Many of us these days are alone, whether at home or traveling, and desperately want to scratch that gaming itch. If this is speaking to you, you’ll definitely want to check out this list of thematic solitaire card games.

All you need is one French standard deck of cards (though some of the games here require 2 jokers), just 5 to 30 minutes, and a little bit of playing space, and soon you’ll have a memorable solitaire experience!

In addition, every one of these games will test your strategic and tactical planning skills, giving you plenty of room to make impactful decisions.

The Bogey

The Bogey Solitaire
image credit: @KateTurner/BGG
  • Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Theme: Mythology and superstition
  • Designer/Publisher: Katharine Turner
  • Rules: How to play The Bogey
  • Jokers required: None

The first thematic solitaire game on this list is called the Bogey. It was created as part of a solitaire game design contest on BGG in 2016. Your goal here is to create as few stacks of cards in numerical order as possible. Using cards you draw from the draw pile, you can create new stacks, discard cards in your hand, or place down a card in an existing stack. You are permitted to skip some numbers when creating your stacks. Sound a bit familiar?

Well, there’s a rather mischievous twist: at the end of your turn, the “bogey” draws a card from the draw pile and forces you to play that card into the play area. You can choose whether to play the card in an existing stack or play a new stack, but often you are forced to make very inconvenient moves.

Before long, you’ll be cursing the bogey for his shenanigans, unless you were able to plan ahead. A simple rule set inspires surprising depth in strategy. May the bogey be ever in your favor!

Card Capture

Card Capture Solitaire
Image credit: @bgarthwaite/BGG
  • Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Theme: Deck building combat
  • Designer/Publisher: Lucas Gentry
  • Rules: How to play Card Capture
  • Jokers required: Two

Next up is a card-drafting, engine-building game, where you try to collect more and more powerful cards by combining cards of the same suit in your hand and “capturing” enemies from the play area. Card Capture won first place in a 2018 competition for the best solitaire game using a standard deck of cards.

Enemies spawn from the Enemy Draw Deck, while your cards come from your Personal Draw Deck.

You can’t capture everything, so that means that you will sometimes have to let the enemies capture cards in your hand. Those cards go into the Enemy Capture Pile. However, you immediately lose the game if a single Jack, Queen, King, or Ace ends up in that pile, keeping the stakes very high!

If you’re in a tight spot, you can Sacrifice two of your cards from your hand to the Enemy Capture Pile to send the enemy into the bottom of the Enemy Draw Deck. This action is also useful for keeping the size of your Personal Draw Deck at a manageable level.

This fairly simple game gives a surprising amount of autonomy and decision-making to you and allows you to create strategies the entire time. If you love making choices that matter, Card Capture is definitely your kind of game.


Screen Shot 2020 10 10 At 6.18.35 Pm
  • Time: 5-15 minutes
  • Theme: Push-your-luck roguelike, dungeon-crawler
  • Designer/Publisher: Kurt Bieg, Zach Gage
  • Rules: How to play Scoundrel
  • Jokers required: None

This elegant dungeon crawler is a struggle against an onslaught of monsters intent on destroying your health pool. You may wish to pick up some weapons along the way, but they become weaker when you fight easy monsters, and even the best weapon eventually gets discarded when you don’t have any monster to use it against.

A sprinkle of addition, subtraction, and pushing your luck helps you plan multiple moves ahead. You can choose to avoid an entire room of monsters, but you would be forced to go through the next one. And remember, even “good” rooms can be bad too; if your health pool is filled and you have a good weapon on hand, then you don’t really need a room with health potions or new weapons.

This thriller of a game is sure to keep you on your toes. There’s no such thing as mercy in a dungeon!


  • Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Theme: French Revolution combat
  • Designer/Publisher: Tom Francis
  • Rules: How to play Gridcannon
  • Jokers required: Two

This here is a tactical combat solitaire where the goal of the game is to place your cards so that they kill Royals (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) placed around the perimeter of the play area. The play area is formed with a 3×3 grid of cards, and you can only place cards with the same or higher numerical value. There is a chance to draw a Royal on your turn, and when it comes, you better watch out!

Choosing to raise the numerical value on a particular grid space is a hard decision. On one hand, you might be setting up your payload (which helps kill the Royals); on the other, your moves get more restricted. Fortunately, there is a random chance to draw a Ploy from the draw pile, which can let you make unconventional moves and win in style.

Joker Jailbreak

Joker Jailbreak Game
  • Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Theme: Prisoner escape
  • Designer/Publisher: Ramon Huiskamp
  • Rules: How to play Joker Jailbreak
  • Jokers required: One optional and thematic Joker

The last game is called Joker Jailbreak. You are responsible for helping the Joker break through thick prison walls. A 3×3 play area is formed, with an empty spot where the Joker lies. Every other spot in the grid is a wall, and every orthogonally adjacent spot to the Joker is a side wall. The goal of the game is to break down one of the side walls so the Joker can be free!

On each wall is a face-up card, and you have to match two sets of cards with opposite colors and with the same card value in order to reduce the wall. You can do this two ways: One, by taking multiple cards from the grid only, or drawing one card from the draw deck and matching with the grid. But if you draw from the draw deck and cannot match two sets of cards, you must put the card on the Joker. Until the Joker has no cards on top of them, you cannot win the game.

Now, every wall that is not a side wall is a corner wall. Corner walls are much easier to break down but don’t help the Joker become free. And if you decide to break one of these down, you have less card-matching options available. So, you have to be vigilant in order to give the Joker the best chance to break out of prison.

That concludes the list! Which game have you enjoyed playing the most, and why? What were your experiences playing them? And which other solo board/card games have you played and would recommend? Drop your thoughts in the comments below! If you’re interested in more of my work, check out