Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games of 2017

2017 was a pretty great year for cooperative games!  I personally have bought over 30 cooperative board and card games this year!  Some were bad, some were okay, some were good, and some were great!   This list captures the best 10 (well, maybe 11 or 12) cooperative board and card games of the year.

One thing that was reinforced heavily this year was that cooperative games need a solo mode (aka Saunders’ Law). Recently, my friends and I, as a group, tried to learn Sword and Sorcery (a cooperative dungeon crawler).  It failed.  Miserably.  It was just too much to learn as a group.  (It might be a perfectly good game, but the group learning and rulebook  were so frustrating, I haven’t been able to get it back to the table).  This reinforced (to my group anyways) that someone needs to learn the game first, then teach it to their friends.

So, all the best games of 2017 below will also be graded on how well they follow Saunders’ Law: Does the cooperative game have a viable solo game?

Honorable Mentions

Venom Assault

pic2600739_lgVenom Assault (2016): Strictly speaking this came out in 2016.  I received my Kickstarter copy (yes, there will be a lot of Kickstarters on this list!) in December 2016, and I don’t think it hit distribution until 2017.  So, you could argue that most people didn’t get this until 2017.   But technically, this can’t qualify for 2017, but I think it deserves a mention.

Venom Assault is a cooperative deck-builder set in the world of … something very similar to,  but legally distinct from, … G.I. Joe.  You play together as a group fending off the hordes of VENOM (the bad guys) as they threaten locations around the world/board.  I love the art in this game: the art on the cover (above) belies the art on the cards.  Every card looks like a panel from a well-illustrated G.I. Joe comic.  The game is interesting too!  It’s a deck-builder, but it adds a combat mechanism with dice that works pretty well.  I haven’t gotten this to the table as much as I like, but I think this is a really good game.

Playable Solo?  No, but it is easy to play 2 characters.


Battle for Greyport

img_2696Battle for Greyport (2016) is a cooperative deckbuilding game set in the world of The Red Dragon Inn.   I did a full review of the game here.  It is a pretty game, has lots of content, and was a lot of fun (although I wish it had solo player rules).  Again, like Venom Assault, this came out officially in 2016, but Kickstarters didn’t get it until December 2016 and most people probably didn’t get it until the 2017.    Fun game!


Playable Solo? No, and it is difficult to play solo.

Okay, let’s head to our top 10!

Number 10: Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game


Playable Solo?  Yes, but needs some slight tweaking.  See this post.

After all is said and done, I seem to like this game more as a solo game.  It did okay with my game groups, but not great.   I really liked it, though, and I thought it was very thematic.  The art was great and the gameplay is short (30 minutes).  It’s really easy to learn (the rulebook is good) and it has some interesting card mechanics I haven’t seen elsewhere.  It’s not the best game in the world, but if you liked the Dresden Files book series, you will enjoy this.

It’s at number 10 because I liked it a lot more than my game groups.  See Part I and Part II of my full review here to see if you will like it.

Number 9: Rising 5


Playable Solo? Yes!  And good rules for solo mode in the rulebook!

Given that this game is basically just cooperative Mastermind (a pattern guessing game), it went over very well both solo and with my game group.   The game is basically two parts: playing so you are allowed to earn a guess, and then guessing the pattern.  The art in the game was beautiful and the game is simple enough to get into quickly, but the pattern matching makes the game very thinky.

The main board, with two side boards/expansions (along the left edge and top edge)

The art is amazing and really helps keeps you engaged.  Simple, beautiful cooperative Mastermind.

See my full review here to see if you might be interested in the game.

Number 8: Witches of the Revolution


Playable Solo? Yes!  And it has good rules in the rulebook!

This is a cooperative deckbuilding game.  Yes, there are a lot of those around now, but this one is different in a number of ways.  First, the theme is interesting!  You are all witches working together to help the colonists win the American Revolution!  (It’s a neat theme, but it’s not necessarily pervasive).  As a deckbuilder, it has an interesting new mechanic: when you buy new cards, you destroy the cards you buy with!  In other words, you cull your deck when you buy new cards.  As you play, your deck tends to get smaller when you buy!  Culling and buying are coupled into one mechanism.

The game has a pretty good rulebook.  The game itself isn’t terribly complicated.  The art isn’t great, but it’s good enough and thematic enough. See below.  The cards and the components are good.


The board itself (above) notates a lot of the rules on the board itself, which was very helpful.

Overall, my game group liked it and I liked playing it solo.

This game definitely cries out for an expansion: I feel like this might move it up my list with a little more content.

