Hippies Save the Day in Co-Op: The Co-Op Game

Co-Op: The Co-Op Game

With the increase in number of completely polished and release-ready tabletop game projects that seem to hit Kickstarter lately, it can be hard to remember that the crowdfunding platform was originally created to give designers the opportunity to test an idea that might otherwise be a hard sell to a mainstream publisher or financier. Co-Op: The Co-Op Game is exactly the type of niche title which should utilize Kickstarter to gauge consumer interest.

Many campaigns try to create projects that appeal to as wide an audience as possible similar to the big publishers, despite the fact that Kickstarter was seemingly created to supersede just that sort of mentality. Co-Op creator Richard T. Saunders seems comfortable enough with this game to focus on a narrow market of players who are looking for an anti-corporation, hippie themed, cooperative game experience.

Gameplay

In Co-Op, players band together to try and save their local co-op store from being taken over by the evil MondoMart. Players start by selecting from a unique roster of characters that include hippies like Sunshine Freespirit and Cherrypit Jones, or bizzies like Henry Hall and Leigh Galbrief. The hippies generally have special abilities revolved around maintaining the good “Vibe” of the group, where bizzies generally feature skills that will help the group reach the funding goal to save the shop from MondoMart. Money is acquired by selling goods to customers who come in looking for particular items. Each game week, new items can be added to the shop, and “Groove” cards can help players acquire customers, funds, or other beneficial perks like being able to avoid negative effects from other cards if players hum classic hippie tunes — my go-to was “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by 5th Dimension.

The game features a sort of worker placement style where participants must decide how to spend their turns, by putting their character pieces on specific board locations which allow them to take particular actions. A full round consists of a 5 day week (because hippies value their weekends obviously) and each day a new “Happening” card is flipped, and generally triggers a situation intended to complicate the round. This can range from police raids, health inspector violations, and the power going out, to things like Woodstock or legal holidays.

The goal of the game is to acquire enough money and make sure that all the players’ “Vibe” score isn’t below a certain threshold before the final day of the game. If characters are still feeling the good vibes, and have enough money in the store’s reserves to fight back the lawyers of MondoMart, the co-op is saved and the players win! Different scenarios and levels of difficulty can be pre-arranged before the game begins offering all levels of players a sufficient challenge.

Co-Op Components

Review

This game is certainly trying something different, and in that aspect earns a certain amount of respect and points for creativity. While the initial learning curve and board set-up is a bit far from what I would consider a casual game, after that initial hurdle the game plays fairly smoothly and simply. The hippie theme is niche, and many of the references may be lost on younger players, but it still retains a sense of levity and humor. This sort of project evokes the original purpose of Kickstarter, to give creators the ability to find their own specialized audiences, and not have to rely on wide market appeal and cookie cutter design choices just to make sales quotas.

If you like what you see, be sure to check out the Co-Op Kickstarter campaign from now through December 17, 2016.

Pros: Unique game experience, various levels of difficulty, humorous

Cons: Slight learning curve, niche theme

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.