You’re a gamer, your cousin Joe is not. Aunt Edna won’t shut up about her crazy neighbor, and uncle Bob voted opposite you in the election. Yet you have days to spend with them and get along. Co-Operative games are a great gateway for those that aren’t really into board games, because you and other players can coach them and work together. It also can help smooth ruffled family feathers more than a competitive games. Working with uncle Bob will keep you from (hopefully) taking out your election after thoughts on him by refusing any sheep for wood trades, or cutting off his route from Denver to New Orleans.
Here’s a list of some Co-Op games of different types that you may want to pick up from your “Local Friendly Game Shop” on the way to the holiday dinner.
Mysterium- I love this one and it works great with larger groups. One player is a ghost who has witnessed a murder many years ago. The rest of the players are attendees at a séance. The ghost gives picture clues to the seance members (without talking!) to help them figure out who did it. Think Clue meets Dixit (same artist as the Dixit cards)
Concept- Pictionary meets Charades. You can work in teams or a big group. People can come and go. There is a large board covered in pictures and symbols on the table. Each picture has a certain meaning (or not!) and there are cheat sheets for players to look at. The “it” player draws a card with 9 different words or phrases, picks one and then tries to get his/her team or the group to guess based on what pictures he/she places colored markers on.
Forbidden Island/Forbidden Desert- good for 3-5 players. Cards are laid out on a grid, your job is to land on each card, flip it and find the items you need to escape. But the island is sinking and the desert is storming, so you have limited time. Each player has a certain skill, so you’ll be plotting each move together to make sure everyone survives
Elder Sign (and other varieties Arkham Horror brand)- each player is a “character” with special abilities and you work together to find artifacts that will eventually help you fight the Great One that emerges when you have lost enough little battles. Elder Sign is more random that the Forbidden games as you have dice to roll that can help or hurt you each turn. Roll bad and the Great One appears before you are ready!
Pandemic Cure – the dice game version of the larger Pandemic Game. Pandemic is a game of working together to globe trot and cure diseases as they take over regions. It can be a long strategy game and may not be enjoyed by the casual gamer. Cure is a quicker dice rolling version. It plays faster and doesn’t require a large table.
Panic!- Castle, Star Trek, Munchkin, etc. This one is great for multi-generational gaming. Kids and grandpa work together to defeat ogres, orcs & goblins (or romulans in the ST version) as they come out of the forest to attack the castle constructed in the middle of the board. Plays easy and gets tense as you have one wall left and 3 goblins coming closer!
Sentinels of the Multiverse/ Legendary- These are 2 deck building games where you are a band of superheroes (in Legendary you are playing as known ones such as Hulk). You draw cards, use them to acquire others or use the power on the cards to work together to defeat a big baddie. This is for those tweens that are whining that they have to spend time with the family when they’d rather be shooting at things on a screen.
Oregon Trail- Losely based on the old video game, this is a card game where you are working together to ride on the trail and not die a horrible death. In this game as long as one person lives you win…. but let’s be honest chances of that happening are very slim!
Hope these suggestions help make those stressful holiday gathering a wee bit more managable and to quote king of the nerds, Wil Wheaton- Play More Games!