Thursday, 10 April 2014

Board games, and co-op play.

We have friends (yes, really, we do) and a good number of them - almost all of them, in fact - are as fond of a nice boardgaming evening as we are. So it's a small wonder that we have a night gaming with friends quite frequently.

If you are involved in gaming and know your way around a bit, the term "euro-game" or "German-style board game" will mean something to you. If not, here's the thing in a nutshell: typical European or German games have the players aim for victory by competing for victory points or a similar progress measurement, often with a catch-up mechanism for the stragglers and a brake mechanism for those way in the front. While luck plays a role in most of these games, you also need to evaluate which approach you want to take, and there may be an end accounting that can severely shift player order (and thus have you win more or less unexpectedly). If such a game is well-made, it is very intense gameplay and a huge lot of fun - and as there's no player elimination, you can take part until the very end.

Relatively recently, there is a craze for co-operative board games, and we (as well as a good number of our friends) love those a lot. It's the "all of us together against the board" approach, where Bad Things happen after every player's turn, determined usually by roll of dice or cards drawn. I like not competing against each other, and sticking heads together to figure out how to solve a tricky situation... only to face an even trickier one after the next draw, or next die roll. Yesterday, we managed not to defend the realm... so if an orc or demon turns up on somebody's doorstep, it might be our fault. Don't come to blame us, though. We did our best.

If you are totally interested now, here's some of the co-op games that I myself really like:
"Defenders of the Realm" is a typical fantasy-themed co-op game with quite a bit of luck; you have to defend the realm and the main city against the four generals marching in, and - of course - their minions.

For those that want less fantasy and a little less luck as an element (though not much less), "Pandemic" also makes you defend the world - against viral illnesses spreading across the globe and threatening to kill us all.

Not hot enough? Then you could always go check out "Flash Point Fire Rescue" - you are a firefighter, called to a building to rescue the persons inside and keep the flames in check while you are doing this. This is quite luck-dependent, and if you have a tendency to botch dice rolls... well. It will get hot.

There's also the really hard "Ghost Stories", where you are a taoist trying to defend your village against malevolent ghosts.  I think this is one of the hardest, if not by far the hardest, of the games listed here - even in the most relaxed setting, you will need flawless cooperation, really good use of everyone's special power, and more than a touch of luck to win.

Finally a very different co-op game: "Hanabi" is a little card game where you try to put on some nice fireworks together. The twist? While all the others can see your cards, you yourself can't. Which means you will have to get hints (limited number available) to know which card to play... this is tricky, and intriguing, and should not be attempted half asleep.

So in case you are looking for a game a bit different from the usual "Hah, I won and you didn't", maybe one of these will delight you, too!

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