Soloing A Board Game Made For Groups Isn’t As Sad As It Sounds

The big night approaches. Snacks are bought, there’s wine chilling in the fridge, the dining table is in its proper place (about a foot away from the wall it usually rests against) – it’s game night. Oh, but then, the worst happens. Someone isn’t feeling well, someone else forgot it was happening tonight, there are dogs that need walking and hair that needs washing. Sometimes people are just tired. Either way, scheduling proves once again to be the true final boss of tabletop gaming.



I’ve been playing Divinity Original Sin: The Board Game for the past few weeks, an epic adventure intended to span multiple sessions for a single campaign, a la Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games. We got a few sessions in, and were all having a whale of a time, but then life got in the way – we’re three adults with jobs. We’re not as time-rich as we were ten years ago. It happens.

RELATED: Divinity Original Sin: The Board Game Review – A Heavenly Adaptation

But the itch to play is a relentless one, so I decided to take the plunge and do something I’d never done before – play solo. I’ve got plenty of games that account for solo players, often with special rules that facilitate such gameplay, but I’ve never felt the need to play alone – that’s what video games are for, after all. Board games are, in my mind, a social activity, often paired with snack food and adult beverages. But something about this board game had me hooked – it’s well-written and has some bona fide challenges that lead to some of the highest highs I’ve had rolling dice.

Lohse and Cassian miniatures and cards from the Divinity Original Sin Board Game

As Divinity Original Sin is a cooperative game, with each player having their own character and events and enemies being predetermined and scripted by cards and dice rolls, adapting the board game into a solo adventure was simple – I just played two characters instead of one. Character choice doesn’t play a massive part in the game in terms of builds, but they all have their own quests and backgrounds to keep in mind, so this was something I wracked my brain over. I elected to play as Lohse, my favourite from the game, and Cassian, who is a new character and is hot. Two felt like the right number, as any more would have bogged the game down with endless decision-making. I outfitted Lohse with some spells, intending her to be my caster, and Cassian with some warfare attacks, him my tank.

This strategy was… sometimes successful.

Three hours of blissful silence broken only by the clattering of dice and the soft whisper of cardboard on cardboard followed in the blink of an eye. I lost track of time making my way through the beaches and dungeons of Fort Joy, deliberately making different choices to those made when I was accompanied by friends. Despite it being the same game, it was a substantially different experience, and played far more like the game it’s based on than ever before.

The Divine Atlas from the Divinity Original Sin Board Game with a Miniature on it

I zoomed through about as much of the campaign in one session as we’d gotten through in just over two as a group. Either I’m just incredibly efficient without anyone else cramping my style, or I’m far more headstrong and impatient with my comeuppance around the corner. I’m just happy to get to play a fun game.

While it was a refreshing change of pace not to have to convince friends to use the obviously correct tactics in battle instead of the silly ideas they have (I’m fun to play with, I swear), playing solo was definitely less fun than playing in a group. That’s not to say it was bad – I had a great time because the game itself is well-built and fun to play – but board games are still board games at the end of the day. They are a group activity meant to be played with laughter and shouting, not the clacking of lonely dice.

It’s for this reason that when the next game night came around, I hung up my Lohse and Cassian character boards and settled back into our more methodical playstyle. Needless to say, they’re only on reserve; I’ll break them back out when needs be, and I’m far more open to giving those other board games a go on my own in the future.

NEXT: I Need To Admit I’m Never Going To Play My Giant Board Games

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