A Crazy Couple's Cooperative Choices
Brian M
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Ok, maybe we're not too crazy, but Lisa and I are huge fans of cooperative games. Seeing some other top cooperative game lists, I became curious about what our top cooperatives were.

However, making 'favorites' decisions is tough, and several of them we give the same ranking to on BGG, so I decided to try an objective measure. I pulled our BGG stats, and evaluated each game by three criteria (remember, these are just the favorite games of Lisa and I, so the criteria is quite specific to us ):

1) Our combined rating.
2) Total number of plays of a game.
3) Average plays per month since we started playing the game.

I ordered the games by each category, and assigned a score of 0-15 based on each games position in the list; these totals were added to give a score of 0-45 possible for each game to determine our true favorites. The scores were then divided by 45 to give a percentage value out of the possible points.

So, what do two die hard cooperative fans like best? Read on to find out!

EDIT: For a new and improved take on co-op games, check out:
A Crazy Couple's Co-op Guide, Revised 2011 Edition
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1. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:149]
Brian M
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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.

Pros:
* Quick to play (if you can play only one )
* Real time element adds a lot of excitement.
* Lots of variety in the different combinations of threats.
* Campaign mode offers an extended challenge.
* Great with 5 players.
* For a group learning together, the set of gradually increasing complexity introductory missions are a fantastic way to learn.
* Real time prevents one player from trying to dominate the game.*

Cons:
* Takes a long time to teach.
* Real time element is not for everyone.
* Hard to scale up difficulty past campaigns with advanced threats mixed in.
* Not as good with less than 5; though still fun.

The Future: We were very determined to win a three game campaign; now that we've consistently done so a few times, some of the drive to play this game has worn off. I doubt it will be played quite as addictively from now on. I do see it getting pulled out on a semi-regular basis at game groups; probably at least a set of 3 plays every two to three months.

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.

Our Rating: 98%
Lisa's Rating: 9
Brian's Rating: 9
Plays: 87
Plays per month: 12.43

* 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:7.38 Overall Rank:192]
Brian M
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Continuing our trend of decisiveness, 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. 43 plays later, we're still getting used to Nightmare. We tried Hell once, and it thumped us badly.

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.

Pros:
* The mix of player abilities and board set ups give a lot of variety.
* Different difficulties levels offer a nicely growing level of threat.
* 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.
* Great components.
* A real challenge to win, that throws you a lot of randomness but also rewards skill and gives you many options to control.

Cons:
* Can apparently be difficult to the point of frustration.
* Rules are confusingly written and have some errors.
* 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.

The Future: I think it will be a long time before we feel ready to try Hell mode! I see this getting regular plays for some time to come. Our interest got a recent boost by getting the Guardhouse expansion - it would be nice if this were made more readily available, as its a nice addition to the game.

House Rules: When using the guardhouse, we've started keeping the not placed village tile to the side as a 'remote village' that can only be moved to by the flying red monk, but can be activated with Ying-Yangs.

Our Rating: 89%
Lisa's Rating: 9
Brian's Rating: 9
Plays: 43
Plays per month: 6.14
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3. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Brian M
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Here's where the "objective" rating might differ from our opinion. 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.

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

Cons:
* Variety in character roles, but not a lot of variety during gameplay.
* Heroic difficulty isn't hard enough to provide a consistent challenge to veteran players.

The Future: We've mostly burned Pandemic out. We'll still be pulling it out every now then, it will still be played with non-gamer friends, but it won't be a regular. The expansion may bring some fresh life to the game, however.

House Rules: None

Our Rating: 87%
Lisa's Rating: 8
Brian's Rating: 8
Plays: 71
Plays per month: 4.18
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4. Board Game: Witch of Salem [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1548]
Brian M
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Der Hexer Von Salem is the new kid on the block. The evil, sinister creepy new kind on the block. 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.

