You are hereEpisode 74: Can't We All Just Get Along?

Episode 74: Can't We All Just Get Along?

74: Can't We All Just Get Along?

Release Date: Mar. 16, 2009

Running Time: 129 min.

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Board games are team sports, too. There are plagues to fight and a village to defend! We dive into Pandemic and Ghost Stories, two in the latest wave of co-op "us vs. the world" games. 

News & Notes: Formula D Sebring/Chicago, League Leader, Alea Iacta Est 
The List: Pandemic, Ghost Stories
Back Shelf Spotlight: 
Scotland Yard, Escape from Colditz

Truckloads of Goober:  Zip Code
Game Sommelier:  5 games with co-op elements that are not co-op games
Mail Bag: Black Vienna online, Toruro correction, gaudy etymology

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

Formula D Expansion Tracks: Sebring/Chicago  Link | BGG

2 Double sided boards equals twice the racing fun. Chicago

Spiel Foundation Web Site Section  Link

Look in the left hand sidebar and you'll notice a purple meeple. This little guy will take you to the Spiel Foundation section of our web site. You'll find a brief description of our Foundation and it goal, plus ways you can help: donating your time, expertise, or money.

League Leader Gaelic Sports Games Link 

Board games offered by League Leader include Soccer, Rugby, Gaelic Football, and Hurling.

Alea Iacta Est BGG

Latin for "the die is cast," Alea Iacta Est is #5 in the Alea Medium Box series. Players take on the role of Caesar and compete for the most prestige points. This happens by clever placement of his/her eight dice, which are placed on five different buildings.

Asmodee Editions New Customer Service Email

Contact Gabby Meza and the fine folks at Asmodee using the following address:

The List

Pandemic Official Site | BGG

Four players must work together to stop four deadly plagues from overwhelming the globe.

Ghost Stories Official Site | BGG

Demon lord Wu-Feng assaults a small village in China. You and your fellow players are Taoists sent to protect the town from wave after wave of ghosts, hoping to survive long enough to face Wu-Feng himself.

Back Shelf Spotlight

Scotland Yard  BGG | Official Site

The race is on to find Mr. X. A team of players must fan out across London to track down the notorious crook.

Escape From Colditz BGG | Devir (Spanish Edition)

Allied players join forces to gather equipment and escape from German prison camp.

Truckloads of Goober

Zip Code BGG

Miniature letter sorters for each player!


The Game Sommelier

The challenge: five games with co-op elements that are *NOT* co-op games.

Games withTeamwork, but Only Up To A Point

In Pursuit - BGG

Krakow 1325 A.D. -  BGG | Official Site

others: Inkognito, Cutthroat Caverns, Bang!

Games with Negotiation

Dragon's Gold -  BGG

Lifeboats -  BGG

others: Are You A Werewolf?, Machiavelli, Diplomacy, Republic of Rome

Games with Trading

Santiago -  BGG

Pit -  BGG

others: Bohnanza, Settlers of Catan, Traders of Genoa

New Challenge: five games to play with Daleks (games that feature extermination!)

Mail Bag

Thanks to repeat donor "Galactic Emperor" Bay-Wei Chang

Andres Pabon reminded us about Wolfgang Kramer's great Spanish themed games: El Grande, El Caballero and El Capitan

Thanks to Janna Nelson for introducing us to Black Vienna online.

James Englehardt points us to some other sources on the etymology of the word gaudy.


Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

Staggered Crossing   "My Disease"  from "Burgundy & Blue"

Stevie Culture   "Why Can't We All Get Along?"  from "Top Class"

The Questionnaires   "Ghosts In Your Eyes"  from "Arctic Circles"

The Two Man Gentleman Band  "Prime Numbers" from "Great Calamities"


I'm sure there are some goofs in there somewhere. Let us know if (when?) you find one!

Great Show GUYS! here's a few missing links and some other Co-Op games.

Bang!  Official Website (Italian) | Official Website (English) | BGG

Other Co-Ops Mentioned:

Battlestar Galatica:  BGGOfficial

Red November:  BGG | Official

Shadows Over Camelot:  BGG | Official

Arkham Horror:  BGG | Official

Last Night on Earth:  BGG | Official

Other Co-Ops Not Mentioned:

Lord of the Rings:  BGG | Official

Fury of Dracula:  BGG | Official

sconway's picture

Thanks for doing the legwork on the additional links. Somehow I looked right past Bang! when I was doing the show notes.

I took the liberty of cleaning up how the links were presented since it started to look like HTML soup after the second line. :)

Hey thanks for the clean up! Now the darn thing doesn't have to run so long.

