One player NON video game recommendations?

I know this an odd request for this forum but people here seem to have good opinions that I trust listening to. My wife and I recently go separated and I moved into an apartment. My 11 year old son will be spending half time here and half with my wife. At my wife’s house, he has a big backyard with a ninja line, kids in the neighborhood to play with, and various ways to entertain himself that don’t include screens.

I’m worried when he comes to my house that he won’t have a lot of those things. Obviously, he’ll get video game/TV time and him and I always have time to enjoy our shared interests but I want to have options for things he could do to entertain himself other than those two.

Can anyone recommend some good one player games that he could replay? I’ve got the Gloomhaven board game on my Amazon wish list but it’s $170 so that’s a future purchase. Really, replayability is the most important feature here as he’ll have plenty of time alone (for instance, 2 hours between when he gets home school and I get home from work).

Thanks for any tips!!!

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Like board games specifically?

Maybe possibly the Fallout board game, though you might have to check it for mature content. I know it has a single player playstyle that you can carry characters over from one game to the next.

Boss Monster is a fun little card game version fo dungeon crawlers basically, it’s got a couple expansions as well. Not sure on player counts on it though.

You could always try Magic The Gathering, or other TCG. If you want to go that route I’d happily help you/him learn to play it. While it isn’t technically only single player, if it becomes enjoyable, it’s easy to lose hours building new decks and strategies. I started playing it around his age and once I understood it, I’ve never let it go fully.

Outside of board games maybe some building toys? Like Lego is cool and all but maybe you could look into some of the more advanced ones, where you build working engines or ships or whatever.

Sorta in that same vein, models can be a pretty productive hobby and they make kits that don’t even need paint and such. Huge variety too. Cars, mecha, tanks etc Makes it easy to go into bigger projects and learn as he grows.

Maybe these will help, I dunno. I’m used to curling up with a book or occasionally drawing something or writing, even at that age I did a lot of the same stuff as now lol.

He actually just discovered Magic while at a sleepaway Scout camp. I hesitate to indulge it, though, because it seems like a good way to sink gobs of money over the years.

Thanks for the ideas, though. I’ve never let him play Fallout but he’s playing Skyrim now and I feel like that isn’t any less mature than most Fallouts? I assume the board game is at the same level. Given that it’s tangentially video game related, that might encourage him to play it. I feel like I’ve seen it but didn’t know it had a single-player option.

Thanks for the recommendations. And, for the record, any kind of game (card, board, etc.) that isn’t screen-based is fine.

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So as a long time player of magic you’re not wrong. But at the same time if you’re smart you can build a healthy collection without spending mountains. Playing certain formats limits the cards you can use, but some others only stop players from using the most expensive things out there so you can buy bulk collections for pennies and get a ton of playtime and value. Plus it helps players in the long run, knowing older cards and mechanics.

Yeah, not sure. Fallout has more gore usually imo, and it’s got some pretty dark humor. I was more just mentioning for you if you wanted to check. I’ve got it at home and played it a few times. It’s pretty fun. Also I realized there’s two different ones, only one has the single player thing, I’ll look at it and get back to you on that.

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I’ve always heard that Gloomhaven is incredibly complex. Not sure on how your kid fares with things like that but I know that I have it and have never opened it because of that learning curve period (and not having space to leave it set for a few hours-days without interfering with the rest of the daily stuff). Mage Knight is another board game that is of the same style as Gloomhaven, also quite complex, and is considered (by BGG at least) as the best solo boardgame in history. There are some less intensive 1P tabletop RPGs that might be interesting if that’s the thing: D100, Colostle, and Ironsworn (which I’ve heard is the best 1P TTPRG) are also decently regarded.

Are you just asking for things to do in the gaming category? What about traditional art / music / reading? Could that fit?

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Mage Knight and Ironsworn both look promising!! Thanks. Gloomhaven is very challenging, I know because I have the digital edition and it’s kind of absurd how difficult it is. He reads a lot and he plays some sports but either with me or through a local league or summer camp only. I just know that he defaults to wanting to play video games and I’m looking for something that will help him meet that fix without needing the screen. Even if challenging to the point of making it unfun, he could always cheat a little if needed with the board game, etc.

For a simple time-killing recommendation, a good jigsaw puzzle can do the trick. That’s the sort of thing that others can join in to help with whenever. Something to do while chatting, listening to music, etc.

Along those lines, I feel like there’s all sorts of little “putting things together” projects out there these days. Dioramas made of paper, famous buildings made of thin metal sheets, and so on.


I’m really into deck builders, so I have to recommend Aeon’s End. I’ve only played it two-player co-op, but it can be played solo. By design, there’s lots of things you can do to change the game, so it has lots of replayability. It’s tough to beat the nemeses in the game, so not sure if it would be a good fit for an 11-year-old. Then again, that’s about the age I got into Magic The Gathering, which was way too complex for my parents to understand.

If he does enjoy Magic I agree with what others have said that you can do it on the cheap. If he’s playing solo he can proxy cards or build affordable decks and play decks against each other.

I often play Magic solo by taking turns with two decks. It’s really fun and a great way to pass time without looking at a screen.

Star Realms is an excellent deck building game. I’m sure there is a single player mode. Just take turns with two decks. I believe the expansions are affordable and the physical cards are beautiful and high quality.

Its not out yet, but something to keep an eye on. I found put about another card game being worked on by two guys who helped develope Hearthstone and one of the main people behind The Witcher’s Gwent card game.

Annoyingly i cant seem to find or remember the name of it but ill update as soon as i find it.

Theyre doing something i find pretty innovative. Basically instead of having to buy a ton of boosters or decks, you can buy a few. Then each card is going to have a QR code on it which you can scan into their app, and then you have digital rights to that particular copy of the card and can print as many as you like, keeping from having to go spend more on the game. They also are planning some sort of trade/sell program for these digital rights. Im not sure of the full logistics but its an interesting idea and if it works could change card games supply forever.

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Hey Vakil,
A non video game that I would recomend would be dungeons and dragons. Mabey doing a campaign where one of you is the dungeon master and the other one follows the other one’s campagin and then you switch it around.

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Thanks. In fact, he’s already fallen in love with D&D. We watch Critical Role together, I DM a game with my friends that he takes part in, and he’s joined a D&D after school group.