Keep me from beating my partner about the head with the monopoly board
April 18, 2012 5:41 AM   Subscribe

Both my partner and I are competitive and we are fairly bad winners/losers. This is inconvenient because we both really like playing boardgames together... help.

My partner and I are in our 30's and very very in love. We are planning to get married next year and holy hell I cannot wait to be married to this man and spend the rest of my life with him. We aren't unrealistic, our relationship isn't some magical unicorn of perfection flying on rainbow wings of love. We still disagree and have arguments sometimes, but they are always really minor and quickly resolved. When it comes down to it, this is the best relationship I could imagine. We've both never been happier. We're one of those gross couples that hold hands all the time, and make googley eyes at each other, and are basically just disgusting. We set our alarm clock to go off 15 minutes early every morning so that we can have our morning cuddles for God's sake. THAT is how lovey dovey affectionate happy we are.

At least until we play a game...

We're both really competitive, especially against each other. For years before we became a couple we took immense pleasure from besting each other at games. Lots of bragging and good natured trash talk and of course pouting from the loser. Becoming a couple hasn't tempered that competitive streak in either of us, and we both get a lot of pleasure from trouncing the other. It hasn't been an enormous stumbling block, until about a month ago when we had what we've called the "Monopoly Incident".* There had been times before when we both had been undue bragging/peacocking when we beat each other at Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit, but the latest one has resulted in a full cessation of all board game playing in fear of another Monopoly Incident.

The thing is, we both really like playing games together. We both want to be able to play board games where we're pitted against each other, but we need a way to be able to trounce the other but still feel lovey schoopy for one another. And we're fine and lovey and supportive and nice through the entire game, regardless of whose winning, up until the point that the game is offically done and a winner is declared. I could be 100 points behind him in Scrabble but still totally enjoy the game and not care about my being behind. Oh, I'll try extremely hard to make up the deficit and come from behind to win, but everythings good until the last tile is played, at which point the shit hits the fan.

So how do we do this? What do other people do to ensure that feelings aren't hurt while still maintaining the thread of competition? Loser gets the sexual favour of their choosing? Winner has to do the dishes? We do something that reinforces lovey feelings after the game? He and I are very good with having "rules", so if there is some rule that we get exactly ten minutes of bragging and then afterwards we have to do _______________ to make the loser feel good would possibly work, but I would need suggestions for what that thing that we do after is.

* He has been keeping a sheet with the date of the game, the amount od money that the winner ended up with, and the name of the winner. Since he started keeping a record of the winner it he had been the only one to win, but a month ago I won. I had been trouncing him and was well above his record, and it wasn't until I was just under his record that he conceeded. All so I wouldn't beat his record. So I sold all my hotels and houses and mortgaged all my properties to get more money and be above his record again. Then he refused to write my score and name on the sheet at all. Granted, I was fairly smug that I won and wasn't being a good winner, but he was also being petty for refusing to add me to the score sheet... There was no fight, exactly, but we were both pretty irritated at the end of it.
posted by gwenlister to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (46 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
"Monopoly Incident"

There's your problem. Monopoly is inherently infuriating, because once you start to lose it's nearly impossible to come back and it feels very unfair.

There are a lot of great games that are more constructive than destructive in nature. They're still very competitive, but the best strategy is to focus on building your own stuff up with clever placement instead of tearing the other player's stuff down. Settlers of Catan is a perfect example of this; Lost Cities is another (and games go faster than Settlers).
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:48 AM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

I would be as over-the-top with it as possible, and create a game called "Therapy." The one who loses can lie down on the couch, while the winner plays therapist (use of Sigmund Freud-like, ethnically-untraceable accent mandatory) and talks the loser down from feeling so bad about losing.

Because, really, getting upset over the winner of a board game isn't worth it, and if you can laugh at your reactions, that will probably disarm the bad feelings.
posted by xingcat at 5:48 AM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Okay, for one thing, you guys should probably stop keeping anything like a paper record of your games. That turns minor fights into Incidents with a History Behind Them, and that's just going to inflate the situation in a way that probably isn't worth a few fun moments of gloating. When the game ends, its over -- maybe don't deliberately create a larger narrative for that game to fit into.