"it started to look like HTML soup after the second line. :)" -Stephen

I just wanted the post to be Mmm, Mmmm, Good.  :P

Have you tried the Multi-player version of Zombie in My Pocket from Cambridge Games Factory?

This is one wicked little game. In the game you are a team, but in a Zombie enounter you individually decide if you as a player will stay and fight or run away. If everyone in the group runs away, each individual loses 1 health point. If someone in the game stays, the runaways gain 1 health point and the others that stay have to STILL FIGHT.

In our last play, my wife and I were playing two player, our first zombie encounter came up. She ICED me on the FIRST zombie encounter! She ran away, leaving me to 7 zombies, and me only 4 health points and no way to defend myself. She went on to lose in the next five turns. I couldn't believe it! Her explanation: "I didn't care, I wasn't going to let you kill me." Game took 5 minutes!?!

Zombie In My Pocket: (BGG)

sconway's picture

Vindictive teamwork. Is that an oxymoron? Sounds like Zombie in My Pocket puts that theory to the test. We'll have to give this one a shot(gun) sometime.

Steerpike's picture

I really liked the title of this episode as it reminded me of one of my old gaming group from many years ago. Whenever we played games of conflict he used to get very edgy and moan "can't we all get along?".

I had visions of him playing Diplomacy and negotiating a seven way draw in Spring 1901.

Great show, if a little touchy feely. Pandemic is one of my faves right now and I like the sound of Ghost Stories. Someone told me that the board was really bright and hard on the eyes. Any comments on that ?

Also glad that the Sommalier picked up on Republic of Rome which for me is the absolute classic, work together to beat the game but get ready to beat each other. A game before its time.


Hey, don't worry about my sanity. It's around here somewhere. I think I must have packed it up with some of the pieces of one of my games.

sconway's picture

Funny, I think one of the points we tried to raise is that the new wave of co-op games are much *less* touchy-feely than one might otherwise think. The new trend in co-operative games is more about teamwork and survival than "building community" so to speak. That's not to say there isn't a certain amount of self sacrifice and do-goodishness embeded in the theme for each game, but to me they feel less campfire song and more like armageddon!

I really enjoy the art in Ghost Stories and I don't think the boards are particularly hard to read or understand. There are a LOT of icons to keep track of during your first games, but visally I think they all make sense enough that I never really struggled with them.

I haven't played Republic of Rome recently, but I have many fond memories of it. A group of pals I game with regularly, the Rat Bastards, love it, so I may have to twist some arms to play sometime soon.

If your sanity is lost in a game collection like ours, you are in REAL trouble, mister!


Steerpike's picture

LOL - only ribbing you.

actually, one of the things I find really interesting about co-op games is when you put two players together who are used to playing each other competitively.

When my friend Poodle and I play, say, Lord of the Rings we spend most of our time arguing over who should carry the ring and insisting the other one sacrifice themselves for the common good. Somehow we still manage to be competitive in Co-op games. Who's the last to survive ? who cures the most diseases ? who escapes the sub first ?

Sad really. I think that's why we like the ones with Traitor elements :-)

I find the whole genre shines the best with family gaming. My wife has got a lot more engaged with playing now we have Pandemic and are working as a family to save the world. But she is also a Biology major so that may play some part.

By the way, I got a postcard from my sanity today. It's living in a small village tucked away in an unfashionable part of Tuscany.  

Steerpike's picture

Glad to hear that you guys are enjoying Dr Who -

is it the more recent episodes that you get syndicated (Christopher Eccleston / David Tennant / Matt Smith) or can you get the whole glorious series dating back to William Hartnell's first appearance as the Doctor in 1963 ?

For people of my age, in the UK, Dr Who is like an old firend that you grew up with. We all have our 'favourite doctors' - mine was Tom Baker (1974-1981) and in fact one of the Cybermen episodes from the late 70s was filmed in a pub just down the road from me. It still has the photographs on the wall from the day the Doctor came to town.

Of course, Tom Baker is now better known for the voice over of Little Britain and the most prolific Dr Who screen writer of the time, the late and great Douglas Adams, went on to create the seminal Hitch-Hikers series.

As I recall, the DALEKS were meant to be an analogy to the Nazis (or so their creator Terry Nation once claimed) so probably any WWII war game will be acceptable for Dave in the Sommalier this time.

oh, and just for the record, the Doctor had the embarassment of meeting himself in a time paradox long before Bill and Ted. (John Pertwee was the Doctor at the time but I can't recall the episode)

I'll shut up now, I could go on for hours.

sconway's picture

The Doctor was a staple of late night public television here in Indiana during my childhood (mid-1970s - mid 1980s). Between reruns of Doctor Who and Star Trek, I was glued to the boob tube whenever they were on. I have a strong affinity for Tom Baker since I remember many episodes from that era. I really enjoyed Eccleston's and Tenant's performances in the new series.

