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Arkham Horror (Fantasy Flight Games, base game only)

Theme: The town of Arkham, Massachusetts is the site of rips in the space-time continuum. The horrors from other dimensions are opening gates, coming through, and threatening the release of an Ancient One so horrible, the fate of the world is at stake.

Enemy: Players play against the game itself.

Goal: Players win if they close all the gates (and possess a gate trophy per player), seal 6 gates, or defeat the Ancient One.

Cooperation: Players must move around town, collect money/items/spells/skills/allies/etc, find clues, travel through gates to other dimensions, close/seal gates, and fight monsters. Players may trade money, items, and spells. Moving around town is dangerous with so many monsters about, so players have to work together so that the proper player deals with a monster he is best able to fight (or sneak by), and that the most dangerous gates are closed/sealed sooner (banishing monsters from that dimension).

Characters: Each player represents a unique Investigator with Sanity, Stamina, fixed/random possessions, special abilities, and individual skill tracks.

Good Actions: Investigators move around Arkham, interact with the locations (collect things), fight monsters, travel to other dimensions, and close/seal gates.

Bad Actions: At the end of each round is a Mythos Phase. A new gate may open, one or more new monsters may appear, monsters move, and various one-time or long-term effects take place. Various game events increase the Doom Track and Terror Level. The Doom Track brings the Ancient One closer to breaking through. As the Terror Level increases, various shops in town close up, and ultimately, the monster limit is removed as Arkham is overrun.

Random Elements: All items/spells/skills/allies are drawn from card decks. Monsters are drawn from a set of shuffled tiles. Mythos card are random. Most monster movement is controlled by the Mythos card. Combat and other skill checks are performed with dice.

Strategic Elements: Each location in town is marked with the most common things to acquire there, and whether they are unstable (gates can open there). Each Other World dimension is marked with symbols that limit what encounters you can have there. Investigators and monsters have combat statistics which can be taken into account before fighting or venturing into dangerous areas. Investigators can adjust their skill sliders each turn to increase one skill at the expense of another. The Ancient One is known up front. Players can plan for the final battle, if there is one.

Replayability: Each game uses a random Ancient One which affects play in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. There are 16 unique Investigators, and each draws different numbers and types of random possessions at the start of play. The game will unfold in different ways each time as gates open in various places, and different sets of monsters appear.

Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Fantasy Flight Games, base game only)

Theme: RPG-style dungeon crawl.

Enemy: One player plays the role of the Overlord.

Goal: The players try to complete the chosen quest with at least one Conquest Token left. The Overlord tries to cause the players to lose all their Conquest Tokens, usually by killing them.

Cooperation: Players move through dungeon rooms and hallways dealing with various monsters, traps, obstacles, events, and treasure. They can trade items and otherwise help each other during combat in ways typical of RPG's using their abilities/weapons/items and by their movements, positions, and chosen actions each round.

Characters: Each player plays a unique Hero with different values for life, fatugue, armor, speed, melee/ranged/magic attacks, fighting/subterfuge/spellcasting skills, and a special ability.

Good Actions: Each turn, a Hero may change what items he is using, then do basically any 2 of move/fight/ready (eg move twice, move/fight, fight/ready, etc). Readying actions are Aim (re-roll any dice next attack), Dodge (re-roll any Overlord dice next time attacked), Guard (allows for an opportunity attack), and Rest (restore fatigue).

Bad Actions: Each turn, the Overlord gets one Threat Token per player and draws 2 cards. He can discard cards and get an additional Threat Token for each. He can now play one Spawn Card (which adds a new monster to the board), paying its cost in Threat Tokens. He now moves and/or attacks with all monsters on the board. Some of the cards allow the Overlord to trigger events or activate traps.

Random Elements: Hero skills are chosen randomly from a deck. Overlord cards are drawn from a deck. Combat is performed with dice.

