, to deter the invasion. There is also a native tribe that will fight with the settlers at times. Winning the game requires destroying every last settlement on the board. Defeat comes if your Spirit is destroyed, the whole land is overrun by blight, or if the invader deck runs out before you have destroyed all the settlements.

Verdict: This is our pick for the best co-op game out there! 

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game


  • Price: $30.59
  • Game type: Cooperative, LCG - "LCG" (Living Card Game) is a term coined by Fantasy Flight Games, the makers of LOTR: The Card Game. It refers to a card game in which the publisher releases a core set of cards and then adds to that pool of cards with expansions. The fundamentals of the game remain the same with each expansion, but new cards/features are added.
  • Duration: 30 to 90 minutes
  • Ages: 14 and up
  • Players: 2 (or 4 with expansion pack)
Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Why we love it: We give this game serious props for being the original LCG. It continues to evolve as new expansions are released and can now be customized endlessly. This has led to people forming entire online communities devoted to LOTR: The Card Game. People have started podcasts, blogs, and forums to discuss new releases and share knowledge, user-made scenarios, and decks with one another. Even if you are not interested in delving that deep into this world, it's still a phenomenal game with beautiful artwork and great gameplay. There are a variety of storylines and scenarios ranging from simple to more complex, all of which you can enjoy whether or not you choose to buy every new expansion released. 

Gameplay: To start a game, you choose a hero from Middle Earth to play as. Each hero has a deck which contains allies, weapons, or events that can be played throughout the game to aid in your quest. To win the game, you must pass through all the stages of the quest without being eliminated. Each stage begins with pulling a card in the Quest Deck and then proceeds through seven phases: Resource, Planning, Quest, Travel, Encounter, Combat, and Refresh. The game comes with a starter Quest that you can play through first to learn the rules and get a feel for the game. 

Verdict: If you're a big Lord of the Rings fan, then you'll love playing as your favorite Tolkienian heroes and heroines in this epic card game adventure.

3. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck-Building Game


  • Price: $40
  • Game type: Cooperative, Deck-Building - A Deck-Building game is a type of card game in which each player builds his or her pool of cards throughout the game. This pool of cards is used to build decks each turn/round. Generally, players use the cards they already own in their deck to acquire more cards.
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Ages: 14 and up
  • Players: 1 to 6
Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Why we love it: With over 500 cards, you can get a lot of gameplay out of this relatively cheap game. All the artwork and characters are based on the Alien movies, but whether or not you've seen or enjoyed the movies, you'll love this game. I truly did not think a card game could be as suspenseful, exciting, and fun as Legendary Encounters. Shuffled into the draw deck are "Facehugger" cards. Pull one of one those, and everything takes a dramatic turn for the worst. It keeps you on your toes!

Gameplay: You can play Legendary Encounters in solo mode or "two-handed," which means you play the two-person cooperative version of the game except you control both players' decks. To win, you need to use your deck to complete all three objectives. Each objective has a mini-deck for you to defeat. During the game, players can add cards from the barrack's deck. Cards with matching symbols can be chained together, creating powerful combinations and interesting strategies.

Verdict: In terms of visual appeal, we give this game a 10/10… the artwork will blow you away. If you're new to Deck-Building card games, this is a great place to start. 

4. Gloomhaven


  • Price: $105.30
  • Game type: Role-playing (RPG), Cooperative
  • Duration: 60 to 120 minutes or more (can be played in multiple sessions)
  • Ages: 14 and up
  • Players: 1 to 4
Gloomhaven

Why we love it: Gloomhaven stunned us with its truly original storyline and intricate setting. The game box is packed with over 20 pounds of beautifully designed materials and content that help immerse you in the fictional world of Gloomhaven. It's undoubtedly a massive and complicated game. The thick rule book can be daunting for the first couple times you play, but if you stick with it, you will be rewarded with a finely-tuned, tactical game with a fully developed role-playing component. I quickly became obsessed with leveling-up my character, gathering new equipment, gaining new cards, and playing through as many missions as I could. Gloomhaven is the closest thing to an open-world RPG video game in board game form you'll find.

Gameplay: There are two areas to play in. The first is the city of Gloomhaven, where you prepare your character(s) for the next adventure by visiting the temple, buying and selling items, leveling-up, etc. The second arena is out in the wild or in a dungeon, where you complete the scenarios. To complete a scenario, you need to accomplish the scenario's objective before all your characters are exhausted. Gloomhaven has a dice-free style of combat that involves utilizing each character's deck of Action Cards. Completing a scenario not only helps you gain experience points and gold, but also unlocks further missions or areas on the map to explore, and the game continues to unfold in that matter for as long as you wish. It's an expensive game, but the gameplay is seemingly endless!

Verdict: Gloomhaven is great for those who enjoy Dungeons & Dragons, or any other long-form, fantasy RPG. 

