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  • Writer's pictureJW

Solo gaming is my "ZEN mode"

To celebrate our second anniversary, we invited our readers to send pictures of their game shelves and tell us a bit about their collection or hobby. Derek is the first winner of this contest. Congratulations!

Here's his story.


My gaming shelf is actually, SHELVES because I needed more space. FYI - The boxes to the right of the shelf are not more games (sadly)... just moving boxes as we get settled. Naturally the games shelves were one of the first things I organized as we moved in ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

OH NO! I just realized I cut off my latest purchase, "Freshwater Fly" at the top of the picture... ๐Ÿ™„ And yes, there are some sudoku and crossword books, small games/puzzles like Uno, Scrabble Slam, Rubik's Cubes etc... as well as jigsaw puzzles on the games shelves. For me it just makes sense ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Now I know what you're thinking; "That's not that many games, Derek". My response to that is; "I know! You're right. That's what I keep telling my wife." Compared to many gamers out there, including here at Solitaire Times, my collection is SO TINY. However, I'm just shy of two years into my hobby, so give it time. ๐Ÿ˜€ Besides, according to my sister, wife and daughters, I have a "problem".

As soon as a new game comes into my collection, it gets to the table and played. Mind you that's been my personality my entire life; A new toy, video game, board game, outdoor/sports equipment... I want to use it ASAP and enjoy it. I personally don't want my collection to get to the point where unplayed games are sitting on my shelf. I would be sad on a regular basis if that were the case. Not to mention, we love living simply... which means a small modest home... which means only so much space for games.

Solo gaming makes up the bulk of my gaming hobby and is my "ZEN mode" as my wife calls it. It's really become a go-to stress management tool and entertainment for me, most days of the week. There's no better feeling than finishing up a busy work day, and then sitting down to the table after dinner for a great game or two.


It all began with still my favourite game in my collection.... Scythe.

Before purchasing Scythe, I didn't really know what solo gaming was all about in modern board games. I had no idea solo modes existed before researching Scythe! For me solo gaming was like when we were kids; playing a board game solo meant playing as yourself and another player ... Not much fun really. Granted, I always won those games! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ I thought it would be pretty cool to be able to bring a game to the table whenever I wanted and with an actual way to play by yourself!! What a cool concept!

Yet I had no idea what IT (Scythe's solo mode and solo gaming in general) was going to do to me...

I still think Scythe has one of the best solo modes out there, using the 'Automa system'. Stonemaier games do such a great job with it. It's absolutely fantastic! As is Wingspan's Automa. I must say as well, Shem Phillips' solo modes are also very well done. He and Jamey Stegmeier definitely made me a fan of their games for sure. Either way, I've been absolutely hooked and blown away by solo gaming ever since! My eyes were opened to a whole new world... And down the gaming rabbit hole I went. ๐Ÿค”

Fan-made solo variants

In my collection, most of my modern board games have official solo modes. For me, it's a huge selling point when researching and/or purchasing a new or used game. I look for the player count immediately. I love having the option of playing any, if not all, of the games on my shelf when I want to play something.

Some of my games I play with unofficial/fan-made solo modes which can be as fun for me. If a new game I'm researching doesn't have a solo mode, I immediately head to the BGG forums to check on fan-made solo variants for the game. If there's at least a couple to try, the game goes to my wishlist. If a game doesn't have an official solo mode or much in the way of fan-made solo variants, I have to really ask myself "will I be able to get this to the table much with other people?" Unfortunately, no matter how great the game looks and how interested I am, I don't want it to just sit on my shelf and not be able to enjoy it.

Experimenting with fan-made solo variants has been fun for me in my hobby, and once I find one I like, the only thing that will sway me away from that variant is if an official solo variant is released (like Carcassonne).

Some of my fan-made solo variant games I play are...

  • 7-Wonders

  • Spyrium

  • Sid Meier's Civilization

  • Majesty for the Realm

  • Res Arcana

  • Catan

  • Arboretum

  • Dragonheart

And there is still Ticket to Ride, Munchkin, Risk and Brass Birmingham unofficial solo variants to experiment with!

So much to do.... so little time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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