It’s All for One and One For All! In Purely Cooperative Games
One of my favorite types of games to play is the pure co-op. In a pure cooperative game, all players work together against the board. Often you can discuss strategy with your fellow players, though you decide yourself what to do on your turn. The game gets a turn, too, usually at the end of each player’s turn or after all players have taken their turn – depends on the game.
Pure co-op games are not the same as semi-cooperative games in which one player works against the others. Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game is an example of a semi-cooperative game in which one player plays the Zombie Master controlling a hoard of zombies attacking a small town right out of a B-Horror Movie. Games that feature a hidden traitor like Betrayal at House on the Hill, Shadows Over Camelot or Battlestar Galactica may start out looking like a pure co-op, but end with one or more players working against the others. Hence hidden traitor games fall in the semi-cooperative game category. In this article, I’m going to focus on pure co-op games.
In a pure cooperative game, y’all either win together or lose together – as a team. To ensure victory, you have to cooperate to complete some goal. Victory is often hard-won: there’s usually only one way to win in a co-op game, but usually many ways to lose.
Here are some examples of goals you might have to achieve some of the most popular purely cooperative games:
- Find the cures for 4 diseases to save the world from a Pandemic.
- Survive the dangers of being shipwrecked on a deserted island in Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island.
- Prevent Lovecraftian Old Ones from entering our world where they would create chaos and drive everyone insane in Mansions of Madness, Elder Sign, Eldritch Horror and Arkham Horror.
- Find the four ancient artifacts on a sinking landscape and escape by helicopter from Forbidden Island.
- Excavate the parts of an ancient flying machine from a hostile desert before you’re buried by an impending sand storm in Forbidden Desert.
- Protect the castle from a horde of marauding monsters in Castle Panic.
- Build 5 fireworks displays by playing cards you can’t see in Hanabi.
- Search for treasure on a ghostly galleon guarded by a hostile skeletal crew and escape with said booty if you can because Dead Men Tell No Tales.
- Complete space missions in the harsh environment of Mars in First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet.
- Solve a perplexing mystery in Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective.
- Foil the scheme of an evil mastermind by recruiting Marvel Superheroes to your team of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents in Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game.
These are just a few of the many wonderful cooperative games in print today. As you can see, the themes and settings are diverse.
For gamers who enjoy strategy, but don’t care for head-to-head conflict, cooperative games are the perfect gaming solution. Co-op games are also great for kids that are just learning to play board games because they teach teamwork and good sportsmanship.
I mentioned earlier that victories are often hard-won in cooperative games. So don’t be surprised if you lose. Studies show, however, that win or lose co-op gaming provides opportunities for rewarding emotional and social interaction including: camaraderie, humor, memory-making and storytelling. The sting of losing is reduced when you’re in it together often resulting in a “we can do better, let’s play it again” attitude. The journey itself often makes loss unimportant. Simply working together towards a common goal may bring you closer.
So next time you get together with friends, family, or acquaintances you’d like to get to know better, consider playing a pure cooperative game in which it’s all for one and one for all!
Side note: the only Three Musketeer themed games I’m familiar with are semi-cooperative with one player moving the evil Cardinal Richelieu’s guards and Madame de Winter against the Musketeers: Athos, Porthos, Aramas and D’Artagnan.Copyright © 2018 by Tina G. McDuffie. All rights reserved.
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