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

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

The Future: I expect steady but not addicted play until we figure out how to really master this; plays may then drop off just because there's no clear cut way to scale the game. That could take quite a while though.

Our Rating: 78%
Lisa's Rating: 8
Brian's Rating : 8
Plays: 25
Plays per month: 3.13
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5. Board Game: Warhammer Quest [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:662]
Brian M
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Now we get to 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.

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

Cons:
* Badly written, poorly thought out and horribly balanced rules.
* Game comes apart at high levels.
* 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.

The Future: I think we've played WHQ to death. I'm sure it will get pulled out at some point, but I don't expect many more plays. Still, it took a long time to get there.

House Rules: Practically everything has been changed in some way or other! Tons of house rules, custom item decks, and custom characters.

Our Rating: 78%
Lisa's Rating: 7
Brian's Rating: 6 (my rating reflects it 'as is', not houseruled)
Plays: 221
Plays per month: 1.42
 
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6. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:238] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Brian M
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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.

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

Cons:
* Most of the variety of things to do are a bad idea.
* Complex rules with odd conditional rules.
* Massively space consuming and slow to set up.

The Future: Before our last play, I thought this was a great game that was just too much trouble. After the last play, I dropped my rating a lot, and I doubt this will be coming out again any time soon.

House Rules: (subject to change)
EDIT 8/30/09: After giving Arkham another few plays, we've decided, after all this time, to go back to our original house rules. Turns out they DO work fine with Dunwich. These rules are:

* 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.
----------
* Don't reduce ally pile. Instead, when you recruit from Ma's draw 10-terror allies to pick from.
----------
* 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.

Our Rating: 60%
Lisa's Rating: 6
Brian's Rating: 5
Plays: 48
Plays per month: 1
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7. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:705]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Our first real cooperative board game (excluding WHQ because...I don't know...it just feel 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.

Pros:
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.

Cons:
* Lack of variety.
* Clutter of multiple boards and lots of tokens and symbols.

The Future: It was great for a while, but its just not one to keep playing. I see very few plays.

Our Rating: 60%
Lisa's Rating: 7
Brian's Rating: 7
Plays: 24
Plays per month: .44
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8. Board Game: Red November [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:1471]
Brian M
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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.

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.

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

Cons:
* Incredibly random.
* No scoring.
* No solid difficulty levels.
* Repetitive.

The Future: 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.

Our Rating: 58%
Lisa's Rating: 7
Brian's Rating: 7
Plays: 1
Plays per month: 1
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9. Board Game: Hoopla [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:3030]
Brian M
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I'm surprised this ranks so high. It 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.

Pros:
* 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.

Cons:
* 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.

The Future: its our only party co-op, so I'm sure it will get more plays, but its not something we'll break out to play just the two of us on an evening. (Our last play was at a movie theater before previews started - how many games can you play there? We did drive away the first people that tried to sit in front of us, however).

Our Rating: 47%
Lisa's Rating: 6
Brian's Rating: 6
Plays: 12
Plays per month: .28
 
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10. Board Game: A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:739]
Brian M
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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.

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

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

The Future: not going to see much play. Though I keep being curious to try it again with the houserule (see below), or as a competitive game.

House Rules: Our last play, we tried a suggestion from here and drew 1 mystery card per player instead of rolling on the co-op table. That eliminated one annoying table, and seemed to spice up the game.

Our Rating: 42%
Lisa's Rating: 7
Brian's Rating: 6
Plays: 8
Plays per month: .8
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11. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:322]
Brian M
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Mostly 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.

Pros:
* Lovely components.
* Cooperative or semi-coop/competitive play.

Cons:
* Repetitive.
* Painfully long play time with large groups.

The Future: I won't mind if I never play Shadows Over Camelot again. Might play it if other people want to, though not with a large group.

House Rules: None

Our Rating: 37%
Lisa's Rating: 6
Brian's Rating: 5
Plays: 12
Plays per month: .25
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12. Board Game: Vanished Planet [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:6166]
Brian M
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Colorado
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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!

