Lee's Top 20 Solo Games 2017
Lee Broderick
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It's the most wonderful time of the year
With Morten sweepstaking
And Justin plea-making you "Please just vote Gears"
It's the most wonderful time of the year

It's the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and Odin Feastings
When all dungeons crawl
It's the hap-happiest season of all

There'll be Kevin for hosting
Automas for toasting
And surveyors out in the snow

There'll be scary Ghost Stories
And tales of the glories of
Solo games long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be much disputating
And hearts will be glowing when Mage Knight is near
It's the most wonderful time of the year

There'll be Kevin for hosting
Automas for toasting
And surveyors out in the snow

There'll be scary Ghost Stories
And tales of the glories of
Solo games long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be much disputating
And hearts will be glowing when Mage Knight is near
It's the most wonderful time
Yes, the most wonderful time
Oh, the most wonderful time
Of the year

*****

Last year was the first time I participated in the People's Choice Top 100 Solo Games. I ranked all the games I'd played solitaire up to that point and arrived at my top 20. I didn't feel comfortable submitting it though. Kevin's fantastically inclusive in accepting votes but I know people look at the list and make purchasing decisions informed by it and I didn't feel like my limited experience leant itself to that kind of advice. So I hit upon a compromise. I limited myself to only voting for a third of the games I'd played. At the time, that was 25 games, so I submitted my top 8 to Kevin, ranked from 17-3, I think.

This year, I've surprised and, honestly, slightly appalled myself at how many new games I've played. I wasn't expecting to submit a list of 20 games, sticking to my 'no more than a third' rule, until next year. Here we are though, the first year that I'll be submitting a full top 20.
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1. Board Game: Hype [Average Rating:5.92 Unranked]
Lee Broderick
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For shame...

For the little that it's worth, here's my complete Top 20 of 2016, in reverse order:

20. Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game
19. Reiner Knizia's Decathlon
18. Patience
17. Village
16. Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers
15. Morels
14. The Witches: A Discworld Game
13. Asgard's Chosen
12. Lord of the Rings
11. Greenland
10. Micropul
9. Land 6
8. Paperback
7. Cottage Garden
6. Friday
5. Caverna: The Cave Farmers
4. Castellion
3. Sylvion
2. Apex Theropod Deck-Building Game
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
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2. Board Game: The New Era [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:705] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Lee Broderick
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In case you were wondering, these are the games that I played solo for the first time since November last year:

Legends of Andor
Imperial Settlers
Shephy
Palmyra
Peloponnes Card Game
The Nightmare Before Christmas TCG
Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift
Forge War
Source of the Nile
The Bloody Inn
HeroQuest
Cursed Earth Game
At the Gates of Loyang
Walnut Grove
The Dwarves
The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game
Fields of Arle
Snowdonia
Suburbia
Limes
SOS Titanic
Le Havre
Guilds of London
The Lost Expedition
DRCongo
Advanced Heroquest
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game
Catan Dice Game
Mage Knight Board Game
Pocket Pitstop
The Colonists
PAX
The Shooting Party

(Dwarf)
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3. Board Game: Palmyra [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:5183]
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Number 20

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2016: n/a

I've become a Bernd Eisenstein fan this year - this isn't the last of his games you'll see on my list. This is probably the deepest tile-laying game I own. It's very thinky, very puzzly and plays in 30-40 minutes.

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4. Board Game: Limes [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1774]
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Number 19

New Entry

2016: n/a

OK, so I like tile-layers. This one's very quick - games take 5-10 minutes - and I really wasn't sure, before getting it, whether there was room for it in my collection. In fact, I wondered if it offered anything over the Farming retheme of Micropul but here it is at number 19.
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5. Board Game: HeroQuest [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:543]
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Number 18

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2016: n/a

Yeah, this surprised me too. Like so many of us, this was a big part of my late childhood. I was wary of ruining some of those memories by revisiting the game but when it was offered to me in a very good trade I took it, thinking one day I might be able to play it with my own children. Then I found an applet on BGG that takes care of the DM and I solo'd it. Maybe it's nostalgia but I had a lot of fun with this in 2017.
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6. Board Game: The Dwarves [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:2170]
Lee Broderick
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Number 17

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2016: n/a

Like Heroquest, this was a game I'd played multiplayer previously. In fact I ran demoes of it at UKGE 2016. I got it because I enjoy the books in an escapist, juvenile, way and I'd hoped that my partner might play it with me since it's a fairly light co-op. Instead, I've only played it solo since the postman brought it to my door.
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7. Board Game: DRCongo [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:3334]
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Number 16

