Mental Health: Self Care and Solo Wargames

Self Care isn’t just bubble baths and face masks, nor is it just going to Instagram worthy coffee shops and buying lots of expensive things. Of course it can be but it doesn’t have to be. Self Care is any action, no matter how big or small, that you take for yourself, in order to maintain and improve your health, wellbeing or wellness and it is really important. For years, self care has been seen as this cheesy saying relating to teen movies or break ups but it is vital that we look after ourselves, physically and mentally. 

People play boardgames for a variety of reasons. Of course, because they are fun and transport us to different worlds and different periods of time in history, through stories and theme and immersive experiences, because they connect families and friends all over the world and the list goes on. It’s a wonderful hobby with a wonderful community and an abundance of incredible games to play, conventions to go to, forums and websites to be part of and all of the other amazing things that come with the hobby.  Despite being such a social hobby though, which does make me incredibly happy, playing solo boardgames is often an act of self care for a lot of people including me. Being an introvert in such a social and demanding community, which don’t get me wrong, I love, I sometimes need some time to collect my thoughts and recharge, an escape. Playing solo wargames is a perfect, healthy way for me to do that. 

Now, I’ve spoken about this before but I’ll mention it again, there’s something so powerful about finding myself immersed in a wargame, with a strong theme, or challenging myself by playing something heavy, it’s like reading a good book or watching your favourite film. Solo boardgames and wargames are my haven, my safe space, when I need to escape or when I’m all peopled out, and I wanted to share some of my favourite ones with you.

There are times when I feel like I can’t possibly face the world, in times of deep depression. I want to socialise or keep my mind busy but I can’t concentrate, I can’t bring myself to call somebody to hang out, that’s when solo wargames help me the most. I can sit down with a rulebook and learn a new game, or play a game. My brain doesn’t have time to think about anything else and it can honestly be a very welcome distraction. 

I often get asked about solo wargames and which ones I would recommend and there are SO many incredible ones to choose from, not forgetting all the of games that come with a solo variant, so I thought I’d go through a few of the solo wargames that I’ve been enjoying quite a lot at the moment.  I’ve tried to cater for everybody so there’s a little mix of different games in here.

First up is Galatic Marines battling Rock Aliens. Yes, you heard me, Galactic Marines battling Humongous Rock Aliens is a thing and a very enjoyable thing at that. Let’s start with that one….

Attack Of The 50 Foot Colossi published by Tiny Battle Publishing

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Designed by Hermann Luttmann.

Attack of the 50 Foot Colossi is set in the world of Graviton Prime. A Miner has sent a distress call out into space in the hopes that someone will hear their plea before it’s too late. They’re being attacked by, you got it, giant rock aliens and as a battle-hardened 124th Galactic Marine, who supposed to be enjoying some well earned time off after crushing your last battle, it’s your job to fight off this scary species. Basically, you’re a human, fighting some big scary rock alien monsters. 

I love this theme. I LOVE the B-Movie, Sci-Fi take on a wargame and I love that the game tells a story. Admittedly, it might not be for everybody, it’s obscure and a little bit different, it takes the hex and counter wargame mechanics and packages it into something fresh that I haven’t encountered before. Other games like this of course do exist but I don’t usually play them.  The rulebook is simple and easy to learn and is certainly not overwhelming, it’s really good fun. 

 

Agricola, Master of Britain from Hollandspiele

pic3145756_largeAgricola, Master of Britain is a solo game of governance and conquest, it’s small but packs a LOT of punch, don’t be fooled by the contents of the box!

During the game, you need to have a successful mix  of military force and administration as well as bribery, and diplomacy. Every action you take really  matters throughout the game which is something I definitely had to learn the hard way, a couple of moves out of turn and you can be in  realtrouble.  Throughout the game, you’ll be changing how the native population feels about you and your rule but there’s more to it than that, you’ll never know exactly who’s with you or against you and that makes for a very interesting and exciting game. 

It so important to build the right armies, and taking the right actions at the right time is key to your success. I highly recommend this one if you want a challenge, it took quite a bit of time to get my head around but it was worth the wait, and the learning curve.

Comancheria: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire from GMT Games

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It wouldn’t be a wargame post without a GMT Game, right? This one is a game that completely went under my radar for a long time, but luckily we found each other in the end and I’m very happy that we did! 

During Comancheria, you take command of the Comanche nation. You must drive hostile tribes from the southern plains, setting up trade networks with different tribes, you will also have to try to establish dominance over the region and defend it all against attack from both military and cultural angles. 

Let me say that this one is a bit different from what I’m used to but I wouldn’t say it is complex, with a great ruleset and perfect player aids, you can almost play this game with little confusion or problems on your first game. There are a lot of decisions to be made during the game giving you the ultimate solo experience. It is a theme that is new to me but it felt pretty thematic throughout, the game revolves mainly around raiding and you’ll do it a lot. Raiding during the game will get you resources, and will boost the influence of Comanche community leaders. It’s a rewarding game and worth having a look into! 


 

There are SO many awesome solo wargames and I can’t wait to share more with you and share full reviews of the above games very soon. There is something so therapeutic about solo gaming and I strongly advise it.  Thank you for stopping by! 

 

 

7 comments

  • I want to try solo gaming at some point to fill my need to game when I can’t get a group. Any suggestions on how to get started doing solo gaming?

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  • They say the most intellectual evening in the White House was when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. I wont go that far, but some of my most fun times has been solo-ing RHBERG, Mark Herman, James F Dunnigan.

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  • Hi Katie, excellent job promoting Wargames to help improve mental health and wellbeing. I enjoy reading your posts and learn new stuff each episode.

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  • Thank you for this great article. I’m not into war games per se and not a solo gamer either, but what you say reaonates with me. To me our weekly games night is my self care. Thinking about games in general helps me through the day. So even though I approach it differently, I completely agree that self care is very important.

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  • I also very much enjoy Agricola, Master of Britain. I have Charlemagne, Master of Europe too, but I haven’t got around to trying it yet. I’m currently playing Nemo’s War, which is my favourite solo wargame – in fact, I like it so much that I’m now reading the book (20,000 Leagues under the Seas)!

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  • Very nice article! I could speak the same words, me too.
    Since you enjoyed Comancheria, you’re going to love Navajo Wars – same designer, same company.

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  • Thanks for the great list, I’ve recently started to dabble a bit in solo wargames but had difficulties finding some that appeal to me (especially concerning the theme – most seem to be about WW2, which doesn’t interest me at all). Your list is much appreciated!

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