Solo Dungeon Crawl Board Games

Great Choices For Solo Delving

There is something really satisfying about getting together a band of adventurers and sending them into a dungeon in search of treasure.

Equip your heroes with weapons and spells and watch as they fight against enemies, dodging traps and picking up loot.

It’s great fun to play these games with a group of friends, but can you still have an amazing time if you are the only player at the table?

The answer to this is a solid ‘yes’  – let’s give you some great ideas for dungeon crawlers that provide a fantastic solo experience, and some of which could also include your friends.

There is always the option of operating several characters in a multiplayer game on your own, and this often gives a satisfying experience, but there are some gems out there that work particularly well for just a single player, so this article is going to focus mainly on those, but with some other options to consider as well.

Here are some exceptional games that are well suited to solo adventuring:

  • Four Against Darkness – for a light draw-as-you-go experience
  • One Deck Dungeon – for dice placement
  • Legends Untold – for a real sense of exploration
  • Mice & Mystics – for lighter story-driven fun
  • Sword & Sorcery – for a deep and involving adventure

I’ll be limiting my search to games in which your character or party of characters are exploring a dungeon or location in search of something, whether that is treasure, a monster or an unknown object.

As long as your adventurers are uncovering new locations as they go along then I am going to be considering the game worthy of inclusion.

Four Against Darkness Feeds Your Imagination

fouragainstdarkness

There are going to be some interesting choices on this list, and this first one is certainly unusual.

Four Against Darkness describes itself as a solitaire dungeon-delving pen-and-paper game.

This might sound pretty unimpressive but is a classic example of not judging a book by its cover.

In fact, Four Against Darkness is just a book, but there is more in its pages than you might think.

You’ll need to provide a pen and paper and some dice, but apart from that, the book will tell you everything you need to know as you guide your four characters through a randomly generated dungeon.

By rolling dice, you will consult charts to construct dungeons, fight enemies and create items, and bit by bit the adventure will come to life on your sheet of paper.

The game is available as a pre-printed book but also as a downloadable pdf file from the publishers, and it can be played as a one-off adventure or as a fully-fledged campaign.

Yes, it will rely on your imagination to make the world come to life, but this is a really fun and original creation and, best of all, it can be played pretty much anywhere.

Four Against Darkness is not just a game but also an entire game system that plays out differently each time and which even allows you to develop your characters from game to game.

It has also been developed as a system so that it has branched out into new chapters and entirely different adventures, including Four Against The Titans and Four Against Mars which explore Greek mythology and outer space.

Four Against Darkness Is Great If:

  • You have a vivid imagination
  • You don’t mind drawing your own dungeon
  • You like the idea of something that is a system as well as a game

It’s not so great if:

  • You want to see things happening on a table
  • You don’t want to keep looking up charts in a book

One Deck Dungeon Is A Dice Rolling Romp

onedeckdungeonwithexpansionrdytoplay

One Deck Dungeon and its sequel One Deck Dungeon: Forest Of Shadows are dungeon crawlers with dice rolling at their heart.

Your character is exploring three levels of a dungeon and then going up against a final boss, and the whole journey is represented by a deck of cards.

The face-down cards are the doors which you can choose to open, and they can reveal traps or monsters which you can fight or avoid, but the deck also represents a timer.

As your character becomes stronger they will be able to use more of the beautifully coloured dice, which represent different characteristics.

Placing these dice so that they match the requirements on the monster and trap cards is key to progressing in the game, and each character has abilities which allow them to manipulate the results.

As they get stronger they are able to wield greater power over the dice they roll, and hopefully, by the end of the game, they will be ready to face the final boss.

Either one of these games works really well for a single player, and while you don’t get the physical sensation of moving from location to location and from level to level the game still does a decent job of providing the sensation of confronting different challenges.

There is also the option of a campaign system which allows your adventurers to gain abilities from game to game if you fancy playing it as a series of chapters in a larger adventure.

Either box is good on its own, and they can be combined as well, but Forest Of Shadows introduces some new elements which make it a little more interesting.

The boxes are also small and very portable, and the game feels like a big experience for what is really just a deck of cards.

If One Deck Dungeon has a fault it is that it can occasionally outstay its welcome, but as a solo dungeon delver it has more than enough in its favour to deserve a place on this list.

One Deck Dungeon Is Great If:

  • You love throwing dice
  • You want something portable that doesn’t take up a lot of space
  • You fancy a light campaign

It’s not so great if:

  • Your idea of fighting does not consist of matching coloured dice to requirements
  • You think that turning over cards might get boring quickly

Legends Untold Is A World Of Adventure

legendsuntoldweepingcavescampaignchapter1

Legends Untold is a great little dungeon crawler by Inspiring Games that works really well with just a single player.

It marks another step up from Four Against Darkness and One Deck Dungeon as it actually includes cards which represent the dungeon itself and which gradually grow on your table.