Most if not all iterations of the series are available on DVD here now. My satellite provider carries BBC America which rebroadcasts the new series as well as the SciFi Channel. To be honest, Im enough of a fanboy, I've been downloading the new eps as soon as they have been shown in the UK.

Sad but true.

I am not very familiar with the early doctors. I dream of starting at the beginning some day and seeing how far i can get!



Steerpike's picture

My complaint with the latter Doctors is that they have become too 'episodic'. Rather than carrying a storyline across multiple episodes in a series they focus a little too much on tying everything up in a single show.

I miss the cliff hanger endings !

Having said that both Ecclestone and Tennant brought some strong characterisation to the roles and the script writing has been really creative.

When i was young, I was in love with Sarah Jane - one of Jon Pertwee's assistants. Funnily enough they have now started a children's show called "the Sarah Jane Chronicles" which is basically Dr Who Lite for the younger generation, and stars the original actress. It also has K9 in as a cameo. Makes me all nostalgic !

looking forward to Dave's Sommalier ! I owned at least five games based on Doctor Who in my teen age years....

J Moody's picture

So if I wanted to watch some Dr Who, having never seen a single episode, where do I start?

sconway's picture

I think starting with Season 1 of the new series would give you a good foundation from which to build. Christopher Eccleston plays the Doctor and is excellent.

The production team does a good job of re-introducing many of the key concepts, characters, and recurring villains without relying so heavily on backstory that a new viewer won't be able to follow along.

What say ye, other Whovians?

Steerpike's picture

I'd agree that that's a pretty good place to start.

the earlier stuff is only really good for nostalgic value, now, and probably is only enjoyable to those already immersed in the history.

On the contrary, the older series holds up very well indeed. I'd suggest the highly quotable City of Death ("What a wonderful butler; he's so violent"); The TIme Warrior featuring Pertwee at his most charismatic and the first appearance of the inimitable Sarah Jane Smith; An Unearthly Child, the surprisingly dark story that started it all or Remembrance of the Daleks, featuring the criminally underrated Sylvester McCoy and one terrific sequence involving a baseball bat.

The new series has been, like its predecessor, widely hit and miss, featuring flat out brilliant installments like Blink, End of the World (plus points for making the banal sentence "I want chips" genuinely heart-rending) or The Empty Child alongside things like Last Of The Time Lords, one of the most jaw-droppingly terrible scripts I've ever seen reach a screen.

Respect should also be paid to Big Finish whose work paved the way for the new series and whose ideas have been largely taken by it, sometimes credited, sometimes not. Check out Spare Parts or Chimes of Midnight.

Steerpike's picture

I can live with Hit and Miss provided it is in the pursuit of creativity.

It's laziness of plot line which bugs me and there was certainly a period in late Tom Baker onwards where this appeared to be the prevailing reality.

Many Sci Fi shows seem to fall into the formulaic approach after a few seasons and lose any edge that they may have had (in fact probably true of most TV series/serials).

For me the pinnacle of Sci-Fi creativity, on the TV, was the Red Dwarf series (I-VI). Badly acted, at times poorly scripted, but bursting with ideas. Did it ever make it to the US ?

J Moody's picture

In the no traitor type co-op games, since information seems to be pretty open, I worry that one strong player will end up controlling the group. Has anyone experienced that?

In the same fashion as Puerto Rico, where you can get harrassed by not playing the 'correct' move, does anyone ever feel pressure to do what everyone is telling them to do?

I like working together towards a common goal, but multi-body solitaire doesn't sound too much fun.

GamerChris's picture

It's certainly possible, but to me that's more of a group dymanics thing than a real flaw in these games. 

As the one who usually has more experience in the game and who would be in the position to be that "strong player", I try really hard to point out all the different options to newer players, as well as their potential benefit to the group and its goals, but then ultimately leave the decision up to whoever's turn it is.  If they choose the "less than ideal" option, then they'll see how it turns out and learn a little bit more about how the game works, and they'll then be able to make better decisions the next time. 

On the other hand, any time you can, as a group, develop a plan of action/strategy to attack the game, then the players should follow it.  The way it works best is when everyone participates in making these decisions together (you know, like how real cooperation actually works) and then follows through.  Sometimes, you may feel pressured to do something that you don't necessarily think is the best move, but more often than not, you should feel invested enough in the group's plan to feel good about following it.

