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Cooperative games

8 replies [Last post]
Joined: 12/08/2010

I have hardly played any cooperative games, but it sounds like they could do a lot of interesting and fun things, so:

1) What cooperative games do you like (what ones do you recommend)?
2) What do you like about them?
3) What would you like to see in a new one?

Joined: 09/20/2009
There are a few "big names"

Shadows over Camelot
Forbidden Island
Arkham Horror
Castle Panic
Defenders of the Realm

Are some of the cooperative games I have heard of/come across. I like Pandemic and Shadows Over Camelot best. I have found co-operative games are a way to get new people into gaming, as well as the bonus of being able to play with my wife without having the winner loser arguments we sometimes get into :)

As a game designer I have created one complete and one semi-cooperative game. I like various choices of play style, safe guards from the "one player bosses everyone around" scenario. I also enjoy player powers.

I think the genera has vast untapped potential, and wish you luck!

Joined: 07/28/2008
I wouldn't necessarily define

I wouldn't necessarily define Shadows as a full co-op game with the 'possible' traitor mechanic in there, but I second these choices, especially Shadows over Camelot, Pandemic and Arkham Horror. I might even suggest

Battlestar Galactica (again hidden traitor) but fun co-op
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Fury of Dracula (not strictly co-op - 4 players hunting down dracula but very fun)

irdesigns510's picture
Joined: 06/24/2009
since everyone mentioned some

since everyone mentioned some, ill go the 2 and 3 route.

-games with eminent danger are always good.

-ive mentioned on a different post about a co-op game where players are crew on a spaceship, and a CD plays background music, where every now and then a "mishap" happens, and every player needs to do some thing.
(i forget the title though)
...this was a very creative way of presenting the danger.

-games where one player can do something the other can't, and vice versa , and combined they can complete the task are always good.

THE 3's
id like to see something where the players are not only trying to stop the evil force, but also keep their presence unknown (like a ninja)

id like to see some sort of co-op dexterity based thing.

id like to see a "combined hand" trick taking game, against the cards that are laid out.
(each player is responsible for building their own hand, but combine for trick taking)

i'd like to see a "settlers of catan" style game where the island is treacherous, and efforts need to combine to survive.

Joined: 04/18/2009
There is a new co-op released

There is a new co-op released this year called yggdrasil. Sort of looks simular to ghost storied (witch is also a co-op game that have a wide fanbase).

The space theemed game with a cd your talking about is Space Alert.

Also you could put scotland yard on the co-op list. It is very simular to fury of dracula, all players vs. one.

But one of my favourit games is a 4 player game of Last night on Earth. In a 4 player game it is 2 vs. 2. So it is team co-op. 2 players play the zombi team and 2 players the human team. Very nice, the game also comes with cd with mood music. ^^

irdesigns510's picture
Joined: 06/24/2009

Magic later added some things that were pretty cool, as it was meant to be a 1vsX type of game originally:

2-headed giant- 2 players share life totals and such, and play against other 2-player teams.

Arch Enemy- a special arch enemy deck is used for one player to accompany his normal deck, and all other players team up against him.

Other than that it was the same game, just with slight mods.

Joined: 02/16/2011
Co-op games

My all-time favourite is Space Alert. The time limit is the best way I've ever seen to counter the alpha player syndrome. The tl;dr at the bottom lists the ways I've seen that one can counter it.

The alpha player syndrome:
When it's easy for one person, often the smartest or the one with most experience of the game, to oversee the entire player turn and decide what's best for everyone, it stops being fun. I've seen this happen in Pandemic. One player essentially decides the best course of action for everyone else. You can't say no, because -he's right-. It is the best course of action for you. You just weren't allowed to find it for yourself.

The fact that he's able to be right is what's the problem. If one player bosses everyone around, and either
a) the player being bossed around finds an alternative solution which he takes, which is also better
b) everyone obeys but the boss player is found out to be wrong and everyone loses
then people will eventually stop listening to him. However if he's right, and the players win by obeying him, the others won't have any fun.

Different games solve this in different ways. Most take the concealed information route - every player has a hand of cards that he can't show off freely, meaning the alpha player can't calculate the best course of action since he doesn't have access to all data. Shadows over Camelot and Pandemic both do this, but it's more successful in Shadows because of the traitor. Everyone has a reason not to be completely free with their cards because you don't want the traitor to have all information. In Pandemic, there's no reason at all not to put all cards down on the table except the rule book, and since you can talk freely it just becomes a hassle of everyone having to remind everyone else of exactly which cards they have. Of course they could refuse, the alpha player will argue, but that would be bad for the team and you don't want us to lose, do you?

That said, a game susceptible to the alpha player syndrome can still be fun for everyone, as long as noone takes up that mantle. But for players who want to win and are good at the game, not doing so can be very hard, so in my opinion games that actively work against the alpha should be credited for it.

So, concealed information is one way, adding a traitor causing everyone to -want- to conceal information is another, albeit related way. But there are more. Arkham horror doesn't suffer very much from it, and as far as I've seen, it's two things:
- The first is related to concealing info to all but one player, and that is simply complexity. With the level of complexity playing a character in arkham horror means, playing everyone else's too is a daunting task. At some point, you'll either have to trust that people keep check of their own weapons and equipment, or be very bored by trying to check up on them.
- The second is luck. So much of a players round, if not in time then at least in excitement, is centered around a few die rolls he's about to make. No alpha player can change that, and rolling someone else's dice is just rude. So every player will, even if they're bossed around on the game board, still have the actual dice counting and rolling to do for themselves.

