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Subject: Co-op deckbuilder with kid-friendly theme and art? rss

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aymaster
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Hello! I've been steadily introducing my daughters (8, 6, and 3) to games, and they've really gotten into them, especially co-op games! Flash Point: Fire Rescue in particular is a family favorite.

Lately, I've been interested in introducing my oldest to deckbuilders, as they're one of my favorite genres of games. She's interested in a co-op deckbuilder, as am I. (The skill level difference between the two of us would be discouraging to her in a competitive setting.) However, trying to find a co-op deckbuilder with kid-friendly theme and art is quite challenging indeed!

All that to say, does anyone have any good suggestions for what to try? Here's my thoughts on various co-op deckbuilders I'm aware of so that you can see how I view different games:

Aeon's End and Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar Campaign Deck: The demonic art would be too scary for her.

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game or Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game: Too scary.

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game: A possibility. I know it's technically semi-co-op, but I can make that work. I know that expansions might help it become fully co-op. Not sure I want to field questions about the different characters, though, even in the base set. "Daddy, who's Deadpool?" laugh

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle: Another possibility. We know nothing about Harry Potter as a family, so the theme wouldn't connect. This is the one that seems most promising to me.

Commissioned: Seems more like a board game with deckbuilding-like elements than a pure deckbuilder. Still intriguing, though.

Any suggestions you have would be most welcome!
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Brian M
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Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is...kind of a stretch to play co-op. You can sort of squint and pretend like its co-op, but a lot of stuff doesn't work. Also, based on the other games you've rejected, you are probably going to want to stay clear of some of the sets...maybe quite a few (the Deadlands are as disturbing as stuff in Aeon's End, for example!)

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is relatively easy to play and introduces concepts gradually. Some scary stuff. Not the greatest mechanics and implementation. I kind of feel like you may be missing a lot of the fun of the game if you aren't familiar with the books or movies.

I love co-op and deck-builders as well, but unfortunately its not a big genre at the moment. You've left out Shadowrift, but its as scary as Aeon's End and not quite as good (though it has some neat stuff). You might want to keep an eye on Direwild; while it has some scary monsters, its also all about having a deck of cards with all sorts of cute and neat animals on them. However, it is a long ways from being out!

Sorry I have no good ideas. I'm going to subscribe and see if anyone else has any though!

EDIT: There's a co-op scenario for Star Realms. Just a single little challenge thing, but it might be a good intro to deck-building.
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Would The Big Book of Madness be too scary? There are monsters but the art is more cartoony so maybe worth a look.

Also, Sentinels of the Multiverse.
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Brian M
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worshipsf wrote:
Would The Big Book of Madness be too scary? There are monsters but the art is more cartoony so maybe worth a look.


Kind of borderline as far as "deck-building" goes though. The only cards in your deck are different valued elements. (I enjoy the game, I just don't consider it a real-strong "deck-builder").
 
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Chris Ferejohn
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Yeah, the Harry Potter game sounds just like what you are looking for mechanically. The early scenarios are a nice ramp into deckbuilding for younger kids. Is there any possibility of watching or reading that first Harry Potter book in tandem or is that just going to be too scary for them (nothing wrong with that, I would routinely run out of movies until I was, like, 12).
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Chris Ferejohn
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Another thought: I believe Clank has a "solo mode" that you could play together (and maybe even find a way to make "solo" work with 2 players as a co-op?). The art is pretty light-hearted.
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Brian M
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cferejohn wrote:
Yeah, the Harry Potter game sounds just like what you are looking for mechanically. The early scenarios are a nice ramp into deckbuilding for younger kids. Is there any possibility of watching or reading that first Harry Potter book in tandem or is that just going to be too scary for them (nothing wrong with that, I would routinely run out of movies until I was, like, 12).


Read book, play corresponding scenario...sounds like fun.

However, the books do sort of assume that the reader is aging along with the characters, which sorta matches the original release schedule. Things start getting pretty dark in the later books.
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Joey Larsen
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My son and I have thoroughly enjoyed Mystic Vale
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J Ginsbu
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Not coop, but The Quest for El Dorado is excellent and kid friendly. It’s been a hit with my 8 y.o. daughter. Simpler strategies can be very effective on the easier maps, and can beat someone who slows down to optimize their deck.
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Calvin Nicholson
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DC Comics Deck-Building Game
 
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StormKnight wrote:
cferejohn wrote:
Yeah, the Harry Potter game sounds just like what you are looking for mechanically. The early scenarios are a nice ramp into deckbuilding for younger kids. Is there any possibility of watching or reading that first Harry Potter book in tandem or is that just going to be too scary for them (nothing wrong with that, I would routinely run out of movies until I was, like, 12).