The characters are taken from everyday life – everyday fantasy life, admittedly – so are farmhands or students rather than wizards and elves, but otherwise, their dungeon-delving follows the same outlines as you would expect.

Legends Untold does some really clever things in a small box, and you can operate one hero if you like, but controlling more brings certain elements of the game to life that are well worth having.

For example, not only do you move from location to location but you can have people at the front and back of your party exploring well-lit corridors or spooky dark areas which could be hiding nasty surprises.

The game comes with a set of scenarios and can be played as a campaign, and although the rules can take a little bit of effort to understand the result is worth the time spent learning the game.

There are currently two boxes in the series, Weeping Caves and The Great Sewers, and they are best played in that order as The Great Sewers is a slightly more complex creation, but after a while playing the base box you will probably want more content.

There are also plans for further releases in this game world, which is why these two boxes are called Novice Sets, so if you like what Legends Untold has to offer there is plenty to be excited about.

This play through video by Boardgames Bourbon gives you a great idea of how the game plays and how vivid the art is.

It also gives a decent impression of how involved and intricate the game is, so be prepared for a fully-fledged dungeon-delving experience at a very reasonable price.

Legends Untold Is Great If:

  • You want a proper dungeon game in a small package
  • You want the option of a campaign or standalone plays
  • You are looking for a decent amount of detail without too much fuss

It’s not so great if:

  • You want massive amounts of variety
  • You get confused by rule books

Mice And Mystics Is A Charming Multihero Story

micemystics chapter2

The first of these last two choices is a cooperative game that is probably best with four players at the table but which still works well solo as long as you are able to keep track of multiple characters.

Mice & Mystics is a charming game in which the main characters have been turned into mice and need to find their way through a series of adventures in a castle which is suddenly full of unexpected threats.

The game is light and family-friendly, so is perfect for a solo gamer who wants to experience a dungeon delve with multiple characters without being overwhelmed by too many cards and tokens and modifiers.

There are various chapters to follow in the story, and the tiles are double-sided as well, flipping over when your characters move above or below ground level.

It is heavier on the story than any of the previous games on this list, so is probably best thought of as a campaign made up of various chapters of delving, but if you want to experience something different and a dungeon which is made up of everyday things then Mice & Mystics is a fine choice.

Mice & Mystics Is Great If:

  • You want a dungeon crawler with a unique theme
  • You are happy operating multiple characters
  • You love the idea of a set of adventures within a single story

It’s not so great if:

  • Too many bits and pieces can be overwhelming
  • You want to be fighting orcs rather than beetles

Sword & Sorcery Is Full On Event Gaming

swordsorceryboxcover

Sword & Sorcery is the biggest and boldest of the games on this list, a dungeon crawl with campaign elements and a story.

It is complex and fiddly, but also deep and involving, so you would need to come to this last if you wanted to play through all our recommended games.

However it is a truly immersive experience, full of surprises and twists and turns, but you do need to devote time to it.

Each play can run for two hours or more, and you’ll also need to do your homework on the fifty-six page rulebook before you get started.

This is certainly not a casual game that you can simply put onto the table and play when you feel like it.

Instead, it’s more of an event game, something you think about a couple of days in advance and set aside an evening to play.

If that sounds about right to you then Sword & Sorcery is worth exploring, but be aware that the base box contains only the first Act of three so you will need to buy the later chapters as well to experience the full story.

You will also need to set aside a decent amount of space as the adventure begins to unfurl before you.

Sam Healey’s video has a look at the components and the gameplay and has some thoughts at the end.

Sword & Sorcery Is Great If:

  • You want a fully-fledged dungeon crawler with loads going on
  • You have a large table
  • You have plenty of time to get to know the game

It’s not so great if:

  • You are not an experienced gamer
  • You don’t want to be tempted by the sequels

Pick The Best Or Play Them All

If you are new to board game dungeon-delving then each of the above choices brings something different to the table.

If you had enough money and time you could even add all five to your collection and you would have a great solitaire dungeon crawler for every occasion as well as games you could play with friends.

If you wanted to do that then I would recommend running through them in order, as each builds on the experience of the earlier recommendations.

However, if you are just looking for a single game then use the notes in this article and the table below to work out what is best for you and we’ll see you with your adventurers at the entrance to the dungeon.

Complexity Solo suitability Price Campaign Notes
Four Against Darkness Low/Medium High Low Possible Many other versions available
One Deck Dungeon Low/Medium High Low Possible Can combine sets
Legends Untold High High Medium Scenarios Can combine sets
Mice & Mystics Medium Moderate High Linked scenarios Best with more players
Sword & Sorcery Very High High High Linked scenarios Later boxes will continue the story

 

 

Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.

About the author

James Declan discovered board gaming via a one hour sesh trying to escape Forbidden Island with his daughter and has never looked back.