I’m always on the hunt for good single player games, so I’m surprised it took me so long to find the work of Jason Glover (aka Grey Gnome Games). Jason has designed quite a few solo-games, many of which seem to be super-popular on BoardGame Geek and The Game Crafter. I decided to give two of his more recent games, Desolate and Gate, a go. The latter really made a big impression on me, so I wanted take a minute and tell you about it.
Gate is a single-player tower defense game that fits in a small mint case. It is available as a print-on-demand game from Game Crafter for the extremely fair price of $14.99, though I splurged and spent an additional $14.99 for the Gate table mat. I’m glad I did, but if money is tight, it’s totally unnecessary.
The object of the game is to defeat the 3 waves of monsters and ghouls without having your city’s gate destroyed in the process. You also have a farm, which gives you a +1 gold bonus, and a tower, which gives you a +1 defense bonus, that you can optional protect. You’ll also need to keep your eye on the Fearamid, to make sure your citizens to don’t revolt on you. I’m not going to get too much into the details of the game, but I’d recommend watching this video if you’d like to learn how to play:
The main points I’d like you to take away are that this game looks amazing, is extremely strategic, and was easy to set up and tear down.
The art is definitely what first attracted me to Jason’s games. The style is extremely consistent throughout his games and kind of metal. I dig it.
I’d argue that solo-games are the hardest games out there to make right. Often times the game is either too soft or too hard. A lot of solo-games tend to feel like they play themself and you are just the victim of randomness, but Gate is one of the few games that feels like your actions matter. On each level you’ll have to look at the three cards in your hand and determine if you want to use their points to buy another card to add to your deck or if you want to try to slay the beast. You’ll also have times when you’ll need to decide if repairing your buildings is a way to go, or if you should do something to keep your citizens from revolting.
There are a lot of decisions to make and it often leaves you with a little rush of anxiety (in a good way).
Easy to learn, set-up, and tear-down:
I watched the above video to learn the game, then spent another 15-20 minutes reading through the rules before giving it a play. The rule book does a pretty nice job about keeping things simple, while still answering all the questions you might have along the way. I think using the mat helped me set up and tear down very quickly, but this is the sort of game you can play 2 or 3 times in a sitting. Each game takes about 20 minutes
I think the game is extremely easy to beat, but there is a scoring system in place so you can focus more on how much you beat the game by.
A few cons:
Gate is definitely one of my top 3 solo-games, though I did have a few issues with it:
The enemy cards feel a little repetitive after a few plays. You shuffle them up, but you always work your way through all 9 of the enemy cards in each game. I wish there were more enemy cards to mix in the batch. I’m sure an expansion will come out sometime, but I’d love for the base game to have at least on more villain for each wave that you could mix in randomly to make each game feel a little more different.
Print-on-demand takes a while to ship. I think this game took 4 weeks to ship after I ordered it. That’s common with Game Crafter, and you can pay double to have it shipped sooner, but if a game is this popular I’d love to see it printed in mass and shipped when you order it. That way the game can make more money for the creator while not making the consumer have to wait so long.