Staff Picks | Games of Gratitude
Cooperative Games for Thanksgiving
November is a special month for us at Twenty Sided Store. As we move into the busiest part of the year, we have the opportunity to reflect on why we exist, why Twenty Sided Store was opened : to bring people together. In November, cold winds blow and temperatures drop, but the warmth of companionship around the Thanksgiving table keeps the chill at bay.
Thanksgiving is meant to bring people together, and with that in mind we are highlighting cooperative games! These games invite everyone to gather, work together, and have fun!
In the spirit of sharing, the Twenty Sided Team has come together to offer thoughts and feelings on some of our favorite cooperative games!
“The spaceship is failing! The quasipaddle needs to be repaired with the… weird yellow battery thing? Who has the weird yellow battery thing?!”
This is the kind of thing you can expect when you play the chaos that is Spaceteam. In Spaceteam, three to six people play as the crew of a failing spaceship, desperately trying to make repairs before time runs out!
Based on a free app, Spaceteam has had people shouting since 2012. It is not as simple as picking the right cards; the tools you need are hard to pronounce, gibberish words, or depicted by vague looking pictures, and they are rarely in your hand. Your deck of Malfunction Cards need to be resolved by the time the sandtimer runs out, so you will have to communicate clearly (and loudly) to everyone else to find the right tool - while they simultaneously try to solve their own Malfunctions. And beware the Anomaly! Anomaly cards trigger special conditions, like Wormholes and Asteroid Fields, that make you switch seats, switch cards, “fall into space” away from the table until your friends pull you back, and more!
Spaceteam is wild and active, easy to learn and quick to play! If you are looking for a lively game to help with the post-Thanksgiving food coma, Spaceteam has you covered.
Johnni: “I actually like the card game better than the app, which isn’t what I expected. The card game makes everything more chaotic because, on top of everything, you have to keep your cards in order. And you get to set the difficulty! It’s really fun to go from easy to the hardest mode and see how insane things get! I really like Spaceteam. It’s a great game that feels really active and involved without being overwhelming.”
Mattie: “Spaceteam lulls you into a false sense of security the first time you play; it’s easy to get the hang of and easy to get in to. You may even think ‘Easy mode is TOO easy. How hard could hard be?’ The answer is: extremely hard. Be prepared for hours of sweaty, frantic fun flinging your cards at your friends and scrambling to get them back in time to save your ship from exploding.”
You have crash landed in the middle of nowhere. Armed only with your plane ticket and a few random items, you and the other survivors will need to survive brutal nights while awaiting rescue.
Ravine is a game that makes survival fun! You will begin by drawing a Wreckage Card to determine who you are and what you have with you, before tossing your Heart Tokens and hoping enough land face up to give you good health. During the night, bad things happen - wolves sneak into camp, rain washes away your fire, an ominous fog rolls in. During the day, you must deal with the consequences and prepare for the coming night. You may just spend the time resting, or you might go forage for food and other useful items. With enough gathered, you can begin to build fires, shelters, and weapons - but at the cost of your health. And with low health comes… Madness. As long as one of you, at least one of you, can survive, you have won Ravine.
Ravine as a strategic, cooperative game offers very interesting gameplay. Sometimes the cost of saving another survivor is too high and it makes sense to let them perish; other times you may gamble your health in the hopes of recovering useful items! With only one survivor needed to win, the game is fully cooperative and requires everyone to look at all the circumstances. Despite the heavy topic, Ravine is light-hearted and fun, from funny card descriptions to the conditions Madness Cards give you. Going mad may turn you into a kleptomaniac, forcing you to steal from the group; or it may make you believe your name is Captain Crunch; or perhaps you now feel compelled to sing everything.
Ravine is a silly survival game that lets you set the difficulty. Play it casually and only try to survive a few days, or push your luck and try to survive for weeks! Either way, you will always remember the story of your survival (or tragic end) in Ravine!
Johnni: “I was really drawn to Ravine by the art at first, and the game lived up to the initial attraction. It was easy to learn and the perfect level of strategy for a relaxed game night. I especially like that it isn’t too serious! Despite the theme of survival, it’s a funny game and the Madness cards add a level of ridiculousness that keeps it casual and fun. It's about survival but it's really about sanity - and the loss of it.”
