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Subject: Want to get new coop game. Robinson Crusoe, Dead of Winter, or something else? rss

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Brad
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I’m looking for a new coop style game and was hoping I could get some collective advice and recommendations!

Looking for (in order of importance):

Necessary
•Amazing theme that is easy to engross yourself in and “feel”
•Game length: 3 hrs max (except maybe first game or two). Would be nice if games took 2 hrs or less, but 2.5 or so would be ok. BSG takes us usually 5-6 hrs, so that may give an idea of how long a certain game may take relative to BSG.
•Game is able to present serious challenges to players

Would be nice (but ok if it doesn't have) :
•Low potential for “alpha players”, or at least this can easily be dealt with
•Able to accommodate newer gamers (such as those playing Settler’s, or even totally new gamers)
•Setup / take down isn’t a huge chore.
•Could be purely coop or could be semi-coop (ex. “traitor” mechanism)
•Plays well with 3+ (not always sure how many players we will have)
•Good replay value, although realistically, we may only play the game 2-3 times per month.

Similar games I already have and impressions
BSG (base + Peg + Exod.): 9/10 Great theme. I’m fine with investing the time (5-6 hrs), but this allows us to only play maybe 3-4 times a year. Lots of memorable games. This is the go-to epic coop game.
Pandemic (base only): 7/10: Best intro cooperative game I have.
Space Alert (base only): 8/10 . Harder to get newer players involved, but very fun! Great that we can play 2-3 games per hour.
Last Night on Earth (base + growing hunger): 6/10 Wonderful theme, but the exp was underwhelming. Hasn’t been played much lately. One of my old favs.

I’ve come across two so far (haven’t looked much beyond yet): Robinson Crusoe and Dead of Winter. Given what I'm looking for, what do you all think of these two and are there some others I should also consider?
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Forbidden Desert
 
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Sherman Oaks
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Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game we'll be the easier sell to noobies over Crusoe. Though I do strongly recommend that as well. They're both very good but D of W has the advantage of being about half as long.

Also strongly +1 on Forbidden Desert. It's cheap, it's fun and I've never had a bad experience introducing it to non-gamers. They're always blown away. They didn't know they could be so invested in a boardgame and usually they vow to return in order to get revenge on the game.
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Tor Iver Wilhelmsen
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Shadowrun: Crossfire especially if you also want to start playing the RPG. Tiny Epic Defenders is compact with few rules, where the turn structure is like initiative stacks in computer RPGs.
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Matthew Hague
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Robinson Crusoe is excellent, although potentially tricky for new players, but if you know what you are doing they should be fine.

There is no check on Alpha Gamers in RC though.

Dead of winter can be very tense, I think I like it, I'm still not convinced, think Id still rather play BSG.

They are very different games, but if I had a choice I'd go for Robinson, it has good replayability cause you'll lose a lot. But beware the rule book, it's not fab but there is an excellent FAQ for any questions. Generally I house rule it that if we're not sure about something do whatever is most thematic.

Forbidden Desert is good, but it is light especially compared to the two you've singled out.
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Ben Bosmans
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WITHOUT a shadow of a doubt: Eldritch Horror

Why ?

1. Excellent Solo play with 2 or 3 investigators (do not underestimate the value of being able to solo when YOU want it). Excellent challenging game for 3+.
2. Masses of Theme and Adventure.
3. Incredible variety of both investigators and boss mechanics.
4. Expansions.

5. EASY to get into rules and a good and well constructured reference book (for FFG norms even an incredible achievement). A new player is simply integrated smoothly. No need to teach anything really. After 2 turns he/she'll know the sequence of play and gets the flow.

6. Plays around 3 hours (a little more for your first play).

Each game of Eldritch Horror is like reading a novel of HP Lovecraft.

ATTENTION: Arkham Horror is still deeper, but Eldritch lets you play the stuff faster.

Remark: I ran through your game list and you lack this kind of theme.

If not I would have recommended you Defenders of the Realm too (so take my advice, sell/throw away that Pandemic game and buy Defenders of the Realm along with Eldritch Horror).

