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Subject: Co-ops that avoid alpha player syndrome? rss

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aymaster
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My buddy and I love co-ops where we are all utterly dependent on each other. We've gotten tired of co-ops that suffer from the "alpha player syndrome", in which one player can tell everyone else what to do. Most of the common co-ops (Pandemic, Flash Point, Forbidden Island/Desert, Pathfinder, Warhammer Quest: Adventure Card Game) have this issue. So I'm looking for co-ops that don't have it.

To date, I've found the following games that satisfy what I'm looking for:

1) Real-time co-ops
The presence of the timer forces everyone to make quick decisions, so there isn't enough time for one player to control all the action. So far, I've found Space Alert (our current favorite by a long shot), Escape, and Project: Elite.

2) Games where the mechanic prevents alpha player syndrome
Hanabi is the best example I've found of this. There's no way for one player to do everything because you can't see your own cards.

3) Games that combine #1 and #2
I believe Bomb Squad fits here. I haven't yet played it, though.

What other co-ops avoid alpha player syndrome?
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Richard Sampson
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Space Cadets for reasons 1 and 2.
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Brian M
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I made a blog post about this a while ago, though its outdated by now:

Which co-ops are "play-by-commitee" and which co-ops resist it.

But there's not much there helpful that you haven't already found, and I can't really think of anything newer that fits your criteria.

My best suggestion is not to play with people who tell everyone else what to do.
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Joe Huber

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aymaster wrote:
What other co-ops avoid alpha player syndrome?


Witness and Familiar's Trouble
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Shaun Morris
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So long as you edit the rules to full co-op Dungeon Dwellers works.

The Grizzled also works because of how the game limits table talk.

Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients and it's sibling Shadows of Brimstone: Swamps of Death are basically GM-less DnD games which tends to make it difficult to alpha the game.

Maybe Zombicide: Black Plague, Myth, Mice and Mystics, Gloomhaven (to be released soon), Massive Darkness (it's a to be release dungeon crawler), Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition),
and that's about all the major co-ops I can think of right now.
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Justin Case
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aymaster wrote:
My buddy and I love co-ops where we are all utterly dependent on each other. We've gotten tired of co-ops that suffer from the "alpha player syndrome", in which one player can tell everyone else what to do. Most of the common co-ops (Pandemic, Flash Point, Forbidden Island/Desert, Pathfinder, Warhammer Quest: Adventure Card Game) have this issue. So I'm looking for co-ops that don't have it.

To date, I've found the following games that satisfy what I'm looking for:

1) Real-time co-ops
The presence of the timer forces everyone to make quick decisions, so there isn't enough time for one player to control all the action. So far, I've found Space Alert (our current favorite by a long shot), Escape, and Project: Elite.

2) Games where the mechanic prevents alpha player syndrome
Hanabi is the best example I've found of this. There's no way for one player to do everything because you can't see your own cards.

3) Games that combine #1 and #2
I believe Bomb Squad fits here. I haven't yet played it, though.

What other co-ops avoid alpha player syndrome?

I truly don't think it's the games that are at fault, it seems to me it's up to the players to avoid having an alpha leader. After all, it's supposed to be a cooperative game, not a solo game with puppets.

I would nearly always be the strongest game player in any group, but when it comes to coaching/advising/leading (bossing!) other players in the group, I won't do it; it's simply not in the spirit of a cooperative game to do that.

In another thread some time back, I likened playing co-ops to team bowling -- it is the team score as a whole that determines which team wins, but every competitor must bowl his own game. No matter how much I may want to, no matter how much better a bowler I may be, when it comes time for my team mate to step up onto the lane and shoot for a spare, there is nothing I can do but watch!