Read book, play corresponding scenario...sounds like fun.

However, the books do sort of assume that the reader is aging along with the characters, which sorta matches the original release schedule. Things start getting pretty dark in the later books.

Yeah, this. I don't think an 8yo would have much trouble with the themes of book 1 or 2. Book 7, no way!
Of course you can play the game without knowing the characters, but I feel like it would lose a lot of its charm.
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Julian Wasson
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worshipsf wrote:
Would The Big Book of Madness be too scary? There are monsters but the art is more cartoony so maybe worth a look.

Also, Sentinels of the Multiverse.


I love Sentinels, but it's not a deckbuilder. If you're looking for a co-op game with a kid-friendly theme it's a great pick. Might be one or two villains to avoid (Spite and Gloomweaver would be the biggest examples), but it's so mix-and-match it's not hard. It also works with a lot of the types of card effects and combos that you might be trying to build in a DBG.

I'll second Big Book of Madness, though. It's a good kids/introductory deckbuilder in part because your deck is just resources rather than effects you need to combo. In other words it's easier to see the ways that you might hurt yourself with bad purchasing decisions and avoid them, and it teaches you about the value of deck thinning.
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Alison Mandible
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Play Dominion with a handicap (replace one or two of your starting coppers with a Curse?) or make up some co-op rules for it, like:

- At the end of each player's turn, they remove one copy of the cheapest Kingdom card from the game (it's not trashed, it's actually gone forever). The two of you are trying to empty the Provinces pile before 5 piles are empty. (Decrease that number as appropriate for more difficulty.) Or if playing with cards that give VP, play that the game ends when X piles are empty, and the number of cards in the removed-from-game pile is the score you need to beat (adding all players' VP together).

- After a player gains a card, they can offer to swap with a teammate. If that teammate says yes, then those two players exchange the top cards of their discard piles (i.e. it's as if the teammate acquired the card instead, in return for the top card of their discard pile). You can't swap with an empty discard pile.

- No attacks, but that's okay, there are plenty of other cards to choose from.
 
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April W
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Commissioned is a good game, but it does feel more like a board game than a deck builder- though the deck building on the side is a nice addition, and would familiarize your daughter with the concept. If you appreciate the theme, then I definitely recommend you try it out.

Also consider Paperback or Hardback. Both can be played competitively or cooperatively. I have only played Hardback personally and it is fantastic. It mixes word games and deck building in such a way that those who are a fan of one or the other will enjoy it. You don't need to know a lot of big words in order to play, and if you're playing co-op you can help each other out. Definitely check these out if that appeals to you at all.

As far as the Legendary games, the only one I have played is Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game, which I love but it is extremely difficult with two players. There is possibly a swear word or two in the flavor text and may be one or two cards with slightly mature artwork, but you can pick which episodes you play, so those could be easily avoided.

Also, although this game is not a co-op, take a look at The Quest for El Dorado, it's nice as an entry-level deck builder with a little more to it than just deck building.
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StormKnight wrote:
cferejohn wrote:
Yeah, the Harry Potter game sounds just like what you are looking for mechanically. The early scenarios are a nice ramp into deckbuilding for younger kids. Is there any possibility of watching or reading that first Harry Potter book in tandem or is that just going to be too scary for them (nothing wrong with that, I would routinely run out of movies until I was, like, 12).


Read book, play corresponding scenario...sounds like fun.

However, the books do sort of assume that the reader is aging along with the characters, which sorta matches the original release schedule. Things start getting pretty dark in the later books.
It does seem to be the best option.

Most of the deck-builders that are either decent co-ops or have decent co-op options do seem to be fending off monsters/mutants/other things that go bump in the night of some type.

Other possibilities:
The Guardians: Explore
Pluses:
Seems like the theme and art would work alright (though you should check for yourself).
Reasonably enjoyable play experience.
Downsides:
Most of the deck building comes in the draft at the start of the game.
Desperately needs an expansion - not likely to get one.
Co-op play is bolted on - lackluster at lower difficulties, comes down to the randomness of the draw on the highest difficulty.
Availability: a few months ago, I used to see this on clearance sales a bunch, so it may be tough to get; on the plus side, if you do see it, you may be able to pick it up for cheap.

