Monday, September 2, 2013

Top 7 Cooperative Games

These days there is a plethora of games where you can either work together or work in teams.  Like them or not, these games have become a fixture in the game libraries of many gamers.  I know that I have a good number of these games.

First let me mention some games that I have yet to play, and thus cannot place them on this list, but have potential to make this list in the future.  Some of those games are Forbidden Desert, Ghost Stories,  Arkham Horror, and Space Alert.

Also some games that just didn't make the list for various reasons - Space Cadets, Catacombs, Werewolf/Mafia, Elder Sign and Forbidden Island.

#7 Hanabi
Some may consider Hanabi more of a puzzle than a game since there's nothing you're playing against, but I really enjoy the challenge.  The game is all about communicating in a very limited fashion, but the things you say, and the things you don't say often tell a person far more than what little you think they do.  Sure, there's some shorthand that can develop, but the game is a challenge each and every time.    

#6 Pandemic
Pandemic is arguably the game that really kicked the co-op movement into high gear.  Pandemic is already a classic, despite being 5 years old.  The game presents a true challenge for players of all skill levels.  It falls victim to the alpha gamer, which knocks it down a peg for me, but the game is still a challenge.  There are multiple ways to make it harder, as well as many different roles which take a lot of time to figure out how to maximize.  

#5 Escape: Curse of the Temple
This is an intense dice game.  You have exactly 10 minutes to explore a temple, perform tasks, get gems, find the exit, and get everyone out.  You have to work together, but you often have to head off in different directions in order to win.  It's a tricky game with a lot of communication.  The first time I played it, I said that it was the most intense 10 minutes of my gaming life.  I feel that way every time I play it.  There's no alpha gamer problem here because there's no time for one.  You can't optimize play, you just have to play.

#4 Flash Point: Fire Rescue
Flash Point may be the easiest co-op game on my list.  You can tell that the game is targeted at families, but there's enough in the game to entertain gamers.  I love the theme here, who can't support being a firefighter, putting out smoke and fire, and saving people and pets from a burning building?  The game has a lot of randomness in terms of where the dice come up.  You can have a smooth game with no explosions or a near impossible game with all kinds of flare ups and explosions.  Still, Flash Point is a game that I enjoy each time I play it.  I've never had a bad game of it, even though I've had several games where we've lost.  

#3 Shadows Over Camelot
Shadows was the first hidden traitor game I ever played.  Even though I wasn't the biggest Shadows fan at first, it captivated my imagination.  Having a co-op game where you can't really trust everyone was a great thing because it got rid of the alpha-gamer syndrome.  Sure, people will try to advise others as to what to do, but you always have to wonder if you can fully trust them.  One of the best things that Shadows has is the ability for a character to perform a noble sacrifice, killing themselves in the hope that good can triumph.  It's not perfect, but I think it's very thematic.

#2 Battlestar Galactica
Speaking of theme, BSG may be the most thematic game I've ever played.  The first several times I played, I felt like I was reliving moments from the show.  The game is full of tension, trickery, and deceit.  You know that the cylons are out there plotting your demise, but they're not exactly easy to find since they look exactly like your friends.  If you strip BSG down to its core mechanics, you don't get an amazing game.  The game really does depend on what people bring to it, especially the suspicion of their fellow players.  

#1 Resistance: Avalon
Speaking of boiled down games, we have The Resistance, specifically the Avalon version, though the base version is good as well.  Avalon is a simple game of two teams where the bad guys know who each other are and the good guys have no clue who anyone is, well except for Merlin(he knows the bad guys but no one knows him.)  There are 5 missions which some subset of the players must attempt, but the leader must choose wisely, for if a single fail card is present, the whole mission fails.  Resistance isn't an amazing game from just a gameplay standpoint.  I played a game where no one talked, and it was boring as all get out.  As soon as everyone started thinking it through, making wild accusations, trying to talk their way out of suspicion or onto a team, the game really came to life.  This is another game where the players make or break the game.  The reason it takes #1 for me is that the game feels epic but it only takes around 30 minutes.

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