Hello fellow adventurers,

In today’s episode, we are discussing co-op game mechanics that can be used to:

  • Fight the alpha player problem
  • Foster team decision situations
  • Add tension to the game

What are the main goals of co-op mechanics:

  • One problem in co-op games is the so-called quarterbacking. What it means is that one player makes all the decisions for the team. This can happen when one player is more experienced than the others or when one player is from his or her personality someone who likes to make decisions and lead the way. For some players that can lead to a feeling that they don’t decide anything themselves and ruin their gaming experience. Therefore, a lot of coop mechanisms are made to make counter quarterbacking.
  • The most important purpose of co-op mechanics is to encourage teamwork. Often this is implemented in a way that some player has access to something the other player needs. (a resource or a certain skill for example)
  • Another goal is to organize teamplay. Who is acting when? Who is getting what reward? Who plays which role in the team?
  • Balancing the power between players.   

Co-Op Mechanics to fight the alpha player problem in co-op games

  • Information Overload (Spirit Island)
  • Restricting Table Talk (Gloomhaven, LOTR LCG)
  • Limited information sharing (Comissioned)
  • Distributed Knowledge (Mask of Aanubis) 
  • Action Selection
    • Realtime (xCom, 5 Minute Dungeon)
    • Simultaneous (Gloomhaven)
    • Hidden (Gloomhaven)
    • Random

Co-Op Mechanics to Foster Team Decisions Making

  • Group Characters (Eight Epics)
  • Multiple (unassigned) Goals / Tasks (Spirit Island)
  • Giving Players time to process information
    • Delayed enemy actions (Aeons End)
    • Delayed player actions (Aeons End)
  • Variable/Player-chosen turn order (Aeons End)

Co-Op Mechanics to Add Tension to the Game

  • Traitor Mechanic (Battlestar Galactica, Dead of Winter, Bang, Werwolf, Betrayel at the house on the hill)
  • Hidden / Personal Objective (Gloomhaven)
  • Personal (hidden) Event Triggers (Dead of Winter)
  • Secret Information Sharing (Messenger Letter) (Runebound)

Games analyzed in today’s episode:

  • Spirit Island
  • Gloomhaven
  • Dead of Winter
  • Aeons End
  • Runebound
  • Eight Epics
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Bang
  • Werwolf
  • Betrayel at the house on the hill
  • Comissioned
  • Mask of Anubis
  • xCom
  • 5 Minute Dungeon

Important Links:
Nerdlab Website 
Nerdlab Facebook Page
Nerdlab on Twitter
Nerdlab on Instagram

Episode 1 of the Podcast Series of Co-Op Mechanics
Music by Mathew Pablo