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A Crazy Couple's Co-op Guide, Revised 2011 Edition
Brian Modreski
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Thornton
Colorado
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Lisa and I are some of the most biggest co-op nuts on BGG. I'd say we are THE biggest, but that would be awfully competitive of me, wouldn't it?

Back in 2009, I got curious about which of our co-ops was objectively our favorites, and employed a rather silly and complicated algorithm to rate the games. I wound up with this geeklist.

However, aside from the ratings, I added a lot of comments and I think a bunch of other people have found it useful.However, as more co-ops have come out, I've wanted to add them - but not to have to redo that mess of an algorithm each time!

So this is the new, improved, crazy couple's co-op guide. The order is a lot less objective, but I hope you'll find the info useful anyway! A lot of it is just copied over from the earlier geeklist, but hopefully the format is better, and there have been more games added - and I'll be adding opinions on the new co-op games as we try them.

This only covers cooperative games. Not team games, or "kind of cooperatively themed but not really cooperative because only one player wins". Unless they are easily adaptable to pure co-op, in which case I'll mention them.

In general our ratings are based on the base game 'as written'. Several of these we feel are made much, much better with house-rules. If there's a low rating for a game we play a lot, we probably don't play it as written
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1. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:76]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:
1 Low luck; mostly skill.

Bonus Points:
1vp Great pieces
1vp Hard for one player to dominate*
1vp Gradual learning system
1vp Quick to play (if you can play only one )
1vp Real time element adds a lot of excitement.
1vp Lots of variety in the different combinations of threats.
1vp Campaign mode offers an extended challenge.
1vp Great with 5 players.
1vp For a group learning together, the set of gradually increasing complexity introductory missions are a fantastic way to learn.

Penalties:
nuclear Real time is NOT for everyone
nuclear Long teaching time (Space Alert is great to learn when everyone playing is new; but introducing new players is problematic.)
nuclear Not as good with less than 5; though still fun.

Both Lisa and I are epicly indecisive about favorites. So its highly unusual that its a no-brainer for us when asked our favorite co-op, and the numbers support it.

What makes this really unusual is that most of our gaming is just the two of us, and Space Alert, while still pretty fun with two, is really best with a group of 5 so we rarely play it except at game groups. This makes the huge amount of plays stand out even more. This has been pulled out, usually for a set of 3 campaign flights, at almost every gaming day we've been to since getting it.

The real-time element of Space Alert makes for an exciting, tension filled game in which you never are sure exactly what's going on, escalating communication and planning to a real challenge level.

House Rules: When playing a campaign, we leave out threats we've already encountered from future missions for more variety. Since there are slightly more regular than advanced threats, this also tends to have the effect of making the third mission slightly harder.

* Note: Lisa and I have never really experienced one player dominating a co-op game, probably because we're usually the experienced players and try to take the attitude of 'we'd rather the die amusingly by new players mistakes than try to play the game for them'. We have seen experienced players dominating in team games, and have seen it really ruin a game experience.
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2. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:134]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
1vp The mix of player abilities and board set ups give a lot of variety.
1vp Different difficulties levels offer a nicely growing level of threat.
1vp Variety of abilities available means there's normally lots of choices for what to do on a turn, and a few ways to combat pressing problems, usually with varying levels of risk and reward.
1vp Great components.
1vp A real challenge to win, that throws you a lot of randomness but also rewards skill and gives you many options to control.

Penalties:
zombie Can apparently be difficult to the point of frustration.
zombie Rules are confusingly written and have some errors.
zombie Lots of symbols and special abilities to learn; within a few games, you'll know them all, but expect to do a lot of reference sheet checking for the first few games.

Ghost Stories usually ranks 2nd for us, and our plays support it. While Space Alert is our favorite group game, Ghost Stories has been our favorite 2 player game.

Ghost stories is filled with tension. The difficulty level is very high, and I think it will take most players a while of playing to move up through the different difficulty levels the game suggests. It offers Initiation, Normal, Nightmare and Hell. It took more plays than many players will likely get, even of a game they like, to feel ready to take on Hell!

While Ghost Stories provides a variant for less than 4 players, we just play that we control two monks each. We tried the 2 player variant, and clobbered the game so badly that it wasn't very fun. It seems like solo/2 player games following their variant are easier to keep under to control, but harder to recover from once it spirals out of control.
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3. Board Game: Witch of Salem [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1128]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
1vp Very easy to explain and play.
1vp Incredibly tense and challenging.
1vp Great with 2 or 4 (probably with 3, but we've only played with 3 once).
1vp Great infusion of atmosphere and theme into a simple game.

Penalties:
goo Low variety.
goo No clear cut "levels" of difficulty (though there are suggestions for how to make it harder).
goo No easier difficulty suggestions.

This game is evil. In some ways, I think it goes beyond Ghost Stories evil. The feeling of spiraling out of control toward madness is palpable, and it works fantastically.

Witch of Salem is very "euro" in its mechanics. Its simple and really fast playing, while offering a trickily painful amount of choices each turn. However, it is a very luck driven game - the dice and the event deck have a lot of influence on your fate.
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4. Board Game: Wok Star [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1150]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Re-playability:

Bonus Points
1vp Fast moving.
1vp Easy to learn and teach.
1vp Varying levels of difficulty.
1vp Fresh and original theme.

Penalties
thumbsdown Poor difficulty scaling by number of players - fixed with a variant on the geek.
thumbsdown Not as much variety as some of the heavier co-ops.
thumbsdown Border cases on the timers can sometimes feel hard to judge.

This new comer has shot right up on our co-op favorites.
I've done a full review of Wok Star here, but here are the highlights.

Wok Star adds to the small list of real time cooperative games. Rather than trying to blow things up, you're trying to keep a Chinese restaurant in business by keeping your customers happy and served.

Gameplay is pretty simple and can be taught very quickly. Each player has dishes they can prepare and ingredients they can get ready. A board and counters in the middle track how many of each ingredient you have. Players roll dice, and during the game assign those dice to prepare different ingredients.

