Recently I did an article talking about the different types of games, and one that I mentioned was campaign games. These are games that tell a story throughout as you play them and you are playing scenarios that tie together over time and create one…
Tag: Pandemic Legacy Season 1
It might be kind of the wrong time to talk about this, we’re in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, however, I think with that, for some, comes more time to delve into more story, including that of the Apocalypse/Post-Apocalyptic in nature. This is one…
This is going to be another Top 10 list that hits on a bunch of games that I like a lot. There’s something about cooperative games that is quite nice, mainly being able to sit down and if someone at the table is lagging behind in knowledge of the game, they can be brought up into the game without needing to know every rule perfectly because we can all work together and learn as a group versus be stomped if you don’t fully get the strategy in a competitive game.
So what are my top 10 cooperative games?
10 – The Lost Expedition
Number ten on the list is the smallest game of the group but also one of the easier ones to teach and get to the table. In this, you are your fellow players are trying to lead your team of adventurers on hikes twice a day so that they can get to the Lost City of Z, but the jungles are dangerous, and you never know what might be coming up next. But that’s for you to decide as players, without discussing, you put down cards for a morning and evening hike that might get you more food or cause you to find bullets or maybe you get hook worms, and no one wants that, but there are difficult decisions to make on each card, and you can discuss that part. One of the games that really has something built into to stop alpha gamers from being able to run the game. It’s a lot of fun, and it plays fast as well, which some of the games further on the list won’t.
9 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
The first, but not the last Lovecraft Mythos game on the list from Fantasy Flight, this one is the smaller or the two, though it packs a lot of punch. In this one, like all of Fantasy Flight’s Lovecraftian Games, you are an investigator working together with the other investigators trying to stop whatever horror is being called through by cultists. But in this you can be fighting, but much of it is investigating, and the game is just basically cards and a bunch of tokens. You don’t need a bit board to tell a big story or change up the game. The different things that the cards can do and how they can use them to create a town or house or other locations and it feels different is impressive. Now, with the base box, it’s only a 1-2 player game, but with another core box you can play up to 4, so if you have a larger group it’s something to consider. And Fantasy Flight does a great job of supporting this, as they do with all their living card games, so there is always more story coming out.
8 – Aeon’s End: War Eternal
When it comes to deckbuilding a lot of them do similar things, you add cards, you maybe buy more cards or attack, and then you draw a new hand until you can’t fill the hand and then you shuffle up your discard and repeat the process. Aeon’s End: War Eternal is unique because you never shuffle, when you discard cards, you choose the order they go so that you can create, if you’re good at card counting, a hand or combo that you want to get because it’s going to be strong. It’s a lot of fun to see how that piece of the puzzle fits together. Plus, you’re all trying to take down a nemesis who is bent on taking out the town of Gravehold. And each nemesis plays differently. I have really enjoyed both plays of this game, and it’s a good challenge, there are a lot of mages, who play differently, and there are expansions galore for the game with even more nemesis and breach mages to choose from.
7- T.I.M.E. Stories
One of the most unique games on the list, T.I.M.E. Stories has an element of an escape room game, it has some role playing aspects, and there’s a good amount of narrative to it. You are all part of a time agency who is trying to stop unwanted time incursions from happening and messing up the timeline. This means you might be going to the earth in the 90’s, or another dimension where there is magic and dragons. And it can change that wildly in each of the expansions and each time you play. Now, each scenario can only be played once, but to get through and beat the story it is at least a couple hours of excitement for 4 players, if not up to 3, and it’s cheaper than a movie at that point. Plus, the upside, and sometimes downside, is that because it’s such a sandbox, you can do anything in the games, and the creators have done a good job of doing that, creating interesting puzzles and mechanics to test out along the way.
6 – XenoShyft: Onslaught
You and your fellow crack team of marines, scientists, and medics have been tasked with protecting a mining facility from hordes and hordes of giant monstrous bugs. Why did they build a mining facility on this remote planet, money of course, but now you’re about to overrun with bugs, can you fend off the waves they’re throwing at you? This is a very tough game, even though it makes it’s deck building easier than a lot of others. You can help other people, you can give them troops or weapons that you’ve bought for your deck to help them shore up their defenses, they can give you stuff in return, or use stim packs and grenades to help you when it’s your turn to face a wave of monsters. This game is clever in what it does, and it creates a good amount of tension, plus I like that the game is basically all simultaneous so there isn’t downtime for anyone.
