So what is Meeples Together? In short it’s a book on the design and theory of cooperative tabletop games by Christopher Allen and Shannon Appelcline. It’s for those people who want to create games of this sort and those who love the category and want to know how it works.
It’s about those board games (and card games and dice games) where players work against a challenge system that’s run by the game itself in order to accomplish some goal and to not fall to failure. Arkham Horror was the first; Reiner Knizia’s Lord Of The Rings then reinvented the category for the modern age of board games; and Pandemic was the first big, big hit. In recent years, the category has expanded to also include campaign-style co-op games like Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pandemic Legacy, and Gloomhaven.
The category additionally includes a number of games where most of the players cooperate against an overlord or traitor. Overlord-led games include a lot of fantasy-themed publications like Descent: Journeys in the Dark while hidden-traitor games began with Shadows over Camelot but were really perfected in the Battlestar Galactica Board Game. There are also plenty of intriguing hybrids, such as the popular Betrayal at House on the Hill, which starts off as a true co-op and becomes a overlord-led game halfway through.
Meeples Together covers all of these types of games in its first section, detailing a “competitive-cooperative spectrum of gaming”. The second section is about the nuts and bolts of design: how to build cooperative, competitive and adventure game systems. The third and final major section than moves that into theory: how to encourage cooperation; how to create challenge; and how to avoid common problems. There’s also a little bit at the end of the book detailing some of the frontiers of design, with a look at psychology and innovation. About a dozen case studies and 90 mini-reviews fill out the book. (Yeah, we played a lot of co-ops these last few years!) It runs about 140k words total. We’ve also got an additional 50+ case studies drafted for publication online, and maybe eventually in a booklet, to support the book itself.
As of Monday, the book was handed off to editorial at Gameplaywright Press. We hope to announce more about its publication later this year, but in the meantime LIKE the Meeples Together FB page to stay in the loop.
If you prefer, we also have a few other places on the web where we should be posting. The @MeeplesTogether twitter is at https://twitter.com/MeeplesTogether. This blog will cover all of our core cooperative discussion, but you may also be interested in Shannon’s Mechanics & Meeples blog (http://www.mechanics-and-meeples.com/) as yet another place to regularly get our updates.