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Top Board Games to Play Over Zoom - Part 2 [Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition, Forbidden Island, Pandemic, Forbidden Desert, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases,...]Like| 14 comments | [+]
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BGAJoshua Yearsley, Editor of Root - What Does it Take to be a Rulebook Editor? [Root, Sabotage, Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile, Kingsburg (Second Edition), Marvel Champions: The Card Game]Like| 31 comments | [+]
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Started off the week with a play of #Trajan, as we continued our attempt to play our newer, unplayed games. I mentioned in another post on here that we played incorrectly (as seems to be our normal for first plays). Instead of going around the time track 4 times for each quarter year, we stopped after the 3rd time around for the first half of the game. Aside from that making the game feel super quick, we had a great time playing it. Can't wait to get it out again!

Sarah's birthday was Friday, and she shockingly agreed to play games with me haha. Her request was #It's a Wonderful World which I have brought up on here before as one of her most requested games. I got some real lucky draws and was able to win pretty easily as her cards didn't quite work together like mine seemed to. Instead of a rematch of that, we settled on #The Quacks of Quedlinburg. I'm really glad we picked this one up as I could see it becoming another game she requests to play often. I beat her there too but don't worry she'd get me back.

As her birthday weekend continued, we went down to her parents to celebrate. Her dad had picked me up #Codenames: Disney Family Edition as a late Christmas gift so we gave it a try with them. Usually we have 6 of us, but this time we only had 5, so we had a designated codemaster to keep the teams even. Sarah and I played against her parents and despite my clear lack of Disney knowledge, we split the two games we played.

Sunday we went over to my parents to celebrate with them and my brother and sister in law. I finally broke out my copy of #Secret Hitler. Sarah managed to convince us she wasn't Hitler, mostly because my dad was acting sus lol. Not entirely sure if he knew what he was doing as we later learned he was on the liberal team haha. I definitely prefer playing with more people but with 6 of us it wasn't that bad.

Afterwards we played a game of #Speculation. I bought this awhile ago thinking Sarah's cutthroat siblings would like manipulating the market to screw over everyone else. Turns out the game rarely plays out that way so it only went over so so with them. My family seemed to enjoy it a bit more, but not enough to convince them that they needed to play again, so it's probably safe to throw on the trade pile. Sarah ended up crushing us, proving she is the Wolf of Wall Street.

Wrapped up the weekend watching the Super Bowl with my cousins. Before the game, we played a game of #Cat Lady: Premium Edition with the #Cat Lady: Box of Treats expansion. Super simple drafting game that I'm excited to play more of! Sarah beat me in a close game while my cousins didn't do so hot. They picked it up quickly though so I think next time they'll do a lot better.

Played April last night @ 4 player.  

Oh boy 2nd Aliases - we were super excited to get these.  And the ability to switch between aliases in the middle of the game is something I wasn't sure we were going to be able to do but I'm super excited about.  3 of the 4 new aliases seem exciting and useful; although the one we didn't think would be useful was the one time we needed it. 

Also the Symptom cards look terrible and I am not looking forward to having those in our hands moving forward. 

We ended up cheating a little bit by creating teams using 3 cards instead of 4 for the role that can create with one less.  Oops.  I don't think it dramatically impacted the overall success we had in the game but it made things a little easier to keep things cleaned up. 

Objective 1 - Disrupt Trial in 3 South American cities.  We were able to do 2 of the 3 again.  While it sucks we couldn't get all 3, I'm pretty happy with our ability to get 2 of them stopped.  Also both of our outbreak cities are a single move away from Lagos so we put a permenant safe house there after the game so we'll be able to use Auth. Code 424 to clean up agents from both locations without going into the city. 

Object 2 - Bug the Control Center in Europe.  Was able to complete this objective on the last turn of the game.  Took 3 turns of planning to make it happen.  It basically came down to either Moscow or Warsaw as the control center location.  Our team builder was going to get the last turn of the game and he had picked up enough Soviet cards to build the team but we just needed to get him to Moscow were we built a previous safe house (lucky).  In order to cover our basis we had the Ops specialist build a safehouse in Warsaw as well and then he had the ability to see which city ID city.  Got the soviet team in place and then he flew to DC since we have that restriction and was able to bug the control center with the last action.  Great win even if slightly tainted. 

 

 

Bonuses: 1) Spent 3 points to build the safehouse in Lagos to put it between the two cities with exposure. 2) Spent 1 point to give Auth. Code 424 to the Ops specialist so he could fly to that new Safehouse and clean up either exposed city without taking the symptom cards.  3) Spent 1 point to remove an exposure eye in Dehli.   