Strategic Elements: Each scenario is a fixed dungeon with its own unique open spaces, bottlenecks, lines of sight, etc. Players can use their Fatigue to add dice after a roll, and Surges (special die roll results) to activate the special effects of some weapons. Ranged and Magic attacks succeed based on rolling a number of successes equal to the range. Players must decide if they are willing to get closer for a better chance to hit. The Overlord is not going to let the Hero's plans play out. He might ignore the Hero up front and go for the ranged Heroes. He may block an escape, or gang up on one Hero hoping to remove an easy two Conquest Tokens at a critical time.

Replayability: There are many quests in the basic game, as well as many more online. Each combination of quest, player/Hero, and player/Overlord is going to provide different interactions.

Fury of Dracula (second edition) (Fantasy Flight Games)

Theme: Dracula is rising and trying to spread his vampire reign over all of Europe.

Enemy: One player plays the role of Dracula.

Goal: The players are trying to find and defeat Dracula. Dracula is trying to increase his influence by surviving, spawning vampires, and defeating the hunters.

Cooperation: In order to defeat Dracula, the players must find him first. This involves moving around Europe in a loose net looking for signs of Dracula's trail (usually the last several places he's been). Once the trail is found, the players must quickly close the net to keep Dracula from getting by without encountering one of them. Dracula's actual current location must often be deduced based on the locations he's been and if he's been travelling at all by sea. Players collect items which can also be exchanged when they meet. Dracula can also be attacked by players as a group.

Characters: Each player represents a vampire hunter (or more than one with fewer than 5 players). Each hunter has different attributes and abilities: health, max items/events, starting/max bites, etc.

Good Actions: Hunters can travel by road, rail or sea. Hunters may draw event cards from the bottom of the deck. The good events are kept. Hunters may also draw item cards in some cities. Hunters may attack Dracula if they encounter him.

Bad Actions: Bad event cards that are drawn (above) are passed to Dracula unseen by the hunter. As Dracula moves, he leaves behind encounters for the hunters to stumble onto. Locations that "fall off" his trail (from 6 turns ago) may be turned into catacombs with an extra encounter added.

Random Elements: Events and items are drawn from card decks. Dracula's encounter pool tiles are drawn from a set of tiles. Movement by rail is resolved using a special die. The base attack strength for combat is a die roll.

Strategic Elements: Finding Dracula is a combination of teamwork, luck, psychology, and deduction. Dracula's movement is constrained by the fact that he is weaker during the day (avoids confrontation), takes damage when travelling by sea, and may not use the rails. Combat is performed using simultaneous action selection, but each side's available "weapons" is mostly known, and the previously-used weapon may not be immediately used again in the next combat round. Bonuses and penalties for combat with Dracula and his minions based on day/night/location are known quantities.

Replayability: The game will be different based on the cards drawn--good and bad--and the movement/combat/encounter choices made by Dracula (aggression, bluffing, risks). Simply changing who gets to be Dracula makes the game fresh.

Lord of the Rings (Fantasy Flight Games, base game only)

Theme: A very abstracted adaptation of the Lord of the Rings story from Bag End, to Rivendell, to Moria, to Lothlorien, to Helm's Deep, to Shelob's Lair, and finally to Mordor.

Enemy: Players play against the game itself, which represents Sauron and all his evil minions.

Goal: Players are Hobbits trying to reach the end of the Mordor board and destroy the One Ring before the ring-bearer is corrupted or dies.

Cooperation: At the end of each scenario, players take corruption for each life token they are missing. These are acquired on each players turn as they move 3 or 4 markers over spaces depicting these symbols. Players must work together to decide who can and should advance which marker(s). The spaces on these tracks also grant other good and bad things, which must also be "shared". Players can also play special yellow cards (and activate yellow Gandalf cards) at any time, even during other players' turns. The nature of the cooperation is management of events. At the end of each of the first three scenarios, the Hobbit with the most Ring tokens takes the One Ring for himself. This is partly under player control. In many cases, the players try to make it so that the Hobbit with the least corruption gets the One Ring.

