When most people think of playing board games they probably think of playing something where they can beat their friends, something that will give them a few bragging rights. Or they might think of quick party games that you play over a holiday period that offer that quick to learn and play gameplay. Rarely does it feel like people consider playing cooperative board games. However, playing cooperatively is my favourite way to play.
In it together
The main and most obvious difference with cooperative games is that players are working together against the ‘board’ to try and win. For that reason, you’re all in it together working towards the same goal. You win and lose together. We’ve been recently playing through season one of Pandemic Legacy and it has provided us with some of the best board gaming moments I’ve ever experienced – it helps that it’s one of the top-rated board games of all time. Some of our games of Pandemic have gone down to the very last turn. To the point where we have sat discussing for twenty minutes how we can win with the remaining turns left. As a result, we ended up having a perfectly planned ending that gave us such jubilation that, well; I’m still talking about it now.
Whilst this can be achieved playing competitively, where you can plan your own moves, think ahead of your foes and outwit them to victory. It’s only a feeling enjoyed by one person. Additionally, it can also lead to my next point.
Analysis paralysis is where overanalysing or overthinking a situation can cause you to become paralysed with indecision. This leads to players getting stuck thinking about what to do. Thus leaving others waiting on you to complete your turn. It’s something that comes up a lot in board game discussions online where people ask how to handle those players who get stuck in these situations.
There isn’t much else more annoying than sitting around waiting for others to do something. And it’s exacerbated if you already know what you’re going to do on your turn. At best, people just zone out until their turn comes along. At worst it makes people not want to play.
Equally, this could still affect players who are playing cooperatively, however, in my experience, it’s less of a problem due to the fact that we’re in the same boat all coming up with ideas on what to do. Even if you do get a little bit stuck on deciding what to do everyone is there with you. In a way, it can become quite a good problem-solving exercise. On the flip side, I guess in some groups it could lead to frustration with other players when there are disagreements on what to do.
People Don’t Like Losing
Another element to be wary of – although this isn’t applicable to my group of board game friends is sore losers. Players who end up being bitter about losing a game. Or you might just have people that play so competitively that it takes away some of the fun. After all board games are meant to be played for fun. Therefore I want all the people I play with to have a good time.
Even when we lose a game of Pandemic, or all get killed in Zombiecide or Gloomhaven, we’ve still had fun. Which surely is what you want? I want to recommend board games where I know we will all enjoy it. I play games to have fun. And I find that I have the most fun when we’re playing to the same goal.