Explore Space, Invade Tarawa, Complete Missions Against Nazis, and Defeat a Slasher…All By Yourself!

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by Candice Harris

Playing board games solo isn’t necessarily everyone’s jam (yet?), but solitaire gaming is definitely becoming more and more popular in our hobby. It could be my reticular activator drawing me to them, but I’ve definitely noticed an increasing number of multiplayer games being released with solo modes/variants in the past year. It seems to be the new norm.

GMT Games caught on to this growing demand for solo gaming options and announced “GMT One” in its January 2021 Monthly Update Newsletter, which is a new in-house development studio dedicated to enabling solo gamers to enjoy the wide variety of multiplayer games that GMT publishes. In more detail:
GMT One will help bridge the gap in knowledge and experience between our multiplayer designers and the skills and techniques used to craft Solitaire experiences and support these designers in creating top-notch designs. Our design group includes the designers who built the Solitaire systems in Tank Duel and Gandhi, and we will partner with designers like John Butterfield, Mark Herman, Volko Ruhnke, Harold Buchanan, Mike Bertucelli, and others to create best-in-industry Solitaire experiences for you.
In addition to the ever-growing and improving multiplayer solo options, there are a lot of exciting games coming out designed specifically for solitaire play, featuring a wide variety of mechanisms, themes, and complexity levels. There’s really no better time to check one out if you’ve ever been curious.

• Back in April 2019, Eric mentioned the 2021 solitaire release Final Girl from Van Ryder Games and designers Evan Derrick and A. J. Porfirio.

Final Girl is a reimplementation of Porfirio’s Hostage Negotiator that plays in 30-45 minutes, but instead of negotiating with abductors to save hostages, you’ll be trying to survive and defeat a horror movie killer:
Playing on a famous horror movie trope, Final Girl is a solitaire-only game that puts the player in the shoes of a female protagonist who must kill the slasher if she wants to survive.

The Core Box, when combined with one of our Feature Film Boxes, has everything you need to play the game. Each Feature Film Box features a unique Killer and and iconic Location, and the more Feature Films you have, the more killer/location combinations you can experience!


In game terms, Final Girl shares similarities with Hostage Negotiator, but with some key differences that change it up, including a game board to track locations and character movement. You can choose from multiple characters when picking someone to play and multiple killers when picking someone to play against. Killers and locations each have their own specific terror cards that will be shuffled together to create a unique experience with various combinations of scenarios for you to play!
I kept hearing good things about Hostage Negotiator, but I was initially hesitant to try it because the theme didn’t really jive with me. I’m so glad I did finally pick it up and try it though! It really surprised me how much I enjoyed it, and I love how the mechanisms and theme are so well-implemented together. I ended up loading up on all of the expansions and I’m especially looking forward to trying the Hostage Negotiator: Career expansion that was released in 2020. This is all to say, based on Hostage Negotiator pleasantly surprising me, I want to play Final Girl — even though the theme, once again, has me hesitant.

• On the historical wargame front, Worthington Publishing LLC launched a Kickstarter (KS link) on January 23, 2021 for Tarawa 1943 a WWII solitaire, card-driven game on the invasion of Japanese controlled Tarawa by the 2nd Marine Division that plays in 30-60 minutes, from designers Grant Wylie and Mike Wylie:
TARAWA 1943 is a solitaire, card-driven game on the invasion of Japanese controlled Tarawa by the 2nd Marine Division. Each turn the USMC player will activate one of their eight battalions. During its activation, it can move, attack, and attempt to regroup. The USMC player further has a three-card hand (out of a deck of thirty cards) that gives additional resources to the player (naval support, air support, engineers, tanks, etc). The USMC player can play one card during their turn and one card during the Japanese turn.


As a battalion is activated, it reduces its cohesion (reflecting wear and tear and exhaustion). Battalions are further reduced in cohesion due to Japanese attacks and the marines “pushing their attacks”.

After the USMC player finishes their activation, the Japanese turn begins with the flip of a card. From this, the USMC player will face fire attacks, banzai attacks, bunkers, cross fires, infiltration, and more. The card engine will ensure an ever changing game and no two will play the same.

The game will give the historical starting invasion site. However, we have included the alternate “south beach” landing possibility that the Japanese had expected and prepared.

Victory is achieved by taking the island as quickly as possible while minimizing casualties. This was the first invasion of the U.S. island hopping strategy and high losses or a prolonged fight could have led to a cancellation of the island hopping campaign.
From the videos I’ve checked it out, Tarawa 1943 seems like it’ll be a fun and challenging solitaire wargame, and with a 30-60 minute playtime, it seems like I’ll be able to get it to the table more easily than some of my beefier wargames. The Player’s Aid also posted a great interview with Grant Wylie if you’re interested in learning more about the background and mechanics for Tarawa 1943.

Journey’s End, the latest expansion and final chapter to Chris Taylor‘s highly thematic Nemo’s War (Second Edition), was launched on Kickstarter in late November 2020 and is open for late backers. The Nemo’s War: Journey’s End expansion was designed by Alan Emrich, who also designed the Nautilus Upgrades Expansion Pack which was the first expansion for Nemo’s War.

If you’re not familiar with the game, Nemo’s War is a deep sea, adventure, exploration game based on Jules Verne’s classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in which players assume the role of Captain Nemo and travel across the seas on missions of science, exploration, anti-imperialism, and war! It’s primarily a solitaire game, but also includes rules for 2-4 player fully co-operative and semi-competitive variants.