Number 7: Tie!! Aventuria the Card Game and Gloomhaven

Playable Solo?  Yes.

Some of you might be saying, WHAT?  “How is Gloomhaven so low on your list and tied with a minor Adventure game?” Calm down, let me explain.  Both of these games satisfy my “I want a dungeon crawl adventure game” itch.   Sometimes I want a long crawl, taking all day.  And Gloomhaven scratches that itch.  But sometimes, I want a quick crawl, taking an hour.  And Aventuria scratches that itch.

Aventuria reminds me a little of the Warhammer Adventure Card Game:pic2625794_md:

Warhammer Quest  was a simple RPG-lite  card game that cried out for more content, but unfortunately Fantasy Flight Games broke up with Games Workshop! And we never saw any more content (well, we saw 2 new characters but no new adventures).  Aventuria fills the gap that WQ left: it already has 3 new adventures/expansions (which I already picked up)!


Gloomhaven, of course, has 100s? 1000s? of hours of content!  It’s an amazing game!  The gameplay is fun!  The game is huge and the components are amazing!   It’s an amazing RPG adventure!!  Really!!!  It’s Tom Vasel’s favorite game of all time!  Only, I have a few problems with it (which is why it didn’t make it up further on my list).

  1. Playing Lawyerball.  The rulebook is 52 dense pages.  It is a very good rulebook!  Let me make that clear!  But, as I played, I felt like I was a lawyer reading Tort Law (“Section 3.2 refers to subsection 12.3 about the Stun rule”).  I am sure that once I know the game, it flows faster, but there are a lot of rules.
  2. Set-Up.  It takes a long time to set-up a scenario digging through all the cards and scenarios and markers.   It can take a while and it will take it out of you if you aren’t in the mood.  Again the components are AMAZING!  But, sometimes I am not in the mood for 30-60 minutes of set-up.
  3. The Loot rule.  I have played Dungeons and Dragon in MANY different incarnations (original edition, first edition, advanced, second edition, third edition, 3.5, Pathfinder).  And, in 99% of those games, you kill the monster THEN you get the treasure.  In Gloomhaven, you have to go out of your way DURING COMBAT to get your loot!!  Which means, as soon as you kill the last Archer, you CANNOT get the treasure chest that was 20 feet away from the Archer because you didn’t LOOT during combat???  What???  This seems very athematic and it doesn’t make sense to me.  This one rule really took me out of the game and frustrated me.  I will get used to it, but it’s a rule that maybe belongs in a simple card game NOT a full-fledged adventure almost RPG!

Both Gloomhaven and Aventuria are RPG-like games I want to play.  They belong together at number 7.

Number 6: The Aeon’s End Suite (Aeon’s End and War Eternal)

Kickstarter Edition of Aeon’s End and Aeon’s End: War Eternal (with update since I was an original Kickstarter)

Playable Solo?  Yes.  And good solo rules in the rulebook.

Aeon’s End was a very pleasant surprise!  I didn’t get to it right away, but once I did, wow!  I loved it as a solo game and my game group loved this game.  One of my friends even went out and bought it right away!

Aeon’s End (and War Eternal) are cooperative deckbuilding games.  (War Eternal is a standalone game or can be combined with the original Aeon’s End).  I know, there’s a lot of these on my list!  But, Aeon’s End puts a real nice spin on the deckbuilding mechanic: you don’t have to shuffle your discard! Thus, when you discard cards to your discard pile, you can discard in any order you want so that you can build combos.  When you are ready for more cards, you simply flip the discard deck over!  No shuffling!

The players take the role of mages cooperatively fighting a big bad monster.  You buy spells, relics, and gems (much like a Dominion style marketplace with cards and coin).  But there’s so much more here!  Spells, breaches, cooperation, major spells to be recharged …

When you first get the game, it does a VERY GOOD JOB of teaching you the first game!  The decks are labeled and tells you what cards to put out first!


At the end of the day, we loved this game!  It was fun, it was a good cooperative game for a group or solo play!

See my full review here if you are interested.


Number 5: Escape Room Games

Playable Solo?  Sure, but then they are used up!  These Escape Room games make more sense to play with a group!

Wait, do I see a list within a list?  Do I see a GASP … sublist?  Yes.  There are 4 main sets of “Escape Room in a Box”.  Unlock, Exit, Escape Room in a Box, and Deckscape. And those I played were a  blast!  Here’s my top 3!


