Some of our more classically popular co-op games possess themes that are certainly relevant to the times, but if you’re looking for something a little less close to home, you still have some great options to choose from.
Did you know that Matt Leacock, the designer of Pandemic, also designed other cooperative games? And Forbidden Desert is one of his best. Slightly lighter than Pandemic, and with a sense of exploration and discovery that’s missing from most of his other titles, Forbidden Desert will have you and up to four other friends exploring a sandy waste, digging up the dunes in search of the ancient pieces of a steampunk flying machine that will get you out of there before you die of thirst. Four difficulty levels and six different player powers provide enough variety to last you through this global health crisis, and probably through the next one to boot. If that’s not enough, you could also check out its sister games in the Forbidden trilogy, Forbidden Island and Forbidden Sky.
Meanwhile, on the sillier side of the street, we have Trogdor!! The Board Game. If you don know what a Trogdor is, or who Homestar Runner and Strong Bad are — they’re too hard for us to explain here. But you should totally check them out. Seriously. In the meantime, just know that Trogdor is the name of a wingaling dragon out to burninate every last peasant,thatch-roofed cottage, and square inch of soil in the entire kingdom, and that the players are all cultists working together to help him do it. Underneath the thick layer of ridiculousness that drips from the components like ectoplasm from an unfortunate ghostbuster, there lies a surprisingly interesting game of balancing bold attacks with caution and clever moves. Plus, there’s a flame helmet to put on burninated peasants.
For those families who are looking for more story, more adventure, more heart, and more anthropomorphic rodentia, may we suggest Mice & Mystics. It’s like a family-friendly role-playing campaign in a box — no Game Master needed. Choose your mousey heroes, choose the chapter you want to play through, and set off on an adventure. This is not the easiest game to learn or teach: expect one player to be working their way through the rulebook for about an hour before you play, and expect your first skirmish against a pack of rat warriors to beat rules-referencing slog. But expect everything you find on the other side of that hill to rival your favorite fantasy video games.
Speaking of fantasy role-playing, maybe you’re itching to brew up a dungeon for your offspring to crawl through — but they still have nightmares about the villains from My Little Pony. What’s a role-playing parent to do? Don’t worry, Monte Cook Games has you covered. No Thank You, Evil! is real role-playing boiled down to its simplest elements, ready for players as young as five-years-old: it has customizable characters, chancy choices, and create contingency plans without any of the scarier elements seen in role-playing games for older players.
Tomorrow we will have a few board game suggestions to help keep kids academically engaged while at home!