Tabletopia is a simulated boardgame system, playable solo or multiplayer through a browser or via Steam. With over 500 games currently playable, it's a great way to try out games which aren't yet released, aren't readily available, or are costly. There are occasional glitches but's well worth checking out not least because most of the games are free.
So far, the best game I've tried is the innovative Roll Player, designed by Keith Matejka and published by Wisconsin-based Thunderworks Games. It's a dice puzzle game for 1 to 5 players which is closely based on the character creation process in RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons - and while that might not sound fun, Matejka has done an incredible job.
As RPG fans would expect, the six attributes that need to be taken care of in Roll Player are strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Each of these is represented by a row of spaces on each player's board - as the game progresses, dice are chosen are used to fill the rows.
So far, it's not a game at all - but players are scored based on how accurately their arrangement of dice matches a character archetype drawn at the start of the game. This is determined by cards representing class, alignment, and backstory. Furthermore, each player board dictates a high fantasy race (elf, human, dwarf and so on) with advantages and penalties in certain attributes
There are also seven colours of dice, six of which provide a bonus to certain classes and a gold die which provides income in gold coins. These can be used to purchase powerful gear and traits from a shared market, which also affect a player's score. With all these elements taken into account, Roll Player becomes a compulsive and tense puzzle even as a solo experience. There are a ton of variables to take into account, and strategies can shift each turn - but the game never produces "analysis paralysis" or feels overly complex.
Roll Player has returned to Kickstarter recently (where it was originally launched in 2016) because a new expansion has been designed. Unfortunately, while Thunderworks will ship to the UK, the game costs a hefty $90. I'll be sticking to Tabletopia for the time being.
I write about books, film, videogames, boardgames and music. I'm a contributor to Entertainium.