We have a version of this problem in our own house, so I really sympathize! I hope you guys can find a good balance between awesome games and household peace.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:50 AM on April 18, 2012 [17 favorites]

Find other opponents and play against them as a team.
posted by Slinga at 5:50 AM on April 18, 2012 [9 favorites]

My partner and I are intensely competitive too especially during our neverending backgammon missions. We have a policy where the looser has to kiss the winner, it sortve diffuses any mean silliness between games !!!
posted by Under the Sea at 5:51 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I quit playing games like this with my family for the same reason. There is just a dynamic there that makes me very uncomfortable. It started to get like Frank Costanza's feats of strength. "Hit your father, George!"

All I can say is to try and figure out a way to remove the emotional investment in the game. Find a way to be happy about winning without being disappointed about losing.
posted by gjc at 6:01 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

It is frightening when your peer is your love and your natures seek that thrill of the fight and the taste of blood of the win. To use quite primitive analogies harking back to mankind's prehistory.

However, I think you're on the right track. There are funny/sexy cards available that can be part of the games you play, where you can 'win' sexual favours and back rubs and what not. Integrating these kinds of prizes might mean that by the end of the game, even the loser wins, so to speak.
posted by infini at 6:03 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: you need your heads banging together!

I love this. Or what about cooperative games, like Pandemic? I can't think of any others right now, but what about games where you are on the same team?
posted by lillygog at 6:03 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am super competitive when it comes to board games. My husband is not, but he's better at the types of games we like to play (strategy, mostly) and almost always wins. My son likes to "go after" me in games. I used to have fits about those things. I'm not proud of it, believe me. It was stupid and immature and I wasn't setting a good example for my kids, and I wasn't having fun playing games. I felt so bad about it that I just had to stop caring about winning. The joy in the gaming was gone and that made me sad, so I stopped wanting to win so badly and just enjoyed the game.

I also made it a point to remind myself several times during game play that it's just a game. The fate of the world isn't at stake, and neither is the fate of my self-esteem.

However, all bets are off when my husband and I are a team against friends. Shit gets real then. ;)
posted by cooker girl at 6:07 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding lillygog, maybe you should give cooperative games a try, so you win or lose together. Most of them are long and complicated, like Arkham Horror, but Forbidden Island is nice and quick while still giving that competitive thrill.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:14 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Play your games more quickly and play more of them. It makes each one less of a big deal, plus it's more fun.
posted by michaelh at 6:18 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Narrative Priorities is right, stop keeping records. You're playing a board game, not balancing your checkbook.
posted by crankylex at 6:32 AM on April 18, 2012

I sympathize. I'm just glad my wife isn't as competitive as me, and I like to think I've gotten better. I've found that the longer a game takes, the more you'll have invested in it. Start playing short games, like Backgammon. Don't keep score after the "session" is over. With big board games like Ticket to Ride (though Monopoly and Risk would probably work as well), I've found I enjoy them more and get angry less when I play against my family on the iPad instead of keeping score by hand.

(Fair warning: My own backgammon "incident" -- not really, though it was entirely my fault -- involved "match points" against my wife when she was just learning to play. "No, you can't resign unilaterally. I'm about to gammon you." "No, you can't double. I'm one point away from winning the match." So, uh... I would leave the Crawford rule out of it.)
posted by supercres at 6:32 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I run a board games night with friends, and we had to stop playing Monopoly - it's the only game that has caused any kind of argument.

Two suggestions:

- As Slinga suggests, maybe play together as a team.
- Play games that are so silly that no one can possibly get into arguments about them because everybody's having too much childish fun.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 6:32 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was going to suggest cooperative games as well. You can still be competitive, but this time you're competing against the game itself. And the game is usually a lot better at winning than you are. My girlfriend and I play Pandemic (taking two roles apiece) and Forbidden Island and it's great because without cooperating and coordinating moves with one another, you can't win.