  • 3.  The Unlock series.  The House on the Hill  went over great with all my game groups.  Since this game is reusable, I was able to play it again (or rather, watch it be played)  with multiple game groups!   I wasn’t sure about the app integration at first, but it worked well enough.pic3616267
  • 2. The Deckscape Series.  Deckscape: Time Test was a pleasant surprise.  It was easy, fun, and we got through it in an hour.  And its reusable!    It was probably the simplest of the Escape room games, but it was really enjoyable.   pic3425752_md
    Honestly, I thought this would be my number 1 Escape game.  But then, one of them surprised me!
  • 1.  Unlock: Tonipal’s Treasure.
    This is the closest thing to the Monkey Island video game I’ve ever played in a board game.  As some of you know, I love Monkey Island!  And this really reminded me of an Adventure Game.  The time ran out at 1 hour, but we kept playing for another hour because we loved it so much!  (Yes, it’s very hard).   I liked this Unlock game so much I WILL PLAY IT AGAIN!!  Yes, that’s right, a one-shot game was so much fun, I will play it again!  So much fun!

Honestly, all the Escape Games I’ve played I have enjoyed.  The Exit games are pretty amazing, but you can only play them once.  At least the others can be played again by some of your friends.

Number 4: Unicornus Knights

Unicornus Knights Rulebook

Playable Solo?  The rulebook does not specify a solo mode, but the game plays great if the solo player controls three characters in the game.

This game I truly like.  I want to play it again and again.  There’s some really interesting mechanics and art.   It’s a cooperative game where the players work together to help the Princess retake her kingdom from the baddies.  The only hitch, she’s very, shall we say “Spirited” and wants to just walk right in and take it back (and that’s a suicide mission).  The players, as her trusted advisors, clear the way for the Princess so she won’t die before she gets to the big baddie.  You go along her path and befriend or neutralize other characters who may try to stop her.

This game has so many things going for it.  Great art, great new mechanics (the Fate mechanic deserves it’s own mention!), a great cooperative experience. It should a truly great game.  (See my review HERE)

But the rulebook is terrible. The way combat is described seems easy until you go to play.  There are so many unspecified combinations and ideas.   This game might be higher on my list if the rules were better.   A second edition of this game would go a long way towards generating interest in what I think, is a truly great game.

I still love it as a solo game, and my friends seem to like it as a cooperative game.

Number 3: Spirit Island


Playable Solo?  Absolutely!  Great rules!

Spirit Island is probably (except for Gloomhaven) the most complex game on my list.  It has a lot of mechanics and rules, and is probably best described as a euro-cooperative game.   Players work together as spirits on an island to beat back some settlers who are trying to colonize their island!  It is the inverse of Settlers of Catan!  But it is great.  I loved it as a solo game, and all my friends loved it as a cooperative game.

The rules were complex, but I found the rulebook very readable.   When I taught the game to my friends, I sat out  and helped shepherd the game along:


As of this writing, the game is kind of hard to get a hold of.  I originally got the Kickstarter, but CoolStuffInc keeps getting in stock and it sells out quickly.  If you find the game, I strongly recommend picking it up.  It’s great fun!

Number 2: The Captain is Dead


Playable Solo?  Yes, but the suggested rules aren’t great.  Read this blogpost for a better way to play solo.

This entry might surprise some of you.  First of all, the original Captain is Dead came out quite a while ago (2014) as a Kickstarter using the GamesCrafter.  The game did so well that AEG picked it up and reprinted it and the reprint came out in 2017.   So, the AEG version is eligible for the 2017.

This game is awesome!  It’s basically a cooperative Star Trek game!  The captain of the Enterprise (or whatever the legally distinct name of the ship is) has died from the first salvo of an alien attack!  The rest of the crew has to work together to get the ship out of there before the aliens take over/destroy the ship.  Players play very recognizable characters (Transporter Chief, Engineer, Admiral, etc) and have variable player powers.  (My favorite is the Janitor.  It makes me think that would have made a great Star Trek character.  But I digress …)

This game works great solo, and up to 5 players (and recently became my goto cooperative game for 5 players).  But, it doesn’t work above that: we had proof of that at RICHIE CON when a 7-player game went poorly.

I love the theme, and I’ll play it anytime anyone wants to.  My friends all liked it (except for the 7 player game) and I love love love playing the game solo.  Such a fun and thematic game!

Number 1:  CO-OP: the co-op game

Playable Solo?  Yes, and there are several more solo modes on BoardGameGeek.

