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Working Together – An ITTD Cooperative Games Menu

Working Together – An ITTD Cooperative Games Menu

One of the best trends in the world of board gaming in the last decade or so has been the explosion of cooperative titles. Rather than having players claw and compete against each other, co-ops generally have everyone competing against the game itself. All of the players must work together in order to overcome the challenge and win. If they don’t, everyone loses.

And, as it turns out, the world of co-ops is so much more than Pandemic.  There is a whole panoply of interesting titles that take the cooperative element and craft innovative systems and challenges that wouldn’t really be possible in a competitive setting. So if you’re looking for a great day of co-op gaming for International Tabletop Day, here’s one menu that will leave you satisfied.

Appetizer – Mysterium

mysteriumMysterium begins in the house of a murder victim. The police are clueless and they’ve enlisted the help of psychics (the players) to undertake a séance and find the culprit. One player takes on the role of the ghost who knows what each psychic should see. Unfortunately, the ghost can’t simply divulge that information and can only communicate through visions – and therein lies the challenge.

Each psychic has to zone in on a particular culprit, location, and possible murder weapon. The ghost player has a deck of cards. The cards have no stats, no bonuses, and no effects. Instead, they are just artwork. In fact, the full card artwork often seems unrelated to the locations and suspects. So the ghost has to carefully select which pictures he wants to share with the psychics and what connections she hopes the psychics will draw from them.

If the players can divine the ghost’s messages, then they win. Otherwise, it’s a loss and the murderer escapes. Mysterium is great because it keeps all of the players highly engaged. You’ll find yourself discussing each other’s visions and debate about what the ghost is trying to say.  That constant interaction will get everyone warmed up for a day of cooperative play.

Main Course – Sentinels of the Multiverse

SotmHow would you like to take on the role of a superhero, team up with other superheroes, and work together to defeat a powerful super villain? That would be amazing, right?  Well, that’s precisely what Sentinels of the Multiverse is all about. Better yet, it doesn’t rely on existing properties from Marvel or DC, but instead utilizes a wholly new cast.

Each player gets their own deck of cards representing the powers and abilities of their particular hero. You might play Tachyon, the speedster or Tempest, the alien from another world. You also select one villain to fight. Perhaps it’s Baron Blade an extremely dangerous mad scientist, or Omnitron a self-aware robotics facility. Over several rounds, the heroes try to fight and destroy the villain and his minions.

Sentinels is an amazing experience. Because each player controls one hero, you really get a sense of ownership. When you play Fanatic, you feel like an avenging angel. As Bunker, you wield a single-man assault vehicle. And like all good co-ops, it gets you talking. “Legacy, can you take out that Blade Battalion?” “Sure, but only if you take care of the Baron’s device!”

While a game only lasts an hour or so, every single play results in memorable stories. Sentinels has an uncanny ability to create an impressive and exciting narrative every time it hits the table. And with so many heroes and villains, there is untold variety in the experiences you will have.

Dessert – Space Alert

space alertAs the day progresses, though, it’s time for dessert. Something shorter, perhaps. But still providing a solid cooperative experience. And you can never go wrong with Space Alert. In this real-time game, the players control a space ship as it comes out of warp in a dangerous area. All they have to do is survive for ten minutes. Easy, right?

Maybe not. Outside threats will bombard the ship and players will have to race to raise the shields and fire the lasers. Of course, shields and lasers take energy and if there isn’t nay, no shields or lasers will form. So other players have to ensure that the energy is flowing. Of course, there are also internal threats as your ship gets boarded, and you’ll often need to coordinate blasts between lasers, missiles, and other attacks. It’s a puzzle that would be solvable if you could sit down and think about it, but in the short time frame, it just isn’t possible.

The hectic nature of the game results in fast action at a furious pace. At the end of the mission, the players may feel like they’ve got it all figured out. Only to see that a miscommunication meant that no one fired a laser, the assault frigate got through your defenses, and your little boat was blown to smithereens. Space Alert is a frantic and fun capstone to a day of co-op gaming.

Are you planning on playing co-ops on Tabletop Day?  Tell us about it in the comments.

Image Credits: Asmodee Games, Greater than Games, and Czech Games Edition

Featured Image Credit: Greater than Games

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