But Space Alert, which I am shamelessly in love with, does almost all of these and more. It doesn't have a traitor, granted, but it does show:
- Concealed hands, and even concealed actions. You plan ahead of time, roborally-style, and halfway through you have to remember what you did in the earlier rounds, without knowing for sure how they will resolve, as you plan for later rounds. At that point you simply have to take everyone on their word when you ask them "what did you plan for round 3?" as neither of you is allowed to look at the face-down card.
- Luck, in the cards that make up your hand. You can't decide for everyone else who is going to be out of firing cards and who'll be able to move left in the first phase. The closest thing an alpha player can do is "I need someone to go left and fire the laser. Any volunteers?" which feels a lot less like bossing around. When someone answers, it feels more like a plan we made together, and the joy of a working chain of command.
- And finally, the time constraint. This amplifies all of the above. It would be possible, and not even very complex compared to AH, for one player to assess all threats, ask around what cards everyone had and then tell everyone exactly what actions to plan for which rounds. The thing is you don't have time for that. You have to let go, and say "you two, head to blue zone and deal with that thing" and then trust that the thing will be dead in four rounds when you need it to. Since cooperation games are supposed to be about teamwork, this is the closest anyone has gotten.

To summarise:
You can inhibit the alpha player syndrome by making each player the only one who is capable of making the decisions needed during eir turn. This can be done by:
- Keeping some information secret to everyone but em
- Introducing something that makes em unwilling to give up information he otherwise may
- Make his turn just complex enough so that everyone else is busy trying to oversee their own turns
- Introduce a time constraint so that everyone else is busy figuring out their own turn in time
These are examples I've seen and tried playing with. I'll post again shortly with a method I haven't seen yet, and that I'm trying to include in my own co-op game idea.

Joined: 02/16/2011
Rock-Paper-Scissors in co-op

The way to reduce alpha player syndrome that I haven't seen yet (tips on games that actually do this is very welcome!) is the Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanic, aka WIFOM (wine in front of me). When both of you have to figure out what the other one is going to do, while he does the same, and then you reveal at the same time.

This requires a few things. Firstly, no talking, obviously. This is boring, so it would all have to take place during a very limited part of the game. The only way that I can think of to make this work is to have the enemy move right before you do. That means the players can talk as much as they want and make up clever strategies, and then they say "let's go". Then the enemy moves, and the setup changes. The troll that was standing idly by heard something and is now blocking the bridge, so the ninja can't sneak in there to take out the archers. There's goes the entire plan. Now everyone has to think out what action they will play, and then everyone reveals. Did someone bull rush the troll? Did noone, since everyone thought someone else would? Did everyone bull rush the troll, to ensure that at least someone did? Everyone discusses how things went, and then they say "let's go" again.

This brings me to the next thing that this system would require, and that's of course that the different actions really have a meaningful difference. But in the right way.
- There must be a difference what action you take. If any action will bring you closer to the goal, then it's a toss-up.
- Secondly, it must matter how many people take a certain action, and whether two people took one half of a good action combo each. For example, most actions would only benefit from one player taking it a given round. The goblin only needs to be killed once, and if everyone gangs up on him, nothing is gained.
- Finally, it should -not- matter much who took a certain action, as long as someone did. This is also important in Space Alert, where everyone is almost completely equal. Because if the barbarian is superior at bull-rushing, or gains a bonus for doing a bull rush, then everyone else will figure out easily that he's going to, and let the troll be. If everyone has this kind of niche it's completely useless, as everyone will look for their own best move and hey, the players complement each other.

If anyone is interested, I will post more about my own game idea, which is about (if you couldn't guess it) an adventuring party facing a lot of monsters.

Pastor_Mora's picture
Joined: 01/05/2010
Uncooperative teams

Julian wrote:
I have hardly played any cooperative games, but it sounds like they could do a lot of interesting and fun things, so:

1) What cooperative games do you like (what ones do you recommend)?
2) What do you like about them?
3) What would you like to see in a new one?

Well, the co-op aspect I'm working in is "Un-cooperative Teams", that is, people cooperating and competing at the same time. For example, I have a Cold War global strategy war game in which a 3-player capitalist faction (US, UK, Fra) form a coalition against a 3-player comunist faction. Only one faction can win the war, so there is cooperation, but only one player in that faction will lead the new world order, so there is competition inside the cooperating team (even if they cannot attack each other).

This idea is ancient. As far as I know, it comes from one of the great-great-grandfathers of Chess, called "chaturanga" or something like that. Its a 4 players chess in 2 teams of 2. Each player moves half a chess-formation (each face a different side of the board) but you cannot move your Raja (king) into a position in which your ally can "check" you. Plus, if your ally "checks" you, you have to move aways as if it was the enemy. Plus, your ally can take your pieces!

Un-cooperative teams is my preferred way to deal with the alpha-player issue.

PS I like Forbidden Island, because it's cheap

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