This game Kickstarted at the end of 2016, but the game wasn’t delivered until February 2017.  This is kind of a cheat to put this on the list, because I designed it.  But here’s the thing, I still like playing it!   I have played CO-OP probably more than any of the other games on my list … combined!    It has a lot of things I want in a cooperative game:

  1. Player Selected Turn Order: I get so frustrated when I can’t control the order of turns in cooperative games!  If we are supposed to be working together, why can’t we go in any order we want?  So few games have that, but CO-OP: the co-op does and it an ESSENTIAL part of the game
  2. Short Game/Small Footprint/Easy Set-up:  It usually takes 30-45 minutes to play a game, and it’s a small box.  The set-up … well, it is easy once you’ve done it a few times.   I recently added a QuickStart Guide on BGG to help newbies set-up.    Overall, it’s a game you can get going quickly.
  3. A Sense Of Humor:  I love games like Spirit Island and GloomHaven, but they are all so serious!  It seems like most cooperative games are SO SERIOUS!  “Work together or we all die!!! Ahhh!!!”    I learned gaming from the well of Monkey Island, which is NOT a serious game.  It has a sense of humor, but still manages (in my mind) to be a great puzzle and a great game without sacrificing gameplay.
  4. Variable Player Powers:  All the people at the CO-OP can do something different!  Every time you play, you can play someone very different.
  5. Lots of “Bad News” Events: The “bad news” cards (Happenings) have enough variety to keep the game very different for a long time.
  6. Works Great Solo.

There are some shortcomings to the game (the lack of art/graphic design is probably the biggest shortfall), but at the day, it’s my favorite game of 2017 and I will play it anytime you want to.  Or, I will play it solo anytime.



Review of Rising 5: Runes of Asteros

Rising 5: Runes of Asteros, the Kickstarter “Collector’s Edition”

About a week or so ago, my copy of Rising 5: Runes of Asteros arrived.  Rising 5: Runes of Asteros is a cooperative deduction game for 1-5 players.  I had backed the Collector’s Edition (see over-sized box above) and have been looking forward to it for some time!  I had seen the Dice Tower folks play/review it months ago and they really liked it.  But, that was months ago!  I have to admit to being mildly annoyed that the Dice Tower reviewers got their copy well-before the people (like me) who kickstarted it.  But, I understand!  The publisher wants to generate interest in the game and sending pre-copies to reviewers is a way to do that.

So what came in the box?


The box is chock full!
After pulling out all the boards and rulebooks, we have the figures and cards!

The game box is surprisingly chock full!  Because I got the Collector’s Edition from Kickstarter, I also got the art book.  I almost never get the art books, but I really wanted all the coolness of the Collector’s Edition.  The book came in the box!  It wasn’t separate!

Art book from the Collector’s Edition

The game comes with really nice minis.  Surprisingly nice.  The different colors make it very very easier to distinguish the figures across the board.  I think if the figures had all been gray, this would have made it a little harder to distinguish (even though they are all very different).

Very distinct and very nice Minis.  Unfortunately, the minis only come from the Collector’s Edition

The boards and side boards are gorgeous!

The main board, with two side boards/expansions (along the left edge and top edge)

The top side board is for an expansion (the game comes with quite a number of expansion/variants) and the side board (mostly) is just to help keep track of the cards.  I don’t think the left side comes with the normal edition, but the top board does.

Top board (expansion/variant). This expansion is used to keep track of when a character fails a combat
Side board. Keeps track of one expansion and some cards.

As you can tell, this game is beautiful!  The art of Vincent Dutrait is pretty fantastic.

Rulebook and Directions

The game comes with two rulebooks (1 in English, 1 in French) and 2 double-sided sheets describing a plethora of expansions.  Seriously, there seem to be a lot of variants and ways to change up the main game!

This expansion adds more powers to the characters
Another expansion: he gives you little side quests
Yet another expansion and the Marker for the current sun condition

The rulebook is pretty good.  In my first play, I was able to get up and playing pretty quickly.  So, this is a case where the rulebook was a relief … it wasn’t hard to read! Whew!

Solo Rules

A Solo Game set-up and ready to go!  Even though I am using all boards, I am just playing the basic game.  The boards are too pretty to put back in the box!

The rulebook has well-described solo rules.  They actually followed Saunders’ Law! And the rules for the solo play were good as well.  I was able to learn the game quickly and directly from the rulebook.   The solo rules change the base game very mildly; you play normally, but have another hand that is used just to “support” the main hand.

I was able to learn the game from the rulebook, play it solo that same night, and teach it to my friends the next night.  I had no trouble getting through this.  In fact, the great art and design made me want to get through this.

