Playing with myself
To understand my gaming history, you need to realize that I am old. I was born in the 60's, which means that I was already a teenager when I first got a video game console, and that was Pong, in black and white. So my first contact with wizards and elves was not via games like Zelda, but with board games like Dungeon! or Talisman, before I discovered pen & paper role-playing games. This is why board games, and especially adventure board games, have a special place in my heart.
Having said that, these board games also occupy a middle ground in my gaming habits, which result in me not playing them very often. Basically, before the pandemic, I only got a group of friends around my table like once or twice per month. So we played Dungeons & Dragons, because that game has endless content, and is one of the best ways to go on adventures with friends while sitting around a table. And when I didn't have friends around, I played computer games, because a computer either provides an opponent, or connects you to other players via the internet. The only time I played board games was occasionally with my wife, usually on holidays.
As I wasn't playing board games all that often anymore, I wasn't keeping up with the developments. But in 2015 I visited a board games fair, and stumbled upon a game called The 7th Continent. I ended up backing the Kickstarter, and got the game with the usual Kickstarter delay 2 years later. And that turned out to be a revelation: The Kickstarter financing model allowed for games that are much more expensive and elaborate than what you would find in a toy shop, or even a hobby shop. And in consequence a game with over 1,000 cards allowed for a *lot* of hours of adventure and discovery, even solo.
Due to the pandemic, there haven't been people sitting around my dining room table and playing D&D or anything else for many months. My D&D games moved online, onto Roll20. Which is great, but sometimes I miss the physical aspects of rolling dice and moving figurines. While I did back The 7th Citadel, I will again have to wait 2 years for delivery. So I looked around for other adventure board games that can be played solo, or in co-op. I should get my copy of Tainted Grail soon, another Kickstarter game I backed in 2018. But buying games on Kickstarter has the obvious disadvantage of a very long wait. And there are a number of "Kickstarter games" that can now be ordered online, from the company itself, or even via Amazon.
So I bought the number 1 ranked game overall on Boardgamegeek, Gloomhaven, which comes in a box that weights nearly 10 kg, without expansions. And, because Gloomhaven turned out to push the limits of available table space in my house, I also ordered Too Many Bones, which is a lot less well known, but highly regarded in the solo board game community on YouTube. Both of these games have somewhat less discovery and exploration than The 7th Continent, but each in their own way managed to create easy algorithms that allows you to solo play against enemies not controlled by anyone, without that combat turning trivial.
While I am quite looking forward to rolling dice again in Too Many Bones, I am well aware that these games aren't for everybody. Unless I solve my table problem, I might be playing Gloomhaven on Steam rather than the original. Tainted Grail has both a Steam version, and a companion app. In fact, Steam has a rather large selection of board games in virtual format. For games with a lot of components, the Steam version is often cheaper; and of course you don't need to worry how to store it, how to set it up, or how to fight your wife for the possession of the dinner table. (Hmmm, the last one might be specific to myself.)