Nothing beats a good board game. I know there are numerous experiences that imitate or are inspired by the concept of a board game, such as video games, but there’s still something simply magical about setting up a board and pieces, then using your vivid imagination as you interact with those components physically.
If you, like me, love spending time with board games regularly, then you’ll probably look for any excuse to try a new one. Unless you always have a steady supply of friends to play with, though, you’ll run into one problem often: not having enough people to play.
The good news is that there are board games you can play alone. And even if you don’t have more imaginative companions to help bring the game to life, there are many solo board games with miniatures that can help achieve the same effect.
I’m going to show you a few of the most intriguing-looking board games with miniatures that you can play alone. That way, you can consider grabbing one to pass the time when you don’t have anyone else around.
Best Solo Board Games with Miniatures
If you’re a fan of tabletop games with elaborate campaigns and choices, Gloomhaven could be the perfect board game for you. It will recreate that feeling of going on quests, getting to make tough decisions, and of course, earning gold.
Plus, there are over a dozen different classes to play. No matter what your playstyle is, there’s likely a class that you’d enjoy playing.
With that in mind, this is a board game designed to play over multiple sessions so you can see the impact of the choices you make on the world. It’s often recommended that you play it with one small and steady group of people – just like a weekly DnD group or something.
However, players note that you can play Gloomhaven solo, as well, if you’re willing to put in the time.
- Has an impressive 17 different classes to play.
- Extremely replayable, thanks to the decisions you can make that impact the world in-game.
- Offers players hundreds of hours of gameplay.
- It can support up to four people if you happen to have a group around.
- Comes with hundreds of beautiful pieces.
- It has a somewhat steep learning curve. I’ve been meaning to play Gloomhaven for years, and we end up never getting around to it because of the complex setup.
Have you ever wished that you could explore Middle Earth? Do you ever want to escape reality for a little while and hang out with the heroes from the stories and movies? I can’t give you an actual portal leading to Middle Earth, but I can recommend games like Journeys in Middle Earth.
In Journeys in Middle Earth, you get to play one of six legendary characters: Aragorn, Bereavor, Bilbo, Gimli, Legolas, or Elena. The characters and enemies you’ll face along your journey are each beautifully represented with miniatures, as well.
I personally like that the game includes a companion app, but others may find that restrictive. The app helps you keep tabs on where you are in the campaign in addition to guiding you through scenarios. It’s kind of like an automated DM.
- You can play as one of a handful of extremely familiar characters from the lore.
- Works with a companion app that will guide you through scenarios and track your progress.
- Comes with beautiful minis to represent characters and monsters.
- High replayability, as there are various side quests you can do each time you play.
- You get to watch the map of Middle Earth unfold each time as you explore it.
- Many feel it falls prey to same weaknesses that Mansions of Madness has, including its reliance on the companion app.
Imagine if Settlers of Catan took place in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world coated with the ashes from a massive war, and you’ll have an idea of what Scythe is like. This is a competitive game in which each player is playing as a faction struggling to build up their own resources and construct their own mechs.
Each faction is represented with detailed and fun miniatures. They’re all gray, though, so you may want to consider painting them if you’re on the artistic side.
One thing that really drew my eye to this one was its streamlined gameplay. Players report that it works well with just about any number of players, including solo. It seems to consistently work well.
- Plays well with anywhere from one to five players.
- Comes with gray minis that you can paint at your leisure.
- Perfect for fans of post-apocalyptic fiction.
- The parts are sturdy and long-lasting.
- This is one of the only games I’ve ever seen that was designed to be suitable for colorblind people.
- This is a complicated game. You will need to spend time carefully reading the instructions prior to playing it.
Here comes the first of a small string of horror-based games I’m going to include on this list. Unfortunately, I have a massive soft spot for all things creepy, so I couldn’t resist including this one on the list. It’s been on my wishlist forever.
Mansions of Madness is a Lovecraftian board game that operates much like Journeys in Middle Earth. This is because both games are made by the same manufacturer: Fantasy Flight.
Mansions of Madness incorporates a companion app-based system. You set up the board, load up the app, and let the game basically run itself for you. It even has multiple campaigns you can play through to experience different stories if you’re tired of one in particular.
There are also over 500 different parts to make the experience more immersive for you. Some of those parts, of course, include detailed miniatures.
- The game has multiple different campaigns you can play through to shake up the routine. There are also expansions for when you play through all the campaigns it comes with.
- Has numerous intricate components to portray the world of the game for you.
- It includes an atmospheric companion app that tells you the story and runs the game for you.
- Fun creepy theme is great for fans of horror like myself.
- Features cooperative gameplay that you can break out if your group tends to get a little too competitive.
- Like Journeys in Middle Earth, it has the same flaw of requiring the companion app. You cannot play it without the app.
Read Next: Best Lovecraftian Board Games
I am a total sucker for sci-fi horror. One of my all-time favorite movies is John Carpenter’s The Thing, and I love Alien as much as the next person. (You need only read my review of Alien: Isolation to see that.)
So when I stumbled across Nemesis, I was ecstatic. This is essentially Alien the board game. Players are each different classes of crew members (including things like Scientist or Soldier) who have just woken up on a spaceship, only to discover they no longer seem to be alone.
Your goal is to repair the damage to the ship and get back to earth. What I love about this one is that you can also play it alone, making the experience even more intense.