Core Mechanic


The game is a cooperative deduction game.  In it, all players are working together to find the pattern to keep the gate sealed.  At its core, Rising 5 is all about finding the right pattern on hexes in the middle of the board.

Find the right hexes and the right pattern to win the game!

The players must find the right 4 hexes to put in the middle (there are a total of 7 differently colored hexes) and put them in the right place (each hex must go to an exact place).  That’s made a little easier because there are always 4 hexes in a grid (like above).

And that’s the fundamental puzzle of the game.  (There are symbols on the hexes, but it’s the color that matters).   As you play, you get hints as to the symbols are set-up (see how to get hints below).   To some of you, this might remind some of you of a game called Mastermind from the 1970s.

That’s where the similarity ends.  This game had a lot more going on around this core puzzle.  First of all, there is a level of indirection on the hints.  Rather than tell you which hex colors are proper (and in the right place), the hints are given in the form of some spirit animals.  Yes, that’s what I said.

There are seven spirit animals, and seven hexes.  At the start of the game, hexes and spirit animals are randomly assigned, so exactly one hex maps to exactly one spirit animal.  And all seven are mapped.  At the start of the game, YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW THE HEXES MAP TO THE SPIRIT ANIMALS.   That’s one of the things you have to deduce in the game.

So, when the game gives you a hint, you get something like this:

The “hint” is in the form of the spirits, but how do those correspond to the hexes you need?

This hint tells you about the current configuration of spirits, not the hexes!

The single BRIGHT spirit tells you that one of your hexes is the right color and in the right place.  The semi-bright spirits (two) tell you two of the hexes are the right color but in the wrong place.  Finally, the dark create (the spider) tells you that one of the hexes is simply the wrong color.

This hint tells you that 3 of the 4 hexes are the correct color, but one of them needs to go.  But unless you know the correspondence between hex colors and spirit creatures, that doesn’t help!

So, as you play, things happen which help you deduce the correspondence between the hex colors and the Spirit Animals.

Getting Hints

To get hints on the current configuration (no configuration shown here), you need to get 4 cubes on the altars, and then you can ask for a hint!

To get a hint, you have to work for it.   You need to put  4 Silk Cubes on the 4 altars on the middle of the board to get a hint.  You can to get these Silk Cubes (little green cubes) in a number of ways!

  1. Visit a Location and defeat a Monster.  Every monster you kill gives you some number (usually 1 or 2) Silk Cubes.

    A Monster! When you kill this guy (by rolling 1 or more on a die), you get a single Silk Cube (green cube) to put on the altars.
  2. Visit a location and get help from a “friend”.

    When you visit a location with this guy, he’ll either give you a Silk Cube OR move the Eclipse Marker back.
  3. Use special artifacts or (sometimes spelled artefact in the rules) Relics which simply give you Silk Cubes when you use them.
    Some Relics give you Silk Cubes and some Artifacts give you Silk Cubes

    You can usually get an artifact by visiting a location.  Relics are much harder to get: you have to kill a big bad monster!

    A Big Bad monster! Takes 5 to kill on the die! (But the die only goes to 4 …). If you kill him, you get a clue about Spirit Animals and also a Relic!


Once you get 4 Silk Cubes, any character can spend a turn to get a Hint.



There are 5 characters and they are all have very different, but essential, assymetric powers.  You might think you are each player assumes the role of a single character throughout the game … and you would be wrong.   On your turn, you activate one of the characters with your cards and have them move, encounter, or get a hint.

Each character has 11 character cards.  Players are dealt 5-6 random character cards

At the start of the game, each player is randomly dealt 5 or 6 (depending on the number of players) random character cards.  On your turn, you choose which character (if any) to activate to move across the world, explore locations, fight monsters, or  consult at the altar to gain a hint.

This is part of the cooperative nature of this game.  Each player decides which character to activate on their turn to make further progress on the puzzle.

Bad News Everyone!

What’s that red moon?

Like any cooperative game, there are many ways to lose, but only one way to win.

  1. You win if you solve the puzzle (all 4 correct colored hexes in the proper 4 locations)
  2. You lose if the Eclipse Track goes to the bottom (causing a terrible Eclipse!)
  3. You lose if go through all player cards.

Red Moons come out which will advance the Eclipse track: if it ever gets to the bottom, the planet is melted and players lose!

The Eclipse track is on the far right. If it ever reaches the bottom red mark, Game Over! Players lose!

