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Subject: Pandemic vs Shadows Over Camelot vs Space Alert rss

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David Millette
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Henderson
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Hi all.

I am posting this on all three game pages as I would like some opinions before I purchase one of these games.

I have a group of boys from church that I've had coming over once per month to play board games. I've introduced them to some easier gateway games like Small World, Ticket to Ride and Dominion. I would like to introduce them to their first cooperative game and I am considering Pandemic (2-4 players), Shadows Over Camelot (3-7 players) and Space Alert (1-5 players).

The group consists of anywhere from 3-7 on any given night and the boys are in 8th grade (13-14 years old). I have the following three questions.

1.Besides the factor of allowable players, which of these game would make a better introduction to cooperative games in your opinion, or would Shadows Over Camelot be a good choice, if you don't have experience with the others?
2.Would you consider including the expansion to Shadows Over Camelot right away or start off with the original game only?
3.Is there a different cooperative game that you would suggest instead of these three?

Thanks
 
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Ben Bateson
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Of the three, Pandemic is probably the easiest to pick up, but it is also the least thematic and most - well - dull.

SoC is fairly straightforward, but you personally will want to be familiar with some lengthy rules and the decks before teaching it to 8-year-olds. I would probably start without the expansion, even though it doesn't actually complexify matters much. Space Alert has that little bit more complexity, but is in fact easier to dive straight into. Plus the kids will love the audio elements to it.

Other games you might consider: BattleStar Galactica (although it's best with fans), or something semi-co-operative like Scotland Yard, HeroQuest (awesome with kids) or Catacombs, where you can teach them the game and play the bad-guy at the same time.
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Pedro Pereira
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I have introduced Pandemic to a class of four 14 year-old English learning kids. They were allowed to speak English only (Portuguese kids, mind you), and they loved the game.

Even my regular gaming group really enjoyed the game. In my opinion it's probably one of the best games out there to introduce to co-op. But as Ben has stated, and that's something I started to feel about the game after some 4 or 5 plays... it's a bit dull.

I much prefer Shadows over Camelot. The tensions is much higher. For kids, I would probably recommend Pandemic first, just don't expect it to last terribly long. SoC does provide a much more lasting replay value, but it is a bit more complex perhaps for that target group.

Have no idea about Space Alert.

If you decide on SoC, base game only, for starters.
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ackmondual
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mille1212 wrote:
1.Besides the factor of allowable players, which of these game would make a better introduction to cooperative games in your opinion, or would Shadows Over Camelot be a good choice, if you don't have experience with the others?
2.Would you consider including the expansion to Shadows Over Camelot right away or start off with the original game only?
3.Is there a different cooperative game that you would suggest instead of these three?

Thanks


1- It's a tossup between SA and Pandemic. Some of the criteria I've used are 1) they're short to explain and 2) shorter play time. With many board games, it's better to err on the shorter/simplier side and work your way up from there, as many would be more at home from that end.

BTW, Pandemic officially plays 5p with the exp (without delving into the Bio terroist option), while I've played base game Pandemic with 5p by using all of the roles anyways.

2- By exp, I presume you're talking about the major exp Shadows over Camelot: Merlin's Company, as opposed to the minor exp/add-on Shadows over Camelot: Sir Bedivere, the 8th Knight or Shadows over Camelot: A Company of Knights (worth noting is the former is a superset of the latter 2)? If they may end up feeling more dejected from losses, then MC definitely make things harder. To help compensate for this, one thing you can do is to take out the "Charged!" Travel card, which is can be a bit nasty (1 knight/player is held hostage and has to be freed to take actions again)

3- Forbidden Island being "Pandemic lite" isn't that far off, but I hesitate b/c it may be TOO simple. YOu may not get that many plays off of it. I'm a BSG fan, but average length games take about 3 hours. If they get into flavor text and "side talk", it can go to 4 or even 5 hours, and I don't know if their parents or the kids themselves have the patience for that. Also, while BSG does have a fully-co-op variant, it's meant to be played with 1 or 2 cylons/traitors, which makes it a semi-co-op game/team game instaed, which may not be what you're looking for!

I'm a fan of Ghost Stories too, and while the game is a blast, it can be brutal at times. I prefer GS, but Yggdrasil may be better with up to 6p, and easier to explain rules.

ousgg wrote:
SoC is fairly straightforward, but you personally will want to be familiar with some lengthy rules and the decks before teaching it to 8-year-olds.
Unless I missed something right in front of me, I believe the kids are in the 8th grade, not 8yo. Do your suggestions still stand if that was indeed the mixup?
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Solufane The discombobulated
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I have no experience of Space Alert but have played SoC and Pandemic extensively. I am a teacher and regularly teach younglings from about 12 – 18 year of age. In my opinion Pandemic is, likely to be, the better game for your group.

SoC
+ives. Familiar engaging theme and great components (detailed figurines rather than wooden pawns)
-ives. Special powers; sometimes hard to actually use within game play unless everybody knows exactly what powers you have.
Long rules, need adult level of concentration to read and act as guide. Huge box. Figurines and essential small bits very losable.
Can be a very long game with all 7 players. Plus with 7 players one has to be the traitor. Which means that player will actually work against the other players.