Bulwark
It is fighting off monsters from a town.
There is no art at all.
I put this among the best co-op deck builders out there including Aeon's End and Shadowrift.
The lack of art may be "kid-friendly", but it also might be a tough sell.

There are other decent enough co-op deck-builders out there with more "cartoony" art work so it may not be as scary like After The Virus or The Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport, but you would have to judge for yourself.

worshipsf wrote:
Not a deck builder; I enjoy the game quite a bit, but it's generally best with at least 4 players.

I think Legendary works fine as a pure co-op by just upping the difficulty enough to where you need all players contributing to get the win quick enough (typically using Challenge Modes from Dark City or Horrors from Legendary: X-Men - which might be the two best expansions anyways). However, I find this really does play best with 2-3 players then.
 
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Phillip Harpring
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+1 Big Book of Madness

Not a lot of co-op deckbuilders out there, and that's the only one I can think of with mostly kid-friendly art.

Mechanics-wise the Harry Potter game should be fine, but all the character art is from the live-action movies so some of the villains might be too scary. And with no connection to the theme, I don't know how much you'll get out of it.
 
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Jordan S.
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+1 for Marvel Legendary. It is super easy to treat as a true co-op. You don't even need any expansions to do it. Just don't use the end game scoring element. Simple as that. The impact of this is incredibly minor and the only base-set hero that this removes is Deadpool (which it sounds like you'd rather remove anyway). And if you for some reason find the game is too easy played that way, the game offers a ton of ways to adjust the difficulty as-is.

Super fun game and, personally, better without the minor competitive parts anyway.
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aymaster
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Thanks, everyone, for all your replies! A few comments on the games you've suggested:

The Big Book of Madness: I'm going to have to take another look at this one. I originally didn't think it was "deckbuilder-y" enough, but you all have convinced me.

Bulwark: I forgot about this one. Thanks for reminding me! This one could also be a good one for me. Need to check this out.

Shadowrift: I love that game...with my brother. Not with my daughters, though. Same issue as Aeon's End.

Paperback and Hardback: She HATES spelling, so word games are sadly a no-go.

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game: I've played this at work without the end-game scoring, and I think it's fine as as pure co-op.

The Quest for El Dorado: Looks like a blast! As soon as I can convince my daughters to play competitive games, this looks like a winner.

Looks like I've got some options now! Thanks again!

If you come up with anything else, I'd love to hear it.

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: Where can I purchase Bulwark and its expansions these days? I see that DriveThruCards sells a print-on-demand base set, but that's it. I had to do a lot of digging to even find the rules set. Doesn't even look like Chthonic Games' website is even active anymore.
 
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aymaster wrote:
Adam Tucker
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: Where can I purchase Bulwark and its expansions these days? I see that DriveThruCards sells a print-on-demand base set, but that's it.
That's pretty much the only place that there has ever been to get it, but they should have way more than just the base set. They should also have PnP files for purchase, if you don't mind putting it together yourself.
aymaster wrote:
I had to do a lot of digging to even find the rules set. Doesn't even look like Chthonic Games' website is even active anymore.
Try https://chthonic-games.bitbucket.io

Note that the "Winter of Death" set is also referred to as "Base Set 2" and I recommend picking that up with the Base Set to start.

Additionally, while Jakab Startouched is fun and not that difficult to play, Magistra Csenge and Magister Kelemen are probably the two most difficult heroes to play, frequently requiring significantly more build up time. So I would put the Travails of the Arcane set to the end of your buy list.
 
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Wife and I play Legendary pure co-op and it works fine. You can always overlook heroes or themes that seem questionable, there are plenty to choose from. My son who has some cognitive impairments loves it, too.
 
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Brian M
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So...I play Legendary co-op, but we very much have to "pretend" that we're really playing a game, and make a lot of houserules. There's:

* A lot of cards that exist mainly to score points (like rescuing bystanders) - useless in co-op.

* Many attack cards that hurt other players. These are usually bad in competitive play, and absolutely awful in co-op.

* Many schemes that give you no incentive to attack villains, which leads to a game where the whole "villains moving across going to escape" doesn't matter and there's no point to attacking them.

I'm really surprised that so many people are OK with it as a co-op.
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Thanks for the tips, Adam! I'm definitely checking it out.
 
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It isn't co-op but thematically it might be the best fit and gameplaywise there is enough randomness to even out some of the skill difference. Teen Titans Go!
 
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While I'm evaluating the different co-op deckbuilders, I ended up picking up The Quest for El Dorado on sale, largely based on the recommendation of you all in this thread. Thanks!
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