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What’s the big deal about cooperative board games?

Posted Friday, 25-Sep-2015

With a huge growth in variety and quality, now is a great time to try cooperative board games.

Contributed by Andrew Knighton

 

It used to be that board games were all about competing with the other players.  From chess to Monopoly to modern classics like Settlers of Catan, the aim was to do better than the rest.  Now you can work together to beat the board with a whole range of cooperative board games, but without that old element of competition. So what makes these cooperative games so popular?

 

Good for learning the game

One benefit of cooperative games is that it’s easier to teach someone how to play without disadvantaging yourself.  Telling the new player about a good move in a game of Britannia could mean shooting yourself in the foot, as their armies march in and steal your territory.

 

Of course you want to invade Wales! But please wait until I'm done there first.
Of course you want to invade Wales! But please wait until I’m done there first. Picture by Jan ‘Valjean’ Gonzalo

 

But if you’re on the same side then that’s not a problem – teaching strategy and teaching game mechanics can go hand in hand with playing together and winning together.

This can even work in a game like Shadows Over Camelot, where you’re all cooperating except for one secret traitor.

 

But only a traitor would put catapults there! Picture by Pablo Pailles
But only a traitor would put catapults there!
Picture by Pablo Pailles

 

Discussing what the traitor might do is part of how the other players win, and so can give tactical hints to a new player regardless of which side they’re on.

 

Family Fun

Let’s face it, competitiveness can make family gatherings a little uncomfortable, especially when you’re playing against that one cousin who always has to win.  On top of that, if your family isn’t as keen on gaming as you, then there’s going to be a lot of re-explaining the rules.  That makes cooperative games perfect for family occasions.

Some games are particularly well suited to this.  Forbidden Island is simple, fun and gives each player their own special role.

 

Rescuing the treasures of Forbidden Island. Photo by walloftruth
Rescuing the treasures of Forbidden Island.
Photo by walloftruth

 

Best of all, Forbidden Island leads neatly into the more challenging Forbidden Desert, letting you slowly draw your family into the world of modern board games.

 

A Chance to Work Together

Even for dedicated gaming groups, cooperative games add variety.  Following game after game of trying to trick and beat each other, it can make a pleasant change to cooperate in fighting back the forces of darkness in Arkham Horror or to solve the puzzle that is Hanabi.

Whoever you’re playing with, cooperative games create a great change of pace, and a style worth having in your collection.

 

Main photo by John Morton.

Published by BoardGamePrices.com



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