We’re in this game together guys!

So… the Academy Awards. I never really have much to say about them. I tend to find they’re pretty irrelevant and stupidly political. I wasn’t that crazy about Slumdog Millionaire, which obviously swept up this year… but it didn’t impress or bother me enough to warrant a unique post about it.

This post is on something completely unrelated. I’m going to talk a bit about board games, specifically co-operative board games. I have a good amount of games in the house, as you can see in Annex’d Episode 1 . Ooh that was smooth.

Many of these games are co-operative games, where the players all work together against the game in order to win. These games have many things in common. They’re all pretty hard to win, or at the very least hard to win the first several tries. They all have some type of crisis system for creating problems all over the board for the player to solve, and they all are an absolute blast to play. Quickly, here is a brief description of each.

Arkham Horror is the biggest game I own. Players take the role of an investigator in a H.P. Lovecraft themed universe. Gates to other worlds appear all over town, spilling monsters into the streets. If too many bad things happen to the town, an ancient God awakens and challenges the players to a battle. In order to win, the players need to work together to keep the monsters and gates under control.

Pandemic is a new game by Zman games. It plays in about 30 minutes, which is nice compared to Arkham Horror, which can take anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours. Players take on the role of various medical personnel that are trying to contain various diseases on the board, eventually immunizing people against each one. The only drawback of this one is that it only plays 4 players.

Another one is Red November, which has one of the weirdest themes I’ve seen in a game. The players are drunken communist Gnomes in a sinking submarine. They need to put out fires, pump out floods, and try to keep the ship intact for 60 in game minutes. This game is probably the wackiest (and perhaps the hardest) of all of mine. It plays 1-8 players in an hour or so.

My roommate has the Battlestar Galactica board game, based on the new version of the classic tv series. Unlike most licensed games, this game is brilliantly designed. Players can pick from all the main characters on the show; each character has their own abilities and their own drawbacks. They need to deal with various “crisis” cards, with the eventual goal of reaching Earth. The catch is that one (or more) of the players is secretly a Cylon, working for the enemy. The game is built to foster as much paranoia and deceit as possible. It’s just great.

All of these games came out in the last few years. It’s good to see that co-operative board gaming has undergone a kind of golden age lately. It seems weird at first, a bunch of people sitting around trying to “beat” an abstract series of rules, dice rolls, and conditions, but it’s actually tons of fun if you give any of these games a try. It’s a nicer way to bring a new player into the game as well, since you don’t teach them the rules and then immediately try to smash them into pieces. Instead, you get to teach them the rules and then watch as they learn how to make tough decisions and help out the group.

If that sounds a little too group efforty for you, I will kick your ass in Agricola.


1 Response to “We’re in this game together guys!”

  1. 1 Allegra
    February 23, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Booooooooo Agricola.

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