Each ingredient has one bonus number that gives you more of that ingredient, and a two number combo (like "total 7" or "two odds") that gives you even more. But each die can only be used once. Complicating this is that the customers wanting the dishes have to be served in 20 seconds each, measured by flipping sand timers. You don't need to watch for exactly when a sand-timer finishes; if you go to get the next customer and the timers are out, you've taken too long.

As a tip, we recommend teaching by just playing through a sample single round without the timers, explaining as you go. Then reset the game (people can keep the dishes and ingredients they had in the practice round) and you'll be ready to play in no time.

This is a very high energy game. The fast gameplay and real-time tension keeps people very involved and active. Even at easier difficulties, the game feels challenging, especially early in the game. In a four player game, you need to make $80, all in the last round, to win. When you're only making $40 per round a few turns in you really start to sweat, even when you know you're probably on track.

The actions are simple, and there's only a few things each player needs to do. The difficult decisions are usually how to use dice once you've started running out of "sweet spot" numbers for the ingredients you need, how to spend your money between each round, how to handle special events, and when to use your special character abilities.

Breaking the game into multiple rounds with a chance to upgrade and buy new recipes in each round gives a nice almost rpg-style feeling of advancement, and really gives you a sense of building up the business, which is very neat. It also gives you little breaks from the frantic pace of serving customers.

While the order of the random events and a selection of special player abilities keeps the game playing differently each time, I suspect it won't have the long term re-playability of Space Alert or Ghost Stories; it doesn't seem quite deep enough.

Out of the box, the game has some scaling problems. 2 player games are much, much harder than games with 4. However, one Wok Star fan has posted a variant that we think really improves the 2 player game. In fact, we like it better than the normal setup for 4 players as well!

Given its fast, fun and unique gameplay, small box size (easy to store), approachable theme and frantic action, this will be an excellent co-op choice once it gets a wider release.
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5. Board Game: Hanabi & Ikebana [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Re-playability:
(A bit hard to judge on this one; we prefer it a lot with a group, and so don't get to play nearly as much as we might like)

Bonus Points:
1vp Very fast to play.
1vp Also comes with Ikebana, a fun competitive card drafting game.
1vp Completely different from every other co-op on this list.

Penalties:
thumbsdown Not solo playable, not as good with 2 players as with 3+.
thumbsdown Lacks defining win/lose dynamic.

And now for something completely different...

Hanabi is a cooperative deduction game. Deduction. Seriously. Its themed around trying to put fireworks displays together (some clumsy twit mixed up all the parts). Which is a pretty thin theme; you're trying to build colored sets of cards up from 1 to 5.

The problem being, you aren't allowed to look at your cards. Everyone else at the table is, but you can't. (Remembering to face your cards backwards is possibly the hardest part of the game). And they can only give very specific clues. And you only get so many clues before you run out.

You can get more clues just by discarding cards, but discard the wrong card and you can't score well.

You can play cards blindly, put play a card out of order and you'll get a red chip - three red chips loses the game.

Now, here's what may kill some people's interest. You aren't likely to actually lose. In fact, you can be sure of not losing. There's none of the "do or die" tension you'll find in other co-ops.

Instead, you are really going for a high score. There's not a big range - 25 is the best you can do, and we've never managed that. Trying to get that score is strangely addictive. The game is a lot of fun. It really stretches your brain to figure out what clues to give. You need to get a lot of mileage out of each clue, and you'll need to rely on the other players being clever enough to figure out clues.

Hanabi is best with more people. Four or five people gives you more cards out at once and a lot more choices for what clues to give, and a lot more people to interact with.

Completely different and very fun.

EDIT 11/2011: Actually, we've been playing quite a lot 2 player and having a blast.
Another EDIT 11/2011: Increased replayability. Addictive!
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6. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:170]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating: *
Re-playability: Too early to tell yet; estimated 7-8.

* We tend to be conservative on initial ratings, and only elevate games to 9s or 10s after a lot of plays, as you'll notice from the scarcity of 9-10 games in this list. Flashpoint has the potential to go higher for us I'm sure.

Bonus Points:
1vp Intense and challenging.
1vp Very thematic and immersive.
1vp Excellent intro "family" version; great for learning or teaching the game.
1vp Plays up to 6.
1vp Readily accessible theme.
1vp Thorough gameplay reference cards.
1vp Three regular game difficulties and a "family" version to learn the game.

Penalties
coal Erratic difficulty due to dice based fire spreading.
coal Could use a setup reference (but that's kind of reaching for a penalty)

Flash Point: Fire Rescue puts you into a heroic and dangerous job; a firefighter heading into a blazing building to rescue the people inside.

Mechanically, Flash Point is a distant descendant of Pandemic. You've got action points to use to move around the burning house and extinguish fires. After each turn, the fire spreads. You can only keep the fire under control for so long. You need to rescue the helpless people (and pets!) trapped in the blazing building. Don't think for a moment that you're just getting a Pandemic re-theme though; it definitely stands on its own and has a very different feel and play from other co-ops.

The core rules are very simple; spend action points to move and extinguish fires. After a turn, roll to see what's heating up (a combined d6 and d8 roll give you coordinates in the house). As you roll duplicate fires, they explode, spreading fire rapidly and damaging the surrounding house.

Because Flash Point includes a simplified "family" set of rules, you can be playing very quickly. This is a great way to learn the game. The family version is simple, but its still quite challenging and fun, and would be a great way to teach new gamers or family players. The reference cards even differentiate the family rules with text color.

Once you've got the hang of the basic rules, you can add the advanced rules, which heat up the game a lot. You'll add hazardous materials in the house that will explode if the fire gets to them, hot spots that speed up the spread of the fire even more as the game goes on, specialist firefighters, and an ambulance at fire engine that can be moved around the house.

All these things give a very intense game with tough choices. The victims you need to rescue will be spread through the house. The fire will be blazing all over the place. Where do you need to go first? Who is in the most danger? Do you have time to get the hazmat out of the way? Dare you rush into the blaze or will you get caught in an explosion if you do?

Two slightly unusual mechanics add to the choices. First, you can store up some AP from turn to turn, which can be very useful for preparing to get into a dangerous spot, and means you are almost never "wasting" an action.