And actually, the open nature of these cooperative games make them fantastic gateway games, because you can set it up and get started right away, teaching them how to play as you go along.  Before long, you gradually hand over "control" of the choices to them as they come to understand both the flow of play and how to achieve the goals of the game.

Dominant players and game "bullying" is something that players should not tolerate.  Whether it's in Pandemic or something like your example of Puerto Rico, just stand up to the poop-head player and tell them to back off if they're trying to pressure into something you don't want to do.  If they continue, you can always choose not to play with them in the future. 

sconway's picture

Great analysis, Chris!

There are certain people or personality types which will not mix well with co-op games for the reasons stated above. I don't see that as  a flaw with the game. It just means those aren't games well suited to those people or groups.

It's the dreaded Sommelier concept again. With the right crowd, co-ops can evoke a sense of teamwork and drama like few other experiences you can have at the game table. With the wrong crowd, it could be like pulling teeth to get people to work together, or worse yet, devolve into personality conflicts among players.

Consensus is the word I wish I had used more in our discussion. We make it a point before moving forward with a turn or a round that everyone has come to some kind of consensus about the upcoming strategy for the team. Most often this means we can all agree on the biggest threat, but we may differ on how to deal with it. When we reach a strategic fork in the road like this, we may choose one path only to find that we should have listened to others on the team. The cool part is the game allows for a few "mistakes" like this allowing the team to regroup and try again.

Steerpike's picture

Whilst I agree with the consensus principle, I also make it a rule of thumb that ultimately it is the final decision of the player whose turn it is.

I try to explain to my kids what I think the best move is, in any one turn, but if they want their goblin to drink more grog and try to put out a fire, or put on the Ring way to early, or fly halfway round the world to treat a disease which is no real threat then that is fine - it's their choice and let's see how it pans out.

This approach stops one player dominating and often makes for a more fun ride (although, on balance, more defeats at the hands of the game).

GamerChris's picture

You guys made a comment about how solo Ghost Stories would be too incredibly hard to imagine, but the reality is that the game gets easier with fewer players (due mainly to the use of the Power Tokens, which let you use a neutral board's power in addition to your own).  In fact, the solo game can usually be played at a full difficulty level harder than the 4-player game. 

I go into this and my overall impressions of the game in a (whole lot) more detail in my recent review of the Ghost Stories at

sconway's picture

I see your point.  An experienced gamer can certainly see many of the options available when the board gets flooded with ghosts.

That said, I know I have been in many situations in the game where having multiple points of view made the difference between victory and defeat.

The solo versus the chorus.

Both can make sweet music, but I think much depends on the talent of the signers involved.

Steerpike's picture

I take it you have never heard me sing

J Moody's picture

My son and I play Runebound this way most of the time. No attacking each other, and play nice in terms of available items and foes. Only one person wins at the end, but it feels a little bit like we both worked to defeat the dragon lord. 

GamerChris's picture

You kept saying that you could "choose" which color and power you would play in Ghost Stories. But according to the rules, both of these things are supposed to be determined randomly.

Getting to choose your combination of powers makes the game too easy!

sconway's picture

I forgot picking characters is a house rule we use and not the standard.

Thanks for catching my mistake!

GamerChris's picture

I was being a bit facetious there; hope you didn't take me too seriously. 

I actually think that it's a very good thing to choose roles/powers at times, especially when you get to the point where you've got the basics down and you start to really explore the different strategies and interactions in the game.  Once you get past that, however, picking them randomly returns some of the variability to the game and forces you to be more flexible in making different combinations of powers work together.   

Steerpike's picture

the spiel has its own 'inadvertant' house rules ?

surely not !

(Mr Jack, anyone?)

sconway's picture

The truth hurts.


I will point out in Mr Jack we were ignorant of the real rules.

In Ghost Stories I really did know the rule; we just ignore it in favor of choosing! :)


LarryKruger's picture

J Moody's comment about players beating up on another player for making a 'sub-optimum' move was so familiar, I had to check to see if I had posted the statement.

There are people in my game group that occasionally critique people for making poor choices in Puerto Rico, poor power plant purchases in Power Grid, poor choices in Phoenicia, etc...  I have observed that they complain more when the decision impacts themselves negatively or appears to benefit their most immediate opponent than out of genuine concern for the active player.

The whole point of gaming with people is for the randomness of the decisions that people choose to make and how it effects the game dynamic.  It is also important to recognize that there may be a method to the madness, and what appears to be a poorly made move, often demonstrates itself as a well-orchestrated strategy later in the game.

it is important to maintain patience with new players who are still learning the game rules and strategies, and respect for all players for the plays they choose to make.

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