Characters: Each player represents a Hobbit. Each different Hobbit has a special ability: less restriction on types of cards played together, less bad effects of die roll, less corruption from missing life tokens, drawing extra cards.

Good Actions: Play 2 cards (advancing the markers on the tracks), draw 2 cards, or heal (move backwards on the corruption track).

Bad Actions: On a player's turn, he draws event tiles until he gets a good one (Activity tile). Each bad tile activates an event (usually bad), corrupts a Hobbit, or helps Sauron in his search. Also, some of the scenario spaces have bad things on them.

Random Elements: All player cards (except Gandalf cards) are drawn from a deck. All event tiles are drawn from a pile/bag. Some scenario spaces and events require one or more Hobbits to roll the die. 5 of the 6 results are bad.

Strategic Elements: Every upcoming scenario space and event can be seen and planned for. For example, if Sam needs a Sun token, the players can work it out so the marker stops on the space just before it for Sam's turn. If an event is really bad, the players can plan to mitigate/avoid.

Replayability: The sequence of spaces and events on the scenario boards is exactly the same for every game. What makes every game different is the card draws and the event tile draws. You might walk through Moria without a scratch only to get crushed in Helm's Deep.

Pandemic (Z-Man Games, not yet released)

Theme: Four major diseases threaten to spread over the entire globe and wipe out mankind.

Enemy: Players play against the game itself.

Goal: Players must cure all four diseases before any one spreads too much, before 8 Outbreaks occur, and before the draw deck runs out.

Cooperation: Players move around the globe treating diseases, building research stations (to facilitate movement and find cures), and curing diseases. This is all done using cards, which players may pass to each other when they are in the same city AND the card passed depicts that city. Players will need to coordinate their locations and actions to manage the growing threat.

Characters: Each player represents a different member of a global disease-fighting team. Unique abilities include: moving other players, building research stations for free, curing diseases easier, treating diseases easier, and passing any card.

Good Actions: Move, pass a card, treat disease, build research station, and cure disease.

Bad Actions: At the end of each player's turn, he draws as many cards from the Infection deck as the current Infection Rate. Each card depicts a city where a disease increases. If a city already has 3 cubes of that disease and you need to add another, then an Outbreak occurs instead. Every adjacent city gets a cube of the same disease. If those cities also have 3 cubes of that disease, then there's a chain reaction. Also, if a player draws an Epidemic card when refreshing his hand, the Infection rate is increased, the BOTTOM card is drawn from the Infection deck, and 3 cubes of that disease are added to the indicated city. This can also cause Outbreaks and subsequent chain reactions. Then the Infection discard pile is shuffled and placed on TOP of the Infection deck.

Random Elements: Player cards are drawn from a Player deck. Infection cards are drawn from an initially-random Infection deck.

Strategic Elements: Players can see where the diseases are spreading and building up. Large Outbreaks can be prevented by treating diseases to break up long chains of hot spots. Cured diseases can be treated much quicker. If all the cubes for a cured disease are removed from the board (by treatment), that disease is Eradicated and may never be placed on the board again. Because of the unique way that Epidemics are implemented, the Infection deck becomes more known (you will re-draw cities that you have already seen, and not draw cities that you haven't seen until you have used up the ones on top or until another Epidemic). The positions of the Epidemic cards in the Player deck are random, but only within an equal number of cards each. You might get 2 close together, but then there will be a number of safe cards before and after them.

Replayability: Each game, the diseases will appear and spread randomly at first. Players will need to "put out fires". As hot spots form and Epidemics and Outbreaks occur, players will have to form a plan to attack each specific case based on the disease types and topology, and the knowledge of the players' cards, abilities, and the cards on top of the Infection deck.

Shadows over Camelot (Days of Wonder)

Theme: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table go on their various legendary quests to save Camelot from the forces of evil.

Enemy: Players play against the game itself and a potential, yet unknown, traitor.

