Recommendations for kid-friendly solo board or card games
December 10, 2018 11:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations for solo board or card games that are interesting for an 11 year old (mainly online) gamer, and currently in print and available for purchase in the UK.

I'm trying to dial-back the online time for my son. He has a few fun board games already - King of Tokyo and the like - but he is more often than not without physically-present gaming partners, and we (his parents) can't always commit 90mins+ to a game of Munchkin with him. I have some fun memories of solo gaming as a kid, and would love to get him into something similar.

I looked at the previous thread, and the Boardgame Geek thread linked from there - and didn't find either very helpful.

The main issue is game availability (I remember the boxfront images from some of the BGG recommendations from the game store over 30 years ago! A 15 min hunt for recommendations in those threads found zero results for games currently available in UK retail stores).

I'm looking for something that is thematically-interesting to an 11 year old boy (think more Chainsaw Warrior than Solitaire). Would love to hear recommendations of games that are currently in-print and available in the UK.

I loved Steve Jackson games as a kid, and something of that style would be great - just not sure that anything really fits the available / solo / child friendly criteria bang-on.
posted by bifter to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Bottom of the 9th is a decent game. The players are shown on cards and all have some flavor text to add some character. I haven't played with the expansions. It is more fun with another person, but satisfactory to play solo.
posted by papayaninja at 11:20 AM on December 10, 2018

I loved Set as a kid and I continue to love Set. It's just a really solid game.
posted by phunniemee at 11:34 AM on December 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

my kids like:
Spot it!
Suspend (kind of like vertical pick-up sticks)
posted by alathia at 11:58 AM on December 10, 2018

posted by NathalieBou at 12:10 PM on December 10, 2018

Here's a link to a card games board Card Games that has about 20+ games for solo play (has opponents if needed: I play Hearts against 3 "people"). Rules are available and it won't let you do an illegal play. It has games at all levels, starting with Go Fish.
posted by MovableBookLady at 12:16 PM on December 10, 2018

Some ideas, which I believe should be widely available:

Welcome to...
Railroad Ink (blue)
Railroad Ink (red)
My little Scythe

Might be a stretch for 11 years old, but who knows: Mage Knight

Also all of the solitaire games on BGG are listed here. If you scroll down to the 'linked items' and sort by 'rank' it will reorder everything by how people rate the games.
posted by o0dano0o at 12:19 PM on December 10, 2018

Jigsaw puzzles. You can pick any theme you like. And you can join in for small amounts of time.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 12:40 PM on December 10, 2018

Pandemic is a fun 2-4 person co-op game that can be played alone without modification. It may be worth playing a couple rounds as a family so they can fully grasp the rules, but then they can easily pick up the mantle solo.
posted by matrixclown at 12:59 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Which Steve Jackson? Because the US one is in the process of republishing The Fantasy Trip (Melee/Wizard/etc), which includes republishing the two can-be-played-solo adventures "Death Test" and "Death Test 2". Unfortunately, things aren't out yet.
posted by fings at 1:17 PM on December 10, 2018

Star Realms is a great 2 player deck building game which has several solo play options.
posted by TheCoug at 1:27 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

In Escape The Curse of the Temple, you play an Indiana Jones-style adventurer trying to get out of an ancient temple before you get trapped in it. In Fuse, you play as a bomb expert trying to defuse explosives on a space ship.

The games have a lot in common. They both: have a ten-minute limit per game; come with a sound track; involve a lot of frantic dice-rolling; and can be played solo as well as cooperatively with several players.

We've played a lot of Escape The Curse of the Temple, and I can highly recommend it. Fuse seemed fun the one time I've played it.
posted by yankeefog at 1:44 PM on December 10, 2018

Castle Panic
Mice and Mystics
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:14 PM on December 10, 2018

Games with a campaign element might work well for just one player - for example, 7th Continent or Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (I have heard good things about Discover: Lands Unknown too).

It might also be worth considering game books (e.g. these graphic novel adventures).
posted by Paragon at 4:32 PM on December 10, 2018

If you go the gamebook route, the Fighting Fantasy series was popular decades ago and have made a resurgence, and should readily be available in the UK (e.g. offerings). The four-book Steve Jackson's Sorcery! sequence is particularly nice if your kid would like a challenge, because all four books can be played as a solo campaign, with equipment/stats carrying over from one book to the next: The Shamutanti Hills, Khare--Cityport of Traps, The Seven Serpents, and The Crown of Kings.
posted by yhlee at 7:34 PM on December 10, 2018

Plus one to Onirim and especially Mice and Mystics, which is utterly charming.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 9:14 AM on December 11, 2018

Thanks all - going to look at Friday, and possibly Star Realms I think. I actually have a copy of Mage Knight - but not sure he's quite ready for it. I also have an (unopened, unplayed) copy of Pandemic that I may intro him to over Christmas (hadn't realised it could be played solo).

Set will make a nice stocking filler.

Love the look of Mice & Mystics, but it's pretty spendy and I think he's probably just about at the point where he might think it's a bit too cutesy.

Bonus points to everyone for not suggesting Gloomhaven - well done. :)
posted by bifter at 1:56 PM on December 11, 2018

Black Orchestra Is a co op about assassinating Hitler (if that theme isn’t too much). Good review here.

Legands of Andor is an excellent fantasy co op.

Roll Player is about making a fantasy RPG character with dice placement.

More complicated are Donning the Purple and Nemo’s War.
posted by ridogi at 5:05 PM on December 11, 2018

Roll Player looks amazing - what a brilliant concept.

Might take a look at Black Orchestra for myself - cheers.
posted by bifter at 3:20 AM on December 12, 2018

100 Swords? Playable as solo or 2-player. Multiple deck options.
posted by stormyteal at 2:15 AM on December 13, 2018

We bought him a couple of games from the suggestions here: Star Realms and Friday (he also got some other card games from other relatives, but nothing single player).

Star Realms has been a massive hit - he's properly obsessed - though has only played it 2 player, and v. AI on the app. In fact I don't think the base game comes with rules (and possibly cards needed for) solo play. I haven't really looked into that in any real depth yet, but FYI in case other people are using this thread for suggestions I think that expansions may be required to play solo.
posted by bifter at 1:23 AM on January 14

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