Pandemic
+ives
Unusual, slightly macabre, theme that appeals to kids and adults.
More logical rules. Educational element; regarding countries of the world and their major cities.
Needs less table space than SoC.
-ives
Even with expansion pack limited to 5 players.

Please note both games are hugely fun and have great replay value
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Pedro Pereira
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solufane wrote:
Pandemic
+ives
Educational element; regarding countries of the world and their major cities.


Yeah... like Essen, a really major German city! At least in our little BGG universe! whistle
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Conan Meriadoc
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Pedrator wrote:
Yeah... like Essen, a really major German city! At least in our little BGG universe! whistle

Besides an obscure convention of weird people happening there once in a while, you know the Essen area is one of the most densely populated regions of Germany, right ? =)
 
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David Millette
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A big thanks to everyone who gave an opinion on this matter. I came in thinking about three choices. I'm coming out with 19 game recommendations. My goal is to follow up on all of these. I plan on purchasing 1 or 2 of them to start, then going from there if they are still excited about cooperative games. I think they are going to like it.

I am taking care to make a good choice for our first cooperative game, as I've got their attention with the few games we've played so far. They've been surprised by how much fun they've had and I want to keep that momentum going with one of these awesome cooperative games.

At this point here's what I'm leaning towards (could change after I've had time to investigate the rest):

1.I am leaning towards Flash Point: Fire Rescue as my first choice. I didn't even know this game existed before my post (thanks), but I think the boys will like that theme alot. They've never experienced a cooperative game before so I don't think they will mind the random factor of the fire spreading.

For my 2nd and 3rd choice, I am leaning in this direction, but I might purchase them in reverse order based on their experience with Flash Point: Fire Rescue. I think I will be purchase both of these games at some point regardless of the order they are introduced to the group.

2.I am thinking about Space Alert as my 2nd choice if the boys enjoyed the cooperative game experience via Flash Point, and if they were able to digest the rules and mechanics easily enough. I think the Space theme will be a big hit with the boys as long as the rules are not too complicated to explain. The short game length with this one is a plus for this age group.

3.I am leaning toward Pandemic as my 3rd choice. I may move this up to 2nd if I feel a game with easier mechanics is needed after playing Fire Point. I do think the boys would be interested in saving the world from a pandemic, but I think the Fire and Space themes have a slight edge in terms of grabbing their attention. Introducing Pandemic should be no problem after that. I did drop this game slighty upon hearing that this game can more easily be controlled by a few dominant players. I want to avoid that if possible for their first cooperative game experience. After they're hooked and understand the mechanics of a cooperative game, I don't think it will be as much of a concern.

4.Shadows Over Camelot has fallen to my 4th choice. I think the boys would like this theme alot too, but the more I think about the traitor mechanic, the more hesitant I become about this one. I still would consider purchasing this game, but only after my group has some experience with other cooperative games. I think the traitor element would then become something new and fresh in terms of a cooperative game mechanic, instead of being the way they learn to play cooperative games from the get go.

Here are the other games I still need to look up based on the recommendations I've gotten from all three game forums. These may very well change some of my thinking above.

5.Lord of the Rings. I am not sure how much the boys like this theme, but I know I sure do.
6.Castle Panic
7.Yggdrasil
8.Ghost Stories
9.Forbidden Island
10.Defenders of the Realm
11.Dungeons and Dragons:Wrath of Ashardalon
12.Dungeons and Dragons:The Legend of Drizzt
13.Descent: Journey in the Dark
14.Doom: The Boardgame
15.Gears of War
16.Battlestar Galactica
17.Scotland Yard
18.Hero Quest
19.Catacombs

Edit-Revised to 19 recommendations
 
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ackmondual
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mille1212 wrote:
5.Lord of the Rings. I am not sure how much the boys like this theme, but I know I sure do.
6.Castle Panic
7.Yggdrasil
8.Ghost Stories
9.Forbidden Island
10.Defenders of the Realm
11.Dungeons and Dragons:Wrath of Ashardalon
12.Dungeons and Dragons:The Legend of Drizzt
13.Descent: Journey in the Dark
14.Doom: The Boardgame
15.Gears of War
16.Battlestar Galactica
17.Scotland Yard
18.Hero Quest
19.Catacombs

Edit-Revised to 19 recommendations

These are co-op too now that you mention it... they can be played individually, or combined.

Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game
Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game
Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game
 
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Doug Hook
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I've never had any trouble introducing the 11-12 year olds in our family to Shadows Over Camelot/Merlin's Company (yes, both) right off the bat. With newbies (even adults) of any size group we avoid the traitor and certain Knights (like Percival). It takes only a few turns before their off and running to quests. They can read the cards and figure out very quickly that they need to work together to survive. If there's a hot shot in the group the group often brings them into line, a neat dynamic. Typically folks want to play again. Eventually add traitor, etc.

Most have seen the Merlin series on TV, so some of the names and ideas are familiar to them.

I cannot speak toward the other games cited.
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