Second, you can change your specialist at the fire engine. This option means that some specialists are very situationally useful. For example, the Driver/Operator can use the main fire hose (the 'deck gun') more easily, and is fantastic for keeping major blazes under control, but isn't nearly as handy when the fire is spread out, or in the center which is hard to hose. The hazmat specialist can easily get rid of hazmat obstacles, but doesn't have any other useful ability. But it takes a few precious actions to change specialties - and you need to get to the engine. Do you have the time? Which specialization do you need most?

Now, there is one potential downside to this part; because some of the specialists are limited to specific situations, you don't get as much of the variety of trying games with different combos of characters/roles. Of course, you can play with random specialties or ignoring certain specialties, but you could be making things pretty blatantly harder on yourself by doing so.

Which brings me to the other downside of the game. The fire spreads based on die rolls, which means it can be very erratic. Some games you keep placing smoke in stray places that can be easily extinguished. Other games explosions will rage out of control every turn. If this lack of reliable challenge bothers you, you may want to pass on Flash Point. Of course, some people may consider this a plus rather than a downside!

However, before you stop reading, that being a hot spot for you is the only reason you should pass on Flash Point. This is an extremely well done game, from the nice high quality components to intense, challenging and very fun gameplay. Its a game you can readily teach non-gamers with a theme that should be easy to get people into, and its a game that should excite and challenge even die-hard co-op fans.

The theme is excellently carried though out the game, and there's an excellent level of detail to make it feel like you're facing "realistic" threats without burdening you down. The reference cards are excellent, but the gameplay is so smooth and intuitive you'll probably stop using them after your first few games.

If you are a co-op fan, this is a must-have. If you want to try a co-op, this is a great place to start. In fact, this may be one of the best intro co-op games around, with a great blend of being easy to learn and involving and having a good basic game with nicely developed levels of increasing difficulty.
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7. Board Game: Yggdrasil [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:440]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

UPDATED UPDATED EDIT: Added a rating. May keep going up. This is quite addictive!
EDIT 11/2011: Locked in the replayability at 8.

Bonus Points:
Gorgeous components and board.
Plays from 1-6 with no odd rules or needing to control multiple characters.
Simple mechanics create a constantly growing threat.
Fast to play
Simply add cards to increase the difficulty - with 12 cards to add in various combinations, that can provide a lot of incremental difficulty increases.
Neat touches like the frost giant cards that combine to form a rune that shows what effect it causes.

(In retrospect, the tankard would have been appropriate for Red November, but it seemed a good fit for the Norse as well)

Penalties:
For this set of penalties, you're going to have to pretend that this: mintcamel is the legendary serpent Jormugund. You can see it, right? The serpentine neck protruding from the water. Er...just squint a little? Please? Ok, ok, BGG needs more emoticons!
mintcamel Not a lot of variety in the game play. Enemies advance in different orders, but its the same foes and same events each time. (You will get different Frost Giants though).
mintcamel Very small draw bags can easily spill and send counters flying everywhere when over-enthusiastically grabbed.
mintcamel The iconography is confusing, especially to try to learn from. Once you know the game, it all works fine.
mintcamel The rulebook is not a glowing example of rule writing. In fact, it feels kind of like a bad translation from Norse. It all makes sense when you start playing.

An up or a down, depending on how you look at it:
The base game is challenging and tense, but you can learn to win pretty fast. That'll be good news for some and bad for others. However, as mentioned above, lots of ways to ramp up the difficulty.

This lovely co-op casts the players as Norse gods struggling to prevent Ragnarok by stopping the enemies of the gods (Loki, Jormugund, Hel, Fenrir, Nidhog and Surt) from breaking through the defenses of Asgard.

The game flow is pretty much familiar. Draw a card that tells you which enemy to advance, then take your actions. There are several actions available, each corresponding to different 'worlds' on the game board; from sending the valkyries to recruit fallen vikings to your side to forging dwarven weapons to fighting the foes of Asgard.

Most of the game is really building up to the fights. Each fight is pretty simple; commit vikings to the battle, roll a special die, add your weapons, and see if you beat the foe's defense. If you fail but have wisely recruited elves, you can use them to add to the roll afterwards - but its much slower to recruit elves than vikings.

Succeed and you force the enemy back one space. Every turn, an enemy advances one space (and activates a nasty ability unique to each foe), so you have to fight hard just to keep even. In fact, you simply won't manage to keep even. But hopefully you can stop them before they all get too far along.

Its a bit puzzley, but its exciting, and the constant advance of the foes gives a lot of tension. The art brims with flavor; the board is gorgeous, with the information smoothly integrated. The icons, however, are cryptic. I suppose it does help with the rune-like feel, and they make sense after they know what you are, but for the first game its a bit baffling.

Overall, not the game to pick for your only co-op choice (unless you're a Norse myth fan), but its solid and fun and an excellent addition to a co-op library.

EDIT: Ok, changed my mind. Yggdrasil is solid and fun enough to be your only co-op. (Though the thought of having only one co-op is quite chilling )
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8. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:40]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Quick summary

Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
1vp Very easy to teach and play.
1vp Theme and simple mechanics make it accessible to non-gamers.
1vp Three levels of difficulty suggested start you off easy but keep you busy for a while.
1vp Plays well with 2 to 4 players.

Penalties:
nuclear Variety in character roles, but not a lot of variety during gameplay.

We loved Pandemic when it came out; I think it really set a standard for recent cooperative games, and set trends that others have been following; short play times, relatively simple rules, tense gameplay. However, these days it doesn't seem to have the excitement of Ghost Stories, Der Hexer or Space Alert. That might just be familiarity; after 70 odd plays, we've worn Pandemic out a bit. However, the expansion really freshens it up!
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9. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:404]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonuses:
1vp Easy to teach
1vp Accessible for non-gamers
1vp Nice varying difficulty levels
1vp Very pretty

Penalties:
thumbsdown lacks variety


Forbidden Island is a LOT like Pandemic. Except, instead of curing the world of diseases, you are trying to stay above water on a sinking island while finding four lost treasures.

