The Lord of the Rings ★★★★

The Lord of the Rings is not a story of war. At its core, it’s not even a story of orcs, elves or magicians but one of sacrifice and friendship. Knizia’s adaptation of the literary classic is the only game I’ve played that truly recognizes this fact. Through its mechanics, it reflects the difficult journey of the novel and how only cooperation could overcome such dire odds.

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The “alpha player” in coops is a symptom, not the disease

If you’ve played cooperative games, you might have heard of the “alpha player”. The guy who tells everyone what to do – to the point of not letting others play – is a common source of contention. Critics, players and designers alike often debate about its implications and what steps can be taken to curtail it.

However, I believe the alpha player is but a symptom of deeper issues.

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Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases ★★★★★

There are countless games based on the world’s most famous sleuth but none as great as Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. With just a book, a list of addresses and a bunch of newspapers, it captures the whole spirit of the Victorian investigator and reflects it, not just through its setting, but its mechanics.

Now subtitled “The Thames Murders & Other Mysteries”, it remains the best deduction game I’ve ever played and, despite some minor flaws, a truly engrossing experience.

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The Crew: The Deimos Adventure ★★★★

The Crew, Thomas Sing’s cooperative spin on trick-taking, hasn’t gotten a retail expansion yet despite being such a huge hit. However, it has gotten some additional content courtesy of Kosmos, its publisher. The Deimos Adventure is a set of 15 new missions which take the system to new heights. Released online for free, they are a great addition for fans of the cooperative trick-taking game.

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Battlestar Galactica ★★★★

Social deduction games, in which traitors try to subvert a group, tend to be very short. A match of The Resistance, Among Us or Werewolf can be completed in less than half an hour. The average game in the genre is a light affair, as easily played as put away in storage.

Battlestar Galactica, however, isn’t. It’s a serious game, taking two to three hours to play. Its length, seriousness and complexity make it stand out and make it one of the best titles in its field.

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