And so it is with playing cooperative games -- each player takes his turns and does the best he can without any "guidance" from anyone else, and any players at the table who don't understand that should be shushed by the rest of the group, or not invited to play co-ops at all if they won't restrain themselves.

cool

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Mark Johnson
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Beyond Baker Street - Similar to Hanabi
The Ravens of Thri Sahashri - 2-player only, asymmetric play, no verbal communication
The Grizzled - don't know much about this one but I think it has restrained or non-verbal communication.
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A. Mandible
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Mysterium to some extent, though alpha-ing is possible among the investigators.

Meteor is my second-favorite realtime co-op that I've played-- nowhere near as good as Space Alert (what could be?) but a lot more fun than Escape, I thought. And shorter; I think I played it 7 times in one sitting.
 
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Shaun Morris
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Eeeville wrote:
Beyond Baker Street - Similar to Hanabi
The Ravens of Thri Sahashri - 2-player only, asymmetric play, no verbal communication
The Grizzled - don't know much about this one but I think it has restrained or non-verbal communication.


The Grizzled is an excellent game and it's restricted communication. You're not allowed to talk about what's in your hand or who you intend to support with your support token. However, there was nothing in the rules that said you can't request to be or not be supported. Hooray for loopholes!!
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Davin Nisser
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XCOM: The Board Game for another real-time.
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Douglas Fost
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I'll throw out Zombie 15' as another time crunch co-op.
I'm not a particular fan of these stress inducing games, but I did find it enjoyable.

Take care,
Douglas Fost
 
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Lawrence
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My PNP play of Spirit Island made alpha player impossible. There was just so much for each player to do and think about, especially since play is simultaneous. Keep in mind, it was only one play though.

The designer talks about this in his design blog.
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You may call me
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Fireteam Zero is a great co-op where every player has a unique deck of cards that belong to the character they're playing. So, unless you show people your cards, they can't tell you how to use them. Also, cards can be used when it's not your turn to help other players and double as your health.

The Walking Dead: No Sanctuary
which was just up on Kickstarter is also another co-op game based on card play where each player has an individual deck of cards. The rules explicitly tell you that you can't tell other players what exact cards you have in your hand. A player is the leader each round and draws 2 event cards that have objectives and penalties on them. They must choose one of them for the group at the beginning of the round, the one they don't choose causes them a penalty. Once again, that player is not allowed to consult with the group.

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game is a co-op deck builder. Each person builds their own deck and fights the common enemy.

There is a common theme in these games I mention: each player has a deck of cards only they have. While these games aren't totally immune to the Alpha player, they greatly reduce their influence with the use of mechanics.
 
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Steve R Bullock
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Ok, I'll mention it if no one else will...
Mansions Of Madness, 2nd edition.
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Bruno Reeuws
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what about dead of winter?
i don't see 1 player dictating the others on what to do since everybody has some sort of own agenda on the side
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Andy Latto
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FUSE is another real-time co-op.
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Guillaume Courtemanche
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aymaster wrote:
My buddy and I love co-ops where we are all utterly dependent on each other. We've gotten tired of co-ops that suffer from the "alpha player syndrome", in which one player can tell everyone else what to do. Most of the common co-ops (Pandemic, Flash Point, Forbidden Island/Desert, Pathfinder, Warhammer Quest: Adventure Card Game) have this issue. So I'm looking for co-ops that don't have it.

To date, I've found the following games that satisfy what I'm looking for:

1) Real-time co-ops
The presence of the timer forces everyone to make quick decisions, so there isn't enough time for one player to control all the action. So far, I've found Space Alert (our current favorite by a long shot), Escape, and Project: Elite.

2) Games where the mechanic prevents alpha player syndrome
Hanabi is the best example I've found of this. There's no way for one player to do everything because you can't see your own cards.

3) Games that combine #1 and #2
I believe Bomb Squad fits here. I haven't yet played it, though.

What other co-ops avoid alpha player syndrome?


I'm currently learning stuff about the different mechanism and their uses / potentials.