The sand storm threatens to swallow you up. The water is rising and drowning the island. Lightning springs from the sky and darts right past you… Such is the danger of a Forbidden treasure!
In the Forbidden series, you and the other players are in a dangerous environment, desperate to collect parts to escape! Each game features tiles you can travel, environmental features that prohibit movement, equipment you can gather to aid you, and parts of an invention (your means for escape) that have been scattered everywhere. You must turn over hint tiles to discover the locations of these parts before you can collect them - all while traversing difficult terrain and avoiding the immediate danger!
Often compared as a lighter version of Pandemic, the Forbidden series offers you the player a lot of control over how easy or hard the game is. Each game itself is slightly more complex than the one that came before, with Forbidden Island as the simplest, Forbidden Sky the most complex, and Forbidden Desert as a middle ground. In each game you can choose to play the game at any difficulty, ranging from “Novice” to “Legendary.”
The Forbidden series are perfect game night games. They are easy to learn but provide engaging puzzles as you work with the other players to balance your actions and make the right move. The sense of impending danger adds a fun level of tension that adds stakes without adding stress. If you want to puzzle your way to success, the Forbidden series is a great addition to your game library.
Lauren: "Every time I play Forbidden Desert I always feel a sense of hope that we are going to be able to dig ourselves out of the mountains of sand and find those artifacts before we run out of water. When comparing the three games in the series, I think of Forbidden Desert as a cup half full and Forbidden Island as a cup half empty, while in Forbidden Sky there is no cup.”
The Grizzled is a game about French infantrymen on the front lines of World War I - but more importantly, it is a game about how those men worked together to keep each other safe and sane. Instead of focusing on defeating an enemy, The Grizzled focuses on how these men support each other.
The Grizzled has beautiful artwork but an even more beautiful message. Instead of focusing on violence or success over your enemies, the game puts a focus on camaraderie among your allies. Each player will take a turn as the leader, and each round you will play cards intended to support your friends and relieve them of their challenges.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to play The Grizzled. As you contemplate everything you are grateful for, celebrate the sacrifices made and appreciate the importance of camaraderie.
Max: “The tagline of this game – ’Can friendship be stronger than war?’ perfectly captures the feeling of this knife’s-edge cooperative card game. It’s a question, not a fact, whether you will survive as a group of French soldiers mired in the trenches of the Great War. It wouldn’t do the theme justice if it were that easy, but there’s a current of hope and humanity running through The Grizzled that make it a work of art amongst games.”
Time and space is yours to travel. You have been outfitted with the latest tech by the T.I.M.E. Agency to travel through time, fixing temporal faults that endanger reality as we know it.
T.I.M.E. Stories lies somewhere between a board game and a roleplaying game, telling an engaging narrative that you can freely interact with, using the options and actions the game provides. Each scenario presents you with the timeline you will be manipulating, characters you will inhabit, and a deck of cards full of keys, maps, challenges, items and more! If you fail your mission, no fear. This is time travel, after all. Rewind and try again.
The base game of T.I.M.E. Stories starts you off with all of the tools you will need to fix faults and store your progress, all of the groundwork to complete all of the scenarios in the T.I.M.E. Stories series, and your first mission. Each expansion offers a new deck and a new mission to solve.
T.I.M.E. Stories is a bit of a deeper dive but offers a one-of-a-kind experience hard to capture in other games. The rules bring structure, the story brings freedom. Dive deeper with T.I.M.E. Stories.
Max: "T.I.M.E. Stories provides such a unique thrill: you and the other players leap backwards in time, from Ancient Egypt to 1980’s Hollywood and everywhen in between, and have to work together to solve a mystery. It’s narrative, it’s challenging, and it’s among the most immersive that cooperative boardgaming gets."
If you enjoy our thoughts, come pay us a visit! We love helping everyone find the perfect game for them - and there are always more games to recommend. Bring friends and family together over a game for Thanksgiving!
Written by Johnni Medina