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Great Choices For One Player

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At times of isolation – which can include cold weather, injury and antisocial job postings, as well as society-wide virus lockdowns – it’s important to keep yourself entertained. The humble board game may not seem like the ideal solution, depending as it usually does on human interaction and physical components, but there are ways to make it work.

We’ve already rounded up our favourite board games, but in this article we focus specifically on the best board games for solo play.

However, if you’d rather play the same board games you do normally, jump ahead to the general advice section where we discuss software and web services that are ideal for bringing together board gamers who can’t be in the same room.

Ghost Stories

Elder Sign

Elder Sign



Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island



Magic Maze

Magic Maze

How to play board games on your own

Okay, let’s say you don’t want to change the games you play – you’d rather change the way you play them. What’s the best solution?

Digital versions

Obvious one first: if you buy a copy of your favourite game for a computer or console, you’ll be able to play against AI opponents, or human ones online. Digital versions are also generally a lot cheaper than the physical equivalents.

I’m an iPad gamer, and therefore lucky in this regard: board games work great in this format, and there are versions of nearly every game I love on Apple’s App Store. Particular favourites include Carcassonne, Catan, Splendor, Agricola, Puerto Rico and Ticket to Ride, but most of the big titles are on there if you look: read Best iPad board games for more recommendations.

PC editions of board games are also numerous. Obviously a digital download is required in many of the situations that necessitate solo gaming, so Steam and Green Man Gaming are worth a look.

Virtual tabletop

For an experience that’s closer to the real thing, set up a virtual gaming environment in which you and your friends can play. There are several software products that enable this.

Tabletop Simulator is a popular virtual sandbox and is available on Steam and Green Man Gaming. It comes with 15 classic (ie copyright-free) games included, such as chess, dominoes and Mahjong, but its real power comes from the ability to import a huge range of custom and community-created games.

There are other options, however. Boardgamearena and Boiteajeux both let you play games through your browser. Vassal Engine and Tabletopia are worth a try too.

Finally, check for online versions of the specific game you want to play. We’ve been playing a lot of internet scrabble recently, for example.

Skype or FaceTime

Skype and FaceTime (since Apple added group FaceTime calls) are both excellent ways to play games remotely. You’ll need to trust the person who has the physical board game in front of them, of course.


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