Its fast moving and very easy to set up and play. We've had good luck teaching it to people that Pandemic was too heavy for.

However, it doesn't just have "easy to play" going for it; its fun and tense with a great theme. At a cheap price, this should be in every co-op fan's collection. But it doesn't have the depth and re-playability of Space Alert or Ghost Stories.
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10. Board Game: Sentinels of the Multiverse [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:138]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:
Still too early to tell - estimated 6-7, possibly higher.

Bonus Points:
1vp Very simple and easy to learn core main rules.
1vp Lots of game combinations.
1vp Lots of personality.
1vp Great comic-book action feel.

Penalties:
robot Designed as a 4 player game; not as well suited to different numbers.
robot Some confusing card wording.
robot Erratic difficulty.
robot Requires a lot of dice or tokens or cards to track HP.


robot This is an evil world conquering robot by the way.

Sentinels Assemble!

Er, wait, that doesn't sound quite right, does it?

The small little Sentinels of the Multiverse box contains a whopping pile of cards - over 500! These cards drop you into some classic comic-book style superhero vs supervillain action.

Each player picks a hero (you've got 10 to pick from) and their corresponding deck of cards. You choose one of four villains, pick basic or advanced difficulty, shuffle their deck, and one of four environments and, you guessed it, shuffle that deck.

Draw 4 cards each. Turn over the rulebook to the back page and follow the steps of play there.

Voila. You're welcome, I've just taught you the rules to Sentinels.

Ok, that's not quite all there is to it, but one thing that immediately stands out is how simple it is to teach and learn Sentinels. The core rules are very minimal.

Once you're ready to go (it was nice and easy, wasn't it?), you'll launch into a straight up grand finale comic book battle. You need to do enough damage to defeat the master villain before all the heroes get incapacitated...or the villain accomplishes some fiendish world destroying plot.

The meat of the game is in the cards. Many cards just do damage, but there are lots of other abilities as well.

Ok, physical details out of the way.

Sentinels has an amazing amount of personality to it. Each hero and villain has a very distinctive style. Haka is a heavy duty powerful hitter. Bunker starts off not doing much - until he powers up all his weapons and systems. Visionary doesn't have much for hitting power, but she's a fantastic manipulator who can control the battle. Wraith is just plain awesome. The characters obviously draw inspiration to classic heroes, and make some references to them, but it all comes across as a homage not a copy, and they certainly have their own identity.

On the villain side, you've got characters like Omnitron, that switches back and forth between a robot producing factory and a damage dealing machine, while constantly switching weapons. You've got Citizen Dawn and her followers, which pits you against a veritable legion of super-villains and a leader that can become invincible for a time until you can outwit her.

People sometimes ask about a game "Does it really feel like you're (whatever the game is about)?" In this case, the blank would be "superheroes fighting a world threatening villain".

No. Absolutely not. Which is a good thing for all of those of us who don't actually want to be smashed through a brick building. What game actually does feel like that? Its nonsense.

However, Sentinels does a good job of feeling like you're watching (reading?) a comic book about a team of superheroes fighting a world threatening villain. And it really captures the sense of teamwork and challenge from the genre.

Ok, now I've got one or two downsides to mention here.

First off, you've got some confusing card text. There's some serious overuse of the word 'target' going on here. And you're going to be doing a lot of adding up numbers from several places. The cards also have a very text heavy format, and you'll have to search a card for relevant abilities at times.

Secondly, this is set up as a 4 player game. There's no scaling, and if you want to play it two player, you're going want to play two characters each. I know some people don't like that. On the bright side though, despite having card decks, its very easy to play two each, especially since you only play cards on your turn. Lisa and I hav been having a blast playing two characters each, and I wouldn't let it discourage you from trying Sentinels.

Finally, the difficulty can be very random. Different combinations of heroes will be well or poorly suited to different challenges. You might never see one of a villain's nasty cards, or you might get hit with all of them in a row. Sometimes it'll be a cakewalk, sometimes your new superhero name will be 'Flatman' with you barely getting in a blow.

It is also entirely possible that the choices in this game aren't as deep as they look on the surface and are often straightforward. It may just be an illusion of being more choice than there really is. But, if its an illusion, its a damn good one.

We've been enjoying Sentinels of the Multiverse a lot. It was our only "Must buy NOW" coming back from BGG.Con, and its been getting a lot of play since. The card combos and teamwork are very exciting, and its a lot of fun using all of the different powers.

But this is a game that really feels to me like it goes beyond the mechanics. Even if the cards you're drawing lead to straightforward play, its fun to just go along from the ride. It produces a lot of memorable moments. Fighting in the ruins of Atlantis, we were about to drain Citizen Dawn out of her sun form when a monstrous kraken broke from the water and dragged her right-hand man under, fueling her anger. We finished off General Voss when we knocked a crashing monorail into him. Stuff like that.

This is probably not a great game to play with casual gamers. Despite the rules simplicity, the huge volume of text and card interactions will probably be too much. For hobby gamers, if you enjoy themey games and aren't put off by a few rough edges, this is a fantastic addition to any co-op collection, and a must-have for any superpowers genre fan.

EDIT 1/21/2011: Dropped my rating my 2 points for a net 1 point drop.
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11. Board Game: Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:413]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
1vp A very compact package
1vp Excellent job of capturing theme
1vp Tense and exciting

Penalties:
(We need a genestealer icon...)
thumbsdown Poor scaling
thumbsdown Repetitive
thumbsdown Tactics are important, but lose out to luck
thumbsdown Lots of "bossy player" potential

FFGs second silver line co-op continues the trend of packing a lot of components in a small package. Unlike Red November, this packs in a bit more gameplay to.

If you've played Space Hulk, Death Angel does a good job of capturing the tension and action you'll be familiar with (If you haven't played Space Hulk, go give it a try - its awesome) of outnumbered but powerful marines versus hordes of deadly genestealers.

Death Angel abstracts that quite a bit; marine movement is purely based around swapping position and facing in "line", with the team advancing when they've fought through enough genestealers.

There's some variety with 6 different marine teams each with different special abilities and weapons.

