Since moving, I haven’t had an established weekly game night and have been hosting monthly get togethers. But a lot of my gaming sessions have been solo gaming. While I do own a good amount of games that have a solo mode, I have also been exploring free solo print and play games and solo variants developed and posted on Board Game Geek. I will do a roundup every now and then at some of the games I have been playing solo and my thoughts on them.
The game that stood out to me the most this past month is a small solo card game called Deity, designed by Geoff Greer of PastGo Games. In this game, the player is a deity of some sort and uses their powers to influence six different civilizations, controlling food, technology, war, disease, and more. Depending on the access to different resources, the civilizations will build monuments and develop new technologies which drive the entire world through the ages. How does it work you ask? Deity reminds me of Spider Solitaire in all of the good ways. I remember playing games upon games of Spider Solitaire on the some of the earliest home computers powered by Windows. If you haven’t played Spider Solitaire, it is a game where your goal is to move playing cards of different suites in columns from King to Ace in suit to remove them from the game. In suit sequences can be moved together and placed on other columns. When a player runs out of moves (or determines there is no move they would want to take) they deal out one card to the bottom of each column. The goal is to remove all the cards from the game.
In Deity, each civilization is represented by one column of cards and the symbols on the card determine what is encapsulated in the civilization. Like Spider Solitaire, the player can move stacks of cards with chains of the same symbol but they only have a finite number of actions before more cards are added to the stacks. Players are trying to create sequences of symbols in order for the civilizations to build monuments and increase their technology level. Deity is a cool puzzley solo card game with an unforgiving scoring structure.
What pulled me into this game was the theme. You are playing as a flock of birds migrating to warmer lands for the winter. At its core, Snowbirds is all about hand management. The game ends when your whole flock perishes or if the deck runs out. Now the deck is super important because cards are used for everything – food, endurance, and flight modifiers. But if you use to many cards to ensure your birds are fed and that they will reach their destination, you will not have enough cards for the whole journey. I liked Snowbirds, but it did not impress me enough to make a full version of the game. The game had and still has potential but I think there needs to be more development on the gameplay. If I want a solo hand management experience, I will probably break out Onirim.
This is my bust for the month. I loved the idea and the theme of the game. From designer Todd Sanders comes a game all about publishing and selling different types of books. Players are hiring different types of artisans to create the types of books that the Head Librarian will buy to complete their collection. The main mechanism here is hand management and timing to make the most efficient sales to the head librarian. While I loved the theme and general idea of the game, I found the game to be incredibly dry. I felt no theme in my plays, just mechanics. And while I do not always need a theme to be engaged. I felt like I was pushing cubes around the board for 30-40 minutes. I really wanted to like this one because Todd Sanders has designed another solo game I really enjoy. Unfortunately, I will not be keeping this one in my solo collection.
What solo games have you discovered lately?