If you really want a challenge, go with Arkham Horror (like Pandemic, you'll probably want to take on two characters each.) That game is punishing, in a fun way, and is considerably more of a challenge than playing against a person.

Also, yeah, you know how the common wisdom say that you shouldn't keep score in relationships? Well, y'all should probably take that literally as much as figuratively.
posted by griphus at 6:37 AM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

No records. That's like ammo for future fights. My husband and I like to play Scrabble. He was taught how to play Scrabble by his grandparents, who are arguably the best Scrabble players I have ever seen. I like Scrabble, but not to the degree my husband does. In the past, we have played and I always lost. Always. He's just a really good player. In the beginning, I would get really mad at him because he would treat me as any other Scrabble player; as in, I'm going to play this word that blocks/covers up the triple word score so I can't get to it. He did this all the time. I wanted to play him to get better, but he was literally screwing me at every chance he got. After one game where I was so upset that I cried, he realized that he was being a jerk about it and has since changed his strategy. He still wins most of the time. I wouldn't say that he's letting me win, but he understands that I have not memorized the two-letter word list like he has. That's how we got through it.

No records. That's ammo.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 6:41 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

It is traditional in curling for the members of the winning team to buy their counterpart on the losing team a drink, so that might be one angle to pursue. If you're playing at home,there probably isn't a handy bar in the house (unlike at the curling rink, where they probably built the bar before they built the rest of the rink), but perhaps winner has to but the next dinner our or lunch or coffee the next morning or something might work.

Or, perhaps you could deliberately limit the opportunity for hurtfulness. Agree, for example, that the winner has precisely 1 minute of gloating permitted, and thus must use those seconds wisely. That limits the scope of things, plus, it's probably a lot harder to feel hurt while you're holding a stopwatch on someone.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:45 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Lots of bragging and good natured trash talk and of course pouting from the loser. ... There had been times before when we both had been undue bragging/peacocking when we beat each other at Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit"

Umm...can't you just agree to knock it off with the bragging and the trash talking? I would say that zero minutes of bragging and gloating should be the rule.
posted by drlith at 6:53 AM on April 18, 2012

I think you have to be mindful about complimenting each other throughout the games on good plays, etc., so you're cutting down on the competitive/oppositional factor. I've had to do this while playing board games with my husband, and it does seem to help.

And oh dear God why would ANYONE want to play Monopoly--granted, I'm totally risk-averse and fear financial ruin like nothing else, but it just doesn't seem to lend itself to a good time. Especially these days.

posted by dlugoczaj at 7:02 AM on April 18, 2012

Play games that are new to both of you, or ones that you're comparably good at, so you each have a more or less equal chance at winning.

Absolutely thirding not keeping a record of scores.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:05 AM on April 18, 2012

Response by poster: I love the idea of board games where we work TOGETHER. I'm looking in to Arkham Horror and Pandemic and Forbidden Island. Any other suggestions of board games where we work as a team instead of against each other?
posted by gwenlister at 7:10 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Monopoly is inherently infuriating, because once you start to lose it's nearly impossible to come back and it feels very unfair.

So true. Monopoly is terrible, says I.

It's important with board games - and any game, I guess - to play to win, and care about winning, right up until the moment the game ends. Then be a gentleman/lady about it.

Some above have mentioned co-op games, and Forbidden Island and Pandemic are good choices. Settlers of Catan has also been mentioned - unfortunately, that doesn't work with two. However, the difference between Monopoly and Catan is an important one.

American games, from Monopoly through Cosmic Encounter to the very new Wiz War tend to be very thematic and all about direct conflict. European games, or Eurogames, tend to be less thematic and more about indirect conflict. An example of direct conflict would be my spaceship shooting your spaceship. Indirect conflict is more along the lines of placing your piece to block your opponents. So perhaps to avoid direct conflict over the board, you need to avoid it on the board too.

Some Eurogames are criticised for seeming to be 'multiplayer solitaire' - low interaction games where everyone is doing their own thing. Agricola would be a good example, as would San Juan (or its more complicated sibling Race for the Galaxy) or Galaxy Trucker. In fact, Galaxy Trucker, where you more often than not watch your constructed spaceship fall apart, might be a good lesson in Learning To Lose.