You'll never return to Eurogaming again.

The 2 games you mention each have their negative points compared to the 2 I proposed. The first one (Robinson) is much too difficult in the rules department for new players and the second one can not be played in solo mode.
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Beau Bocephus Blasterfire
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From what you have outlined below you should consider Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game or Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game if you are looking for a game that is relatively new. Both games are highly thematic and playable in the time period you have expressed. Both games will be able to present serious challenges.

Dead of Winter is a true board game, whereas Legendary Encounters is more of a card game that comes with a board/mat. I think you can't go wrong with either and that it depends more on tastes. Which sounds more appealing a zombie survival, or an alien survival game.

As a side note, you might also want to consider Gears of War: The Board Game as it also fits what you are looking for. The game is still available at reasonable prices, but won't be for much longer. I also don't think it will ever see a reprint. Not too friendly for newbies, but accessible.

Shadow Hunters if you want a filler type co-op that is a bit more game than other lite deduce each others' role type game.

Ghost Stories and Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game are worth checking out as well. Both games can be very challenging. Of the two, I prefer Ghost Stories.
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Michael Lancee
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If I only go by the necessary, I can easily recommend Robinson Crusoe. I don't think there's any game that is so thematic yet provides a real challenge rather than chucking dice. It is very prone (and actually stimulates) the alpha player problem though, takes about an hour to explain, and is a pain to set-up. But you'll get an amazing and highly replayable game in return.

A better recommendation for you I think would be either Forbidden Desert or Dead of Winter. Forbidden Desert is certainly the smaller and tighter game, very similar to Pandemic, and quite puzzly. Dead of winter is more immersive and more of an experience than a difficult game. Seeing you like BSG, I've heard people say it's rather similar.
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Ben Bosmans
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bbblasterfire wrote:
From what you have outlined below you should consider Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game or Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game if you are looking for a game that is relatively new. Both games are highly thematic and playable in the time period you have expressed. Both games will be able to present serious challenges.

Dead of Winter is a true board game, whereas Legendary Encounters is more of a card game that comes with a board/mat. I think you can't go wrong with either and that it depends more on tastes. Which sounds more appealing a zombie survival, or an alien survival game.

As a side note, you might also want to consider Gears of War: The Board Game as it also fits what you are looking for. The game is still available at reasonable prices, but won't be for much longer. I also don't think it will ever see a reprint. Not too friendly for newbies, but accessible.

Shadow Hunters if you want a filler type co-op that is a bit more game than other lite deduce each others' role type game.

Ghost Stories and Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game are worth checking out as well. Both games can be very challenging. Of the two, I prefer Ghost Stories.


Good alternatives too, but I would stay clear of Gears of War. I have it, I played it but it gets boring much too fast with always the same mechanics and monsters. Just 3 types per scenario and there are only a few scenarios.

After 3 plays no one in our group wanted to play it again ...

Not worth the current pricing.

Also Death Angle is very random and very small indeed.

If you would include that one (great for solo play), I would include one of the Dungeons & Dragons boardgames too (Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game (which is the hardest) or one of the 2 others.

They are euqally easy to learn and have MUCH more variety in monsters and these D&D games can be played in under 2 hours.

Also: there is an incredible number of user designed extra scenarios for these games (into the 100's at the moment) and the pre PAINTED monsters of the Dungeon Command series like Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth can be fully integrated with this line of games.

Very much a beer and pretzels game with a HUGE factor of fun. There will even be a fourth new game in this production line.

But Eldritch Horror is my top of all really due to the easy rules, very smooth integration of new players, Lore and a huge number of possible players (1 - 6).
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LautreSault
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Disclaimer: I don't like coops and I don't consider BSG a coop.

That being said, Robinson Crusoe is until now the only coop game that I ever enjoyed. It is that good. Engaging conversations, where there is no alpha player. Very well embedded theme, beautiful art, and a great narrative. Lots of scenarios with good replay-ability in each one of them.