Here’s what you can expect from the Journey’s End expansion as described by the publisher:The final expansion for Nemo’s War (Second Edition) includes new finale cards, a new character, additional motives and adventures, and an official 2-player variant.

A COMPREHENSIVE OPERATIONS MANUAL & BETWEEN VOYAGES GUIDE: The new Operations Manual shows how to run the ship turn-by-turn and includes many useful appendices at the end, while the new Between Voyages Guide features instruction for setup, ending the game, scoring, epilogues, variants, and more!

A NEW TWO-PLAYER VERSUS VARIANT: Joining the riveting solo and cooperative modes where players command the Nautilus, in this game variant one player will play as the Imperialists, bent on its defeat. Includes special cards and two Imperial Squadron Miniatures!

A NEW CHARACTER TILE: Entering our story is Nemo’s son, Nadeen Dakkar, who crosses paths with his father after hearing news of mysterious events at sea!

NEW FINALE CARDS: Spice up your endings with The Trap, Imperialists’ Catspaw, Scientific Espionage, and The Kraken!

NEW STERN MOTIVES, ADDITIONAL NAUTILUS UPGRADES, AND EVEN MORE TOKENS & MARKERS!
In addition to the Journey’s End expansion, Victory Point Games is releasing an “Ultimate Edition” of Nemo’s War that includes the second edition of the base game with all of the expansion content.

Nemo’s War happens to be a top 5 solo game for me after playing only a single game. I highly recommend checking out Nemo’s War if you’re looking for an excellent, narrative-driven, solitaire game and you’re not turned off by dice rolling. It’s challenging, is very thematic and immersive, and features some gorgeous Ian O’Toole artwork, which all adds up to an awesome solitaire gaming experience.

Side Room Games is launching a Kickstarter campaign (KS link) on February 1, 2021 for the second edition of Jake Staines‘ 2013 solitaire worker-placement game Maquis.

Maquis plays in 20 minutes and the new edition will also include new missions for some fresh challenges. Here’s a brief overview of Maquis from the publisher:
Engage the Nazi occupation of France in la petite guerre to throw off the yoke of the oppressors and free your homeland!


Maquis is a solitaire worker-placement game with variable goals and a play time of approximately twenty minutes. The player places their resistance agents on spaces around town to achieve their goals — e.g., blowing up trains, publishing underground newspapers — but at the same time Milice collaborators and Wehrmacht soldiers patrol the area. Agents who can’t make it back to the safe house at the end of the day are arrested and never seen again.
I haven’t played Maquis yet, but I did recently score a copy of John Kean‘s Black Sonata, which is a solitaire hidden movement game from Side Room Games that’s in my queue to check out. I was so fascinated by the fact that someone designed a solitaire hidden movement game that I had to get myself a copy, and now I’m also curious to try Maquis.

After reading Neil Bunker’s interview with Morten Monrad Pedersen, the founder and lead designer of the Automa Factory, it was also cool to find out the worker-placement solitaire system in Maquis is what inspired the AI opponent in Viticulture!

Mark Chaplin, who co-designed the sci-fi, horror, survival game Lifeform from Hall or Nothing Productions, has two upcoming solo game releases that sound mighty interesting and their descriptions have me already enticed.

The first, Where Humans Don’t Belong,, is a suspenseful, space exploration game that plays in 45-90 minutes and is targeted for a mid-2021 Kickstarter launch:
Where Humans Don’t Belong is a single-player, deep space exploration game in which you are trying to escape the unknown galaxy into which your damaged starship has been thrust. The fate of your ship and her crew lies in your hands!

Explore uncharted space, board derelict freighters, and land on ringworlds and other amazing locations — all while being hunted by an alien dreadnought intent on your destruction.

Crew art – not finalized
Where Humans Don’t Belong is a standalone game in which you get to name your ship, choose its load-out, and pick your own bridge crew. They will encounter awesome galactic horrors and fight battles in space as well as on the surfaces of strange alien planets.

Featuring innovative combat and exploration systems, the game presents a unique, suspenseful adventure unlike any you’ve seen before.
Then there’s Deepwater, which plays in 45-60 minutes and is slated for a 2022 release:
Deepwater is a solo game set in the year 2047 in which the player assumes the role of a tech billionaire taking over a loss-making, underwater, deep-sea research and farming facility, six months after an industrial accident at the base released a crystalline, genetically-engineered mutagen named “Zenobia” into the sea.

During each game, the player has to recruit marine biologists, deep-sea engineers, offshore operations staff, and security personnel. As the game progresses, the player also has many opportunities to build onto their facility and develop superior underwater tech and submersibles to help achieve their character-specific goals. Will the player be a philanthropist, or a greedy business magnate, for example.

Concept art
Many dangerous situations will arise throughout the game, which the player will have to make tough decisions to overcome, including underwater earthquakes, superstructure fails, flooding, intrusions by eco-terrorists, and shark attacks. The multiple choice nature of these hazards will lead to the player having to sacrifice resources, cash, crew, and moral standing — with potentially devastating environmental impact.

Deepwater presents a tense, suspenseful, narrative-focused adventure with each and every game.
Both games will be published by Chaplin’s company, Giant Spider Games, which is focused on releasing thematic, narrative-driven games tackling genre aspects that are typically unexplored or overlooked. I have subscribed to both game pages, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting updates.

Read more: boardgamegeek.com

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