You don't have to be a statistician to guess that board games with a solo mode were released much more frequently in the past than in previous years. But now there is also proof of this in numbers. Reddit user FaradaySaint did some work based on BGG data and created a graph of the number of new releases of solo board games.
Data from the BoardgameGeek platform, which Jesse Van Elteren compiled and published, served as the basis for the evaluation. This ultimately resulted in a graphic that impressively shows how many more solo board games have been published in recent years.
Solo mode as a quality criterion?
The parlor game no longer lives up to its name in every case, at least if you use playing in society as a definition for it. The AAA board games in particular have a solo mode more and more often - sometimes directly from publication, sometimes via a later rule extension. If board games provide it conceptually, one can now even understand the single-player alternative as the standard. It's rarely communicated that way, but the solo mode is a strong quality criterion: the right group for a game can sometimes be ignored - if you play alone, you don't have to worry about that. Sometimes the solo AI replaces other players in games with two or three human board players. And: The solo mode turns a board game into a pastime that can easily compete with other playful hobbies such as computer gaming. This is probably also a change in the perception of board games. It's still basically a group pastime, but no longer exclusive - no longer forced.
Only attributing value to a board game or parlor game in company seems outdated. Authors and publishers have also been focusing on solo gaming for a long time. the Statistics from FaradaySaint seems to prove that. As a database, he only entered game titles that received at least 100 ratings on BoardgameGeek. His graphics go back to 1999.
The number of board games with solo mode remained relatively constant until around 2008, when the curve rises significantly. A correlation apparently arises with the emergence of the Kickstarter platform. The crowdfunding site started in 2009 – since then the number of board games with a solo mode has also increased, initially slightly, then (from around 2014) steeply. The preliminary peak is in 2019, followed by a slight slump - presumably due to the Corona situation and its consequences. It would be appropriate in time and it seems obvious. For a long time no more than 20 board games with a solo mode were released each year (until 2007) – this figure has increased around thirteen-fold since the peak year of 2019. Almost 260 new releases rely on a single player version. In 2021, the number of board games from one player was also higher than in all other necessary setups.
Frequent fan comments support the connection with Kickstarter, Gamefound and Co. There, solo modes are explicitly highlighted as a quality feature, sometimes directly with the start of the campaign or as an attached stretch goal. If you don't find any information, the first questions in the comment columns usually revolve around a single-player mode. A board game novelty without solo AI will have a much harder time on today's market, provided the game concept makes solo play possible at all.
In addition to the pure figures, the Reddit user FaradaySaint has also highlighted some particularly recommendable solo board games - he calls them "top game each year". Among them are titles like Cascadia, Everdell, Wingbeat, Gloomhaven, Terraforming Mars, Eldritch Horror or Agricola.
In solo board games or single-player variants, a "cardboard AI" takes over the moves - the executing hand then remains the solo player himself. The actions of the imaginary opponent are then carried out using fixed rules and using random elements - such as a separate deck of cards .
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Last updated on 3.02.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API