Solo, analog / card / pencil+paper based distraction suggestions?
February 17, 2018 2:45 PM   Subscribe

I often find myself with long stretches of time on my hands to fill - I'm looking to spend less of it on social media and, after 35 years of near-compulsive reading, have temporarily burned out on that as a stopgap. What are some solo analog / card / pencil+paper based games or other, related activities that you find soothing, focusing, compelling, or amusing?
posted by ryanshepard to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Jigsaw puzzles!
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

posted by PaulaSchultz at 3:02 PM on February 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Does photography count? Can't really do it sitting by yourself, but it's a great excuse to walk around your neighborhood or drive downtown. I've gotten really into film photography with very cheap supplies (thrift store cameras and consumer-grade film) and find it much more relaxing than digital photography.
posted by Polycarp at 3:11 PM on February 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Crossword puzzles
Word find puzzles
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 3:11 PM on February 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Logic problems
posted by DrGail at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2018

Write someone a letter!
posted by darchildre at 3:51 PM on February 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

Adult coloring books, Zentangles, calligraphy, or sketching are my go-to activities.
posted by ananci at 3:52 PM on February 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Word ladders
posted by Spathe Cadet at 4:05 PM on February 17, 2018

Paper crafts like Cubees!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:05 PM on February 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

5000 / hot dice. if you are in a group.
posted by eustatic at 4:28 PM on February 17, 2018

Rubik's cube
Drawing, sketching, colouring
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:46 PM on February 17, 2018

Sounds to me like you should take up writing. Surely after 35 years of reading, you have some ideas you want to commit to paper? Writing is a mental puzzle that never needs to end.
posted by ejs at 5:57 PM on February 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

The 1 Player Guild at BGG has many recommendations. Here's their most recent Top 100 thread. Here's what MeFi had to say 2 years ago.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:09 PM on February 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by Jacqueline at 8:34 PM on February 17, 2018

I looked around for some solo games a few years ago and found this Solitaire Dice game, for which I drew and photocopied up some score sheets so I wouldn't have to keep redrawing the grid. I liked it quite a bit.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:11 PM on February 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

rule and compass patterns
posted by scruss at 4:57 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Chess puzzles are very good for this for me. This is my favorite book of puzzles, most of them feel very natural and resemble real positions you could end up in. Starts easy and gets hard.
posted by machinecraig at 6:17 AM on February 18, 2018

2nding knitting and logic puzzles. For the latter, I find Dell magazines makes the best quality. You can order 6- or 12-packs of old issues from their website for less than $1 apiece, much cheaper than what you'd pay at newsstands. I always have 1 or 2 logic puzzle books with me when I travel.
posted by wintersonata9 at 7:06 AM on February 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by Malla at 8:11 AM on February 18, 2018

Modern board games that are co-operative (Forbidden Island, Pandemic, Elder Sign, Flash Point, etc.) can be played solo: you just take control of all the characters and try to win.

Competitive games will sometimes have solo modes; take a look at Sagrada, where you're picking dice to assemble into a stained-glass window, or Suburbia where you're assembling a city. Some games will have dummy players that you're trying to beat.

There are also solitaire-only games such as Friday (a deck-builder where you help Robinson Crusoe face hazards of the island and two pirate ships) or Finished (where you're sorting numbers into order).
posted by amk at 10:38 AM on February 18, 2018

I find Picross aka Paint-Doku, Nonogram, Griddlers paint-by-number logic puzzles relaxing and a nice a balance of process and reasoning. Perhaps learn on a screen first (iOS, Android, Switch, 3DS or even Gameboy) and then make the transition to paper. I find I'm much more deliberate when I do them on paper because the cpu won't immediately correct my mistakes.
posted by notpeter at 7:30 PM on February 18, 2018

In the same vein as the adult coloring book boom, there are adult dot-to-dot books with complicated patterns that require concentration and attention. Bonus, you can sing “Connect the dots, la la la” a la Peewee Herman as you put pencil to paper.
posted by FergieBelle at 8:04 PM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Set. I have it on my phone but still find playing with the deck is more fun.

Seconding playing coop board games solo.
posted by Hactar at 12:16 PM on February 19, 2018

Sketching is great; if you'd like some pointers, see if your library has any books by Mark Kistler.

Also: Postcards to Voters!
posted by kristi at 10:52 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

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