5. Mage Knight Board Game


  • Price: ~$60
  • Game type: RPG, Deck-Building 
  • Duration: 120+ minutes
  • Ages: 14 and up
  • Players: 1 - 4
Mage Knight Board Game

Why we love it: Mage Knight is frequently voted one of the best solo board games on the market, and for a good reason! Its theme and style of gameplay are similar to Gloomhaven. However, Mage Knight has a unique "choose your own adventure" element to it, which focuses more on character progression than the storyline. It's up to you to decide how to proceed through the game, and ultimately, whether or not you will be the hero or villain of the story. What really gets people hooked on this game are the climactic City Sieges, which take place at the end of the game. It can be a very satisfying or very devastating moment… either your plan will finally come together perfectly, or everything will fall apart!

Gameplay: Each play-through of Mage Knight is unique. The map and scenario are randomly generated. At the start of the game, you control a Mage Knight who has just entered a land threatened by some mysterious evil. Each round, you can explore the map, interact with locals, attack enemies, recruit armies, plunder villages, and more. The last round occurs when the last map tile is revealed. Then it is time to lay siege to your enemy's cities!

Verdict: Similar to Gloomhaven, this is a great game for those interested in complex strategy, role-playing games with a fantasy theme. 

6. Scythe Board Game


  • Price: ~$65
  • Game type: Engine Building - In the board-gaming world, Engine Building games are any in which players create as a system for generating resources/tokens/points. Generally, that system (or engine) becomes more efficient and powerful as the game goes along.
  • Duration: 90 to 115 minutes
  • Ages: 14 and up
Scythe Board Game

Why we love it: Users often say the storyline is what keeps them playing through Scythe over and over again. It takes place in an alternate 1920s just after WW1. It is a futuristic, "steampunky" world with giant machines called "Mechs." You play as a fallen leader of an Eastern European country trying to restore your nation to greatness. We like this game because of its streamlined gameplay. Everything flows quickly and smoothly, with no rounds or phases. Also, there are very few elements of luck in this game. It relies heavily on strategy and puts you in complete control over your fate. 

Gameplay: In the solo version of this game, you play against an opponent represented by an "AI" deck of cards. You and your opponent are each trying to restore your faction to glory. You do this by gathering resources and gaining popularity, which will enable you to earn coins and achievements. The game ends when you or your opponent have completed six achievements, at which point, whoever has more coins wins. 

Verdict: This is our top pick for Engine Building Games. If you've enjoyed Engine Building Games such as Settlers of Catan and want to mix it up, this is the perfect game for you.

7. Terraforming Mars


  • Price: ~$70
  • Game type: Engine Building 
  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Ages: 12 and up
  • Players: 1 - 5
Terraforming Mars

Why we love it: This is an extremely satisfying Engine Builder - perfect for those who are new to the genre. You can get the hang of this game fairly quickly, but it still presents quite the challenge and keeps you engaged. Many people say the solo mode of Terraforming Mars is better than multiplayer. Instead of trying to get more victory points, the goal is to terraform all of Mars in 14 rounds. I failed my first two attempts at this game, but I just had to keep playing until I won… I was hooked.

Gameplay: In Terraforming Mars, you play as a corporation sponsored by the World Government to make Mars habitable for migrants from Earth. To do this, you will target three global parameters: oxygen, temperature, and ocean. All must reach their goals in 14 rounds. Each round, or "generation", has four phases: Play Order, Research, Action, and Production. As the game progresses, you will gather resources, fund projects, buy cards for your decks, exchange resources for increased temperature or oxygen levels, collect income, build facilities, and more. This is an Engine-Building game, so you will need to manage your time between gathering income and resources, and targeting the global parameters directly.

Verdict: If you're not too familiar with Engine-Building games, this is the perfect place to start!

8. Fields of Arle


  • Price: ~$64
  • Game type: Resource management, farming, strategy
  • Duration: 60 - 120 minutes
  • Ages: 13 and up
  • Players: 1 -2
Fields of Arle

Why we love it: A lot of board games out there today seem to lean towards the fantasy or science fiction direction. We know that's not everyone's cup of tea. In the sea of dragon-slaying, robot-destroying, world-building, epic fantasy adventure games out there, Fields of Arle comes like a breath of fresh air for those of us who just want to farm crops, trade some wares, take care of livestock, and manage resources. 

This game scratches that analytical itch that many of us have. If you love budgeting, logistics, resource management, and organization, then you'll love this game.

Gameplay: The village of Arle in East Frisia is developing rapidly due to its rich and fertile soil. As a resident of Arle, you're here to share in the town's growing prosperity. You can do this through farming flax, growing grain, breeding livestock, building dikes to hold back the floods, cutting lumber, starting a transportation business, trading goods, and more. Regardless of what route you choose, you will have to build prestigious buildings such as churches or libraries to help you score points. The objective of the game is to score as many points as possible in 19 rounds. Each round is a season alternating between Summer and Winter.

Verdict: This game is perfect for those logistical, analytical people who like to organize, budget, and make spreadsheets just for fun. If you got hooked on Farmville back in 2010 and want to take it to the next level, Fields of Arle is for you.

