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Subject: Easy-to-learn co-ops for Aspie teens rss

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Jo Chapman
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Hi all, I've recently started trying co-operative board games with a group of teenage boys with Asperger Syndrome as a way for them to practice social skills while having fun at the same time.

We've played Castle Panic the last couple of weeks and they love it. Much to my suprise they were keen to add the Wizard's Tower expansion and enjoyed the added challenge. With that success, and them keen to keep gaming, I'm now wondering what other games might work for them.

Here's why I think Castle Panic worked well:
- It takes about 30 seconds to teach ("See the colours, see the rings? Don't let the monsters knock the castle down. Go.")
- There's very little to keep in mind or remember and limited choices - everything you can do you can see in the cards on the table (we play open handed)
- The theme is really appealing (they loved setting monsters on fire)
- It's very visual and easy to see what the current priorities are
- It plays up to six players (we actually had a game with 7 once as I didn't want tell anyone they couldn't join in!)
- It was easy for the boys to join or leave a game in progress
- It plays fast (we've got 2 hours so getting 2-3 games in that time is nice)

Anyone know any other simple co-ops that might work here?

Different player roles I think would be good as it opens up discussions about using each person's different strengths. I don't want anything with a traitor mechanic, suspicion and accusation is the last thing we need!! The group varies widely in ability and I want to stick with games that most of them can join in with so simple rules is good.

I'm already thinking of Forbidden Island (nice and visual with the tiles flipping over) but that only goes to 4 players. I love Flash Point Fire Rescue for myself, but I'm not sure what they'd think of the theme (I have visions of "Nah, let that guy burn, he looks stupid").

Any thoughts appreciated
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Lanz RafDE
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Forbidden Island and Pandemic are both great choices.
 
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Tom Builder
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I think pandemic requires too much inter-player planning and coordination and that may be a problem for your group.

Forbidden island is a great choice. Why not get two sets and then it plays eight! It is a very affordable game.

Flash point is also a great choice. You mention how it is a good thing that all the potential moves are readily visible. You need games that are all about the short term tactics with no need for long term planning. Flash point is exactly that. What about a re-theme? Put stickers of little toy trains over the poi markers. Rescue all the toy trains from the burning building! That will get them interested.

Goods luck.
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Johan Haglert
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I wonder how race for the galaxy would work in theory.

Not as a co-op of course but rather being solitary so you play your game (well, kinda) and then there's also that big "what may they want to do?".. but then again maybe not

I think the level of lack of social skills or whatever matter to.
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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I don't know much about the challenges your particular players face. My impression is that Asperger's doesn't impair logical thinking (many computer programmers are said to be borderline Asperger's), in which case your options should be pretty wide open. But sticking with your request...

Forbidden Island would definitely be a better starting point than Pandemic.

Going by "weight" would be a reasonable starting point. Each BGG game page shows the user-voted weight down in the statistics section. It's not perfect, but is a good rough guideline.

Zombie in my Pocket is quite simple. It has a betrayal option, but my wife and I just play without it, so could could just not mention it when teaching the game.

Elder Sign is pretty straightforward, as long as you are being taught by someone who knows the game.
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Ralph T
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Try to get Hanabi. It's a very easy to learn game which requires sensing what the other player means by his action. It requires a keen sense of intuition.
For aspies it should be helpful for understanding and giving nonverbal social cues.
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Kevin B. Smith
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ralpher wrote:
Try to get Hanabi. It's a very easy to learn game which requires sensing what the other player means by his action. It requires a keen sense of intuition.
For aspies it should be helpful for understanding and giving nonverbal social cues.

I haven't played it, but thought about suggesting it (for the reasons you gave), but wasn't sure how well the "theme" would go over with teen boys.
 
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Matt Bowles
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Hi Jo

A great co-op is Shadows over Camelot
Its especially good for large [and patient] groups.

It might take a little bit longer to learn than Forbidden Island(which is a great game aswell), but it's worth it, and if the theme is what got them, then they will surely love the medieval search for the grail, defeating the Black Knight, capturing Excalibur.