(I generally agree with Michael, except on the point of the alpha player.)
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Pasi Ojala
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Get the Imperial Assault Campaign module for Vassal from http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Star_Wars:_Imperial_Assault
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thebard8 wrote:
BSG (base + Peg + Exod.): 9/10 Great theme. I’m fine with investing the time (5-6 hrs), but this allows us to only play maybe 3-4 times a year. Lots of memorable games. This is the go-to epic coop game.

thumbsup

You should get the time down to 3 hours if you play more. (We play with all expansions to Kobol in 2-2.5 hours. You just need routine in updating the tracks and moving ships.)

We just finished an Imperial Assault campaign (13 missions). Although in the end I wiped the floor with the rebel scum as the imperial player, the next campaign will be a different experience. The campaign game is 1 vs 4. If you have 5 players, check the game out, especially if you have not tried this type of game before (like us). An IA campaign can be played with less players as well, and there is a 2-player skirmish mode for one-off scenarios.

Positives: There is theme, it fits to the game mechanisms (or vice versa), each mission takes 1-3 hours, and it certainly is challenging for the rebel players and/or imperial player, depending on their experience and learn rate. Each campaign consists of at least 11 missions. I expect the next campaign to be a different experience due to different factors I don't want to list here.

Negatives are: The setup does take a bit of time (assembling the map), and although the game eases you into the rules, there is a lot to take in during a campaign. Alpha player can potentially take over the rebel team, but if you know who the alpha player is, make them the imperial player. Plays best with 4 heroes, but when played with less than 5 players, there are ways to balance the game, or rebels can play more than one hero character each.

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Brandon Held
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I'd like to throw Mice and Mystics in there as a possibility as well. Very thematic, moderate length (1-2 hours per attempt per scenario), strong level of difficulty. Also, very unique.
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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thebard8 wrote:
Necessary
•Amazing theme that is easy to engross yourself in and “feel”
•Game length: 3 hrs max (except maybe first game or two). Would be nice if games took 2 hrs or less, but 2.5 or so would be ok. BSG takes us usually 5-6 hrs, so that may give an idea of how long a certain game may take relative to BSG.
•Game is able to present serious challenges to players

Would be nice (but ok if it doesn't have) :
•Low potential for “alpha players”, or at least this can easily be dealt with
•Able to accommodate newer gamers (such as those playing Settler’s, or even totally new gamers)
•Setup / take down isn’t a huge chore.
•Could be purely coop or could be semi-coop (ex. “traitor” mechanism)
•Plays well with 3+ (not always sure how many players we will have)
•Good replay value, although realistically, we may only play the game 2-3 times per month.

You are describing Dead of Winter. Get it, it's great and absolutely fulfills your criteria about being fully cooperative or semi-cooperative (although the hidden goals and possibility of a present traitor obviously adds much more depth to the game).
The only thing which could be a problem for the setup here is if you don't take the time for sorting all decks of cards when putting the game back on your shelf, meaning that you have to do it during your next setup. Just do a clean breakdown and you will be fine.

I would not recommend Robinson Crusoe at all (although I am a big fan of it): very complicated and fiddly, lots of rules and easily overlooked rule exceptions, very unforgiving and swingy difficulty. Great game, but not in this case. It's also more prone to the alpha gamer syndrome than most other games, as the planning phase happens as a group and the equipment pool is open for everybody.

Eldritch Horror has been mentioned, which could be an excellent secondary choice next to Dead of Winter and your search parameters. I generally calculate 45 minutes per player here. The game may look complicated at first, but it's actually quite easy and thankfully very streamlined, once the players know the basics about what they can do on their turns, how each turn breaks down into 3 phases and how they can actually win the game - meaning that it's okay if only you know the full rules at first and don't explain every single card (like bad condition cards) that could happen to the players. It's actually fun exploring the game this way, because uncertainty is an integral part of the tension and horror.