Decisions are a bit limited. Each squad takes one action per turn. You've got three possible choices, but can't take an action twice in a row, so you've only got two choices. However, the combination of all the squads working together is very important. Since a squad can only fire every other turn, teams need careful planning and support to set up fields of fire and to use their special abilities to get through alive.

The upside of this is that there's quite a bit of planning and tactics required to complete your mission.

There are two downsides to this. The first is that the intense coordination required really lends itself to the oft-lamented problem of one player taking charge. Whether that's a problem will depend on your group.

The other is that, after lots of planning and tactics, success or failure tends to depend on a very few die rolls. Even with ways to get re-rolls. its easy for a hard fought out plan to crash down on a few bad rolls. Luck is a part of co-ops, but the amount of challenge required to get to a 4+ roll is a bit infuriating.

While we're on downsides, the game seems to have some scaling problems. Two or four players works very well (same gameplay for both). Other numbers seem to get problematic.

Finally, each game seems to play out about the same way. It started to get repetitive after about 3 games. Which is a pity, because the first few games are quite exciting.

If you like the theme and want a game for occasional play, the price and size make this hard to pass up. If you want a co-op to give you hours and hours of play, this probably isn't your best bet.
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12. Board Game: Onirim [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:731]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
1vp Very portable.
1vp Several included variants to shake up the game.

sauron Only 2 players max.
sauron Dissapointing art.

(Why sauron here? Its the closest icon to the nightmares that we've got )

Surreal co-op play in your pocket!

This strange card game features you trying to escape from a maze in a dream world, while nightmares (no, not the cute and fun to play with BGG user Nightmare. Sorry) stalk you.

Mostly, its about collecting sets of cards of a certain color. Play 3 cards of a color in a row to find the 'door' of that color. Find all four doors to escape. Cards come with 3 different symbols, and you need to alternate symbols when you play cards. The deck acts as a timer against your; run out of cards and you lose.

During the game, you sometimes draw nightmare cards that force you to suffer one of a few bad effects, such as discarding your hand or discarding a door you've already found.

Gameplay is really quite simple, though deciding what to do to win is not. I haven't played enough to be sure what the mix of luck to skill really is, but there's clearly some of both.

As a 2 player game, instead of each player having a hand of 5 cards, you each have a hand of 3 cards and then have 2 'shared' cards face up in the table. There are options to trade cards from your private hand to the face up cards, which you can use to help your partner. One variant suggests that players are not allowed to discuss strategy. While some people say this takes the cooperativeness out of the game, I think it makes for a fascinating and challenging game, as you must figure out what your partner needs without them being able to directly tell you, and must gauge your plays to signal your partner.

As a nice bonus, it comes with three different 'expansions' that change around the game. Each expansions adds both a new complication and new elements to defeat the challenge. One, for example, adds a deck that requires you to find the doors in a certain order, but gives you "spells" that you can use to help yourself along. These 'expansions' can be added in whatever combination you want, so there are effectively 8 different variations on the game.

Weird. Different. Worth trying, but its not going to be for everyone.
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13. Board Game: Warhammer Quest [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:460]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability: (Lower without add on characters)
6 Low skill; mostly luck

Bonus Points:
1vp A huge amount of variety and replay, even with just the basic set.
1vp Fantastic components - lots of minis.
1vp Easy to play with the basic rules.
1vp Practically a whole hobby to itself.

Penalties:

Cons:
zombie Badly written, poorly thought out and horribly balanced rules.
zombie Game comes apart at high levels.
zombie Very unfun to lose, since its so campaign focused.
zombie Minis selection provided is exponentially smaller than you actually want for the game. We've spent a lot of time with Skaven standing in for ghouls, bloodletters...whatever And we're still trying to find good female equivalents for all the characters.

An old classic! We used to play Warhammer Quest for days on end. Our play count is an estimate - we went back and found all the old character sheets, figured out what levels we'd reached, and assumed 1.5 plays per level.

We were always fans of good old fashioned dungeon crawl games, and WHQ served up a great serving of mindless action, fun character advancement and treasure finding.

Admittedly, the rules were a complete disaster of bad ideas that barely made sense. The game is so insanely random there's barely room for player skill, many options are completely worthless, and random treasure draws and skill rolls can make a character anything from a pathetic soon-to-be dungeon style chalk outline to a walking Cuisinart of death (I still remember one of Lisa's wardancers who could consistently manage to wipe out every objective room on her first turn...) But it managed to be fun anyway, and while we kept houseruling all the time we played, we enjoyed every bit of it.

Is Warhammer Quest showing its age, or did we just burn out from too many plays? I'm not sure - last time we tried to play, we got as far as pulling out the box contents and decided it wasn't worth it. The time before that, we tired after a quest or two. Still...over 200 plays, I can't complain we didn't get our money's worth first!

As written, WHQ does have a competitive element in that only the player who kills a monster gets the gold for it; we struggled with this for years of play, being annoyed with having to hold back on attacking a monster to let a hero who needed the money more kill it. Then, someone else said "yeah, we just total up all the money and divide it afterward", and we kicked ourselves for not thinking of that.


House Rules: Practically everything has been changed in some way or other! Tons of house rules, custom item decks, and custom characters.
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14. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:420] [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
1vp Great minis
1vp Lots of scenarios
1vp Packs a lot of adventure in a short game

Penalties:
zombie Poorly written rules
zombie Poorly designed cards and tiles
zombie Very repetitive gamplay
zombie Poor scaling based on number of players

Good old fashioned D&D dungeon crawl goodness. Take a party of adventures, and go fight monsters!

The miniatures are great. If you play fantasy RPGs, this is probably worth picking up just for the minis*.

Gameplay is simple and straightforward. Set up the dungeon, take turns moving your heroes and then activating monsters. As you explore, you find more monsters until eventually you reach the goal of your quest.

Each monster moves via a simple 'AI' on a monster card, which lets different monsters have different tactics and abilities. Villains, often the center of a scenario, have a much bigger cards with more abilities and tactics.

There are five different heroes, and each hero has about 10 cards which you'll use 5 of each game.

All of this sounds really good. Our first few plays, we absolutely loved Ravenloft.