Hopefully you get a chance to try it out..

from what you've said the pros are:
1. theme
2. it plays up to 7 players.
3. Fairly self explanatory where the dangers lie - eg. catapult count at the front gate, or numbers of Saxon/Pict warriors on the beach, how many grail cards vs despair cards.


cons:
1. Longer playing time - minimum an hour, and probably closer to 2 hours or more with more players or less experienced players.
2. Lots more decisions to make, although you will only have a few options up front, you might need to plan in advance alot more than the simpler co-ops.
3. More expensive than other co-ops I've played. (but more parts = more toys right).


Potentially has a "traitor in the midst" element, which you could just leave out, so it's not a negative, but with your group you might not find it's a positive either.
 
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Scott Hill
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jellyfish1 wrote:
Put stickers of little toy trains over the poi markers. Rescue all the toy trains from the burning building! That will get them interested.


I'm sorry, but, as someone with Asperger's, I find that just a tad offensive! We're not all into Thomas The Tank Engine (or trains in general), you know!

But, to answer the OP:

Zombicide, when it's released.
 
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Scott Hill
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peakhope wrote:
(many computer programmers are said to be borderline Asperger's)

TBH, most of us aren't all that 'borderline'.
(I'm a diagnosed Aspie, and a programmer, and I'd say a fair proportion of the programmers I've ever worked with are almost certainly also Aspies)

But you do also raise an important point:

@OP: How 'high functioning' are your Aspie's - if they're right up at the 'almost normal' end of the spectrum, then I wouldn't discriminate between co-op and non-co-op games - I love competitive games as much as I love co-operative games.

The only games I really don't like are the board-games with role-playing elements (though I do like proper pen-and-paper role-playing games), or games that involve ridicule, or silly tasks.
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David
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peakhope wrote:
ralpher wrote:
Try to get Hanabi. It's a very easy to learn game which requires sensing what the other player means by his action. It requires a keen sense of intuition.
For aspies it should be helpful for understanding and giving nonverbal social cues.

I haven't played it, but thought about suggesting it (for the reasons you gave), but wasn't sure how well the "theme" would go over with teen boys.

I for one loved fireworks at that age. Besides, the theme is pretty light. If you can get a hold of it I highly recommend it because it's a great game. One thing though: You cannot play with an open hand but they could write the hints down. I've made some laminated sheets with colored and numbered fields for each card where I can write down the hints and erase them again when the card is played.

On a different note: Something not co-op but still interactive might also work. Maybe a trading game like Bohnanza?
 
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Jo Chapman
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Thanks everyone. Looks like Forbidden Island is definitely the way to go for starters.

I hadn't heard of Hanabi and it looks fascinating! Reading through the forums it looks a bit too 'thinky', is that fair or am I getting the wrong impression?

I also didn't realise you could leave the traitor element out of Shadows of Camelot - anyone tried that? How does it work? That could be a great option, theme is great and the components are appealing too.

I loved the idea of rescuing toy trains from the burning building, it made me laugh I think I'll spend some time pondering other things we could rescue, we may just be able to come up with something that would get them excited. Maybe I'll ask them cool

These are teens who choose to attend an Asperger-only social group on the weekends, so they're not borderline and often have other challenges as well. That said, they vary a lot! We range from one who has started studying animation, to one who finds Uno pretty challenging. Most of them currently enjoy a super-strategic Kids of Carcassonne which often results in running out of tiles before anyone wins because they're all blocking each other. While there's a few who would enjoy some pretty complex games, I want to be able to include as much of the group as possible rather than have games only a few 'elite' can play.

Before I joined the group and started introducing some different games, they played a lot of Phase 10. The problem with Phase 10 (we're now trying to make sure it never gets played again) is that it can get very frustrating and upsetting for a player who just never draws the cards he needs. And those Skip cards got really nasty. Plus it took forever... We were getting a table full of frustrated, stressed, angry and upset boys shouting at each other who still wouldn't stop playing cos they had to finish the game!

Contrast that with high-fives across the table and "We're awesome!" after playing Castle Panic last week... we want more of that
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David
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Jowolf wrote:
I hadn't heard of Hanabi and it looks fascinating! Reading through the forums it looks a bit too 'thinky', is that fair or am I getting the wrong impression?

