Board Games 2531
The best of the recent crop of purely co-op games.
Of the recent crop of purely cooperative games (including Red November and Ghost Stories), Pandemic is the best to me in that it offers the most interaction and accessibility. Unlike Red November, where it's pretty much every gnome for themselves, in Pandemic there is often a lot of interaction needed between the different roles in order to be successful. The mechanics illustrate the theme very well... the mechanic of shuffling the Infection discards and placing them back on top of the Infection deck is brilliant... and though it is generically depicted (blue disease, Researcher, etc.) instead of with detail (as in Arkham Horror, for example), that works better in this case to make the game more accessible. The average person doesn't care at all that it's "the blue disease" and not something specific... And the game is simple enough to teach and learn that I've been able to introduce it to many different people (who do not play these kinds of games at all, normally), and they've picked it right up, contributed actively to the game, and eagerly requested to play it again. Ghost Stories is also great for what it is, but compared to Pandemic is far more complex and would not be nearly as accessible. That gives Pandemic a great appeal to me, that I can share it so widely, and it's also my wife's favorite game, so more points for that. I still enjoy playing it solo now and then or with more seasoned gamers, so the replayability is definitely there. All around, a terrific entry in the cooperative game genre, and one of the best examples of a "gateway game" in recent years. I mean, would you rather play Ticket to Ride with your friends and family, or Pandemic??