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<   No. 4582   2021-08-17   >

Comic #4582

1 Siobhan: Okay, maybe adversarial games aren’t your thing. How about we try a cooperative board game instead?
2 Martian 1: Cooperative?
3 Siobhan: Yeah. We work together to achieve our common goal!
3 Martian 2: Because that always works out well for us...
4 Martian 1: Shhh!!

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A recent trend in board games in the past few years has been the rise of cooperative board games[1]. These are games in which the goal is not to defeat the other players and emerge as the winning player, but in which the goal is for all the players to work together and "beat the game", so to speak, so that all players share victory. The failure condition is that the players fail to achieve the game's victory condition, which results in all of the players losing.

This type of game has become very popular, and a lot of people really seem to enjoy cooperative games. One friend of mine very actively prefers cooperative games to the more traditional adversarial style of game in which one player wins. A few of my other friends also very much enjoy cooperative games.

Me... Well, I've played several of the recent cooperative games, mostly because I want to join in with my friends at our regular board games nights. But very few of them appeal to me. I've found that I much prefer adversarial games. And here's the interesting part - I prefer adversarial games even though I usually don't take them too seriously. I try to win, but I really don't care if I lose. I'm happy to just congratulate the winner and then set up another game and have some more fun.

I'm not sure why this is, entirely. I have fun playing a game where the goal is to beat an opponent. But I can't really seem to enjoy myself as much when we play a game where we're all working together. I've noticed this over the past few years, but I've never really been able to put a finger on what it is about cooperative games that doesn't appeal to me.

I've played Pandemic, Pandemic: Legacy, Spirit Island, Marvel Champions, The Crew, Chronicles of Crime, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, Forbidden Desert, Forbidden Island, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Magic Maze, 5 Minute Dungeon, The Lord of the Rings (2000), Legacy of Dragonholt, Forbidden Waters, Betrayal at Baldur's Gate, Bloodborne, and probably some others, so it's not as if I haven't sampled a wide variety. While some I find tolerable, I'm not especially keen on any of these games, and given the choice I'd much rather play something like 7 Wonders, Azul, Wingspan, Ticket to Ride, PARKS, Istanbul (to name some I've played recently and enjoyed), or any of many other adversarial board games.

The only two cooperative games I can think of that I really enjoy are Codenames: Duet, and Mysterium.

I'm not especially competitive, and I don't study game rules and calculate odds in order to try to absolutely maximise the efficiency with which I play (which is something that a couple of my friends do - with the result that they often win). So why is it that I prefer competitive games to cooperative ones? Maybe I like to think for myself and only be responsible for myself? I don't know. I wouldn't think so - I'm what you would call a "team player" in real life situations that call for teamwork. I work very well in teams of people, striving for a common goal.

Eh... I'm just rambling now. And probably giving some psychology student somewhere a lot of strange theories.

[1] Here's a ranked list of cooperative board games from BoardGameGeek.

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