We range from one who has started studying animation, to one who finds Uno pretty challenging.
It can be pretty thinky. Playing it with no aids it's quite the brain burner when it comes to remembering all the hints and what cards were discarded. That said the game does not have any clear cut win/loss conditions. For every card you played correctly you get a point and there are comments for several point ranges. For the most part you're just trying to beat your last game or get into a higher range.

The nice thing is there are a number of ways to make the game easier. I already mentioned the aides to write down the hints. We also started to lay out the discarded cards openly which helps with narrowing down what a card could potentially be. Also if the game is still too difficult you could add more hint tokens or let players continue to play until all cards are gone.

But overall - seeing your reply - I'd say it would not be something for all of them. It's definitely harder than UNO but some might appreciate the challenge.
 
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Tom Builder
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Scorpion0x17 wrote:
I'm sorry, but, as someone with Asperger's, I find that just a tad offensive! We're not all into Thomas The Tank Engine (or trains in general), you know!

I meant it affectionately. My apologies if this was offensive to anyone.
 
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Scott Hill
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jellyfish1 wrote:
Scorpion0x17 wrote:
I'm sorry, but, as someone with Asperger's, I find that just a tad offensive! We're not all into Thomas The Tank Engine (or trains in general), you know!

I meant it affectionately. My apologies if this was offensive to anyone.

Apology accepted.

I just find it a little insulting when people stereotype us Aspies - "Oh, you must be in to trains!" or "Oh, you must be good with computers!" - in the former case, no, not really, in the latter, well, yes, I am, but I'm also an individual - not a stereotype.
 
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Darren Bezzant
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The one that I have found that works really well is Flash Point: Fire Rescue. My 13yo aspie enjoys the advanced game after playing a few rounds of the basic game to get the hang of how the fire mechanism works.

 
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Adam Kunsemiller
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Kempeth wrote:
It can be pretty thinky. Playing it with no aids it's quite the brain burner when it comes to remembering all the hints and what cards were discarded.


Just a quick Hanabi procedural note, there is no need to remember discards, as they are all kept face up and can be examined. (stated in the rules)

Hanabi can vary from a fun activity to an intense session of brain hurt, depending on who you play it with and how the group decides to play. I'll also say that allowing note taking is a perfectly valid thing to do, but it does change the "feeling" of the game.

While Hanabi is a logic puzzle, at it's heart it's a communication and trust game. Rather then "I have deduced that I can only have this card" it's more common to be thinking "they told me about this card so that I would play it" etc. Once you start taking really detailed notes, it drifts away from that trust exercise and more towards that logic puzzle, but it's still a perfectly valid and enjoyable experience!

An interesting aspect of Hanabi is that there will often be the urge to discuss why things happened, or what someone meant. More serious players of the game discourage this as the outside information can have drastic influence on the game, resulting in oddly silent game play. There is no reason you can't just ignore that though, and let people table talk away; since the game is fully cooperative, no one will feel cheated or like something unfair is happening, unless different groups start bragging or comparing scores.

I've played Hanabi with someone who was Aspie once, and it was a very interesting experience. The non-deterministic trust based aspects of the game were almost entirely lost on them, but they still *loved* the game and wanted to play nothing else.
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Ted Groth
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Jowolf wrote:
I also didn't realise you could leave the traitor element out of Shadows of Camelot - anyone tried that? How does it work? That could be a great option, theme is great and the components are appealing too.


It works just fine without the traitor, but of course if you know there is no traitor the game is easier to win. At first that might not be an issue, anyway. If it does get too easy, then add in the "squire" variation to step up the difficulty level a notch. (players start as squires, without special powers, promoted to full-fledged knights only after completing a successful quest, I think.)

This one also allows players to enter or leave mid-game, and playing without the traitor makes this easier to do without problems.
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Ralph T
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Hanabi is a brilliant game. It's a game with dozens of little victories and tense moments on each turn.

My group (which is now too small to play Hanabi) didn't play it as a thinky game. We don't take notes. It is plenty entertaining to play just using hunches and laughing when someone forgets the clue of the last round and messes up, and cheering when someone does the right thing. In a way it's so brilliant it makes the over-theming of some co-op games seem garish.
 
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My son has Aspie and we like Pandemic. We tried Ygddrasil it whent OK. He didn't like Forbidden island (Pandemic lite). He loves Dominion and Thunderstone.
 
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