Posts tagged ‘Cooperative Game’

Board Game Night – How Competitive Are You?

One of the main factors in selecting a board game that is appropriate for the people you’re playing with is gauging your group’s competitiveness. Let’s face it; a mismatch in the competitive department can prove disastrous in a group. No matter how much fun Aggressive Al might be having winning big in Settlers of Catan (or even Monopoly for that matter), if Al mercilessly annihilates Peaceable Pam in the process, feelings can be hurt and the evening can be ruined for everyone. (This can be a particularly difficult problem if Al happens to be married to Pam!)

So, what are some practical ideas for choosing games that will be appropriate for a group with an unknown or mixed level of competitiveness? Well, if you’re the game night organizer, you can do much to ease your group into fun games without starting off with a proverbial “knife fight.” Here’s a guide to some games, based on their Competitive Factor.

Take it Easy

With a group of strangers or one of unknown competitiveness, the safest approach is to start off with a game in which it really doesn’t matter who wins, in other words, so-called Party Games that derive their fun from the playing itself. Party Games are generally filled with laughter, and are great ice breakers. Games to consider in this category include Apples to Apples, a classic game of matching descriptions with persons, places or things or Fluxx, where the rules are always changing.

Moving Up

If your group survives the first category with belly laughs instead of angry invectives, you’re probably safe to venture into some games with more strategy, but minimal direct confrontation. Many of these games fall into the “Lighter Eurogame” category. Carcassonne and its many expansions fit this category well, and are relatively easy to explain to new gamers. In Alhambra, you’ll feel more like you’re building your own fortress instead of attacking your opponents, and San Juan and Zooloretto are great alternatives that aren’t directly confrontational, but will still scratch that competitive itch.

Bring it On

For many groups, the lighter Eurogames will hit the sweet spot, for they offer more in the way of strategy than the pure laughter of party games, but won’t likely degenerate into cutthroat competition. However, if your group desires more direct confrontation, many of the heavier Eurogames provide it. The Settlers of Catan is on the lighter side of these more competitive games, but some real nastiness can be done with the Robber option and road blocking, so be careful if you have a “Peaceable Pam” in your group. For those who want more complexity, with opportunities for confrontation, it’s hard to beat Puerto Rico and Power Grid, but none of these should be a first choice with an unknown group of gamers.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Finally, you might want to try a game that is intentionally the opposite of a competitive game, one of the so-called Cooperative Games. In Cooperative Games, the players don’t compete against one another, but against the game itself. Either everyone wins or everyone loses. This might be an excellent choice for a group that likes a cerebral challenge, but is essentially noncompetitive, or a group that has had a bad competitive experience and needs a serious change of pace. Arkham Horror, and Battlestar Galactica can rightly be called semi-cooperative in nature (you may have a secret traitor in your midst!), while Pandemic is a purely cooperative masterpiece.

In truth, most of us probably have a bit of a competitive streak and board games can be an enjoyable way to express it. But if you take care to match your choice of games with your group’s personality, you’re much more likely to get ’em coming back for more instead of indelibly etching a bad experience in their memories.


May 12, 2009 at 2:38 am 1 comment

A Night with Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

Author: Shawn Wolen
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is a semi-cooperative game for 3-6 players ages 10 and up that can be played in 2-3 hours. The theme of the game is devised from the recent remake of the 1970’s television show, Battlestar Galactica. The game picks up after Caprica and the surrounding planets have been decimated by a nuclear attack by the Cylons and the humans are running (flying through space) for their lives in search of Earth.
The game is enjoyable for fans and non-fans alike. If you are a fan of the new series you will enjoy detail and homage the game makers gave to the miniseries that launched the recent television show. The characters and their storylines from the show are weaved into the development of their characters and talents in the game. If you are not a fan or not an avid watcher of the television show fear not; it is not a requirement of the game to know the show or their story lines. You can easily pick up this game and start playing after reading through the games instruction manual. You do not need to know or understand any elements of the show’s stories to understand, enjoy, and play the game.

The game, as with most co-op games, has a “screw you” element. At the beginning of the game, cards are handed out to indicate if a player is human or a Cylon.

If you are a human, your goal is to survive until the last jump to earth.

If you are a Cylon, you have two options:

  1. Embrace your robotic nature declare your metallic stature to the group, and spend the remainder of the game thwarting the human’s efforts of trying to reach Earth or
  2. Remain quiet about your true identity and hinder the human’s efforts using subterfuge and malice.

Both options provide some interesting game play. There is no requirement in the rules that players announce their affiliation if they don’t wish. So, if you are a Cylon, you can continue to feign humanity in an effort to defeat from within (there is a caveat to this rule; during a later round, the Sleeper Agent Phase, if a player has a Sympathizer card they are dealt with immediately. To learn more about this phase, see the rule book). Some creative game play is required with this method. A player wants to cause enough havoc to prevent the human’s advancement without being so obvious as to be caught (being caught means being sent to the brig, but does not infer a need to reveal yourself a cylon).

If the player decides to announce their true selves, the thwarting can be completed in any number of obvious ways; destroying their main ship (Galactica), destroying enough civilian ships, boarding Galactica, or depleting any number of resources the humans need. As a reveled Cylon, you have much more powerful options available to you to prevent the humans from escaping.

Get your own copy of Battlestar Galactica.

