Going Solo: Tabletop Games 2

Going Solo: Talisman

Talisman seems to be a Marmite game for a lot of people. It is very random, relying on dice for movement and drawing cards to see what happens. As a solo gamer I simply bought the revised fourth edition because I liked the look of the miniatures, the gorgeous dice and the fact that Games Workshop had just taken back the licence from Fantasy Flight. What GW will do with Talisman now is anyone’s guess. It might be Age of Sigmar-ed, it might not.

I rarely get to play in a group, so how do I work, as a solo player, with this great looking edition? Well, I had bought the Talisman app beforehand and later realised that the Talisman Prologue app contained solo scenarios for various characters, although you can’t save your games in the Prologue app. So I’ve tried some of these with the physical game, and also general questing around the board, and also using a relentless one-space-per-turn time track character, but I haven’t really found Talisman to be a satisfying solo experience. I love the miniatures and the dice, but for me, Talisman doesn’t work very well as an enjoyable solo game.

Going Solo: Quest – A Time of Heroes

 Quest – A Time of Heroes is a light fantasy game for up to four players. The Works were selling it at a very low price a couple of years ago and it received a very negative review from Tom Vasel who said that neither RPG players nor boardgamers would be satisfied with it as it fell between the two stools.

I bought the game at the time and thought the components were great and couldn’t believe all this stuff (standees, plastic bases, dice, a map, coins, character boards, scenery and loads of cards) had been included in the small box at such a low price. I think I took the criticism at face value, keeping the game for the components and not really delving any deeper. However, Quest has now had a bit of a renaissance in my solo gaming.
The element that makes it work as a solo game is the choose-your-own-adventure style of the scenarios. What might seem to be a limitation to an RPG group session, restricting the choices of actions, actually works pretty well for solo play. The campaign follows a great story which makes the characters feel part of the island community where the adventures take place as they share in the festivals, meet new characters and visit new locations.
The location cards look great, the standees are perfectly fine and I don’t think the set-up of the battles is actually all that onerous. The rules are simple and straightforward, and there are only a few places where some German words were missed by the translators, and these instances don’t cause any problems.
The box includes a handful of scenarios, four characters (I like playing with two at the moment) and mostly orcs as the bad guys. Unfortunately the game doesn’t look like it will be supported any further so the scenarios included in the game, along with fan-made quests and fan translations of the German quests, are all there will ever be of this game unless you make your own, which would be an unusual challenge for solitaire play. But for the original price, this turned out to be a solo bargain with a rich campaign to work through.

Going Solo: Eight Epics

In Eight Epics the aim is to overcome a series of dice rolling challenges, such as rolling all the same number, a sequence, or above or below a certain score. You achieve this by using re-rolls and the special abilities of the eight avatar characters. Each threat card has a number of challenges and you have to pick one of the avatars to have a first attempt at accomplishing the first challenge. You get a free re-roll of up to three dice, after which one must be returned to the pool and you can re-roll the the remaining two, then return another one to the pool and re-roll the final die. The avatar can spend a life point to do another re-roll or use their power, which might be to change one die to a six, or change a die to its opposite face, and so on. You can use up as many life points as you like, even to the point of killing the character. After each avatar’s attempt, their card becomes exhausted (if they are still alive) and you must use another avatar to carry on the challenges of each threat card. When a card is defeated, all the surviving avatars are refreshed to deal with the next threat card’s challenges. You go through four threat cards and then in the fifth round you tackle two cards at once. If you run out of active avatars you lose the game.

This game has a lot of elements I would normally be drawn to. It is about dice rolling, which I like, and the card artwork is terrific. But I just don’t enjoy this game. I don’t find the challenges in any way engaging. The dice are really nothing special to look at and seem quite cheap. The theme just doesn’t come across enough to get me invested in it. I like micro games, especially ones involving dice, but I found Eight Epics really disappointing.

Going Solo: The Witcher Adventure Game

The Witcher Adventure Game seems to provoke strong emotions from some gamers who see it as boring, mediocre or average at best. Others, however, have a much more positive opinion about it. The game is based on The Witcher video games with which I’m completely unfamiliar. You take on the role of one of four characters: a warrior with a specialism in potions, a travelling minstrel, a mage, or a dwarf with his own group of companions. They all have different abilities which they can develop and use to overcome challenges.

In the beginning you can choose how many quests you want to go through in your game and Ricky Royal from Box of Delights has come up with an idea for solo play of having a dummy player earning two victory points per turn, which keeps the pressure on you to make the most efficient choices when it comes to choosing your quests and your route, as you aim to reach your target of 30 victory points (for a shorter game) or 50 victory points, before your dummy opponent reaches that target. You can also pick a quest card for your opponent so you don’t miss out on points for completing a support quest.

You take two quest cards at the start of the game and choose the one you want to follow. You have to travel around the board to various destinations earning clue tokens in order to solve different parts of your quest. You also have to overcome monsters and deal with unfortunate events in the form of foul fate cards. You can also choose to develop your abilities and activate your character’s unique skills.

I find the game really absorbing and the dummy player idea keeps the pressure on. The components are really nice and the board looks great. The four hero miniatures with the game are also really lovely with a unique style to them.

Playing solo could seem rather aimless, which is how I find Talisman solo, but the quests and the flavour text really bring your story to life and I felt like I was exploring a vibrant land in the midst of political and military upheaval. There is far more choice in this game, not the festival of randomness of Talisman, as you choose your quest, your route and whether you spend time developing your hero or go hell for leather to win victory points as quickly as possible.

I suppose you only get out of a game what you’re willing to put in, but I thoroughly enjoy The Witcher Adventure Game in both its app and physical form and I find Ricky Royal’s solo variant really challenging.

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About paulcarden

I am a writer and performer from The Midlands, UK.
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