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Meeples Together: How and Why Cooperative Board Games WorkClick to magnify

Meeples Together: How and Why Cooperative Board Games Work


"This is the single most valuable resource to date for the design of cooperative games."

— Raph Koster, author of A Theory of Fun

"Meeples Together is a must read for any emerging game designer, and an interesting read for all hobby gamers."

— Richard Launius, designer of Arkham Horror

“Required reading for game designers of any kind, bursting at the seams with knowledge and notions. I’ll be stealing ideas from this for years.”

— Matt Forbeck, award-winning game designer and New York Times bestselling author

"Meeples Together will deepen your understanding of cooperative game mechanics and dynamics, as well as keep you entertained."

— Eric B. Vogel, designer of The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

“If you like cooperative game and game design, this is the book you absolutely need to read. It includes an incredible exhaustive and detailed work analyzing the history of cooperative games, and tries to answer these two essential questions: how it works, and why it works.”

— Bruno Cathala, co-designer of Shadows over Camelot

"Everything you always wanted to know about cooperative games but were afraid to ask...and more! Absolutely [a book] to read!"

— Serge Laget, co-designer of Shadows over Camelot

How and Why Cooperative Games Work

This is the authoritative source on cooperative board games and card games for gamers, aficionados, critics, and designers, featuring a deep dive into co-op gaming’s titles, mechanics, theory, and frontiers.

You are on an epic mission to combat global plague. Or you are seeking out werewolves in an isolated village. Houses are on fire, islands are sinking, and enemy androids have infiltrated the fleet.

You can’t succeed alone — and victory requires more than understanding your teammates. You need to know the game.

Join experts Christopher Allen and Shannon Appelcline as they examine not only how cooperative board games work, but why. With more than 150 enlightening images showing principles and mechanisms of play in action, this book helps you see your favorite cooperative board games in new ways. Together, we look deep into the machines of great games to reveal how they work — and how we play.

Whether you want to play cooperative games better, discover your next favorite game, or design the world’s next favorite, Meeples Together is for you.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Matt Leacock (designer of Pandemic)
  • Chapter 1: The Basics of Cooperation
  • Part One: The Spectrum of Cooperative Gaming
  • Chapter 2: Styles of Competition
    • Case Study: Terra
  • Chapter 3: Styles of Teamwork
    • Case Study: Contract Bridge
    • Case Study: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
  • Chapter 4: Styles of Cooperation
    • Case Study: Pandemic
    • Case Study: Forbidden Island
    • Case Study: Forbidden Desert
  • Part Two: The Mechanics of Cooperative Games
  • Chapter 5: Cooperative Systems
    • Case Study: Flash Point: Fire Rescue
  • Chapter 6: Challenge Systems
    • Case Study: Robinson Crusoe — Adventures on the Cursed Island
  • Chapter 7: Players Facing Challenges
    • Case Study: Shadows over Camelot
    • Case Study: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
  • Chapter 8: Players Undertaking Tasks
    • Case Study: Arkham Horror 2e
  • Chapter 9: Adventure Systems
    • Case Study: Mansions of Madness 2e
  • Part Three: The Theory of Cooperative Games
  • Chapter 10: A Theory of Cooperative Gaming
    • Case Study: Space Alert
  • Chapter 11: A Theory of Challenge Design
    • Case Study: Ghost Stories
  • Chapter 12: When Games Go Wrong
    • Case Study: D-Day Dice
  • Part Four: Cooperative Frontiers
  • Chapter 13: The Psychology of Cooperative Gaming
    • Case Study: Hanabi
  • Chapter 14: Assembling the Puzzle
    • Case Study: SOS Titanic
  • Appendices
  • Appendix I: The Basics of Game Design
  • Appendix II: Game Design Dilemmas
  • Appendix III: Game Design Types
  • Appendix IV: Game Design & Social Theories
  • Appendix V: Cooperative & Teamwork Game Synopses & Reviews

About the Authors

Christopher Allen writes about collaboration. He’s founded several companies focusing on social software, including Skotos Tech, an online game company where he aided in the design of Castle Marrach, Grendel’s Revenge, and Lovecraft Country. His Life with Alacrity blog talks about the principles of cooperation, collaboration, and governance while his Rebooting the Web of Trust workshops imagine the future of collaboration on the internet.

Shannon Appelcline writes about games. He regularly contributed to the defunct board-gaming magazine Knucklebones, while his Eurogame-focused Meeples & Mechanics blog contains over a decade worth of game analysis. He’s also long been involved with the roleplaying field, working for Chaosium and supporting lines like Call of Cthulhu and Pendragon. He’s best known for Designers & Dragons, a four-book history of the roleplaying industry.

This Meeples Together digital bundle contains rich PDF, EPUB, and Kindle (.mobi) format digital-native editions, optimized for those apps and platforms.

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File Last Updated:
March 03, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on March 03, 2019.