cooperative games

“You have Died”

Dark Souls (2017) is a cooperative fantasy board game based on the popular computer and console game of the same name. In Dark Souls, players take on character roles, fight minions for souls, level up and collect new equipment, trying to get powerful enough to defeat a giant boss. The game was noteworthy for having beautifully large, detailed miniatures, a detailed and programmed boss A.I., and, like its namesake, for being hard. Characters will die, and if too many succumb, the players will lose.

Steamforged Games has announced 3 new expansions for Dark Souls, each expanding a specific area of the game. The Characters Expansion introduces 6 new character types to the game, each with new equipment, actions and stat progressions. The Characters Expansion comes with 16 new miniatures, cards and boards to support the new characters. Vordt of the Boreal Valley is a new boss, originally tasked with standing sentinel over the gates that lead from the Undead Settlement to the Castle of Lothric. Now a savage and mindless beast, the boss Vordt comes with two behavior decks, one for movement and one for battle. The Vordt expansion also comes with a new boss board, and new level 4 encounters, making it a difficult challenge for experienced players. Finally, The Darkroot Basin and Iron Keep expansions come with 9 new double sided tiles for use in any game.

All three new expansions to Dark Souls are expected to deliver to retail on November 22, 2019. For more details on Dark Souls the Board Game, and its previous expansions, check out the Steamforged website here.

Almost A Game has announced their second game, Space Chase, a cooperative escape game for 1-6 players by designer Robert Fowler. Almost a Game and Fowler previously released the bluffing and memory game Wicked Apples (2016). In Space Chase, the players are being chased by an AI Hunter through the galaxy, all while looking for the elusive Extraction Gate.

In Space Chase, replayability and variability are key. The galaxy is made up of a random 7×7 grid of colorful exploration tiles, adjustable in difficulty. The Hunter can be selected from 3 different AI styles, each with its own abilities and movement patterns. And finally, each player picks a crew from a roster of 11 different crew members, each with its own abilities.

Space Chase will be released at PAX Unplugged this December, and will go to retail shortly thereafter. However, customers can pre-order the game from October 1-31 from Almost A Game.  

The Big Book of Madness (2015) is a cooperative board game by designer Maxime Rambourg, which pits 2-5 student magicians against the monsters escaping from the eponymous Big Book. Each player takes on the role of a student, each with unique powers and abilities. Players must turn the pages of the book, defeat the curses within, and eventually shut the tome for all time, all before succumbing to madness. Players use deck building to create a deck of elemental cards, spending these elements to buy new, more powerful spells, or to support their fellow students. For without cooperation between the players, all is lost.

Iello has announced the first expansion for this well received game, The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element. This expansion includes 2 new modules, Dark Matter and Phobias. Dark Matter adds Dark Curses, the Dark Book, Dark Monsters and new characters to the game. Phobias adds new Phobia Cards, which are madness cards with permanent effects.

The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element should be available in stores in February of 2020.

“Bossin‘ Space is a cooperative game of spaceship command, unidentified terror and chaos in the comm room. 1-4 players will try to pilot ONE SHIP together. You will travel across the universe as explorers into the unknown and fight “unwelcoming” aliens along the way. How to survive in space and finish the objective becomes a challenging puzzle.”

Time Slug Studio out of the Czech Republic has a new Kickstarter project, Bossin’ Space by designers Jindřich Pavlásek and Petr Vojtěch (Whales Destroying the World). Bossin’ Space is a chaotic, cooperative card game in which 1-4 players try to jointly captain a space ship in the midst of a game of Space Invaders. Aliens continue to multiply and descent, filling the 4×4 grid board, and must all be defeated to gain access to the boss.

On a round, 4 alien cards are drawn out, and will execute in order from left to right, placing new aliens on the grid, moving aliens, and shooting the players. Each player has a special ability, a hand of 4 cards, and must play a single one face down without communicating to the other players. The current active player then looks at the 4 cards, and plays them in any order, under the 4 alien cards. The cards then execute left to right, player then alien then player, etc. Player cards move the ship, fire the lasers, launch missiles and generally reign down terror on the extraterrestrials. Be careful, more advanced weapons can build up heat, and too much heat can blow our valiant heroes away. As aliens are destroyed, the players gain experience to upgrade their ship capabilities. The goal of the game is to destroy the entire pile of alien cards, leading to a final boss battle.