Simultaneous play and Randomness or Push your luck factor can fix or lessen this issue.
This link could lead you to nice gems.
BGG Search (+Simultaneous play, +Coop)


Hidden information from other players can also prevent alpha playing. Sentinels of the Multiverse uses this, as the alpha player can't see your cards and options. Hanabi does it but in reverse, it hides information from yourself and not other players, that still works.

May I suggest this forum:
100% Co-op Board Games that avoid the Alpha Player problem

Also, I've read a post on redit once (link) and I've kept it in my notes. Gotta give credit to mrstickman on this one. This house rule will effectively rid of the alpha player over time and can be easily adapted to many many games.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Get a bottle of liquor (Jack Daniels will do nicely) and play it with the Pandemic drinking game rules:

When you give advice, take a shot.

When you take advice, take a shot.

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Shaun Morris
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datajack wrote:


Spoiler (click to reveal)
Get a bottle of liquor (Jack Daniels will do nicely) and play it with the Pandemic drinking game rules:

When you give advice, take a shot.

When you take advice, take a shot.



That is an excellent house rule!

I won't mention anything else so as to not ruin the spoiler.
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Krawhitham B
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Perhaps you should deal with the Alpha gamer, rather than the games?

Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game has simultaneous card selection without discussion. Of course there is nothing to stop you from talking (in fact I'll allow it if all the players are new) but that is one of the rules.
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Brian M
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Krawhitham wrote:
Perhaps you should deal with the Alpha gamer, rather than the games?

Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game has simultaneous card selection without discussion. Of course there is nothing to stop you from talking (in fact I'll allow it if all the players are new) but that is one of the rules.


I'll have to check my rulebook, but I am pretty sure that Death Angel does NOT have selection "without discussion". It would be pretty silly if it did, since it requires close coordination between the players to get anything done.
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f h
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StormKnight wrote:
Krawhitham wrote:
Perhaps you should deal with the Alpha gamer, rather than the games?

Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game has simultaneous card selection without discussion. Of course there is nothing to stop you from talking (in fact I'll allow it if all the players are new) but that is one of the rules.


I'll have to check my rulebook, but I am pretty sure that Death Angel does NOT have selection "without discussion". It would be pretty silly if it did, since it requires close coordination between the players to get anything done.


https://images-cdn.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/death-...

It is one of those nebulous things. The quick summary says "secretly". The full explanation says you may discuss but not show the card being selected.
 
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Mauricio Montoya
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Any Co-ops where there is the possibity (or certainty) that there are hidden traitors or the players have hidden goals (i.e. Shadows over Camelot or Dead of Winter).

You are less likely to take too much advice from the same player and let them lead the game if there is a chance he's trying to make you fail, or at least manipulating the game for his own benefit. These mechanics encourage you to evaluate other options by yourself and distrust the alpha player.
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G.Daddy.Slim
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I haven't played it yet, but supposedly Wok Star limits or eliminates the alpha-gamer issue.
 
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Lisa K.
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Bomb Squad might be worth a look. You don't see your own cards (like Hanabi) and you need to play them in order to program a robot to rescue hostages and defuse bombs before they blow up (so it's real time as well).

Edit: Hold on, you already heard of it. Sorry. In which case, I've played it a handful of times so far and enjoyed it! We played it without the role cards, and I suspect I'll like it more with them due to them potentially adding to the theme/the ability to get into character. It is definitely more thematic and more involved than Hanabi is, and I love the fact that they added components that are not even yet used in the missions you have in the book but can be used to make your own scenarios. So it also has decent replay value and adjustable difficulty settings, given that you can change the timers/set-up to suit your needs.
 
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Colin Marsh
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HaNd_SoLo wrote:
XCOM: The Board Game for another real-time.


The resolution phase of X-Com is not real-time. I believe this is where you make decisions about missions & combat so while it would reduce the alpha problem you'd still have interference there.

i honestly think you'd be better off trying to solve the habits of the alpha player than fixing it through a different game.
 
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