5 – Pandemic Legacy Season 1
Seems a bit on the nose to be playing right now (article written 4/13/2020 during Covid-19 Pandemic), but it is a really good cooperative game. I could have put down either season of Pandemic or base Pandemic on the list, and any are great options. Can you prevent the spread and find the cures to four diseases before they run across the world and destroy everything? This game is pretty simple compared to the other ones, but still offers a lot of good choices and you always feel like there are 1-2 more things that you need to do on your turn and you hope that you’ve picked the right things so that you don’t have an outbreak on your hands. Also, do you have a good combination of characters that are able to fight it off and can you use it to the best of your ability. A lot of questions, but it’s a good game, a simpler game, and one that you can play faster and with more people than some because it an easier game to pick up.
4 – Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon
When Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table came to the lands of Avalon, they were wild and untamed and the Wyrdness and Foredwellers twisted the land, but they forced it to their will, creating Menhir, but now that was long ago, and the Menhir are starting to go out and the Wyrdness is coming back over the lands. You and your fellow adventurers are only going out because those who were supposed to have saved you and your village have gone out and not come back. Can you survive the twisted lands of Avalon? This game works really well as it’s a very tough game where survival is the goal but not a guarantee, and you spend so much time exploring and discovering new things about Avalon and you might not have wanted to know. Then you go from the exploration piece of the game and jump into combat which can be tough as monsters aren’t always meant to be beaten and diplomatic encounters can turn violent if you’re not careful. There are chunks of the game that are pretty well split up where you can do daily actions separately or explore while someone else fights, but this is a grand free flowing game that tells an interesting story.
3 – Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
You, and your fellow paranormal investigators have been called to a mansion to explore some unnatural goings on. This might be a crazed cultist leading a band of cultists and trying to summon a deep old one. It could be you’ve made it to late and a town has been overrun with Deep Ones and you need to figure out how to escape. You and your fellow investigators could get split up in two different timelines and need to work together to solve the mystery and get the one who time traveled back. There are a lot of different scenarios, and an app that helps you keep track of everything. The game is set in the Lovecraft Mythos, but it has more of an investigative feel to it, than leaning into as much horror. If you want a game that is fairly big but doesn’t feel as daunting as some dungeon crawlers, Mansions of Madness is a good option.
2 – Marvel Champions: The Card Game
This game has made it on a lost of lists and it’s working it’s way up to being one of my favorite games of all time. The game just feels like you’re in a comic fighting a villain. And you get the full comic feeling as you can team up superheroes as well as flip back and forth between an alter-ego and superhero side in order to rest and recover if the villain knocks you around to me. The game does a lot of clever things, and you can create the team-ups that you always wanted, or at least some of them, eventually Fantasy Flight will come out with more heroes so you can create any team-up you want. And they’ve managed to make the villains feel different as well as the heroes, so you can get a lot of unique games.
1 – Gloomhaven
No surprise here, though there are some slight semi-cooperative elements of the game, mainly having specific goals that you need to do in a given scenario depending off of some card draw, but for the most part it’s working together, and those goals are just perks and don’t make or break the game if you don’t get them. Gloomhaven is an epic dungeon crawling and character leveling game where you and a group of fellow mercenary adventurers go through and try and figure out what strange things are happening in Gloomhaven and the surrounding areas. The story is fun but it really shines with a puzzly sort of card based combat that makes everything work together. And it feels like there’s always more to explore in the game.
I think that one thing I really like about cooperative games is that you get so many great shared stories out of them. Even the ones that aren’t just storytelling heavy can still have great moments in them as you roll the right number to get what you needed or draw the right card. It’s such a shared victory and moment that they often stick out to me. And I know that I have so many more cooperative games sitting on my shelf that I like and that are waiting to be played again or for the first time. What are some of your favorite cooperative games or cooperative gaming experiences?