Goal: Players try to fill up the Round Table with as many White Swords as possible before too many Black Swords show up, Camelot falls to the invading menace, or all the Knights die. White Swords are obtained through the successful completion of quests.

Cooperation: Most quests involve the playing of cards to form straights, pairs, full houses, etc. Some of the quests allow all the Knights at the same time. The Knights are allowed to talk but not to indicate specific cards they hold. Discards are always face down so the potential traitor can hide the fact that he's, say, dumping good cards. Many special cards allow players to help each other.

Characters: Each player represents a Knight with a special power: passing a card, playing a special White card as an extra action, drawing an extra card, adding an extra card AFTER combat is resolved, gaining life after completing a quest, peeking at the top Black Card, and moving from Camelot for free.

Good Actions: On his turn, a Knight may move, heal, play a special White Card, accuse a player of being a traitor, or perform an action for the current quest (play/discard a card, fight a Siege Engine, etc). Successfully completed quests result in White Swords, life points, and/or Relics.

Bad Actions: On his turn, a Knight must add a Siege Engine to Camelot, take a point of damage, or draw a Black Card (which do all sorts of bad things). Black Cards which get added to quests may be placed face down, giving the Knight an extra White Card. This also affords a traitor the opportunity to place a powerful Back Card into the mix. Failed quests result in Black Swords, Siege Engines, and/or damage.

Random Elements: The White/Black card draws are random. Siege Engine combat is by die roll.

Strategic Elements: Players can choose which quests to go on (and when) based on the cards they have. Some Black cards can be prevented/cancelled/mitigated by using special White Cards, or by the players contributing Merlin cards as a group. If certain quests need to be dealt with quickly, the Knights can change plans, although at the cost of efficiency. Because a traitor may be among them, the Knights need to scrutinize every action taken and every card played to see if one of them may be working against them. An unaccused traitor causes 2 White Swords to be flipped to Black Swords.

Replayability: Every quest is always there and plays out the same. What changes is what White Cards are available and how fast the Black Cards brings certain quests closer to failure. Playing different Knights gives players a chance to have a different use. The traitor mechanism makes the game shine.
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John N.
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This is absolutely amazing! The perfect comparison of all 6 games which people constantly ask to have compared. I seriously hope that this stops the constnat question of "which should I buy.. LOTR or SoC?" Buy them both. They rock! Although buy the expansions for Lord of the Rings. Aaargghhhh now I am answering it again for th ebillionth time!

Terrific post!
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Luca Iennaco
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Cooperative games are my favourites, but there are so few of them.

However, I do not consider the several "one VS many" (e.g. Descent and Fury of Dracula) in the same camp of truly cooperative games like the other four you mentioned (that are pretty much all the cooperative games I've found so far along with Vanished Planet, Aliens and Warhammer Quest).
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Vinay Chandrasekhar
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I would agree with Luca here. For me a co-operative game has to be players vs the game system, one players vs the rest does not count. I did not like Shadows over Camelot because of the traitor element.

I have played Lord of the rings (my favorite game), eagerly anticipating Pandemic (hope it lives up to my expectations) and have not tried Arkham Horror.

Very nice comparison article.

Just wish there were more Cooperative games out there
 
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Jonathan Franklin
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I think Break the Safe should also be included.

Once you add Fury of Dracula, you need to add all sorts of games: Scotland Yard, LotR w/ Sauron Expansion, Space Hulk, and any other game with a DM.

For a splendid cooperative game, see Maskenball der Kafer: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/4522
 
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Daniel
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Great job!

I am curious as to why you decided on these particular games. (Read: I am hoping that you just happened to have access to them and as time passes, others will be added).

 
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grandslam wrote:
I think Break the Safe should also be included.

Once you add Fury of Dracula, you need to add all sorts of games: Scotland Yard, LotR w/ Sauron Expansion, Space Hulk, and any other game with a DM.

For a splendid cooperative game, see Maskenball der Kafer: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/4522


Scotland Yard, definitely.