March 22, 2009 at 1:25 am Leave a comment

Arkham Horror – A Brief Introduction

Author – Tristan Ansel T. Angeles

Arkham Horror is a cooperative board game for 1 to 8 players by Fantasy Flight Games, and designed by Kevin Wilson and Richard Launius. Set in the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts, the game has the players running around the town visiting and closing dimensional gates in locations such as the Arkham Sanitarium, Miskatonic University, and the Unnamable as well as “other dimensions” made famous in the stories by author Howard Philips Lovecraft , or H.P. Lovecraft as he his more popularly known . While doing this, monsters come out of the gates trying to ruin the investigators efforts to halt the awakening of an ancient one, one of the big baddies of the Cthulhu mythos, which will more or less decide the outcome of the game.

The Theme

For those uninitiated to the Chtulhu mythos, or H.P. Loveraft’s stories, a little background might be needed, although not necessary to fully enjoy the game.

First and foremost, H.P. Lovecraft’s stories (though not all of them), follow a premise that in the ancient past the earth was ruled by creatures from the other worlds, and that these creatures, through the help of minions and cultists are trying to regain mastery over the earth.

Perhaps the example, which best illustrates the theme of the H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, is none other than “The Call of Cthulhu”. In the short story, a strange statue procured from a police raid, pushes the protagonist to research on its background. The information he acquires reveals to him cults trying to awaken the ancient ones. The story climaxes, with the crew of a fishing vessel stumbling upon the sunken city of R’lyeh , and almost fully awakening Cthulhu, high priest of the ancient ones.

Some other H.P. Lovecraft stories that might be of interest to those trying to get into the game are:

  • The Shadow over Inssmouth,
  • the Unnamable
  • Dunwhich Horror( which is also the title of one of the Arkham expansions).

There are more H.P. Lovecraft stories to be found on the net, which will surely interest once one gets into the game.

The Gameplay

For those people looking for a quick game to be played during break times, Arkham Horror is NOT for you.

The game takes roughly 4 to 5 hour hours to finish and takes a huge amount of gaming space.

Now that the gaming constraints are set aside, lets continue to the actual board game review.

Arkham Horror is one of the very first board games I bought, and it does not disappoint. First, the amount of playing pieces in the game are astounding – more than 700 pieces. The pieces are composed of decks of cards which represents several elements of the game (Locations, events, items etc). There are also chits and tokens which represent the monsters, and various gates and portals that the player’s investigators will encounter on the board. Of course, there is the gigantic board itself which represents the fictional town of Arkham.

Aside from the high quality pieces, the artwork depicted on the cards and tokens will surely please any Lovecraft fan because they accurately evoke the theme of the game. Since we are in the topic of theme already, it is also safe to say that playing Arkham Horror will emulate the feel of the Lovecraft stories, that is, man against ancient horrors from beyond time and space, since the game is very hard to beat.

For the gameplay, there has been several complaints that the rulebook were hard to understand or confusing, but from my experience we did not have any problems with them. Once you play it a few times you generally get it.

Buy Arkham Horror here

January 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm 2 comments

Shadows Over Camelot – Another Customer Submission

We had a second customer take advantage of our Best Dang Points program. This is a customer we met at Half-Off Books, in Altamonte Springs, FL. They have since become a great friend of and we appreciate their support. They are Gary Bacchus and his wife Grazielle. They stopped in about a month ago now and hung out for a while. They came back, and picked up this game from us for a game night they were hosting and then pulled up some chairs and we got in a full game of Eketorp.

So, Gary and his wife have sent some photos in and wrote up an article for you about this game, as well as thier experience with Eketorp – which they also ended up buying.

Here is their write-up of their experience with this Shadows Over Camelot:


In Shadows of Camelot you become one of the Knights of the Round Table. Together with the other knights you’ll stand to defend Camelot from its enemies. As a knight you’ll have to help Camelot by completing many different quests. Some of the quests can only be completed by a single knight, but most of them can be completed with the help of the whole party. This effort can be complicated both by the automatic advancement of evil during the game and a possibility of a traitor in your midst. This is a cooperative game for 7 players and it takes about an hour and a half to play.

The last time we played this, we played this game with 5 players. They didn’t have much board gaming experience prior to this save for commercial games.

The Concept of a Co-Operative Game

The first conceptual hurdle came right away. They had never played a game that was cooperative in nature before. The part that took a little extra bit of explanation in this part was the acquisition of relics. In the game, certain quests, such as the Quest for the Holy Grail, awards one of the players with the grail itself. This caused a bit of confusion right away as this quest is one of the quests that the entire party can help to complete.

It’s important to explain that the acquisition of the relics really does help the whole group even though only one knight actually possesses each of the items. Also, make sure the players understand their special abilities (each knight has a special ability which could make quests a lot easier).

Teaching the Game

A walk-through with the board and pieces seemed to suffice to get people through the learning part. Avoid teaching this game by reading from the rulebook. This game is easier to play than it is to explain. In particular, relating the card combinations needed in the quests to poker hands seemed to help in explaining the mechanics. The person teaching this game should probably look through the rulebook and the book of quests beforehand so they can figure out how best to distill this down for the rest of the players. The rulebook is a bit verbose in places and it would help to be able to summarize for the rest of the party.

Final Conclusions

I found that the game experience really deepened as the game progressed. Our non-gamers settled right into their roles once they understood their special abilities. I could suggest this game for new gamers, but I would suggest taking some time beforehand to summarize the rule set a bit. This game is a great way for new gamers to experience a dynamic that they may have not experienced before. Our non-gamer crowd requested this game in future game nights and I have a feeling it will have a good long stay on our table for many sessions to come.


Well, there you have it. A positive review for Shadows Over Camelot. Gary and his wife are active players at The Daily Grind – and they were the ones that suggested we speak with Infusion Tea – with whom we now have a partnership.

August 27, 2008 at 9:40 pm 1 comment


Best Dang Games

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