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Subject: Two-player co-operative RPG-like game? rss

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Jonathan Meltzer
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My wife and I really enjoy co-ops. We like to work together against the game. We also really enjoy role-playing games. Way back when, we used to play Everquest together every night as a way to spend time together before we lived in the same place.

We are looking for a true RPG experience in a board game. I know this is a difficult ask. We have the AD&D board games, and enjoy them, but without a LOT of variants, the heroes stop at level 2. Even then, you do not really build a character up all that much. Also, it is difficult for us to really get into what the character would do in a given situation, since all of the turns are basically skirmishes.

I have heard good things about Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Road to Legend, now that there is an app to play the Overlord. Does Descent have the feel of role-playing at all, or is it basically fighting the whole time like the AD&D games?

I have no problem running an actual RPG for our gaming group, but no one in the group is really interested in that besides the two of us, and I do not really feel like running an RPG for one, since then we are not really working together.

Agents of SMERSH kind of has the feel I am talking about...the characters are different enough to role-play their personalities, and they gain extra powers and skill the more the game progresses. And the Book of Encounters is essentially the DM. We enjoy SMERSH, but our latest play left us a bit flat.

Tales of the Arabian Nights is fun, but is not co-op, and you do not get the sense that any of your decisions or skills make a difference to how well you do in the game. It makes for a fun story, but it is not an RPG at all.

Some of our opinions about co-ops that we have played are here, for reference:

He Said, She Said, We Said: What 2-player co-ops we play, and why

TL;DR - Looking for a co-op board game that allows for some decent role-playing, leveling up, and loot. Not just fighting - maybe some non-fighting skills come into play occasionally. Does such a beast exist?

 
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Michael F
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Arkham Horror and Mage Knight Board Game are great options.
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Paul DeStefano
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Eldritch Horror
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Jonathan Meltzer
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newkillerstar27 wrote:
Arkham Horror and Mage Knight Board Game are great options.


Thank you! Mage Knight we have had, and played, and liked...but it does not strike us as a co-op RPG. The co-op element is not there until the last battle (and even then, it only really happens with Volkare). Arkham Horror seems interesting...but does it have the level-up and loot elements?

Same question could be applied to the next recommendation (Eldritch Horror). I have heard good things, but I have never heard that it is an RPG in the sense that I am using in the OP.
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C B
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Mistfall is a sort-of deck builder, card based tabletop dungeon crawl game. There are many heroes each with their own base/advanced cards. As you progress through the scenario you can buy advanced cards to add to your deck. It's not really a deck builder because you don't add a ton of cards (more like 6-8) and you never shuffle your deck after setup. There are loot cards as well. The only aspect Mistfall doesn't meet of a true RPG is keeping your advanced cards from game to game.

Shadowrun: Crossfire is another similar game. In Crossfire, you can buy permanent advancements for your characters. If you like the Shadowrun theme, Crossfire is worth checking out.
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Jonathan Meltzer
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ampoliros wrote:
Mistfall is a sort-of deck builder, card based tabletop dungeon crawl game. There are many heroes each with their own base/advanced cards. As you progress through the scenario you can buy advanced cards to add to your deck. It's not really a deck builder because you don't add a ton of cards (more like 6-8) and you never shuffle your deck after setup. There are loot cards as well. The only aspect Mistfall doesn't meet of a true RPG is keeping your advanced cards from game to game.

Shadowrun: Crossfire is another similar game. In Crossfire, you can buy permanent advancements for your characters. If you like the Shadowrun theme, Crossfire is worth checking out.


These are both good recommendations, and we enjoy both of them. However, I am looking for more character development. Both of these games have loot in some form, and some progression, but they are not really role-playing. Mistfall has more of an RPG than Shadowrun CrossFire, though. SR:CF is a lot of fun, but it is a puzzle, not an RPG.
 
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The Pathfinder ACG series... although it does get very samey after awhile.

Gloomhaven might be another one, but it is not out yet.
 
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Thanee
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Hey, you look familiar!

The adventure board games, like Descent, mostly are pretty much all fighting, yeah. There is the occasional decision to be made, or the occasional roll that is not combat, but most of it is.

Have you looked into Magic Realm? It is really old and OOP and does not have a lot of bling, but it might be an interesting choice for what you are after. It's not really a coop game (it offers as much freedom as an actual RPG in that regard), but I am pretty sure you can play it fully cooperative, if you decide to do so.

I will also second Gloomhaven for offering more in the way of story progression, than your typical board game. However, it is not quite there, yet, but it is making good progress.

Bye
Thanee
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Dave B.
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fh13 wrote:
The Pathfinder ACG series... although it does get very samey after awhile.

Gloomhaven might be another one, but it is not out yet.


