The 3 Best Semi-Cooperative Games

Published: November 21, 2013

A semi-cooperative game is a game where the entire group works together in order to accomplish an objective. However, there are a number of traitors in the midst of the group, trying to keep the group from accomplishing victory. In this list, I go over three of the best semi-cooperative games available, as well as a brief description of each.

  1. Mafia

    Mafia is a popular community or party game where a number of people within the group are members of the Mafia and kill off innocent citizens one by one. The Mafia wins by eliminating the innocent citizens. The rest of the group wins by successfully identifying the Mafia members.

    I enjoy this game because it is relatively easy to explain, requires no equipment or game pieces, and is a lot of fun. It is especially fun to see players accusing perfectly innocent civilians of being members of the Mafia. There are many characters with abilities you can add to the group, like the policeman and the doctor.

    However, people's experiences of this game can vary depending on a lot of different conditions. A good Mafia game has a good narrator. A bad narrator can instantly kill the fun. Additionally, players who have been eliminated generally should not be allowed to talk, because they can also ruin the fun by blurting out key information.

    Bottom line: Mafia is a very enjoyable semi-cooperative game with very little setup required, but experiences can and will vary depending on your group.

  2. Shadows Over Camelot

    Shadows Over Camelot is a game where you play as King Arthur and his knights trying to complete all sorts of different quests. In your midst is a traitor whose only goal is to destroy the kingdom.

    This game is very enjoyable, especially with a 4 player group. Every person's actions can have significant impact and there are many different strategies the team can choose to achieve victory. The traitor generally has the easiest role, since beating the game as a team can be very difficult in and of itself.

    However, the game becomes relatively easier with more players. Without the expansion, Shadows Over Camelot will only have one traitor. The effects of the traitor will be greatly diluted in a six person game, especially since each player has access to different abilities. The pacing of the game can be a little slow for players as well.

    Bottom line: Shadows Over Camelot is a fun, thematic board game that can be very difficult to beat. However, that first victory will feel well earned to everyone except the traitor.

  3. Battlestar Galactica

    Battlestar Galactica is a semi-cooperative board game that is based mainly on the first season of the reboot of the show. The players play important figures on the Galactica, like President Roslin, Commander Adama, and Gaius Baltar. However, there are Cylons in the midst of your group. You must find a way to jump to Kobol before the Cylons destroy the Fleet.

    If you loved the show, this game is almost a must buy. You can play different players featured prominently on the show. Whether your character is a Cylon on the show has no definitive bearing on whether you will be a Cylon in the board game. It may increase your chances of being a Cylon, but again, your choice of character will not automatically make you a Cylon. There are three expansions available as well, adding on more characters and different objectives for victory. Each expansion is based on a season of the show. The intrigue is always fun and the game is very enjoyable, especially with a large group.

    However, Fantasy Flight Games has an apparent vendetta against clearly written rulebooks. The game is quite difficult, and a difficult to follow rulebook does not help the human players in any way. Additionally, if you have never watched the show but become inspired to by playing the board game, the "You are a Cylon" loyalty cards have some major spoilers hidden within them. I highly recommend watching the show before playing the game.

    Bottom Line: Battlestar Galactica is possibly one of the best board games available on the market. However, you'll need a person familiar with the rules to direct the game. Oftentimes that same person ends up being a Cylon as well.

Overall, I think each of the three games have fantastic merit in the gaming community. I enjoy Mafia for its ease of play and its lack of player limit. Shadows Over Camelot offers a fun adventure for a group of King Arthur fans. I believe the best game in this list is Battlestar Galactica. Once the group is clear on the instructions, Battlestar Galactica is very enjoyable, with fun gameplay and a tense, suspicious atmosphere.