Us Versus... Them? It?
Cooperative board games are an interesting genre. The basic idea in a nutshell is that everyone works together to defeat "the board". Usually this amounts to a series of increasing challenges that are randomly thrown at you in an attempt to simulate artificial intelligence. The team of players figures out a way to overcome these challenges and either easily wins or is swamped with another wave of even bigger problems. This formula often amounts to some fun tension, provided you have the right crowd of folks, and that some players aren't way more familiar with the game than others. The problems arise when you have an over-bearing player (or players) who wants to tell everyone exactly what to do, or someone who has figured out "the solution" (ie the optimal way to play in order to beat the board) and either intentionally or inadvertently takes away the mystery and challenge of figuring it all out. Or when the game just sucks, which happens sometimes. As you've probably guessed by now, this isn't exactly my favorite type of game to play. I'm not a hater, but I'm not a fangirl either. I'll play a cooperative game with friends here and there and have a good time with it, and after thinking it through and trying to decide on a favortie I've realized I think the genre has come a long way and is heading in a good direction.
There are a few cooperative games that I think do a better job of creating fun and interesting problems than others. Some of the genre favorites such as Pandemic really don't hit that sweet spot for me of a game I want to rush back and play again and again. I enjoy Arkham Horror for it's theme, depth, character options, and interesting story, but it can be such a long (and sometimes tedious) endeavor that I don't play it very often. There are 3 cooperative games that really stand out to me as heading in "the right direction"; not perfect games, but something I'd be interested in playing and seeing more of in the future.