There is a meme that pops up on my Facebook feed once in awhile that always makes me chuckle.  It reads “If you’re not prepared to lose every friend you have over a board game, you’re not playing hard enough.”if-youre-not-prepared-to-lose-every-friend-you-have-playing-a-board-game This can be true for a lot of games.  I have seen couples leave in a screaming match, people break down in tears, and we won’t even mention the monopoly biting incident of  ’02.  This doesn’t have to be the case though.  Board game creators are becoming more and more clever at providing co-operative elements to some of their games.  Cooperative games are topping the charts on Board Game Geek, and are a mainstay at many big box stores.

WE beat the Game!

Cooperative games are games that allow you to work together to beat “the game.”  Think of it like playing through a video game with your best friends.  There are certain rules and actions that the game, or enemy, has to follow  while you try to oppose it.  Normally in a video game the computer would handle the heavy lifting by doing its actions for you, but in a cooperative game usually someone playing will handle “the games” turn while still playing his/her own turn. The fun is that either you all win, or you all lose.

Do what I say and we will win!

The downfall of cooperative games is the armchair quarterback syndrome.  You know, that one friend who is very boisterous, chatty, and likes to tell everyone what they should do on their turn (full disclosure this is usually me).

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When playing a cooperative game it becomes very easy for the QB to take over the game and this becomes the game night, “Well if you fly to Mumbai, then you can move towards red and meet the dispatcher…like this here.(moves all pieces)” or maybe, “You know if you just go for Excalibur then I can go fight the black knight..oh here let me show you. (moves pieces) “. People stop becoming engaged and the game stops being fun.  It is why I personally don’t care for Pandemic (BLASPHEMY!)

That being said Co-op games can be really fun.  With so many options to choose from you can find the games that best fit your group so that everyone has a good time.  Let’s take a look at my Best 3 Games with…Co-op!

3. Dungeon Fighter

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Dungeon Fighter is a cooperative dexterity game.  Set in a land that is overrun with wanna-be heroes, the king has issued a challenge. “Whomever can best the dungeon and defeat the biggest monster in there shall be dubbed ‘True Heroes’ and shall bask in glory! Those that don’t … are no longer around taking up stool space at the local pub.”   You and your team must work together to clear room after room of hilarious monsters in the dungeon.  This isn’t your typical dungeon crawler.  In order to defeat the monsters you must bounce your dice off the table and land them on the target in the center of the play area, dealing damage based on where your die lands.  Sound simple? Trust me, it’s not.  Especially when you have to do trick shots, like shutting your eyes, throwing over your back, and ricochet off of the box to land on the target (while still bouncing off the table first).  Deciding who will use which power, which way to go in the dungeon, and “why is Bill’s hand all sweaty as he is holding my wrist to do the helping hand trick shot?”, will leave you all laughing and having a good time…together.

2. Legendary Encounters: An AlienTM Deck Building Game

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Game over man! … Game over! Legendary Encounters: An AlienTM Deck Building Game is a cooperative deck building game that puts you in control of Ripley, Newt, Jonesy, and the rest of the AlienTM universe as you try to survive the AlienTM movie franchise.  There are 5 encounters in the box, as well as a beautiful playmat and stunning art on the cards.  What makes this game great is it has one of the best “Oh, Crap!” mechanics in cooperative gaming, in fact the “Oh, Crap!” moment is what really makes the best cooperative games stand out.  The “Oh, crap!” moment is when the board has overwhelmed you and there is no possible way for you to survive.  In LE:ADBG that comes in the form of events, hazards, facehuggers, chestbursters, and just the sheer difficulty of the game.  When these effects are triggered you go from fighting one alien to the entire hive, which truly captures the feel of the movies.  So often you will lose at that “Oh, Crap!” moment, but then there are those times your friend plays a combo of cards that saves you all.  Win or lose with LE:ADBG, you want to play again as soon as you finish.

1. Sentinels of the Multiverse

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Avengers Assemble? Thundercats, HO? Go! Joe!? By.. the .. power .. of … oh, whatever it is you say gather your friends for this thrilling cooperative fixed deck game of super hero supremacy.  You and your friends are super heroes who must join forces to defeat a villain, bent on some form of world/universal/temporal domination.  Sentinels of the Multiverse has great mechanics to keep everyone engaged from the beginning to the end.  Each turn is played in the same order with the villain(the game) going first, followed by the heroes, then the environment where the conflict is taking place.  The game changes every time based on who you pick as your heroes, villains, and location.  There are team combinations which can smash the villain in a few turns, while others are merely slightly annoying to the villain.  As you play you are constantly talking over what others are going to do on their turn, what they can kill, who they can heal, etc.  The game eliminates the QB since one person really can’t keep track of all the cards in play, nor should they try.  It is what really drew me to the game and sold me on it.  This game can be very hard, and the odds can stack against you quickly, but is also very satisfying when you defeat the villain at the last second.  So, do you and your friends have what it takes to defend the … cosmos? wild west? 7-11?  Play Sentinels and find out.

Honorable Mentions:

Here is a list of Co-ops that I also think are excellent, I just like the above three more:

Do you agree?  Have I missed your favorite cooperative game?  Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Image sources

  1. http://weknowmemes.com/
  2. http://www.decadeawards.com/fantasy-football-armchair-quarterback-perpetual-trophy.html
  3. http://acrosstheboardcafe.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/pic1945286.jpg
  4. Still from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XUnLTRribk
  5. http://www.pockettactics.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/sotm.jpg