New Entry

2016: n/a

Ricky Royal first brought this to my attention and I remember looking at it at UKGE 2016. At the time there were safe things to spend my very limited resources on though (£7 for Castellion? £5 for Lord of the Rings? Yes please). I'd more or less dismissed it by the time that UKGE rolled around this year but when I saw it reduced I thought, 'why not?'. I'm very glad I did. As a thematic solitaire economic game it's like no other game I own and I enjoy it a lot, as its place at number 16 attests.
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8. Board Game: PAX [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1874]
Lee Broderick
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Number 15

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2016: n/a

Finally, the game that replaced Patience for me! This was another game I ummed and arred about for a long time before picking it up - and it's not even an expensive game. I'm just not interested in classical Mediterranean civilisations. Did I mention that I've become a Bernd Eisenstein fan though? Reviews of this when it came out (and there weren't many) described it as a Biblios killer. I still don't have that game but I can hold my head a little higher by not including Patience in my list this year.
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9. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:12]
Lee Broderick
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Number 14

S 9

2016: 5

This was my first Uwe Rosenberg game and I still enjoy playing it. (And yes, you'll be seeing more of Uwe in this list). I like it because of the theme - which is problematic - and because of its sandbox nature. This is the crux of whether or not the game is for you really - I can't emphasise enough that the thing I like about the game is the same thing many people dislike. The set-up is always the same, with a huge number of options and choices you can make from turn one and throughout the game. Is it solvable? Only if you like to play games optimally - if beating your own score really is the aim you have in a game then you're probably going to get minimum value out of this big box. I play it for the experience and exploring new ideas - what happens if I was just a Dwarf who did nothing but mine stone? Let's find out!
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10. Board Game: Cottage Garden [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:632]
Lee Broderick
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Number 13

S 6

2016: 7

More Uwe! That was quick. This is a quick game, too. Set-up, play and tear-down take around half an hour in total and I often end up playing more than one game of it at a time. Another puzzly tile-layer, this one's much lighter than Palmyra and that, combined with the theme, make it a very relaxing game to play at the end of a day when my brain's too full of other things.
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11. Board Game: Castellion [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:1247]
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Number 12

S 8

2016: 4

Did I mention that I like tile-laying games? This continues to vie for the title of my favourite Oniverse game and it's to my great displeasure that I haven't played it for a couple of months now. Its small box and quick play time mean that it's easy to sling in my bag when I'm going away though - as I did last weekend. It sits somewhere between Palymyra and Cottage Garden in terms of weight but suffers more than either of them from random tile draws. Some games can be over in less than a minute but get past that and - especially in the advanced games - there's real thought to be put in and pleasure to be had from making the right decisions.
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12. Board Game: Sylvion [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:758]
Lee Broderick
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Number 11

S 8

2016: 3

I love the art of the Oniverse series and this is possibly the best of all of them for my tastes. It also offers something different to any other game currently in my collection - a quick-playing tower-defence game. What I could do without is the drafting-phase, which to my mind adds significantly to the set-up time.
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13. Board Game: The Bloody Inn [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:697]
Lee Broderick
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Number 10

New Entry

2016: n/a

I think the first time this popped onto my radar was a review by Zee Garcia, which must have been when it came out. He wasn't gushing in his praise and over the next few months I rarely (if ever) saw it on SGOYT. At the beginning of this year, though, I was in a games shop, which is rare for me, and I wanted to buy something. This was there and relatively inexpensive so, since I liked the art and theme, I picked it up. I'm very glad I did and its increased presence on SGOYT this year suggests that I'm not alone in enjoying it. One of the sleeper hits of 2016.
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14. Board Game: Fields of Arle [Average Rating:8.20 Overall Rank:53]
Lee Broderick
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Number 9

New Entry

2016: n/a

My gift from my Secret One, earlier this year. There was a moment in 2016 when I walked into a house in Orkney and was hit by the smell of a peat fire. It took me right back to my childhood. Back then, on Bodmin Moor, a lot of the farmers and/or their wives would put a bit of peat on the fire or range to keep it alight overnight since it burns so slowly. This is slightly less sandboxy than Caverna but combining that feel with a theme I can so viscerally relate to (OK, not the dykes and drainage) is something I really enjoy.
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15. Board Game: Forge War [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:857]
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Number 8

New Entry

2016: n/a

Was it kerskine himself who encouraged me to pick this up? I can't remember exactly but it was someone in the guild. I remember reviews had been very mixed when this came out - particularly of the mining phase. As it is, I enjoy that and think it's well-integrated. I just wish the game was a bit shorter, it's not often I have enough time to play it.
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16. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:218]
Lee Broderick
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Number 7

