Saturday, April 05, 2008

Can't We All Just Get Along?

In the groups with which I game, I tend to be everyone's target of choice. As Jay said last night, "Never trust the guy who knows all the rules."

This means that, in many games, I find myself fighting against alliances. Even in games where this sort of thing is tricky to handle (like Formula De).

Because of this, I've been trying to find good cooperative games to play with my groups. Or games where team-ups are extremely difficult to pull off.

Thankfully, there are a fair number of decent cooperative games out there:

Shadows Over Camelot is a decent game, but I find myself liking it less and less the more I play. I think part of it is because the game has been solved. There are other threads on the 'Geek with solutions, as well. Either way, there are a few ways to play in which the game (and traitor, if any) will lose to the players every single time. In other words: Why play? I hate saying that about any game, as I really love to play games.

From there, we went to Arkham Horror. I thought it was ... okay. There wasn't really any player interaction and the random factor of the game was really high. And there was a lot of downtime between turns. But it goes up to eight players. The end will either be nailbiting and tense or a total snooze. I enjoy the game, but it's low on my list of games I'm likely to play.

We also played The Lord of the Rings. There was not a lot of player interaction on the board, but there was also a lot of discussion. "If you move along the hiding track, then Katie won't be able to get her Sun token. We can't afford to have her gain much more corruption." It's a fully cooperative game, with no traitor. There's a high random factor, but it keeps the replay value up rather than making the game feel chaotic. I really like this one - even with the Sauron expansion, which changes the game so that there is one adversary vs. the Fellowship players. With Sauron, it can handle up to six players. It's also very challenging. In six years, we've beat the game a total of ... um ... once. Last night was the fastest loss I've ever seen - The hobbits kept triggering events. One of the Bree events moves Sauron a number of spaces equal to the number of Hiding spaces that haven't been used, yet. For this group, that was seven spaces. And they had no way to prevent it, having used their event blockers earlier in the game.

A few weeks ago, Brian brought Pandemic to Game Night. Pandemic hit the spot: It was a fully co-operative game that was fast-playing and featured a high degree of player interaction. The rules are simple and accessable. It has a fairly high random factor, but it has the same effect as Lord of the Rings: It keeps gameplay from getting stale. Lest you rely entirely on my word: Not everyone has enjoyed it. Oh - and I haven't beat it, yet, either.

I know there are other cooperative games out there, and I'm looking for some good ones. Anyone care to suggest any?

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