WITHIN THE ROCKYMOUTAINNAVY GAMING COLLECTION, cooperative games have 11 places on the shelf. As part of my 2019 Gold Geek Awards Challenge I recently pulled out Pandemic (Z-Man Games, 2008) to replay. A lot has been written about Pandemic and I have nothing really new to add. That said, recent events in the neighborhood have got me thinking about cooperative games in general.
Pandemic was not the first cooperative game in the RMN gaming collection. I think that honor goes to Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game (FFG, 2008) although that game sat on the Shelf of Shame unplayed for many years. The first cooperative game the RMN family played that I expressly recognized as cooperative was Forbidden Island (Gamewright, 2010). Other cooperative games played include:
- Star Trek: Expeditions (WizKids, 2011)
- Castle Panic (Fireside Games, 2012)
- Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier (Mattel, 2016)
- Pandemic: Fall of Rome (Z-Man Games, 2018)
- AuZtralia (Stronghold Games, 2018).
Pandemic, however, occupies a special place in the heart of myself and the RockyMountainNavy Boys. It has this special place based on two particular games we played. The first loved game is the first time we beat the game. We were literally down to the last card and all of us were standing around the table. When we cured the last disease and won we all jumped and high-fived each other. It was maybe the most satisfying moment of family board gaming ever. The second special game was where Middle RMN Boy, my Autism Spectrum angel, awed us beyond belief when he laid out the path to victory that none of us saw. Pandemic literally has brought us together as a gaming family.
During the Memorial Day weekend we were invited to a neighbors house for a barbecue. I had heard from my Boys that this family was getting into modern board gaming. My Boys had played Survive: Escape from Atlantis! (Stronghold, 2012) with the other boys and they had purchased the game. When talking to the parents, they steered the conversation to board gaming. They were curious about what games we played. Then they mentioned they had purchased Pandemic and all but invited us to play together in the near future.
It’s already established that I love Pandemic, but I am not sure this is actually a good game for that family. Their boys are very competitive; I doubt they can cooperate enough for Pandemic. A “take-that” game like Survive is much more up their alley.
Thinking ahead to a board game night with the neighbors, I’m struggling to come up with a good group game. Something like Happy Salmon (Northstar Games, 2016) is good for a few minutes of laughter but I need something that lasts longer.
Looking through my collection, I came across Abandon Ship (AEG, 2008). Although not listed in BGG by this mechanic, I term the game a semi-coop. From the publisher’s blurb:
Abandon Ship is a game in which you play to move your group of rats off the ship before the rising water drowns them. The S.S. Nvrsnks is also loaded with valuable points-earning cheese, but don’t let desire for that lovely food send your rats to the watery depths. Your opponents may also share some of the rats in your group; they may want to move the rats in a different manner from you.
Abandon Ship plays up to seven players; perfect for a larger game night. It also covers both areas the other family wants (although they may not know it). For Mom & Dad they get their coop; for the boys they get their take-that.
So, here is to hoping that Neversinks floats the neighbor’s boat (ok, that was a bad pun but you gotta just live with it).
Feature image TheBoardGameFamily on BGG