Or how about a game with no conflict at all? Tales of the Arabian Nights is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book as a board game, with lots of opportunity for hammy acting.
posted by liquidindian at 7:11 AM on April 18, 2012

Nthing cooperative games -- it removes the competitiveness from the equation, and then you can be all "Yay, we won!" lovey-dovey at the end of it. The Lord of the Rings game is a particular favorite in this category for our house.

And for the love of all that's holy, if you're both that competitive, don't play Settlers of Catan together. I've seen that game almost cause brawls.
posted by liquado at 7:11 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: My husband and I are also crazy competitive, trash talkers, who love board games. Our solution to avoiding tears and pieces flying at one another was to stop playing Monopoly (that game only leads to sadness) and instead play games that involve skill (like Jenga) or just silliness (Pictionary or Bananagrams). Really, it was a process of elimination going thru different games until we found those that would be the most fun for both of us. We now own a lot of board games.

We've had the best luck with video games that are cooperative like Portal or Goo Balls. Video games seem to lend themselves better at defeating something together as opposed to trying to defeat one another.
posted by zamdaba at 7:17 AM on April 18, 2012

Shadows over Camelot is another good cooperative one. Obviously, you will not play with the traitor option. (I refuse to play if we're playing with the traitor.) You'll want two roles each if it's just you two.
posted by ansate at 7:18 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: I love the idea of board games where we work TOGETHER. I'm looking in to Arkham Horror and Pandemic and Forbidden Island.

Forbidden Island is a great entry point & cheap. Pandemic is by the same designer and uses similar but slightly more complicated mechanics. Arkham Horror goes on for ages and ages. I'd try and play it first before buying it.

Space Alert is great fun if you can get four or five people together who are happy to lose.
posted by liquidindian at 7:19 AM on April 18, 2012

You might also like "engine" games like Dominion or the Catan Card Game, where there is less opportunity to directly block an opponent or gleefully capitalize on their errors.
posted by fleacircus at 7:20 AM on April 18, 2012

Winner gets to win. Loser gets some other kind of reward (cookies, back rub, choice of movie on next date night...).
posted by Etrigan at 7:22 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how qxntpqbbbqxl plays it, but my friends are I are vicious when it came to Settlers of Catan. It has almost ended friendships and marriages. But one night after a particularly cruel game where there were insults, tears, and storming off, we agreed on a few rules.

First, everyone agreed that during the game we could be as vicious, vindictive, and petty as we wanted. But as soon as someone won, it stopped. No more name calling, or gloating. It is bad form to be resentful of getting screwed. Second, the winner cleaned up, while everyone else separated to neutral corners. Third, there is no "meta-gaming" where we keep track of wins and losses, even if we play three times in a row. It seems to have worked for us, and we are all terrible sports.
posted by gagoumot at 7:23 AM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd try and play [Akrham Horror] first before buying it.

Oh, yes, definitely. I have absolutely no idea how people learn to play that game by the manual alone. At least one person who is already familiar with the rules should be a requirement printed on the box.
posted by griphus at 7:31 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how qxntpqbbbqxl plays it, but my friends are I are vicious when it came to Settlers of Catan.

Surely that still happens, although less so with two players since there are no alliances. Compare it to Carcassonne, though: Many of the moves an advanced player makes in Carcassonne are specifically meant to fuck another player, without any other benefit to the one who made the move. To wit: the Carcassonne iPad app has a a specific AI type for "evil". In Settlers, that's part of the calculation when you make a move, but vindictiveness retards your own development much more.

Any other suggestions of board games where we work as a team instead of against each other?

This thread would be incomplete without a link to, the definitive hangout for board game geeks. They can certainly point you to the best cooperative games.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:03 AM on April 18, 2012

You love competitive games (so do I), so it would be a shame to give them up entirely for cooperative games.