Bottom line: you are looking for Dead of Winter. Get Eldritch Horror after it - it's fantastic.
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Sam Phillips Beckerman
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Freedom: The Underground Railroad is the game you're looking for. Great theme, handled well. No alpha player problem and I've played it over 20 times. Intense.
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Roberto Ruiz
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Ghost Stories
- replayability
-challenging
- easy to understand
- less than two hours
- set up pretty easy.
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Matthew Hague
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I think the play time for eldritch runs more into 4 hours, certainly with a higher player count.

I think the difficulty of RC has been hyped up too much tbh. It does only play upto 4 though which might factor into it?
 
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Sven Siewert
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You may have a look at Alcatraz: The Scapegoat too.
Highly thematic - even playable in a shorter time. Semi-Coop because all players will have to work together for a win, but single players may still left in prison at the end of the game.
 
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Glenn D
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Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is the best game in my collection. So thematic and challenging. And do not be misled, his game is NOT fiddly. Maybe your first game...but once you learn the mechanics, it flows so smoothly and is very challenging.

Once you finish up playing theough its nultiple scenarios, you would have to get Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island – Voyage of the Beagle (Vol. 1), which adds a multiple mission campaign element encompassing Darwin and his research into the theory of evolution.

Components in both are top-notch...almost elegant.

And, although the rulebook is not the best in the world, watching one playthrough video on youtube will take care of that.

My 12-year old daughter plays this with me, so the point of entry for younger players is not prohibitive.
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Dan
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Kyur wrote:
Bottom line: you are looking for Dead of Winter. Get Eldritch Horror after it - it's fantastic.
This guy knows what he is talking about.

Two things to remember. Eldritch Horror can be a bit long. 45m per person, but you can always modify the win requirement to be faster.

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game is hard, like REALLY HARD to win, like any true survival horror game. I was in a room last night with 5 groups playing this game. All had fun, only one actually won the scenario.

If you win, it is a true accomplishment.
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BirdfluNuggetz wrote:
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is the best game in my collection. So thematic and challenging. And do not be misled, his game is NOT fiddly. Maybe your first game...but once you learn the mechanics, it flows so smoothly and is very challenging.

It is one of the fiddliest games, even if you are familiar with the game and 100% playing by the rules, as you are constantly moving pieces and cubes on the board. Many of those moving pieces are just resting in place for about 10 seconds. The fidliness can just get faster, but it's still happening.

Again, it is a really great game, but it's not compatible with what you are looking for. Just a fair warning.
 
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I own both Robinson Crusoe and Dead of Winter and both are incredible games worthy of any collection.

I don't think Robinson is any more fiddly than other cube and counter games (it was the game that got me back into board gaming), but a lot of the rules are open to interpretation. It is probably my favourite game, but not one I would bring out for new players. Not because it is hard to understand, but because it is hard full stop! It can be a brutal (but very enjoyable) game which may be a turn off for casual players. I've only won about 10% of my games and I consider that an achievement!

I played Dead of Winter with my regular group plus a non-gaming significant other and the SO loved it and has asked to me to bring it along for our TableTop Day all-dayer.

Another game I would recommend that hasn't been mentioned yet is Sentinels of the Multiverse. All of the keywords can be overwhelming for a new player, but as long as you have a gamer at the table to help ease a new player into it there shouldn't be too many problems.

I think somebody has also mentioned the Forbidden games (Island and Desert) and I can heartily recommend both. Island is a great gateway game, while Desert is a little meatier and more challenging.
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mark downie
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While Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert are great games it seems your after something a little longer. We enjoy Defenders of the Realm a lot.
But my recommendation would have to be Archipelago.
 
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Brad
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Wow, a lot of great information here, thanks so much! Haven't had a chance to digest it all so I'll have to really dig into the comments and see which one will be a good next step. And maybe I'll plan on getting two , so many recommendations here. No harm in getting a couple and just trying them out, right? (I'm probably justifying buying two new games... ).

I'm still open to peoples thoughts, but just wanted to chime in and thank everyone for their ideas and thoughts so far.
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Brandon C
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Also don't forget Shadows over Camelot. We have DoW, and Pandemic as well, but my wife and I still favor Shadows.
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