New Entry

2016: n/a

I could blame Dave for this purchase or I could blame the guild as a whole. This was the first (or perhaps that was Fields of Arle?) of several of Uwe's games to get reprinted in 2017 that never made it to the UK. I should have accepted that but instead I eventually tracked down a copy of the first edition in Portugal and had it shipped over. I don't regret it. This is another unique game in my collection, sitting somewhere between card-driven and worker placement (if I can call the vegetables workers). It's quick and it's hard.
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17. Board Game: Guilds of London [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1105]
Lee Broderick
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Number 6

New Entry

2016: n/a

This was a game I had half a mind to pick up when it launched at UKGE 2016. My day off that year was the final day though and, by then, it had already sold out. I wasn't making the same mistake this year and bought a copy on the geekmarket in April (Tony having already told me that it was sold out with no current plans for a reprint) to collect at UKGE 2017. This is another game that does something no other game in my collection does - a solo area majority game. Moreover, it plays quick, has an enormously variable set-up and plays well. I might have expected a Boydell game to be in this list. I wouldn't necessarily have expected it to be this one if there was only to be one.
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18. Board Game: Peloponnes Card Game [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:3244]
Lee Broderick
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Number 5

New Entry

2016: n/a

The final Bernd game on my list encapsulates what I've come to love about his games. It's small, it's quick, it has meaningful decisions and while it's not light it's not too taxing. It's overcome my ambivalence - possibly even my antipathy - to the theme and has become one of my most played games.
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19. Board Game: Apex Theropod Deck-Building Game [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:2060]
Lee Broderick
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Number 4

S 2

2016: 2

The only deck-builder to survive my growing ambivalence regarding the genre this continues to hold my attention. It somehow achieves something that very few other deck-builders do by integrating the mechanism with the theme. I couldn't put my finger on exactly why it's successful but it is and - joy of joys - the solo rules work great (possibly better than the multiplayer rules, if the chatter's to be believed, but I haven't tested this).
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20. Board Game: Walnut Grove [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:888]
Lee Broderick
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Number 3

New Entry

2016: n/a

This arrived in a box with Loyang, all the way from Portugal, back in April. It was indulgent but it's probably my best shopping spree in a long time. I just love how this combines Carcassonne-like tile-placement with an otherwise almost Uwe-like experience. Plus it plays in half an hour and always leaves me wishing it had gone on just-a-little-bit-longer. The game could have been made just for me.
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21. Board Game: Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:2530]
Lee Broderick
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Number 2

New Entry

2016: n/a

My first big purchase. My thanks has to go to Gary, who flogged it to me in the new year during one of his purges. I loved my first play of this and I've loved every subsequent play more. There are a few games in this list that I've said are unique in my collection - often for successfully implementing an otherwise unusual mechanic in a solo game. This, I genuinely think, is just a unique game right now. It's a very thematic co-op dungeon crawler that does away with dice completely and instead employs hand-management and two rondels - one for the heroes and one for the enemies. It works so, so well and provides some very tense moments in an immersive experience.
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22. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:95]
Lee Broderick
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Number 1

E 0

2016: 1

Having a Tolkien theme undoubtedly gives a game an unfair advantage in my affections. This does play very well though and I enjoy the game as well as the deck-construction. There's not much to say that hasn't been said already, it's now well established as a great solo game.
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23. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1050]
Lee Broderick
United Kingdom
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Hounourable Mentions

Making this list was tough this year. I've left a lot of great games off:

Snowdonia - Probably the closest to making the cut, this is a great game that I probably don't play more often due to the theme. It turns out that the little boy who played with his toy farm eventually won out over the little boy who played with his toy trains.

Suburbia - I don't want to play this often but I always enjoy it when I do. It's a great city-building experience although I stand by my description that the AI is 'a big dumb brute with a big heavy hammer'.

Lord of the Rings - Probably Reiner Knizia's most thematic game. Although it only placed at number 12 last year it was the closest to staying on the list of those that didn't.
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24. Board Game: Vital Statistics [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Lee Broderick
United Kingdom
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3 designers accounted for 9 of my top 20 this year.

Uwe Rosenberg (4)
Bernd Eisenstein (3)
Shadi Torbey (2)

6 Games survived from my 2016 list to make the grade in 2017.

6 Games in my submitted list last year included in the people's choice 2016.

1 Game in my top 20 last year NOT in my submitted list included in the people's choice 2016.

1 Game in my top 20 this year released since the people's choice 2016.
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