Got our March plays in today.  First time back to the game since Nov. 

Funding Level at start of month = 7

We also in the pregame we answered question 4 “we have an emotional attachment to our friends” as “agree”.  So after we ran the numbers we got the restriction card that says all search actions need to be done in Washington.  Our point total was 1.  It didn't matter in this game though as we were never close to checking for either objective before our world fell apart on us.  South America ended up being a disaster area with there being 3 agents in 4 of the 5 locations.  We couldn't get a neutral team created in order to help take care of the problem.  While we were trying to keep SA under control the MIddle East and Western Asia hit critical state and we ended up running out of incident tokens again.  The best thing we did though was remove the one city that has the disease from the game with our event card on the first turn.  Not having to worry about dieses made the game easier, not that it mattered in the end.  Result = Failure.

2nd try at March went much smoother.  Playing again immediatly after our first loss helped us with strategy and overall game play.  It also helped that all 3 of our opening 3 incident locations where in NA which made it easy to get to and clean up.  We were actually able to get an allied team created early.  We also didn't have a ton of difficulty in creating the 2 Soviet teams.  Our Medical Coordinator's ability to pull city cards out of the discard pile was useful as he did it twice to create both Soviet teams.  We put the Crime boss to work twice as well so it felt good to have that upgrade work out immediatly.  Despite not knowing which of 3 Pacific Rim cities the Soviets where manufacting in, we put a team in all 3 locations and was able to complete both objectives, even if we did  need to be in DC to push the button. 

Really enjoying where this journey is going and can't wait to see what's next.

I think #Not Alone is one of the games that scales really well. I have played and loved it from 3 to 7 players and while each extreme felt different it was always a joy.

I think it stays good at all player counts for a number of reasons:

Firstly, it is a one vs many game, so the game dynamic changes a less as the player count increases, you are still only working with two 'teams' as opposed to in other games where as you increases or decrease the players you add or remove new agendas into the mix. This means the design doesn't have to flex as much so the tightness and tension is maintained.

Secondly, every phase is are engaging for every player. In the first phase where the astronauts are choosing their locations, they all do so simultaneously so are all obviously engaged throughout and the alien is busy analysing their current situations to work out how they might play and potentially playing mind games with them. The second phase has the alien choosing where to go and what powers to use which is obviously engaging for the alien but is incredibly tense for the astronauts as they have already locked in their answers. The third phase is 'the reveal' and this is fun for everyone as if you are 'safe' as the astronaut you get to do something fun (use the location ability) and the astronauts who get caught provide hilarity for everyone and satisfaction for the alien. The last phase is 20 seconds of admin so no one gets bored.

As such you are invested in the game constantly, whereas in some games more players means longer to wait to do something fun, this is has tension and cooperation throughout.

Lastly, I think because the game is almost always very tight and because there are just two 'teams' no one feels like they are out of the running. Even if individually as an astronaut you aren't doing too well, you still get the enjoyment of your team getting closer to escaping. And even if the alien is getting trashed, you have so many fun powers that losing is not boring in the slightest.

So yes, I think this game, is both really good but also wonderfully flexible in terms of player count.

Early May - Win!

So some notes about the setup for our game:

  • We misinterpreted the question about disease transmission.  We thought it was "what would you like the disease to be spread by?" and then picked the least bad option for spreading.  Instead, it was "based on your clues, how do you think the disease is spread?" and in that case we totally would have picked airborne because of the maps of the air currents we found and stuff.  So we lost a funding, but jokes on them we didn't have any funding left anyway.   
  • Darn it our extra funding guy got murdered.  We were hoarding the funding because we knew we were going to run out later.  My husband was telling us we just should use it because they're probably just going to take it away from us later and he was right again.  That's 2/2 on predictions for him.   
  • On our personnel card, we chose 4/5 for "are we better than other people at our jobs", 2/5 for our ability to convince people, and 5/5 for our ability to complete multiple objectives.  We'll see if our confidence is overrated later haha.   

After that, we spent 15-20 minutes discussing who should go first haha.  Our objective was to try to block off the pursuit as quickly as possible so we didn't have to chase those tokens all over the map.  So we wanted to block off Johannesburg quickly in case we got an escalation but we were also worried about the cities with 3 agents.  In the end we compromised on first blocking off the route going straight to Cairo (the nearest Soviet city) and then blocking of the other route a few turns later.  We were actually pretty lucky in this game though because we got 5 full turns in before drawing an Escalation card.  Of course that means we had some back to back ones later in the game, but the long break in the beginning let us block off Johannesburg and also get well on our way to getting a couple of teams formed.   