I was about to say the same thing that I now see gagoumot said: try instituting a rule that once the game is over (or maybe after a five-minute victory dance), it's over. No carrying around of battles through the rest of the day, no keeping track of your history against each other or high scores; the competition was really fun during that hour but now you're moving on to the rest of your life.
posted by dfan at 8:08 AM on April 18, 2012

Do you have iPhones/iPads? The juggernaut that is Draw Something is really fun partly because it's cooperative rather than competitive. Of course it doesn't scratch the same board game itch as Settlers etc., but something like that might be a good jumping off point for reentering the gaming world.
posted by CheeseLouise at 8:58 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just happened upon D-Day Dice while blundering around Kickstarter looking at games (both software based and cool board games like the upcoming OGRE release). Anyway, it has rave reviews, was (until OGRE's kickstarter) the most successful BG kickstarter yet, and is co-op.

It looks good to me but I haven't tried it personally though I'd like to.

Back on the competitive but fun and casual side of things, Bananagrams was a fun mish-mash of scrabble that, at least to us, doesn't incite anger or resentment due to it's fast paced, mostly played against yourself word format. Plus you mentioned Scrabble so I had to namedrop that one in there.

Dominion is a fun game for us, the engine aspect draws me in and once my fiance got up to speed with her playing it's really just two people playing an individual game (like Bananagrams in that regard).

We tend to get grumpy playing BattleLine but it's a great game for what it is.

My fiance and her sister love Draw Something but it looks incredibly "meh" to me.

Ditto for the rule saying once the game is over, no discussion is allowed. Another game is fine, just not if either one of you isn't feeling it. Pressure does not make for a good gaming session in my experience.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:09 AM on April 18, 2012

Oh and quit playing Monopoly! That's got to be 90% of your problem right there. Something like Agricola is much more "adult" and meant for serious gamers who aren't looking to destroy one another and grind each other endlessly into the ground for 3 hours. Even if you lose you still feel like you've accomplished something and had fun and gain ideas for the next playthrough. Puerto Rico is also good.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:12 AM on April 18, 2012

Draw Something (on the iOS) is a lot of fun!

Sounds lame, but my husband and I also do crossword puzzles together, which is very cooperative and a lot of fun.

Pandemic and Arkham Horror are great, although I noticed something - I think I play cooperative games much better with my family than with my SO - because they accept my bossiness (or "natural leadership," if we're being kind).

I do also like some cooperative video games - Resident Evil 5 in particular is fun for teamwork, because it's so awful and also scary!

Uh... Bananagrams... my husband and I once got into an awful, shameful 3-way argument with my MOTHER over that game. Maybe not so innocent?
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 9:31 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: My (unbelievably competitive) partner and I are big fans of Mage Knight, which is not necessarily cooperative but can be played that way. It's also hugely nerdy, so... maybe check it out first?

Board Game Geek will be your friend if you're looking to find good games. Here, for example, is a list of cooperative games (and most of them are very good, except Red November which I hate more than anything).

But to answer your question in a more general way: just try to cut the truly negative trash talk. There's a difference between "HAHAHA oh man I am going to fuck you up!" and "FUCKING DICE THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE YOU MUST BE RIGGING THEM OR HAVE THE BEST LUCK THIS IS SHIT." Right? The first is good-natured and fun. The second leads to Incidents (see: why I don't play M:tG anymore). Do you see what I mean here? I've also found that the closer you get to someone, the more likely it is that the really bad stuff will come out. This, I think, is the difference between outright not writing your score down in Monopoly and writing "StupidFace Gwen's Shitty Score of ____".

If you feel the rage coming on, take a break. We frequently leave board games set up on the table while we go read or watch an episode of a show or have dinner and then come back to them.
posted by AmandaA at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: Cooperative games are awesome. Here are some ideas:

Instead of Arkham Horror, you may want to start with Elder Sign. It's basically Arkham Horror Lite: fewer cards and tokens, plays in about an hour or two instead of 4-6, and has a vastly smaller table footprint. I love Arkham Horror and have a bunch of the expansions, but it's a bit of a beast to get going, especially once you start getting invested. If you like Elder Sign, you'll like Arkham Horror more, so Elder Sign can be a decent way to find out if that kind of game is your style without having to learn too many finicky rules and exceptions and such.