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If you’ve been keeping track of this site for a while, you’ve seen me talk a lot about Pandemic Legacy Season 1, and play through Season 1 on Malts and Meeples. I haven’t talked as much about Pandemic Legacy Season 2 and my experience with that, though you can see that Season 1 is high in my top 100, and Season 2 is much lower.
So, it was time to do a TableTopTakes review of Pandemic Legacy Season 2.
In this game, without going into spoilers, you are basically on the ocean, I believe oil drilling platforms, where humanity has mainly been relegated. This happened when a plague overtook the lands, and to be saved, you had to go to the platforms. You have limited contact with a few coastal cities but even those are in danger of being overrun with the plague if it weren’t for you sending them medicine. Plus, there are many more things that you unlock as you try and figure out how much of humanity is left, and where the leaders of your platforms have gone, because they left a while ago to find out what has happened to humanity as well.
Pandemic Legacy Season 2 keeps what feels like core mechanics from Pandemic, but in some ways turns them on their head. In regular Pandemic and in Season 1, you are trying to keep cubes at bay, if you get too many, you get outbreaks and bad things happen. Season 2, instead, you are placing out the medicine cubes. If the plague shows up in a city where there isn’t medicine, bad things are going to happen. In my experience playing this, it takes a few games to really wrap your head around the change. Maybe for some it’ll go faster, but it feels backwards and I think, though it still feels like Pandemic, that could be off putting for some people and groups, because you might lose several in a row just because of how it feels.
This game does offer one very cool thing out of the box that I can talk about, and that is that it adds in exploration. Through this exploration you get to add in more things, but those would be spoilers. But there are certain cities on the board that tell you to discard groups of cards of various colors which will unlock things on the sticker sheets. It’s a cool concept and being able to unlock more of the map is interesting. You can see how your resources are going to be dwindling for dealing with the plague, but you need to unlock the map as well, so it’s a push and pull of not expanding too fast, but needing to go fast in order not to be spread too thin. Like other versions of Pandemic, you always feel like you’re neglecting something in order to try and get through the game before something bad happens.
Also, because you aren’t fighting diseases in the sense that you aren’t curing four different colors, you can use the cards in different ways. The big thing is exploring, but it doesn’t feel as bad to spend cards to move around, though, when you need to place out more medicine cubes. So that is an interesting tweak to the game. I’m going to be saying this a lot, the game still feels like Pandemic because of the cards, the mechanics, but so much of what you’re doing is different in Pandemic Legacy Season 2 and it is interesting to change your mindset, especially if you’ve played a lot of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 recently and regular Pandemic.
Next, I want to talk a little bit about the characters. In Season 1, you get characters where they are the “Medic” or “Scientist” and Season 2 changes that up some. You still get to be a character with a special power, but the special powers, like the medics basic power, you can just pick a character card and add it to that, so you can tailor your look. And death is also handled differently. There are still scars that you can get, but now you have a track that you, every time you’d “get” a scar, you instead scratch off the next one, and it might be nothing, it might be a scar, or you might just die. So it’s possible that you’d have 1 scar and then just die or it’s possible you might get 3 scars, you don’t know how resilient you are. That makes being in a dangerous location even more stressful because you don’t know how it’s going to go.
Now, I should do the comparison to Pandemic Legacy Season 1, I’ve kind of already done that though, in an epic Board Game Battle. So I don’t need to go back and recap that much, I will say that I do prefer Pandemic Legacy Season 1, I think the game is a bit easier in terms of focus on what you really need to do. Pandemic Legacy Season 2 can get caught or the game will have to unlock stuff if you don’t do it fast enough or in the right order, and that can be annoying at times. They do a good job of pointing you in the right direction generally though. Overall, it’s a really good game, a good story, and definitely worth checking out.
Overall Grade: A-
Gamer Grade: A-
Casual Grade: B
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It’s that time of year, with Black Friday and Holiday Shopping nearly upon us. That means that people are starting to think about the gifts that they’ll be getting for others or what they might want to ask for themselves. This list is basically the…
We’re back again, now time for the disclaimer text.