The Kickstarter for Bossin’ Space continues through September 24, and the game is expected to deliver in April 2020. For more information, check out the webpage for Bossin’ Space here.

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (2012) by designer Devin Low is one of the great granddaddies of the deck building world. In this (semi)cooperative card game, players collect recruitment power to add new superheroes to their deck, then use the fighting abilities of these well-known heroes to defeat the villains marching on the city. But beware, there is a Mastermind Villain behind all this evil, unraveling a diabolical Scheme. Players need to defeat the Mastermind before the Scheme plays out to fruition in order to win at Legendary.

Publisher Upper Deck Entertainment has supported the game well over the years, amassing almost 20 expansions with innumerable Marvel characters, and the latest (for the completionists among us) is[CT1]  Legendary: Revelations. Revelations is a “deluxe” small box expansion, containing 200 cards instead of the standard 100, and it includes the popular heroes Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, War machine, and many more. New Location Cards represent infamous places in the MCU, and every villain group will come out with a Location. New card keyword mechanics include Hyperspeed, Last Stand, and Dark Memories. Scheme cards in Revelations also reflect the changing nature of this set, and are double sided, flipping over at key points in the adventure.

Revelations includes 9 new heroes with 14 cards each, 4 new villain groups of 8 cards each, 2 new henchmen groups of 10 cards, 3 new Masterminds and 4 new Schemes (each double sided), and 3 new Bystander types. This new expansion is due to hit stores at the end of August 2019. For more information, check out the official webpage here.


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“Trudvang Legends is a storytelling cooperative board game where 1-4 players take on the role of Heroes determined to stop the forces of Darkness. Guided by the Book of Sagas and the Legends System, the story unfolds with no gamemaster in a rich fantasy setting where your actions and choices will directly affect the environment and its inhabitants in a Living World”

Cool Mini or Not, with designers Fel Barros (Gekido: Bot Battles) and Guilherme Goulart (Arcadia Quest), and Omega Level Board Game Visionary Eric M. Lang, have just launched a new crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for the story telling magnum opus Trudvang Legends. Trudvang comes from the RPG system by RiotMinds, and is just dripping with Old Norse flavor and theme. The game itself is a branching campaign, spanning many individual play sessions, combining qualities of legacy games with the replayability of scenario based adventures.

Trudvang revolves around a central map board, a saga board, and points of interest board, each with clear plastic pockets to hold cards. These cards contain story elements, important decisions, new elements and lore, and make the very play surface an ongoing legacy of adventures past and present. Additionally, an immense book of sagas tells the story, and dictates decision points during the campaign. And make no mistake, all decisions will come back, for good or for ill, making the world of Trudvang a fluid and ever changing tapestry. This “Legends System” leaves a lasting record of decisions, since important cards are sleeved into the very board.

The combat system of Trudvang is equally unique, revolving around rune tokens, push your luck excitement, and a bag-building mechanic. Players start with a set of earth, wind, fire and water runes in their bag, along with demonic runes that confer failure. Runes are drawn from the bag one at a time to be assigned to weapons, abilities, armor, or whatever is required for the challenge. If runes cannot be assigned, or if they are demonic in nature, this counts as a failure. Players hope to complete the requirements on cards, and every completed set equates to one success. But three failures means the action is a complete failure, and all accrued successes are lost. Numbers of successes can drive the story in multiple directions. Special events can add or remove runes from the bag, equating to further character development.