The Lord of the Rings LCG is a two-player cooperative card game. LCG stands for living card game, meaning there are lots of expansions but also meaning every box has the same cards in them, so there's not that random booster money sink that collectible card games (CCGs) have. You can use the starter decks provided in the box with no difficulty, or you could build your own, which might introduce a line of competition to see who can build the better or more efficient deck while still keeping the cooperative part intact. It has much more of a board game feel than the "card game" moniker suggests.

Conversely, there's the Lord of the Rings board game, which my friends and I call instead "Hobbit Murder". You will not win. Ever. But you will not win together, and thus you can both hurl your anger and vitriol at the undying fires of Mount Doom. Or something.

There have been a bunch of recent D&D Heroquest-style board games which are all cooperative in nature. They're all basically dungeon crawls: pick a guy, get some stuff, hit those things. No idea if that's to your taste at all, but they're pretty well designed and have some replay value with the scenarios included, and there's a lot of potential interaction. Castle Ravenloft was the first one to come out, but Wrath of Ashardalon and Legend of Drizzt seem to be getting better reviews. Those names are only going to get more ridiculous, by the way, so adjust to your preferred level of absurd nerdery.
posted by Errant at 9:48 AM on April 18, 2012

Let me just start off by saying my girlfriend is the worst loser in the world. She will stop at nothing to keep me from winning including sacrificing herself to block me. Its really... pathetic.

Nevertheless, we still play games quite a bit. I was going to come in to suggest pandemic, but I have been beaten to it (multiple times). I would also recommend the add-on "on the brink" because it has a 3vs1 option that's pretty fun for couples night. Another suggestion is carcassonne. Yes, its generally a competitive game, but its easy to learn, quick to play and there are instances where you can actually help each other even though you're trying to win for yourself. I'm not familiar with the add-ons, but I think there are some that encourage winning without direct conflict or head to head engagement.
posted by kookywon at 10:48 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: Oh man, I love co-op games. there are a ton of great ones. List time!

Flash Point is a great firefighting game. It is a bit like Pandemic, but the theme is more engaging and you get to rescue pets from burning buildings. It has a good difficulty scale too, from beginner to fffffffffffff.

Sententials of the Multiverse is a great super hero game that avoids players overseeing each other's turns because each player plays a different super hero with vastly different powers. Cool new expansion out to ramp up the difficulty if you master the main game.

Defenders of the Realm is a blast. You play heroes fighting off 4 separate invading hordes. It has a nice high fantasy feel, with a palpable but manageable amount of danger.

Space Alert is the best game ever, but it's real difficult with just two, and more fun with 4 or 5 players. Its a lot of chaotic fun. A computer yells at you about new things are are going wrong, and you scramble around trying to fix them before you all die. Difficulty scales well from beginner to impossible. The expansion adds a slight rpg mechanic, variable player powers, and achievements. It's very addictive, not to mention that each individual game lasts about 15 minutes. It requires really good communication though, and can lead to bitter recriminations. That and the plays best at 4-5 players is the only reason this isn't at the top of the list.

Wok Star is a real time game like Space Alert, but plays just fine with two. It's not the best, and it's a little racist, but if you want a real time co-op, but don't like Space Alert for whatever reason, this one will satisfy.

Ghost Stories is fun, but the most difficult game on this list, if you're looking for something challenging. You can't turn down the difficulty here. I remember the fist (of very few times) we beat it on easy. It was a great sense of achievement.

Space Hulk: Death Angel is also tough, and but pretty short/light. If you like getting torn apart by aliens, this is for you.

The new D&D board games are pretty fun for a more adventure game type feeling. Traipsing through dungeons, killing monsters, grabbing treasure. Each game comes with a dozen plus adventures with different rules, victory conditions and crazy boss monsters. They also come with a ton of pretty minis if that's your thing.