I was going to suggest Pathfinder as well. It's true that the mechanics have a lot of repetition, but there are a ton of different character abilities and powers, and loads of items, traps, enemies, etc. so there's a decent amount of variety. You'll be swapping out cards from the different decks as you proceed through the adventure packs, so you aren't just finding the same junk from the beginning after you've powered up into a killing machine.

Also, the fourth D&D game, Temple of Elemental Evil, adds a proper campaign system, with character progression that goes beyond just "level 2". It still works with content (including characters) from the previous games.
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Phillip Harpring
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Mizerak wrote:
newkillerstar27 wrote:
Arkham Horror and Mage Knight Board Game are great options.


Thank you! Mage Knight we have had, and played, and liked...but it does not strike us as a co-op RPG. The co-op element is not there until the last battle (and even then, it only really happens with Volkare). Arkham Horror seems interesting...but does it have the level-up and loot elements?

Same question could be applied to the next recommendation (Eldritch Horror). I have heard good things, but I have never heard that it is an RPG in the sense that I am using in the OP.


Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror have well defined characters and lore, but there isn't much opportunity for role-play. It is more of a puzzley game as players attempt to fulfill a win condition while avoiding the many ways to lose, but with more luck involved than something like Pandemic or Shadowrun due to the dice and random encounters. Those dice rolls do make for a much better story, though. There is loot in the way of gaining items and spells, and you can increase your base stats, but there is no persistence between games.

They could be fun for you, but I don't think they're quite what you're looking for.
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Jonathan Meltzer
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fh13 wrote:
The Pathfinder ACG series... although it does get very samey after awhile.


I had forgotten to mention...we really like this one. It comes the closest to what we are looking for, I think, even though most encounters are battles.

Gloomhaven was a thought...except that it seemed like (from Rahdo's runthrough, anyway) it is not fully cooperative. Thank you for the reminders about that one, though.
 
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Jonathan Meltzer
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davidbrit2 wrote:

Also, the fourth D&D game, Temple of Elemental Evil, adds a proper campaign system, with character progression that goes beyond just "level 2". It still works with content (including characters) from the previous games.


Hmmm...this has been on my radar, too...how does the campaign play? Do you get the feeling of inhabiting a character that progresses in terms of skills and loot and such? Is it more than just one battle after another - are there decisions related to things other than combat?

Thank you for your suggestions, everyone! I really appreciate your taking the time to help.
 
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Justin S.
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Mice and Mystics might fit the bill, if it's not too combat based for you. The story elements are strong, and it feels like a proper campaign to me. The other downside is that you can't just run 2 characters through the game. Most chapters require 4 mice, with some chapters needing a specific mouse to be played. As a whole, you use 3-6 mice per chapter, with each chapter needing a certain number.
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Vaughan Edge
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Mageknight is like the best game EVAR. TiC.
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Erwin Anciano
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You can't really get role playing in boardgames. If you want to role play, playing a real RPG is your best bet.

Descent is pure hack and slash. There's a lot of loot to go and if you have the app to play the overlord it's good, but don't expect anything more than thumping monsters. If that's what you want, Zombicide is probably the better pick.

For role-playing, Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror is closer to what you want, the characters are all different and you don't necessarily have to just kill stuff, some characters can take different roles, like a patron who tricks out his team, or a shaman looking to restore the natural order.

But in the end, it's more roll-playing than role-playing.


The games that offer the closest actual role-playing in tabletop games are Hidden Role games like Resistance: Avalon, Deception, or even Mascarade. That's because these games rely on social mechanics, so you really need to play your roles in a sense. But there are zero loot mechanics and the role playing is more of the Werewolf LARP kind of roleplaying rather than what you are looking for.


My advice is to stick to real RPGs, but RPGs kinda don't work with just two people.
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Probably an odd suggestion, but have you considered Pandemic Legacy: Season 1? Certainly doesn't hit all (or even most) of your marks, but it actually provides a continuous campaign, which seems to be what you're missing in many of the other board games you've mentioned.

Other than that, you mentioned that you've played Everquest... given that you're asking for a game with an AI as a stand-in for a GM, video games (e.g. Dungeons and Dragons online) might actually come closer to simulating the RPG experience you're looking for.

But of course the real answer is to convince your gaming group to try out RPGs.
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Jonathan Meltzer
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Randombias wrote:
Probably an odd suggestion, but have you considered Pandemic Legacy: Season 1? Certainly doesn't hit all (or even most) of your marks, but it actually provides a continuous campaign, which seems to be what you're missing in many of the other board games you've mentioned.

Other than that, you mentioned that you've played Everquest... given that you're asking for a game with an AI as a stand-in for a GM, video games (e.g. Dungeons and Dragons online) might actually come closer to simulating the RPG experience you're looking for.