So why the low rating? Repetitiveness. After those few plays, it started feeling very 'samey'. The characters aren't all that different. The treasure cards are really bland, and often have no effect at all. You draw so many "encounters" each game that they stop standing out and it just feels like a constant string of "draw a card, lose some HP". Yawn. I think we might have given this a higher rating if we'd spread out our plays a lot more.

As a side note, the rules and scenarios are poorly written. Core rules lead mostly to some head scratching, but some of the scenarios took a lot of hashing out on the forums to figure out how they were meant to be played. And there's still some strangeness like a scenario that has a special treasure, which there's a card for, which the designers seemed to have failed to notice can't actually be used in the scenario.

It often gets noted that Castle Ravenloft is "the best co-op dungeoncrawl that plays in less than an hour". This is probably true - but a ridiculously small category!

Partly, I think it sits uncomfortably between two genres. It doesn't have enough "cool stuff" to feel like a thematic adventure game (ala Warhammer Quest), and it doesn't have enough interesting decisions to feel like a challenging co-op (ala Ghost Stories).

Honestly, I may dislike this more than it deserves simply because it feels like it could have been much more. If you like dungeon crawl games, and don't already have Warhammer Quest, its probably worth getting.

* Side gripe though; most of these minis are reused sculpts from the D&D minis line. Why did one of the new sculpts have to be yet another male dragonborn with axe, which is the same as every existing dragonborn mini?
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15. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:497]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
I'm coming up short here. This is a fine game, but I just can't think of much that truly stands out about it.

Penalties:
sauron Lack of variety.
sauron Clutter of multiple boards and lots of tokens and symbols.

Our first real cooperative board game (excluding WHQ because...I don't know...it just feels like it doesn't fit in the same category!). This was a revelation to us and made us immediately want more games like it. We were already into searching for cooperative video and computer games - cooperative board games was new territory!

A solid game, but there's not a lot of variety to it, and I think in the long run its just not all that replayable.
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16. Board Game: Cranium Hoopla [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:2116]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
Simple to explain.
Funny, high energy activity.
Plays well with large groups.
Easy for people who are reluctant to play games to join in by guessing without needing to give clues.

Penalties:
Not enough cards - and it tends to be easy to guess cards you've seen before.
Some people won't know who the various celebrities on some cards are.
Game is playable with big groups, but you may need to adjust the number of cards to make it beatable.

This is, indeed, a party game. Each player tries to get the others to guess one of the cards in their hand via either drawing, charades style acting, or two possible word clues, depending on the roll of the die. You try to go through all the cards before a timer runs out.

Its high energy, leads to a lot of laughs, and is very easy to play with non gamers.
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17. Board Game: Vanished Planet [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:4031]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:
(If you are willing to overlook the clunkiness of the gameplay, this probably would get a much higher re-playability score)

Bonuses
1vp Resource management game (that's not inherently a 'plus', but it does stand out).
1vp Plays up to 6.
1vp Very well balanced basic game.

Penalties

goo Fiddly.
goo Really, really fiddly.
goo Did I mention its a bit fiddly?
goo Runs a bit long. Mostly because its so...you know.

If there's one thing that makes Vanished Planet stand out, its how it absolutely nailed the precise balance of "We are so doomed" right up until the last moment when you win. Though, after a few plays, you learn to see the win coming. Then its time to starting adding more creature growth cards - in theory at least. We never played that much.

Space exploration, gathering resources, building technologies - so much meatier than most cooperative games! So why is VP so low?

Fiddly. Too damn fiddly.

The icons on the cards are terrible - a bit of color coding alone would have make this game much more playable. You need to combine basic resources in large numbers into personnel and components, which then combine (in large numbers) into technologies and upgrades. Which is a real pain to keep track of and manage. There have got to be some ways to improve this game and make it more playable - I wish I knew what!

EDIT 2/25/2011: We just pulled out Vanished Planet tonight, and both agreed that, while fiddly, it wasn't nearly as bad as we remembered.
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18. Board Game: Feurio! [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:2678]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonuses:
1vp Almost no set up time.
1vp Good competitive and cooperative play.

Penalties
thumbsdown Probably most of the downsides go in with the puzzle feel.
thumbsdown No variety.

Mixed:
Very strong puzzle feel.

This'll be a two in one entry for Feurio! and Vulkan.

Some people claim that cooperative games are really just puzzles. In the case of Feurio... it really feels like it. Playing out your fire fighters as you draw pieces does indeed feel very much like a solitaire puzzle. I think it still qualifies as a game, since you win or lose.

I think Lisa gets frustrated with me at this one, as I'm just not as good a puzzle solver as she is.

Vulkan is a game that's played with the same tiles. Its ideally designed to be played directly following Feurio - you play Feurio, in which you put out forest fire tiles, then in Vulkan, you start with the tiles out and remove them as the game progresses.

Feurio also has a competitive version, which I may actually like a bit more than the cooperative game.
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19. Board Game: Red November [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1118]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:
d10-9 Huge amounts of luck, almost no skill


Bonus Points:
1vp Incredibly portable (and that's a very packed little box by the way!)
1vp Plays up to 8...though I have serious (but unconfirmed) doubts that it would be any good with that many players.
1vp High challenge.

Penalties:
nuclear Incredibly random.
nuclear No scoring.
nuclear No solid difficulty levels.
nuclear Repetitive.

Ah, the fun of struggling to survive in a leaking, burning, sinking gnome submarine. While drunk.

This game's silly and cute in a morbid sort of way. Its incredibly portable, quick to play, and kinda easy as long as someone knows the rules well; otherwise you'll be constantly looking up all the odd situations.

All these things make it possible to overlook the minor detail that there really aren't any significant decisions to be made; you pick how long to take on an action. You want to pick the lowest number you are going to roll under. Do you have any idea what that number is? Nope. Pure random.

Yes, you do also pick what action to take, but that's very straightforward.

If this was a full sized game, it might never get played again, but its small size and quick playing time will give it a niche every now and then. Don't get me wrong, the game is fun, but if the ocean were as shallow as the gameplay, the gnomes could walk to land. Heck, the gnomes could crawl on their hands and knees to land.