- This is the game for you if you’re a fan of sci-fi horror movies like Alien.
- Comes with creepy alien minis.
- The layout of the map, your objectives, and combat change each time you play, so you can play it over and over again.
- There are a variety of different characters/classes to play to suit a range of playstyles.
- Can be expensive.
Have you ever wished that you could play Dungeons and Dragons alone? If not, have you wanted to play before but had no one around to play with?
I’ve got the solution: board games like Dungeons and Dragons Castle Ravenloft. The premise is similar to a traditional campaign, except you don’t require a DM or even party members if there’s no one around to play.
Each time you break it out, you’ll be playing through the same story. You’ve been invited to dinner at a luxurious castle…only, things aren’t as innocent as they seem.
To smoothly run each session for you, the game comes with a scenario book, map tiles, and a rulebook. You can play with more people if you wish, but you can also play it solo.
- Takes places in the Forgotten Realms, so it will be familiar to fans of DnD.
- If you have people to play with, it’s a cooperative game so you don’t need to get overly competitive.
- Fun and creepy story will likely appeal to just about everyone.
- Comes with 40 miniatures.
- It’s a good introduction to DnD concepts/rules for beginners.
- There are some reports that a few of the minis are fragile.
- Veteran DnD players may find some of the gameplay repetitive.
I’ve got something for the average Dark Souls fan, too: Dark Souls the Board game. If you’re willing to spend a couple hours playing a board game, and you don’t mind one that’s on the more challenging end of the spectrum, I highly recommend it.
For one thing, it has tons of fun and intricate minis. Even if you’re just looking to expand your collection of miniatures, it’s an excellent source.
You’ll also love how replayable this game is. It was created to be played over and over again, so it doesn’t have any fixed scenarios you play repeatedly. All you do is choose which direction to explore, then pull encounters from the encounter deck to see what happens.
- Highly replayable, as the experience is randomized.
- If you like the game, there are expansions you can buy to play more of it.
- There are quite a few classes to choose from to change your playstyle.
- Like the real game, the board game’s combat is challenging and diverse.
- Tons of elaborate minis to add to your collection.
- It can be on the expensive side.
Read Next: Best Board Games with Expansion Packs
What to Consider When Buying a Board Game with Minis
Theme and Lore
When you’re playing with a whole group of people, I feel like it’s in many ways harder to pick a game with a good theme. You’re trying to appeal to more people at once, and although you might have similar interests, there isn’t usually a one-size-fits-all solution.
So, when it comes to a board game you’re planning to play on your own, you have much more flexibility. All you need to do is choose one with a theme and backstory that appeals to you.
You can probably tell, based on a few of the games I included on this list, that I have an appreciation for dark imagery and horror. But there are also plenty of sci-fi, fantasy, or adventure board games for you to explore, too. The point is, regardless of what you’re into, there is likely a board game that will slot in nicely to your passions.
Even if none of the games on this list catch your eye thematically, you can usually modify most other board games to be solo by looking for guides online.
Another thing you should ask yourself is how much time you’re willing to commit to a board game. Do you want something you can play quickly in between other activities? Or would you prefer something you spend a whole evening enjoying by yourself?
Either answer is fine, and there are plenty of games that will cater to your preferences. Most the ones I included on this list do take time, though. They can range from a single hour to a few.
If you’d like something shorter, be sure to check the box or description prior to purchase. Most boxes will give you a rough estimate of how long the game will take. Keep in mind, however, that the first few times you play the game, it is likely to be longer as you adjust to the rules.
Read Next: Best Board Games to Play in Under 30 Minutes
If you’re looking for a solo board game, you probably have some experience with board games in general, so I likely don’t have to lecture you about learning curve. Nonetheless, it’s still an important topic to touch on, so I’ll mention it here briefly.
Learning curve refers to how difficult it is to learn a game that you’ve never played before. Beginners will generally prefer games with shallower learning curves, and more experienced players will be much more comfortable with steeper learning curves.
One problem with solo board games is that they often have a lengthy setup and some kind of self-running element. Additionally, since you won’t have a group of people to help you puzzle out instructions, playing a new game alone will sometimes be quite challenging.
This isn’t to say that all solo board games you play will be difficult. I do think it’s never a bad idea to check reviews for the game in advance, though, and see what solo players have had to say about it.
Number of Players
I know you’re looking at list of solo board games, but that doesn’t mean that have to be only solo. What if you like the game so much, you want to share it with your friends and family at the next available opportunity?
Even if that’s not a top concern for you, I think the number of players a game can have is important to consider because it can affect the gameplay itself. For example, if a game supports an incredibly large number of players – such as ten or more – I feel as if that’s usually an indicator that the game is designed to work best with a larger group, regardless of whether or not it offers solo play.
This is just something to keep in the back of your mind as you look at board games. Again, you can always check reviews and comments on the game to ensure that those who played it alone felt it worked smoothly with a single player.
I think if someone were to pick the best board game on this list looking at critical acclaim as the criteria, it would probably be Gloomhaven. Personally, though, there’s another one that I would pick if I could: Nemesis.
I love the idea of a solo sci-fi horror experience. It would be like getting to pit myself against a xenomorph in board game form. Of course, that’s just me, and the game is currently kind of expensive, so I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to play it.