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

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

The Future: Might get played. We've contemplated ways to streamline it a bit. Still, not as exciting as the newer games.

House Rules: None. Yet.

Our Rating: 33%
Lisa's Rating: 7
Brian's Rating: 6
Plays: 6
Plays per month: .08
 
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13. Board Game: Feurio! [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:3851]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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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...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.

Pros:
* Almost no set up time.
* Good competitive and cooperative play.

Mixed:
* Very strong puzzle feel.

Cons:
* Probably most of the downsides go in with the puzzle feel.
* No variety.

The Future: Will get plays on stray occasions, but not often. Will be more likely to be brought out because we feel like playing Feurio specifically, not as a general response to "let's play a co-op".

House Rules: None.

Our Rating: 31%
Lisa's Rating: 6
Brian's Rating: 6
Plays: 6
Plays per month: .19
 
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14. Board Game: Cthulhu Mash [Average Rating:5.48 Overall Rank:12816]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Now we get into the realm of "games we've barely played, but are cooperative, or at least claim to be cooperative, so they get listed".

I had to pick this one up at a BGG flea market, being, as mentioned, a sucker for cooperative and a Cthulhu theme. I knew it was going to be, at best, rather silly and thinly themed.

Plays kind of like Gauntlet. You run around hacking through monsters to get to monster generators that spawn them. Lots of dice rolling, very little skill. You do get to advance your character and finds items along the way, which is kind of cool.

The default game is player vs player 'deathmatch' or 'capture the flag'. Cooperative rules are provided, but there's something missing - in a normal game, after a player takes a turn, the opponent to their left gets to control all the monsters on that tile to attack them.

In a cooperative game...what do they do? There's no "AI" to them, so left with "play them the best you can", which puts you more into the position of just playing both sides than playing a true game against the system.

Pros:
* A bit of depth for a quick dungeon crawl game.
* Competitive and cooperative options...sort of.

Cons:
* No "monster AI".
* Likely to have quick, luck based player elimination.
* No incentive not to delay taking all the time you want to recover between areas - suggests a turn limit, but gives no ideas for what a good limit would be.
* Convoluted rules.
* Horrific tables - typically the item you're referencing on the table appears in the middle of the table with nothing to make it stand out.
* Artwork looks like it was done by a 6 year old with crayons. And that's being generous.

The Future: Might never get played again, but there's a chance it will get pulled out - actually, writing this makes me curious to give it another try.

Our Rating: 22%
Lisa's Rating: 5
Brian's Rating: 5
Plays: 1, plus I played 2 solo games.
Plays per month: .29
 
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15. Board Game: Quest Cards [Average Rating:4.73 Overall Rank:13943]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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This dungeon crawl is a mindless die roller with no real choices to be made. You lay out a board made of cards and move a character pawn through them, rolling to see what happens. There is a nice system for upgrading your skills, and for a mindless game its vaguely fun, but there really needs to be something more to it for it to be worth playing.

While the game mentions cooperative or solo play, the quest win conditions are essentially a race against the other player. There is no indication of what to use as a victory condition in a cooperative game.

Pros:
* Mostly easy to play.
* Kind of an interesting skill/campaign system.
* Competitive or cooperative.

Cons:
* Not really cooperative as written.
* Pure luck.
* Major 'bug' in one of the two provided scenarios.

The Future: I came up with a set of houserules to inject a dose of skill into this, but have never actually played a real game with them.

House Rules: I wrote these up and played a solo game to experiment with these, but they are mostly untested:

Each turn a player chooses one action for the turn:

Scout: 1 Move, 2 Action Points, look at up to 3 cards before moving. You may look at cards adjacent to your space or adjacent to clear spaces.

Explore: 2 Moves, 1 Action Point.

Combat: 1 Move, 4 Action Points.

Recover: 0 Moves, 0 Action Points, recover 1 health.