These rankings are the opinion of yours truly, and if you don’t like them, that’s okay. We all have different tastes in games and that is great. There are some games that I’ve only played as a demo, and I felt like I got enough of a feel to put them on the list, thanks GenCon for all the demos. These are living rankings so next year I’m sure that things will change, so I’ll probably be doing another one next year. Thanks to Board Game Geek for letting me enter/rate my collection and games I’ve played. Thanks to Pub Meeple for creating a tool that pulls in those games that I’ve rated and creating a ranking tool. Again, the numbers and names will be linked to Cool Stuff Inc and Amazon if you’re interested in the games.
90 – Carcassonne
First classic game on the list, I’d say. This is a tile laying game that has been around for a long time, though, not as long as games like Clue and Monopoly that didn’t make my top 100. In Carcassone, you are trying to connect roads together and build cities, monasteries, and farms. All of these things give you points and when all the tiles have been played you tally up any final scoring and the person with the most points wins. What’s interesting about this game is that as you complete cities and roads where you have placed a knight or a robber, which are just meeples, you get those meeples back, so you are trying to balance getting a lot of points in a single road or city, and not having all your meeples on the board so you miss scoring.
89 – Dead of Winter: The Long Night
So, this is technically an expansion. But it’s also technically stand alone, so I’m placing it on my list because you don’t need Dead of Winter to play it. In this game, like Dead of Winter, you are protecting your base against zombies, however, they add in a few things, like a bandit module, a building module, and a Umbrella Corporation, I mean Raxxon, expansion. This game adds more to a game that already has a bunch of stuff going on in it, hence why it’s a bunch lower than the original, plus, it’s just hard to beat the original. I’d definitely play with any of the expansions though.
88 – Splendor
We’re going away from a more thematic game and going into a game that is purely tableau building. The “theme” of this game is that you are a gem merchant who is buying single use gems to get other gems that you have all the time, okay, that doesn’t make sense. But that’s what you’re doing in the game. Some of the gem cards that you’ll buy will have points on them, and the first person to 15 points wins. This is a great introductory tableau game that looks nice on the table. The game comes with a bunch of cards but what most people notice are the power chips that represent the single use gems that you’ll be getting early in the game. They are nice and weighty and give the game a good tactile feel. This is game that I’ll always play and have a good time with, there are other games higher on the list that fit a similar niche that I prefer though.
87 – Stuffed Fables
Your girl has had her favorite blanket stolen, and as her fearless stuffed animals, you are going to go into the depths of the world under the bed to get back that blanket without waking up the girl. This is a very cute game with cute stuffed animal minis. It’s what is known as a storybook game where you flip to different pages in the book, depending on what you do, and play through different chapters of an adventure by playing through the little scene that is in the book. Stuffed Fables definitely is focused for children, though feels like it’s a bit too complex for most younger children that the story targets more so. The game looks great though, and because it’s cooperative, you can work together as a group, which would be how you can get younger gamers to play and understand what is going on. Eventually this will be something that I play through with our baby.
86 – Legends of Andor
We’re into one of the first story driven fantasy games on the list. I’ve played this one a few times, and what is interesting about this game is that killing monsters causes the story to progress faster. Each round advances, and eventually you run out of turns, and you’d lose the game, but if too many monsters get to the castle, you lose the game, if you kill too many monsters and use up the rounds, you lose the game. This is a fun fantasy puzzle story game, because beating the monsters isn’t always hard, but knowing when to beat the monsters and when to focus on story elements, it’s a challenge. There are a bunch of different scenarios in the game, all of which seem interesting, and there are a bunch of expansions for it. It’s a big fantasy game, but at the same time, it’s not a complex fantasy game, so it’s a good introductory one for younger gamers.
