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Bush’s Board Game Thing Episode 11: Hand Solo

bushs board game thing episode 11

Welcome back to the Zatu Games blog. We hope you've had a safe and happy Christmas. We're back with another board games podcast recap. Bush's Board Game Thing sees Andy Bush celebrating board games and the experience of gaming with friends Jess Temby and Brian Murphy. Each week, expect passion, enthusiasm, and multiple trips through gaming wormholes. This podcast is powered by Zatu - we're making sure the board game cogs keep on turning. Each week, I'll be bringing you the best bits here on the blog and letting you shop the podcast! Today, we're recapping Bush's Board Game Thing Episode 11.

Bush’s Board Game Thing Episode 11 is a little different from the rest. Firstly, Board Game Thing has gone bite-sized with a shorter episode – perfect for these strange days of Crimbo-limbo. Secondly, it’s just Andy at the mic this week. Brian and Jess have taken a short break over the festive period, ready to come back better than ever in the new year. Andy, on the other hand, is here to tide us over. Given that loads of listeners have written in requesting solo board game recommendations, Andy decided to do a quick solo episode to share his favourites.

Solo Board Games

Given the recent tightening of coronavirus restrictions across the UK, it’s no wonder that more of us are looking for one-player games. Until we can mix safely with our friends and family from other households, it’s likely that solo board games will continue to grow in popularity. You might think that single-player board games go against the ethos of Bush’s Board Game Thing. After all, our board game podcast is all about the joy of getting together and playing board games with friends. However, Andy himself can vouch for the benefits of solo board gaming.

Even for those of you who don’t live by yourselves, a one-player board game could be great fun. This is especially true for people – like Andy – whose partners aren’t all that interested in sinking an hour or more into a board game. In addition, a solo board game is a great opportunity for a bit of meditative reflection. It can be almost like mindfulness – something I’m sure we could all do with in these stressful times. And anyway, surely playing a board game by yourself is a better use of time than staring at a screen for yet another hour of the day! So, Bush's Board Game Thing Episode 11 gets straight down to business, giving you more solo board game recommendations than you can shake a stick at.

Mage Knight

Fantasy Board Games for One Player

First up, we're looking at fantasy games. Mage Knight is Andy's first recommendation, designed by Vlaada Chvátil. This game consists of a modular board made up of random tiles, giving you a different gaming experience every time you play. If you're in the mood for adventuring, storming castles, and slaying dragons, Mage Knight is definitely the game for you. You'll need to think two or three moves ahead in order to play the best combination of cards, making this game a proper brain-cruncher.

Gloom of Kilforth and Shadows of Kilfroth are two more notable fantasy games from designer Tristan Hall. Gloom of Kilforth is a great travel game, consisting of a simple but powerful deck of cards. Your task is to turn back the tide of evil and prevent the kingdom from falling to darkness. This is another game that's different every time you play it.

Next, we couldn't discuss fantasy games without mentioning Gloomhaven. It's an enormous box packed to the rafters with content. You can play Gloomhaven in a group of up to 4 players, but it also works great as a solo game. The game plays out over dozens of scenarios, providing a rich and lengthy campaign. It's currently reduced here on Zatu Games, so make sure to snag this absolute blockbuster while you can!

Solo Survival Games

This year has felt pretty apocalyptic at times. So, what better than a solo survival game to round out 2020? One of Andy's all-time favourite games is Robinson Crusoe, based of course on the classic novel of the same name. 'Modular board' is becoming a bit of a buzzword for Bush's Board Game Thing Episode 11. Like Mage Knight, Robinson Crusoe game makes use of a modular board to give you a unique experience every time you play. You'll encounter loads of different scenarios as you try to survive on a beautiful but deadly tropical island.

British publishers Themeborne also have some great solo survival games. Andy recommends both Escape The Dark Sector and its prequel, Escape the Dark Castle. The artwork on both games' cards is amazing and very thematic. If you were a fan of choose-your-own-adventure books back in the day, you'll love these games.

Next up, The Lost Expedition from Osprey Games, another great British publisher. The game follows explorer Percy Fawcett as he travels through the Amazon in search of the lost city of El Dorado. You can play solo or with up to 5 players as you try to survive the jungle and make it to your destination.

Escape the Dark Sector - Game Components

Single-Player Sci-Fi Games

We've already covered sci-fi board games back in Episode 6. However, today in Bush's Board Game Thing Episode 11, we're revisiting the genre to look specifically at sci-fi games you can play by yourself. Renegade is one of the best solo sci-fi games out there, according to Andy. It's card-based, requiring you to think two or three moves ahead. If you're a fan of Tron and similar sci-fi stories, definitely check Renegade out.

Our next sci-fi solo game is Nemesis, which is (in Bush's own words) "scary as hell". It plays up to 5 players but works great for one player too. You wake up in hyperspace with menacing creatures on the loose aboard your ship. You need to evade these scary alien figures and try and steer your ship to safety.

Judge Dredd Helter Skelter sees all the characters from the 2000AD comics facing off against each other. It's a quick play laying cards on a map, designed by Osprey Games. The Dark Judges expansion is also well worth a look.

Other Notable Mentions

GMT Games are one of Andy's favourite publishers. They usually produce history games (which, as we know, Andy loves). The COIN series is an amazing series of games about wars and revolutions from history. We've discussed COIN (Counterinsurgency) games before, but they're getting another mention for their standout solo modes. You'll play against an artificial intelligence bot who puts up a decent fight! Labyrinth: The War on Terror also comes highly recommended in Bush's Board Game Thing Episode 11. You can play by yourself or with one other player to try and stop the spread of terrorism.

Next, some horror games for your consideration. Arkham Horror, based on the works of HP Lovecraft, is a huge (literally) hit among board game fans. See also the Arkham Horror Living Card Game. They both have beautiful art-deco style and chilling storylines. However, if supernatural horror isn't your bag, check out Marvel Champions, another living card game.

Dune Imperium Components

Mansions of Madness is another great HP Lovecraft horror game for solo players. You'll play against an AI app as you investigate the dark streets of Arkham, solving grisly murders and facing off against frightening creatures.

A recent addition to Andy's game collection is Dune: Imperium, a sci-fi game which he absolutely loves. If you, like us, can't wait for the new Dune movie to come out, check out this beautiful board game in the meantime. It's another one with a companion app as your opponent. You'll need to defeat your rival(s) in combat and navigate political conflicts too in order to succeed.

See You in 2021!

And with that, we come to the end of Bush's Board Game Thing Episode 11. This will be the last episode of 2020 - a year I'm sure we'll all be glad to see the back of. From all of us here at Zatu Games, we wish you a safe and happy new year. We'll see you again in 2021 with another episode of Bush's Board Game Thing. Until then, game on!