We actually were pretty lucky this whole game. We had only 3 incidents, though one of those caused 3 of our members to lose a cover, and we managed to finish the game after only 3 Escalation cards had been drawn (though the next card in the deck was another one, we checked when we were finished).  There was one point were it was looking super bad in terms of agents on the board, but our MCC's (aka dispatcher) other alias is the one that lets you take an action token when you start your turn in a safe house so he had 4 tokens saved up and managed to do one uber turn to clear off most of the dangerous cities and move the teams to where they needed to complete the Sabik objective.  Oh speaking of that one, we chose to only file the abbreviated version of the report with the CIA, we did not tell them about Sabik's suspisions about Coop.   

Forgot to take a photo of the board this time =(

I think #XCOM: The Board Game is a great anti-quarterbacking game. There is a timed element controlled by the app so you rarely have time to concentrate on what anyone else is doing let alone tell them what to do. You are all doing significantly different puzzles, but there is a good degree of overlap so you all benefit from each others achievements. 

I also really like #Captain Sonar for similar reasons (although it is two teams rather than pure co-op) as again, everyone has a very specific task and although you have to work together there isn't time for anyone to be telling others exactly what to do. It is also just a bunch of fun

This is really cool.  Although, my brain hurts looking at it all.  Haha!  I just go with my gut.  Maybe when I have more time on my hands I'll be more into this.

I'm a huge Hockey fan and this reminds me of the analytics teams use to select players.  Very cool, and helpful for the people running a team... but I never get into it when judging a player.  I go with what I see (if that makes sense).

Having said all that I do think I consider some of these things in the back of my head when reaching for a solo game.

Early March – Win (funding level was 3)

In the pregame we answered question 4 “we have an emotional attachment to our friends” as “agree”.  So after we ran the numbers we got the restriction card that says all search actions need to be done in Washington.  Yay.  This game is definitely setting up the government to betray us at some point. 

This was another close one.  Again, we were cruising along, victory in sight, when we realized that our player deck was going to run out before we could get the cards to the people that needed them AND be in Washington to complete the search (stupid government restrictions).  We managed to figure out a way to do it but it required the use of airlift and 3 people had to scratch off 1 box from their aliases (nothing terrible happened, one of our players had to discard a card (that we didn't need) and the other 2 were blank) but we managed to pull off the victory with 1 card remaining.  Normally, our play style is not to let our characters take damage juuust in case and we would have used the airlift to get our characters out of danger, but this time we sacrificed for the win.  Our Hospital Admin is now our most mobile character through his use of his Spy Camera upgrade.  He figured out that if the city card is in the discard pile that it means unlimited direct flights for him so long as he has the action to get the card.   

Game end upgrades (6pts): ( pointed out we were doing this wrong, but we already played this one too.  Will fix in April.)

Medical conference coordinator (heretofore abbreviated as MCC) got Authorization codes 715 and 405.  These are the new ones we got about moving teams and getting rid of agents on their turn with teams.  We figured since this guy is best at moving teams he can use both of these to best effect.  

Our game so far is being played with the same 4 people that played through Seasons 1 and 2. 

Prologue - Win

Early January - Win

Here is our first personnel card.  I think this was from Jan.

Game end upgrades chosen (total of 6 pts since 4p):

  • Reasearch Assistant was given Crime Boss and our chosen city was Kiev, thinking that that was an area of high surveillance so it would be hard to get in there and take out agents. 
  • Clinc Planner was given a Visa, selected city Baghdad because that was somewhat central and far enough away to give her a headstart on travel
  • Rest went to anti-surveillance

Early February - Win

This is where it started to get exciting.  We were going about our business, just doing maintenance on the Russian agents, and attempting to create teams, when we realized that we had only 3 agents left in our stockpile and if we didn't clear 2 or more agents per turn we would lose.  At this point we had not yet completed any objectives.  For the secret cities objective in Africa, all 3 were in neutral cities and there was no way we were going to get enough cards to get out 3 neutral teams.  We had one.  Convinced that as soon as we got the next escalation card we were going to lose, we decided to just go for one of the cities to complete that objective so the game wouldn't be a total loss.  My husband was against this move, as he was convinced that it was going to be terrible if we didn't get 3/3 cities.  "When has this game ever been nice to us?" he asked.  So we just did one of the cities and turns out he was right.  So we have 2 diseased cities in Africa now.  Somehow we managed to stay just ahead of the escalation cards and managed to eek out a win.  Have several incidents though. 

Game end upgrades:

  • Hospital Administrator got Spy Camera
  • Put one permanent safe house in Cairo