This game also includes a "traitor" rule - poorly implemented, but very easy to ignore completely. Since it adds pretty much nothing to the game, it can easily be ignored. In fact, its much easier to just ignore it than even try to explain it. In theory, actually using this rule could prevent bossy players. But really, if someone is going to "betray" the group, there's nothing anyone else can do, and not really anything they can do to hurt the group. Unless you use the rules for killing other gnomes - in which case, its just plain in everyone's interest to kill everyone else. Which really stops making sense.
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20. Board Game: A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:507]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
1vp Also playable (in fact, more playable) as a competitive game.
1vp High quality components for the most part.
1vp Quick playing.
1vp Decent variety of characters and foes.

Cons:
zombie Just doesn't play well as a co-op.
zombie Too many tables to reference.
zombie Really lacks excitement and tension.

I was really excited when I heard Flying Frog was coming out with a cooperative game. I thought they did a great job on LNoE,and (if you haven't noticed) I'm a sucker for a normal people against the forces of darkness theme.

What a letdown.

The real problem here is that AToE wasn't designed as a cooperative game. The competitive game looks like it could be pretty good (I've never tried it that way), but the cooperative game looks like it was shoved on as an afterthought. The game balance is all wrong, the excitement is missing, some abilities break down, and the secrets of the town elders just aren't that interesting in co-op.

Gameplay is reminiscent of Arkham Horror light; you wander around, drawing from a location deck for different areas, and make skill checks by rolling dice based on an attribute. Oh, and you gather clue...er..investigation tokens.

If this had been better designed for co-op, it would be a hit. But it wasn't.

House Rules: see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/448377
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21. Board Game: Prophecy: Dragon Realm [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Warning: Not a stand-alone! This is an expansion for Prophecy

Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
1vp Also a competitive game.
1vp Lots of variety.

Penalties:
zombie Long play time.
zombie Not fundamentally designed for co-op, so some oddities occur.
zombie Misprinted components in the expansion.

Prophecy is clearly an adaption of Talisman, in which fantasy characters travel around a board trying to gain power and acquire artifacts to win the game.

Unlike Talisman, the characters aren't very different, but a major part of the game is learning a variety of skills that quickly makes each character unique. Also, movement is fixed rather than random, with lots of options (usually costing gold) to move different places.

Dragon Realm adds a co-op variant to the game, where players work to defeat the gaurdians as they get progressively stronger.

This didn't fly for us. The strengthening mechanics felt awkward, and it just didn't play "right" as a co-op.

However, it happens that some another geek, Deebs, posted Deebs' 2 player co-op variant, which is a much funner variant than the actual co-op variant. Deebs variant does not require the Dragon Realm expansion. However, Dragon Realm does includes a few replacement cards for cards that are normally specifically competitive.

Having just recently discovered this variant, we still need to give it more plays.
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22. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:135] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonuses:
1vp Big variety of characters and stuff in the game.
1vp Very in depth, with lots to do - feels like the closest a boardgame can come to an RPG experience.

Penalties:
goo Most of the variety of things to do are a bad idea.
goo Complex rules with odd conditional rules.
goo Massively space consuming and slow to set up.
goo With the base set, the game is practically solvable, but the solution is not much fun.

We looked forward to this game sooooo much. We were already big fans of the Call of Cthulhu RPG. Arkham, of course, is nearly overwhelming with the sheer quantity of pieces, card, doodads and knick knacks.

However, the game was a disappointment to us. It quickly became clear that most of the stacks of cards and all the things you could do were just distractions to keep you from winning. There was one way to win; it was hard to lose following that way, boring to do, and hard not to without feeling like you were consciously trying to sandbag.

So, we houseruled. And came up with a variant that kept us playing a lot. And enthused enough that we bought expansions. Now, the game takes up too much space, is way too much of a mess, and falls short in the fun department. Maybe its partly that we've got leaner, meaner, more exciting co-ops these days. I know, AH isn't supposed to be the same - its more of an "experience" game than a "play to win" - but the experience is lacking. More and more, the bland gameplay is showing through the blocks of flavor text.

I keep wondering "why do we have cards that only tell you to draw a specific card?", "didn't anyone think that with 200+ card decks, having to root for a specific card midgame is a bad idea?", "didn't people notice that no one in their right mind would ever use this ability?"

Maybe its time to pull out some of the Dunwich stuff and trim back down, or just shelve it in favor of the new stuff.

House Rules: (subject to change)

* A new gate gives a monster, but no doom token.
* A duplicate gate gives a doom token and a monster.
* A sealed gate gives a monster surge.
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* Don't reduce ally pile. Instead, when you recruit from Ma's draw 10-terror allies to pick from.
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* If it comes to a battle, the GOO receives 7 additional doom tokens -2 per sealed gate. So, if we have sealed 3 gates, it has 1 extra doom token. If we've sealed 5, it has 3 less doom tokens.
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23. Board Game: Defenders of the Realm [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:228]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Not technically co-op, but trivially easy to turn into a co-op

Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonus Points:
1vp Looks nice
1vp Good character variety

Penalties:
thumbsdown Confusing rules.
thumbsdown No clear cut difficulty system
thumbsdown Losing games tend to be 'fizzles'
thumbsdown Hard to find areas on the board

Its Pandemic with orcs!

Fundamentally, the game is written to be a competitive game where all the players try to score the most points while defeating the generals. That's utterly uninteresting to me; its too dependent on cooperation to make such a game of back-stabbing and sandbagging fun, and I'm much more interested in a true cooperative game. However, it plays well as a co-op by simply ignoring the 'King's Champion'.

Players travel around a board fighting the minions of four evil generals while trying to collect the cards to defeat those generals in battle.

Mix of things to say here. The game is interesting, with the spreading minions to fight and quests to complete providing interesting things to do.

The rules are badly written. A FAQ is critically needed. At least the designer has been good about answering questions online, though some of the answers are even more confusing than the original question!

The components are very impressive and pretty, but its very hard to find locations on the map with no cues on the cards as to where they are, and its sometimes hard to tell which areas connect.