One move is used to move into one card and encounter it.
Moving through more than one empty space costs movement points: 1 move for 2-3 empty spaces, 2 moves for 4-5 empty spaces.

Action Points
You can spend 1 Ap to:
1) Switch 1 active item for another.
2) Use an extra one-use item.
3) After a roll, roll an extra die and pick which two dice to keep.

APs do not accumulate from turn to turn.

Parties
It costs 1 move or 1 AP to join a party. When you join a party, you may move along with any character who is moving from the same space. The join effect lasts until the start of your next turn.

The Quests
Mox's Manor: set up as normal. he players have 5 turns to score at least 3 quest points per character. Award bonus treasures based on the total.

Hoot Spook Mountain: Remove the Secret Path, Hoot Spook Chief, and both dead end treasures. These are the Goal cards. Shuffle each goal card with 5 quest cards and form a column with each. The characters must find all the Goals (and defeat the chief Hoot Spook) and cross the mountain in 8 turns.

Between quests:
* Any character that did not gain a skill level during the game adds 1 skill level.
* A character may swap 2 permanent items for a one-use item that costs no more than either of the items traded.

Wow. Lot of writing for a game I probably won't play again

Our Rating: 9%
Lisa's Rating: 6
Brian's Rating: 4
Plays: 1
Plays per month: .02
 
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16. Board Game: Dragonriders of Pern [Average Rating:5.40 Overall Rank:13586]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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I'm putting this on for completeness. Its a variant of the Lost Worlds or Ace of Aces picturebook games, but instead of fighting each other you work together to stop threadfall (alien spores that fall from the sky and will infest into the ground if not burned up by the dragons, for those who haven't read the novels).

Each player has a book; you start on certain pages which show your current 'view', and pick a maneuver; the combination of your maneuvers take you both to a new page showing a new view.

Its a clever system, but it doesn't really work here. The thread actually is positioned based on the other player's dragon, which is just weird. There's a section in the books containing a spoiler for how this works - its better to not read it, but it just doesn't play great whether you have or not. Which is a pity, because the maneuvering system itself and all the details such as different rules for different dragons, and campaign rules, are kind of neat.

Pros:
* Very portable. You can play this almost anywhere.
* Neat feature to have a campaign system.
* Also playable competitively (compete to see who flames the most thread).

Cons:
* Bad underlying mechanics of the thread.

Our Rating: Neither of us have this rated, so it doesn't get a meaningful rating.
Plays: 1, we think, but neither of us can remember when or any details.
 
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17. Board Game: Castle Panic [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:811]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Added for Completeness
I'm not going to re-rank games at this point, but I thought I should add Castle Panic.

This "tower defense" board game is a co-op filler. Its fast, its easy, and while it can generate fun with the group, its pretty bland. There are almost no actual decisions to be made, and the gameplay is pretty dull. Its wildly random; one game might be a boring cakewalk, and the next a complete slaughter - it all depends on how the cards come up.

The "standard" game is actually not purely cooperative - players total up score to determine who is the "Master Slayer". What this means...who knows. Could be anything from "that's a totally meaningless title assigned for the fun of it" to "that's the only person who actually wins". The game certainly isn't clear about it. I don't think its a good element, no matter how its interpreted.

Pros:
* Easy to learn and teach.
* Very fast to set up and play.
* Plays up to 6.
* Includes an 'overlord' variant for competitive play with a player controlling the monsters.

Cons:
* Totally luck based.
* Lacks variety.
* 'Master Slayer' rules are a mess.

The Future: I think we'll give it another try or two with non-regular gamers, maybe play it on rare occasions as a quick filler game, but I don't see a lot of plays.

Lisa's rating: 6
Brian's rating: 5
Total plays: 6
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18. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:588]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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A late addition in the interests of completeness!

Forbidden Island is a LOT like Pandemic. But 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.

And don't think its just got "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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