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More board games supporting single players were released in 2021 than those that didn’t

Being alone has never been more fun.

More board games released during 2021 supported single players than those that didn’t.

According to Reddit user FaradaySaint, who used data scraped from BoardGameGeek by Jesse Van Elteren, 2021 saw the release of more board games featuring a solo mode, or that supported single players, than games that didn’t.

Using the scaped data, which only contained games that have a certain user rating on BoardGameGeek, FaradaySaint created a series of graphs illustrating the growth of board games that included solo game modes or supported at least one player. Starting from 1999 and continuing up to 2021, the graph shows how the number of tabletop titles that supported a minimum of a single player has increased over the past two decades or so.

An image of a graph about single player supported board games
Image credit: FaradaySaint

1999 initially saw the release of less than 20 board games that included solo modes or supported at least one player. It’s only from 2007 onwards that the number of games supporting single players being published began rising above 20 a year. By 2014, the amount of solo-friendly board games being released on a year-by-year basis reaches the 100 mark, with the number rising to over 200 in 2017 – which coincided with the release of dungeon-crawler board game Gloomhaven – and eventually hitting a cap of just over 220 in 2019.

However, since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there have been fewer board games released that support at least one player, because there have been fewer tabletop titles being published yearly since 2019. 2021 marks the year wherein solo-friendly board games overtook every other supported player count, including games that catered to two players or more - which were previously the most widely published type of tabletop title since 1999.

Popular examples of board games that support at least one player provided by FaradaySaint include horror board game Eldritch Horror, Terraforming Mars – a game about managing a corporation in charge of making Mars habitable for humanity – Wingspan and 2021’s Lost Ruins of Arnak, a deckbuilding game about exploring a mysterious island inhabited by enormous mythical creatures.

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Board games that support a single player often include specific solo modes or variants that alter the rules or include AI controlled opponent, meaning that the opponents’ moves are specific by a rulebook or series of commands, for players to challenge. Solo game modes are included in titles such as co-op game Gloom of Kilforth, Scythe, Wingspan, Terraforming Mars and wine-making game Viticulture.

Board games that support a minimum of four players – such as Agricola and the original Arkham Horror board game – have consistently remained the least published type of tabletop title since 1999.

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Alex Meehan avatar
Alex Meehan: After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.
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