Every so often, some Red Moon comes out of the character deck and “helps” to advance the Eclipse Track.  It’s clever because the Eclipse Track will advance downwards by the number of Red Moons out on the board (on the monster cards).  The Red Moon don’t move the Eclipse Track right away: after a Red Moon card is revealed (when a player ends his turn and draws character cards), the effect doesn’t take place until the end of the next player’s turn.  This means the next player has a chance to mitigate the effect of the drawn Red Moon card.

A Monster! When you kill him (by rolling 1 or more on a die), you get 1 Silk Cube (green cube) to put on the altars.

Notice the Monster card above has a single Red Moon (above the giant 1) on it!  Every monster has at least 1 Red Moon.  At the end of the turn, all Red Moons on Monsters are summed up, and that’s how far the Eclipse Marker moves down.   Let’s hope it doesn’t get to the bottom … or else!

How Do You Win?

Solve the puzzle.  But, important note, the ONLY way to move hexes around is with the ORAKL character.  His special ability is to swap two hexes (either on the map, or from the side).

pic3187471So, the only way to make progress in the puzzle is to activate ORAKL.  Most of the other characters have special powers which help you in the game (better combat, better movement, better Eclipse position).  These special powers give you advantages to keep the game going.  At some point, you have enough Silk Cubes so you can use a hint and see the result of ORAKL’s hex movements.   (One nice feature: HAL can copy ORAKL’s special power if he’s on the same location and also swap hexes).

This game is about swapping hexes with ORAKL’s power, fighting to get 4 Silk Cubes, analyzing the hints, and finally deducing what the final puzzle is.

The Lady or the Tiger

An App on your phone helps run the game

At this point, I should mention that this game is “usually” app-driven.  Usually, you take a picture of the board with the app (when you have collected enough Silk Cubes) and the app gives you the hint!  It also shows the history of hints to help the players deduce the final puzzle.

A few of things about the app:

  1. I was surprised it was NOT on the iPad app store, but it WAS on the iPhone app store.  Not sure why, no big deal, but it seemed weird.
  2. My first (solo) game went fine using the camera to take pictures.  I think my second game (in a different locale) had weird problems—we couldn’t get it to focus and give us a hint! We were frustrated for a few minutes.
  3. Luckily, there is a way to enter “manually” the configuration of the board to get the hint

All in all, the Rising 5 app worked well enough.  If, however, you don’t have smart phone, there is a way to have one player “pretend” to be the app.  That player has to sit out and just give hints.  So, it’s not the funnest way to play, but if you don’t have the app, you can still play this game.

One player can set-up the puzzle (behind the box) and give hints when the players want them!

Living In This World


Quite some time ago, a friend of mine strongly recommended Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.  Cryptography and Turing?  Sounds great!  Only … I didn’t like it.  At all.  To me, it was long and wandering and didn’t get to the point.  After discussions with my friend Derek (who looooooves Neal Stephenson and got his Kindle autographed by him), we came to this conclusion: Derek agreed that Stephenson was long-winded, but he liked going along for the ride—he liked the universe.  Being part of the Cryptonomicon universe was fun, even if the story is perhaps overwrought.

What does this have to do with Rising 5: Runes of Asteros?

At the end of the day, this game is just basically Mastermind, an old game where two players played against other.  One player created a pattern, and the other player tried to guess it.  At it’s core, Rising 5 is Mastermind.  


But, while Mastermind is abstract game with no theme …


Rising 5: Runes of Asteros has theme in buckets!

If you like the world the game lives in, then you are okay with all the flourishes to Mastermind!  At it’s core, this game is just Mastermind.  But all the stuff around it, I think, was fun!  It added a lot of color, theme, art to the core idea.  But, if you are a reductionist, you may not like this game!  If you can only see the Mastermind game at the core, you may be annoyed by all the flouishes.  Much like I was annoyed by all flourishes of Cryptonomicon.


What a great World to Play in!

At the end of the day, I loved the flourishes on top of cooperative Mastermind. The idea of having to work for your hints, forming strategy to when activate the characters, fighting monsters, finding relics and artifacts .. it all worked for me.  I liked it as a solo game.

My friends and I played as well (at 4 players) and we all loved it.  Everyone wants to play again!   We all joked that this game is WAAAY overproduced for what it is, but world is so colorful and bright, it’s more like joking that we got too much candy for Halloween.  No one was really complaining about the amazing art and theme …

I think a lot of people will really like Rising 5.  I think some reductionists may be annoyed by all the flavor and claim “It’s just Mastermind all prettied up”.  Yup, and how pretty it is.