85 – Lord of the Rings
This is the classic Fantasy Flight game where you play as up to five Hobbits traveling to Mount Doom to throw the one ring in. Yes, you read that correctly up to five Hobbits. If you have five players, one person can play as Fatty Bolger. Who is Fatty Bolger, he’s the hobbit who they invite along after add in Merry and Pippin but who declines, if you’ve read the books you’re apt to remember him. This game feels fairly thematic, but mainly feels like a puzzle as you try and play combinations of cards to advance through different locations before time runs out. It’s not a very heavy game, but there are interesting choices, and anyone can hold the ring, so Sam does, always, because he’s steadfast and hard to move. They made a lot of expansions for it as well. If you don’t want a big card game or a big minis game for Lord of the Rings, this is a fun option.
84 – Pandemic Legacy Season 2
We’ll see Season 1 higher on the list, but I did enjoy my playthrough, just not as much as the first season. I won’t go into spoilers, because this is a legacy game, but Pandemic Legacy Season 2 has a bit less direction while having a few clear things to do as well. It’s confusing with how I wrote it, but it still tells a good story. I feel like with the story, though, you’re waiting for the twist to happen like there was at some point in time in season one. What is cool about this one is that the mechanics are different, but they still feel like Pandemic. I’ll be playing through this at some point in time on Malts and Meeples, so if you want spoilers, that’s where it’ll be. Even though it’s a story driven legacy game, I feel like there’s plenty that you can play again with it after a bit of time. Downside is that to do that, you need a new version of the game.
83 – Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
This is a massively bloated game at this point with 20000000000000 different expansions, and that is only using half the characters that Marvel has. In this game there is a villain whom a group of players with hero cards are going to attempt to defeat. It’s pretty standard in how you deck build with a changing market, but it gives you some interesting things like trying to build up enough damage to take out the villain enough times, while also trying to keep a handle on the different henchmen that are coming out. What makes this game tricky is that there are literally too many options now for the game. If you just pick what Marvel superheroes you like, you might end up with a group of heroes that don’t synergize at all, and then the game is going to take way longer than it should be build up the combos that you’re generally looking for in deck building games. However, if you just have the base game, you have enough to keep yourself busy for a while. This is a game that I’ve grown to like more as I’ve played more deck building games.
82 – Arkham Horror 2nd Edition
Yes, this is not the new edition, in fact, the new edition that I’m stoked to try, it’s not on my list, because I haven’t tried it yet. It’s sitting on my shelf just waiting to get played. But this is the massive older version where you are going around Arkham and adventuring and closing gates, fighting monsters, and then probably losing for up to six hours. Like I said, it’s a massive game and that’s without any of the expansions. I’ve really only played this once, and not even my copy, but it was blast, it’s just hard to carve out that much time. I am probably going to keep this game, because it’s the first massive epic game I bought, but also because it seems different enough from the 3rd edition that I probably have room on my self for both. If you like that older grind of a game, this one still holds up well, and there are tons of expansions for it, but you’ll also need a giant table for it.
81 – Dead Men Tell No Tales
I was hoping that this game would replace Pandemic in some ways or be another cooperative option, and I think that it almost does that, but you’ll see where Pandemic falls on my list. In Dead Men Tell No Tales, you are a group of pirates who are going onto a ship that is haunted by ghosts, on fire, and has a skeleton crew, but you’re willing to brave all of that, because the captain will make you walk the plank, and there’s treasure on this burning ship. You take your turn, dealing with fire, taking out those skeletons, trying to build up so you can fight the ghosts, but doing all of that while the ship continues to burn, and you hope that it doesn’t get too bad so that you can’t get to where you need to. It’s like Pandemic in that you have a ton of things that you can do and you never feel like you have enough actions. Or that your actions won’t do anything, and that’s one cool thing about the game, if you only have two useful actions out of your four or five, you can pass your unused ones to the next player so that they can get more done. If you want something that’s cooperative and the theme seems more interesting than Pandemic, I think you’d enjoy Dead Men Tell No Tales.
We’re through another ten, I’m planning that next week, besides Wednesday which will be Halloween focused, I’m going to continue going through my top 100, otherwise it could take a while.
What game from this section looks the most interesting to you? Is there one that you’ve wanted to play? Is there one that would be higher on your own list?
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So, recently, as I’ve been posting out, I’ve finished a playthrough of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 solo on Youtube. You can find that on Youtube at Malts and Meeples or on the Nerdologists. But, I wanted to go back to this game and write an…