Also, I would give credit to the original publishers of Fury of Dracula and Arkham Horror. Personally, I like the old Games Workshop version more than the Fantasy Flight version.
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Crazy Bob
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I'm surprised you didn't say anything about vanished planet, since it's got its own banner here. I haven't heard of pandemic though, I'll have to check it out.
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Jonathan Franklin
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Here are few others w/o a 'bad guy':

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Terra (sort of)
Warhammer Quest
Hoopla

One game on my 'want to play' list, which I am not sure if it belongs here is: Minion Hunter
 
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Camping? Yeah, my people haven't done a lot of camping since the 1940's.
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Now I want to play Scotland Yard with the Sauron expansion.
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Jim Cote
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zelador wrote:
I am curious as to why you decided on these particular games.

These are the only ones I've played, or know enough detail to describe them. Feel free to add your own. Please use my format.
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Sean Swart
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Minion Hunter Base game, just recieved the Expansion which add new depth and makes the game much tougher to win.

Theme: Near Future mankind against the underworld/space invaders. Think X-files on Crack.

Enemy: It the Heroes vs the game itself.

Goal: Players take on the darklings, trying to stop their evil plans of ruling the world (or in this case the USA) by stopping their plots from hatching to fruitation.

Cooperation: Players can work on their own or in teams against hot spots around the map of the USA. Certain events will require certain talents. The Right man or Woman for the job makes it easier.

Characters: Each player plays Hero that can be modified during the game with skills and weapons. It is all up to the player to decide what to do with this money and what skills he or she wishes to improve.

Good Actions: Player move around the board trying to improve themselves or go to possible threats around the USA.

Bad Actions: Plots are turned up, new hot spots flare up. Minor events may move slowly the plots of the 4 major enemies of Humanity, while Major Plots that are not stopped will move forward threatening to end the game.

Random Elements: Decks of cards and or chart tables will give events. Combat is performed with dice. You do not have control of what event will happen.

Strategic Elements: Players can build their hero during the game as they see fit. Knowing when to stop a plot or letting it go can make or break you sometimes. Getting money to buy those cool weapons and items also come to play.

Replayability: Each game can be completely different, but with time players will know what event take place in which city making the game much easier. The expansion for this game, changes all that and you never know what lurks out there.
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Luca Iennaco
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Da Black Gobo wrote:
Add Minion Hunter to the list.

Let ynnen do his part!
 
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Davido
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (US) is another "players vs. Evil" game. 4 different "Evil One/minions" enhance replayability as well as different weapons/artifacts.
 
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bruno faidutti
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You must also consider Vanished Planet. And I have one coming next year...
 
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Nikola Pinjuh
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What about World of Warcraft the Boardgame? Isn't it also cooperative game? Well, I'm just asking. Didn't have the pleasure of trying it yet...
 
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Perhaps make mention of how many players for each game. I would also be interested in seeing how many players is recommended.

Good list.
 
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Luca Iennaco
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swordwielder wrote:
What about World of Warcraft the Boardgame? Isn't it also cooperative game?

No, it is team VS team. It features cooperation withint the memebers of the same team, so it is like the "one VS many" (you cooperate with some players and share the victory with them, but not all of them). Thus, I wouldn't consider it truly "cooperative".
However it is not THAT hard to play it completely cooperative (as a signle team VS a "clock", i.e. a fixed number of turns); of course this changes the possible number of players from 2-6 to 1-3.
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Sean Swart
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bikini wrote:
Perhaps make mention of how many players for each game. I would also be interested in seeing how many players is recommended.

Good list.


minion hunter: 1 to 6 players.
 
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Jay T Leone
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Luke the Flaming wrote:
swordwielder wrote:
What about World of Warcraft the Boardgame? Isn't it also cooperative game?