Defenders is remarkably un-fun to lose. Some co-ops have a really exciting spiral out of control/fight for life and death endgame. Defenders just kind of fizzles. It never has felt like we "played" wrong, just like the cards came up badly or the dice were bad. Poof, bad draw, you lose.

By the way, it doesn't FEEL like Pandemic for all the mechanics it has in common.

Overall, Defenders is ok, but it doesn't have the excitement of Ghost Stories or the elegance (or evilness) of Witch of Salem, or the sheer fun factor of Pandemic. (It can't even come close to Space Alert, but not everyone likes real time). Its acceptable, but fails to shine. If you really love the fantasy theme, pick it over Pandemic.
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24. Board Game: Elder Sign [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:376]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Our rating:
Replayability:
6 Low skill; mostly luck

Bonus Points:
1vp Plays up to 8 (I've only played with 2 though)
1vp Errrr...you get to do quite a bit of die rolling?

Penalties:
goo Few interesting choices
goo Some situations where the game breaks down (not common)
goo Commonly complained about as being "too easy" (I don't neccessarilly agree with this)

The theme of Elder Sign is drastically different from Arkham Horror or Witch of Salem. You see, in Elder Sign, you are trying to protect a museum from unspeakable eldritch horrors instead of a whole town.

(Ok, you are probably not trying to protect the museum, you are trying to stop some ancient evil from entering the world through the museum. But that's getting technical).

Ok, so you've got some investigators (the same lineup from Arkham Horror). They go on stories or adventures or something, which are represented by cards on the table. You've got 6 cards out at a time, normally. You pick one, roll dice to see if you can accomplish it, and then get a reward or penalty depending on whether you succeeded or failed. (Reward if you succeed, just so we're all on the same page here).

One of the rewards you can get are...dum dum dum...Elder Signs! Get enough Elder Signs, and you banish the evil great old one, save the world and get about a thousand followers on twitter. Or you would if twitter existed in the time Elder Sign is set.

Of course, its not that simple. Every four turns, the clock strikes midnight and you draw something (usually horrible) from an event deck. Many of these cards place Doom tokens on the great old one. Doom tokens are the GOO equivalent of Elder Signs, except they get devoured souls instead of twitter followers.

Most of the game is about rolling dice to decide whether you complete the adventure/story thing. I apologize for not remembering what they're called, but they didn't make much of an impact. Its basically a card with a set of symbols you need to roll.

Now, this may lead you to believe that this is a dice game. Its not.
Let me say that again. Elder Sign is not a dice game. If you go into it expecting a dice game, you are likely to be disappointed.

The gameplay of Elder Sign is actually in picking which adventure to go on (err...room of the museum to visit?) and when to do so. Once you actually pick, the die rolling is just, well, die rolling. The choices in the die rolling are very minimal. You just roll and hope you get the symbols you need.

Now, unfortunately, I was expecting a dice game, and I was disappointed. I think I might have liked it better going in without that expectation. Or perhaps I would have been equally disappointed, since it really feels like it SHOULD be a dice game, since that's where the bulk of the gameplay is.

You have ways to modify your rolls, in the form of items that add special dice (either red or yellow), spells that let you store a die for later use, clues that let you reroll dice, and special abilities. (Some items do more unusual things than letting you roll more dice, but they're less common).

So, you generally want a few of these before going on a difficult adventure. However, you can only have one of each die, and items and spells need to be spent in advance, so there aren't a whole lot of choices there either. And the risk/rewards of the adventures aren't real tricky, so there's not a ton of choices for what adventure to go on.

Verdict

At this point, it probably sounds like I'm down on this game. Which is in many ways true. But, despite the lack of interesting choices, its fun to play. Its a great 20 minute filer game.

Unfortunately, its a one hour plus game, not a 20 minute filler. You could be playing a wide number of deeper and more interesting co-ops instead.

I'm not being sarcastic when I say its fun. We enjoyed playing this. But after several plays, we've just been passing it by. There's just not enough there to be worth choosing to play it.

If you like the Arkham Horror theme, and enjoy some very light die rolling and a little bit of atmosphere (the clock token and the art are pretty cool), and feel like a game where you just kind of ride along and see whether the dice decide you win or not, you're probably going to like this a lot.

If you want interesting choices or immersive gameplay, you should probably pass on by and head over to Witch of Salem or Arkham Horror for your co-op Cthulhu fix.

Side notes
* There are a few bugs in this game. One of the odd ones, for example, is that Ithaqua can't hurt the doctor in a solo fight. That's good for a facepalm, but its pretty easy to work around. Other oddities include cards that can kill you with no possible way of avoiding or countering it - which may be a problem or a selling point, depending on how you look at it.

* There have been a lot of complaints about this game being too easy. That might be true - we've always won so far. But I've found I've stopped thinking of co-op difficulty in terms of the win/loss numbers we write down. Elder Sign feels scary and a bit challenging, and I haven't really cared about how much or little we're winning.
If you do find it too easy, there are quite a few posted variants for increasing the difficulty, which can be as simple as starting with a few extra doom tokens on the track.
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25. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:253]
Brian Modreski
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Possibly should not technically be on this list, but it is co-op playable, so I'll include it.

Our rating:
Replayability:

Bonuses:
1vp Lovely components.
1vp Cooperative or semi-co-op/competitive play.

Penalties:
thumbsdown Repetitive.
thumbsdown Painfully long play time with large groups.
thumbsdown May not really be suitable as a pure co-op game.


Playable as a cooperative game despite the traitor rule - we played our first several games straight co-op, and the first few games we tried to play with the traitor, we didn't have one!

As a cooperative game, it seems like its interesting until you start realizing how counter-intuitive the strategy is (for example, you don't want to complete the Grail or Excalibuer quests early in the game), and find that each game tends to play out the same way. We burned out on this very quickly.

The traitor is a clever idea that is poorly implemented. The traitor can really choose to either reveal themselves, or try to play incompetently. They really don't get to play any differently. The loyal knights really can't do a thing to try to figure out who the traitor is, other than try to pay attention to who is being incompetent.
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