9. Too Many Bones


  • Price: $149
  • Game type: Cooperative, RPG, Dice-Building - Dice-Building games have the same concept as deck building except instead of adding cards to your deck, you're adding dice.
  • Duration: 60 to 120 minutes
  • Ages: 12 and up
  • Players: 1 - 4

Too Many Bones

Why we love it: This game created a new genre: dice building… and it works wonderfully. If you like Deck-Building games and are looking for a fun twist, then you have to try Too Many Bones. Don't let all the dice fool you; this game is chock-full of strategy. You'll make tons of important decisions along the way, which will have you weighing risk and reward tradeoffs and solving logic puzzles. It's also a very rewarding RPG that allows you to customize and upgrade your hero as the game progresses. 

Gameplay: This game takes you into a thoroughly developed and intricate world, in which you belong to a mysterious race called Gearlocs. They have recently come under attack and have sought refuge behind the city walls. You and your companions must journey into the land of Ebon to root out and destroy the cause of these recent attacks. As you explore Ebon, you will encounter "baddies" that you must defeat using role-based combat, problem-solving, and logic-puzzles. There will be 8-12 battles to overcome before you reach the "boss". There are also many other non-combat decisions to make along the way, such as when to rest or continue, what items to acquire, and other storyline decisions. 

Verdict: The unique game type, Dice-Building, makes it a good game for those that enjoyed Deck-Building but want to try something new. 

10. Arkham Horror: the Card Game


  • Price: $23
  • Game type: Cooperative, LCG, RPG
  • Duration: 60 to 120 minutes
  • Ages: 14 and up
  • Players: 1 to 2

Arkham Horror: the Card Game

Why we love it: Arkham Horror takes place in the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts. You are an investigator exploring the town and uncovering all the unusual people, creatures, and events that take place there. Playing this game really makes you feel like your starring in a supernatural murder mystery movie.

Gameplay: The core game comes with 3 scenarios to play through. The first scenario is the one you should start with to get a handle on the rules. Early in the game, you will need to avoid the larger monsters as you gain abilities, items, and clues. The clues will help you close "gates". These gates are how the abnormal creatures are entering the town. Ultimately, you have to face a "boss", the Ancient One, and by defeating him close the final set of gates. The game is played in turns, and each turn has five phases: Upkeep, Movement, Arkham Encounters, Other World Encounters, and Mythos. During each phase, you can only perform certain actions. You can win by either closing all the gates or defeating the Ancient One when it awakes

Verdict: This a great LCG that anyone can enjoy, especially if you like the horror genre… but don't worry, it's not too scary!

11. Onirim


  • Price: $25.43
  • Game type: Solo or Cooperative card game  
  • Duration: 15 to 20 minutes
  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Players: 1 - 2

Onirim

Why we love it: Onirim is a simple and fun game that you can learn and start playing right away. It only takes around 15 to finish the game solo, making it great for when you have some downtime and need something quick and fun. Despite its simplicity, there is plenty of variation and challenge to the game, leaving a lot of room for decision-making and strategy. Many users say that Onirim is great for unwinding after a long day. The gameplay is very relaxed and smooth, with just enough decision-making to keep you engaged. 

Gameplay: In Onirim, you are trapped in a labyrinth. To escape, you need to find all eight doors (two of each color). You lose the game if the draw pile runs out before you've done so. The cards in the draw pile will help you obtain the doors; however, there are also "nightmare cards" shuffled in which can force you to lose doors or discard some of the valuable cards in your deck.

Verdict: Onirim is perfect for those looking for a fun card game that isn't too intricate or time-consuming

12. Rio Grande Games Friday


  • Price: ~$13
  • Game type:  Solo Deck-Building game
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 13 and up
  • Players: 1

Rio Grande Games Friday

Why we love it: Friday is a classic solo board game. It's easy enough to learn and plays quickly. You can play the game over and over again without getting tired of it. It offers three different levels of difficulty, although even the easiest level was challenging enough for me!

Gameplay: You remember Friday, right? Robinson Crusoe's companion on the island? Well, in this game that's you, and it's your job to train your new friend, so he's ready to fight the pirates at the end of the game. You do this by trying to optimize the cards in Crusoe's fight deck. In the beginning, he will lose battles which although hurts his life points, also helps him burn the bad cards in his deck. When he does eventually win a fight, he gains the cards in the enemy deck. The goal is that by the time the two pirate ships arrive, your deck will be in good enough shape to defeat the pirates and help Robinson successful escape the island.

Verdict: This our pick for those that want a small-scale solo game like Onirim, but with a bit more of a challenge.

Let's Wrap Things Up:

Choosing the top 12 solo board games from the universe of over hundreds of games was no easy feat. We had to extensively research on reddit, boardgamegeek.com and interview dozens of avid board game players. Most of the games on the list can also be played in multiplayer mode, allowing you to also enjoy when you have company around.

If you're an absolute stater (or beginner), we recommend starting with Rio Grande Games Friday or Arkham Horror. Both of these games are relatively inexpensive and, more or less, give you an idea of what you can expect playing solo.

We sincerely hope you were able to find the perfect solo board game for your needs. If you would like to recommend a particular game which you found interesting, please comment below. I'll update the list accordingly.

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