Players can pick from one of 6 character classes – Bard, Vitner Weaver, Dimwalker, Warrior, Ranger, or Rogue. The mythos of the game is based around Old Norse mythology, and the theme explodes around the incredible art of Paul Bonner. Trudvang comes with over 30 base miniatures, but true to a CMoN Kickstarter, new miniatures and exclusives are being added constantly. The game comes with over 450 cards for items, upgrades, stories, bestiary, lore and much much more. Additionally, almost 150 tokens, 4 rune bags, 3 main boards, 4 player boards and the 100+ page Book of Sagas make Trudvang an epic story telling adventure. The Kickstarter Campaign for Trudvang Legends continues through August 14, and the game is expected to deliver in December 2020. For more details, check out the CMoN website, and the Kickstarter page itself.

The Baloise Group has announced Sarah’s Vision, a cooperative resource management, story-driven game for 1-4 players, by designer Anthony Howgego. In Sarah’s Vision, the players have control of the Agency, and it’s main AI Sarah during an idyllic future 150 years from now. However, things are falling apart, and mysterious events are threatening to drive society back to the reckless days of the early 21st century. Players need to protect High Potential Individuals (HPIs), using the limited resources of the Agency, through 20 tumultuous events.

Only the Agency stands in their way. You take on the role of Agency operatives, dedicated to keeping people safe in the future and enabling them to live their lives freely, surrounded by a sense of ease in this complex, constantly changing new world. The key lies in a few High Potential Individuals (HPIs). They have the ability to create a new technology called the MindNet that will move the world closer to “Singularity”, but this also makes them targets. The Agency is responsible for ensuring the best possible outcome for society of the future by keeping these citizens safe.

Each round, an Event Card places 3 danger cubes on HPIs, but if at the end there are no more than 4 danger cubes in each player characters’ zone, the Agency has come through victorious. Sarah’s Vision is a story heavy cooperative game which emphasizes one thing – collaboration is required above all. Sarah’s Vision is available now, and for more information check out Baloise’s excellent web site on Sarah’s Vision here.

The Grand Gamers Guild and designer Joe Hopkins have brought their new cooperative game Endangered to Kickstarter, featuring art by Ben Flores and Beth Sobel. In Endangered, 2-5 players take on the role of conservationists, working together to try to save one species. The base game of Endangered comes with 2 modules – one for Tigers, one for Sea Otters, however other modules featuring endangered animals are planned for the future. Hopefully your remaining animals will breed in the wild, with each species having its own rules for such, will have enough space to live after inevitable environmental decline, and will make it through the random events of the Impact Deck.

Endangered is also a modular game system. The base game includes the Tiger and Sea Ottermodules; you’ll play with the environment, cards, hazards, and special rules that apply to your chosen species. We also have a number of other modules planned for a variety of threatened species. Each module tells a different story, offers unique challenges, and helps players understand the difficulties facing these animals and the conservationists determined to help them. With your help we will be able to make many modules a reality!

Endangered has the support of the Center for Environmental Diversity, who are advising on the details of the game, and who will benefit from game sales. The Kickstarter Campaign for Endangered will continue through April 26, and the game is scheduled to ship in March 2020. For more sneak peeks, check out the Endangered website at the Grand Gamer’s Guild.

Awaken Realms, makers of massively successful Kickstarter projects This War of Mine (2017) and Lords of Hellas (2018), have started a campaign for their new game, Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon from designers Krzysztof Piskorski and Marcin Świerkot. Tainted Grail is a cooperative story driven adventure game which takes place in an alternate, dark Arthurian world, and features amazing art from Piotr Foksowicz. In Tainted Grail, 1-4 players work cooperatively, without turn order, to explore a growing map made of high quality tarot sized cards, in a manner reminiscent of the ground-breaking 7th Continent. These map cards can be flipped over as they are explored, or even replaced with changed versions of the land. Stories come from a printed book of more than 100,000 words, filled with choices, drama, characters and conflict. Each player chooses from one of 4 unlikely outcasts, each with unique stats and abilities which can improve over time, trying to avert the wyrdness from Avalon by healing the fading Menhir guardian statues. Each character comes with its own deck of combat cards and diplomacy cards, leading to a fascinating and unique conflict mechanism for both violent and non-violent interactions. Players lay down a chain of cards, linked by key symbols to first the threat, then to each other. A character can have as many cards in the combat as they like, as long as they are all linked, but if a card in the chain is lost, other cards may fall away. Characters use up energy to perform actions, exploring, fighting or negotiating their way through the campaign, chapter by chapter. Chapters can be playerd in a single session, and a robust system to save and store games is in the box.

Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon Core Game comes with 8 miniatures, 4 boards, 576 standard cards (encounters, items, events, secrets), 100 small cards, 72 oversized cards (maps), 100+ tokens and markers and a 220 page story book, but the stretch goals and add-ons are growing by the moment, dwarfing these numbers. The Kickstarter Campaign for Tainted Grail is set to continue through December 28, and the game should deliver in August 2019. For more information, and a preliminary rule book, check out the Kickstarter web page here, or Awaken Realm’s web page here.

Treedles on the Tree is a cooperative Christmas themed board game currently on Kickstarter from designer Mark Valenti and Erin Dean, featuring art by Sarah Lafser. In Treedles on the Tree, 2-6 players have 10 minutes to find the elusive Wackadoodle, feed him candy canes to get a Star Point. Once the players get 5 Star Points, the Christmas Tree is complete and Christmas has been saved. Players each pick one of the six Treedles, then roll dice to see which colored light they can move to next. One the back of the lights are either Ornaments, which collect at the bottom of the board, or the elusive Wackadoodle. Once a Wackadoodle bird is revealed, players must roll candy cane dice frantically, trying to collect 4 candy canes, so that the Wackadoo rewards them with a Star Point. The players must get all 5 Star Points before they collect 25 ornaments, or before 10 minutes run out.

Treedles on the Tree is based on an animated television idea “the Treedles”, which was to star Icelandic actor Stefan Karl, who sadly passed in August 2018, and the game is dedicated to him. The Kickstarter Campaign for Treedles on the Tree continues through January 2, and the game is expected to ship in October 2019.

Also, of interest, was a little bit more we were able to learn about the designers.

Mark Valenti has written, edited or produced more than 200 hours of family friendly content for television, projects that are seen daily around the world. He wrote the Christmas movie Like Father, Like Santa for the Family Channel, The Christmas Pageant for the Hallmark Channel and the annual Christmas special, Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas Angel for NBC. As Head Writer for Nickelodeon’s LazyTown, he co-wrote the popular Christmas episode “Surprise Santa” and the holiday single, “I Love Christmas.” Mark has written for Back to the Future, Olivia, Gaspard and Lisa, Totally Spies, Julius Jr., Treehouse Detectives, and My Friends Tigger and Pooh.

On the network executive side, he was Story Editor for Nickelodeon’s animated shows including Rugrats, Catdog, Hey Arnold, Rocket Power, and The Wild Thornberrys. Mark also wrote the television movies Menno’s Mind for Showtime, and several film projects for Lifetime. Mark was Creative Manager for a team tasked with re-imagining Disney’s California Adventures theme park in Anaheim. He also served as Creative Manager for Disney Interactive.
Prior to his writing career, Mark was Vice President of Development for John Hughes Entertainment, during the production period of Home Alone, Uncle Buck, Christmas Vacation, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He has authored several books: The Hannibal Twist – A Tom and Huck Mystery, The Wolf and the Warlander, an adventure trilogy, and a coming-of-age comedy, Last Night at the Monarch Motel. Mark began his career as a Production Associate for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, followed by several years as Script Analyst for Ron Howard, Oprah Winfrey and Sydney Pollack’s production companies.
Growing up, Erin Dean played the traditional mass market games, like Monopoly, Life, and Clue. In high school, she was gifted Ticket to Ride and that is when she fell in love with the board gaming hobby.

In the past, she has worked at Pieces: The St. Louis Board Game Bar & Cafe as a Game Navigator, as well as, Genius Games, a St. Louis board game publishing company, as a Video Intern. In the Spring of 2017, Erin released a short board game documentary on YouTube called, “The Board Game Boom,” which now has over 30,000 views.

For the Love of Board Games is Erin’s first book and A book that explores how modern, popular games were created by interviewing the designers behind the games. The book was Erin’s first Kickstarter and it ended up raising over $55,000.