Conquest of Planet Earth is pretty neat, I'm not so into it myself, but it's the game I get requested to bring places the most. You play aliens trying to destroy the planet. There are a bunch of different aliens with different powers. Fun humorous cards, a neat 1950's alien invasion art style. I'll admit it can be a lot of fun, but it's pretty random there isn't a lot of interesting decision making.

Fortune and Glory is a bit random, but you get to punch Nazi's in zeppelins. It can be played competitively too, though I think that is less fun.

Castle Panic is a lighter co-op, made much more interesting by the expansion. Not a lot of brain burn on this one which is nice for when you want to play something but a bit out of it.

A Touch of Evil is a neat game, you play together trying to work against a great evil attacking the villages. A fair number of different creatures with dark plots to foil. It's neat if you're into the theme.

Pandemic is the classic co-op game. It's pretty good, but I feel other games fill this niche better. Every game feels very similar, disease breaks out in Milan or Shanghai, but it doesn't really matter, it plays the same. It still has a place in my heart as the first co-op I played though.

Arkham Horror. I hate it. It's dumb and far, far, to long for what it is. Just my opinion, I know a bunch of people who really like it. If you love the theme, or love 4+ hour games, go for it, enjoy, I won't judge you.

Elder Signs is the same theme as Arkham Horror, but shorter. More of a dicefest. Not much to recommend it unless you are really into the theme.

And there you have it, that is the complete list of co-op games I have played, listed roughly in order of recommendation. Each is linked to their Board Game Geek page, where you can find reviews, pictures, and usually the rulebooks. Hope this helps and isn't TMI.
posted by Garm at 12:30 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

I love board games and I hate playing with people who need to win. Especially scrabble! I'm really good at scrabble and have gone so far as to try to lose intentionally when I realized how much of a poor loser the person I was playing with was about to become.

That's when it hit me: BAM!!! ...what if I changed the game so there could be all of the fun without there being a winner or a loser?

And, this, I give you: FICTION SCRABBLE, where only fake words can be played. In order to play a word, you must be able to pronounce it and explain what it means. The game becomes ridiculously fun, and nobody wins or loses (since there's really no sense in playing for points). I cannot even express how much fun this game is.

Want more fun scrabble alternatives? Here's a list :)
posted by 2oh1 at 12:40 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

These are pretty old school suggestions, but Pictionary, Taboo, and Cranium are all party games that, if played by two people, force you to be on each other's team and to play for the fun of playing (since scorekeeping doesn't make much sense without separate teams).
posted by chickenmagazine at 2:37 PM on April 18, 2012

Oh, man. For me it's all about being on the same side. It's hilarious now, but the 'Death from Above' maneuver in Katamari Damacy really proved that head-to-head gaming is not a good partner activity for me.

You know what you did.
posted by Space Kitty at 4:23 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh my god, I love xingcat's "Therapy" idea. For reals!

While you're trying out evening-length games, if you're jonesing for a quick game of some sort why not try Yahtzee? Yeah, it's competitive, but maybe the dice element would makes the whole thing random enough that you won't take a beatin' personally?

space kitty: i'm channeling my inner King of the Cosmos to proclaim, "We have no idea what you're talking about." :)
posted by the_bone at 6:33 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would also suggest quicker games- my SO and I play cards (mostly Rummy and Uno)- the rounds go by quickly, we still get some good competition in, and there's a frequent chance of a fresh start (rather than the hours long torture that can come with losing Monopoly or Risk).
posted by shes_ajar at 7:19 AM on April 19, 2012

Any other suggestions of board games where we work as a team instead of against each other?

You're already playing Scrabble, which can be made into a cooperative game by the simple change of keeping a single combined score tally, rather than individual scores for each player. IIRC, 500 is a good number to shoot for, though you may want to adjust that up or down depending on your abilities.

Plus, with this version you can keep a historical record. Once you've got an initial set of ten games or so, treat yourselves to a nice dinner or something when you get a new high score. Or score within your top 5% of games, or whatever works for you.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:22 PM on April 19, 2012

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