No, it is team VS team. It features cooperation withint the memebers of the same team, so it is like the "one VS many" (you cooperate with some players and share the victory with them, but not all of them). Thus, I wouldn't consider it truly "cooperative".
However it is not THAT hard to play it completely cooperative (as a signle team VS a "clock", i.e. a fixed number of turns); of course this changes the possible number of players from 2-6 to 1-3.


Yes, it plays much better as a cooperative. Though, these games (except Camelot) including WoWtbg aren't truly cooperative; they are multi-player solitares (meaning each player doesn't have hidden knowledge from other players - can be played as a 1v1 e.g. Descent or solitare e.g. Arkham Horror). I don't know about Pandemic though.
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Carol Carpenter
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If you ARE including games with a traitor such as Shadows Over Camelot, then you have to add Betrayal at House on the Hill.
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jtrleone wrote:


Yes, it plays much better as a cooperative. Though, these games (except Camelot) including WoWtbg aren't truly cooperative; they are multi-player solitares


False.

WoW fails this test as it is team vs. team. At the very least, risk taking decisions change depending upon the progress the other team is making.

LotR fails because there is hidden information. Yes, you are allowed to talk about your hand in as much detail as you like, but the point remains that it is up to the players to reveal information they feel is important at any given time. This is not an issue of played solitaire. Therefore they are not equivalent.

-MMM
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Wes Nott
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Good post.

I currently don't own any purely cooperative boardgames (2+ players vs the game) although I do own Descent (which i don't consider purely cooperative because one player is the Overlord).

I had dismissed Arkham Horror and Fury of Dracula based on their theme, but after reading about them more i'm intrigued. I'm generally not interested in Horror themes (aside from Zombies) but Fury of Dracula has me interested now. Mechanically the whole cat and mouse aspect of the Hunters chasing Dracula sounds great. I can imagine some tense moments in that game. I'm probably going to be buying this game this week after reading your thoughts, the rulebook, and the reviews here on BGG. And hey - it's almost Halloween.

I'd still like to give Arkham Horror a try though.
 
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Mike Summers
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Great post. Thanks for taking the time to write this up.
 
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Vanished Planet (Vanished Planet Productions)
Theme: Earth has been swallowed up by an evil space creature and the remaining 6 planets are sure to follow unless the players stop it.

Enemy: Players play against the game which is basically a shrinking board and countdown mechanism with some variability.

Goal: Players win immediately if they achieve a certain number of victory points before the last planet is destroyed by the creature. Required VPs depends on player number and are pooled from all players (even those who die later in the game).

Cooperation: Players have 1 to 3 starships each, used to colonize planets and space stations. These stations produce resources once per turn. Players are allowed to trade a single resource card with another player during their turn independent of location. Base resources are combined to form more advanced resources allowing more efficient trading with players. Some equipment can also be traded.

Characters: Base game has 6 identical races. Free "racial advantage expansion" gives benefits (faster movement speed, more space stations, etc.) to each of the 6 races.

Good Actions: Move spaceships to colonize planets, pick up mission cards from comm relays, fulfill current mission card, upgrade equipment, and most importantly TRADE excess goods with your fellow players.

Bad Actions: At the end of a player's turn he extends one of the six tentacles of the creature thereby shrinking the game board and threatening his home planet. Once a tentacle reaches a home planet at the outer edge that player is out of the game and his resources lost. Victory points are kept though.

Random Elements: A random event card is picked up at the beginning of a player's turn which can provide benefits (free resources, retarded creature growth, increased ship speed) or harm the player (increased creature growth, stolen resources). Game difficulty is scalable by changing the number of creature growth card in deck.

Strategic Elements: Limited number of colonies per player so group needs to decide which resources will be needed and settle/move colonies accordingly. Base resources need to be merged frequently to avoid theft and improve trading. Decide which missions to accept and which to reject based on remaining turns and available resources.

Replayability: Games will generally be very similar except for the randomness introduced by event cards. More replayability with game expansion. Expect slow game speed or AP with new players (e.g. 2-4 times the advertised game duration). Very well balanced with 50-50 chance of winning.
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