But of course the real answer is to convince your gaming group to try out RPGs.


We are actually in the middle of Pandemic Legacy with our group right now (we just finished July), and yes, we are liking it a lot. We have played several video games, and that is sort of an option (we have a PS3), but after looking at a screen all day I prefer to play a boardgame if I can. Also, finding a co-op RPG video game that is not just repeated combat is tough. And we have several board games that we really like. Pathfinder, as I said, comes sorta close to what we are looking for in this case.

I am pretty convinced that the game I am looking for does not really exist, but I figured if anyone knew of one...this would be the group. Actually, Magic Realm looks very intriguing. Not sure whether it is just combat or not, but I would love to get a look at it someday.
 
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Mizerak wrote:
I am pretty convinced that the game I am looking for does not really exist, but I figured if anyone knew of one...this would be the group. Actually, Magic Realm looks very intriguing. Not sure whether it is just combat or not, but I would love to get a look at it someday.
Maybe you should try your luck also with the crowd over at RPGgeek. There are a couple of "GM-less" RPGs out there, for instance Microscope, which can be played with two but lacks the campaign/character development aspect because it's all about one-shots. There's more at https://rpggeek.com/rpgmechanic/2089/gm-less-no-gamemaster-n....
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Jonathan Meltzer
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Randombias wrote:
Mizerak wrote:
I am pretty convinced that the game I am looking for does not really exist, but I figured if anyone knew of one...this would be the group. Actually, Magic Realm looks very intriguing. Not sure whether it is just combat or not, but I would love to get a look at it someday.
Maybe you should try your luck also with the crowd over at RPGgeek. There are a couple of "GM-less" RPGs out there, for instance Microscope, which can be played with two but lacks the campaign/character development aspect because it's all about one-shots. There's more at https://rpggeek.com/rpgmechanic/2089/gm-less-no-gamemaster-n....


This is...amazing. Wow. I had no idea some of this stuff existed. Not sure if we will get to play them or not, but many thanks for pointing me towards them!
 
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Shane Cybowicz
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- Eldritch horror is an epic board game. It's as RPG as you make it as each character comes with a backstory but also you can feel free to add bits to it for extra fun.

- Dead of Winter is a good game. The prisoners dilemma variant is fun as well as the standard two player coop.

- Betrayal at House on the Hill is fun. Can get quite repetitive after a few play throughs but worth having. Not that deep though in terms of character story.

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Jonathan Meltzer
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Vexotos wrote:
Dead of Winter is a good game. The prisoners dilemma variant is fun as well as the standard two player coop.


I didn't know that there WAS a standard two player coop version of Dead of Winter. While it might not fit the bill for us for this thread, it may be worth looking into anyway. Thank you!
 
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My go-to RPG-like boardgame is Shadows of Brimstone, but it looks like that one didn't work out for you. It's one of my favorite games, and my husband and I have spent many hours with this game(120+ plays). The character development is pretty awesome.


For leveling up in-game, but not having persistent characters, Assault on Doomrock is fun. Hard to beat, but written with a good sense of humor so it's fun to play.


If you're OK with an app-based game, FFG just announced the second edition of Mansions of Madness. They've replaced the keeper with an app, much like (from the sounds of it) the Descent app. It doesn't really have leveling up, but the first edition included loot (finding items and weapons) and some fun puzzles that had to be solved to unlock rooms and such. It sounds like they're going to use a fog-of-war in this edition, so you don't see your whole map at the start.

FFG announcement
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Julien K
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Maybe The 7th Continent would interest you ? Not yet out though.
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Mizerak wrote:
fh13 wrote:
The Pathfinder ACG series... although it does get very samey after awhile.


I had forgotten to mention...we really like this one. It comes the closest to what we are looking for, I think, even though most encounters are battles.
That surprises me a bit. There isn't anything similar to an RPG in that game. Also, combat 'encounters' are completely indistinguishable from finding and item or a trap; it's always nothing more than 'flip a card, roll a die'.

I'll second 'Assault on Doomrock' and 'Temple of Elemental Evil' as good coop games with character progression. But again, I don't feel either has actual RPG elements.

For me, both Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island and Arkham Horror create interesting stories and thus have some similarity to playing an RPG. But you're probably better off looking at titles with more story elements. Gloomhaven looks it might fit the bill - but it isn't out, yet. I'm also surprised nobody mentioned Kingdom Death: Monster, yet...

TL;DR: There's simply no board game that captures the essence of an RPG really well. For that you'll need an actual RPG.
 
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Jonathan Meltzer
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jujulautre wrote:
Maybe The 7th Continent would interest you ? Not yet out though.


I have backed it. Looking forward to it, too...though I am not sure about the RPG elements.
 
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