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It takes two: Great cooperative card games

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Courtesy flickr user 'trekkyandy'

Now that the clocks are turned back and the nights are getting longer, leaving the house somehow isn't as appealing as it was a few months ago. And while sitting down to a game of rummy or cribbage is a time-honored way for you and your partner to while away a cold evening, what if you'd rather play together, not against each other?

Look no further than these six cooperative card games, guaranteed to make the evenings fly by -- and with somewhat less chance of starting unpleasant arguments. Whether you like your games modern and intricate or old-fashioned and playable with a standard deck, you'll find something to keep out the cold.


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Often said to be the king of all card games, bridge has a reputation as being unsuitable for the faint-hearted. Both statements probably have some truth to them. It's a four-player game, played in teams of two, and bears some similarity to a doubles tennis match -- bridge partners need to know each other's game inside-and-out to succeed.

It's a tricky game to learn, however. Convince an experienced player to show you and your partner the basics, or sit down with a glass of wine and a beginner's bridge book, and you'll take your first steps into a game that you could still be playing decades from now.


Another cooperative game that uses a standard deck of cards, two-player Shamus is a bit of an odd duck. One player is playing Uno, the other is playing a variant of rummy, but you're sharing the same discard pile -- and both of you have to do well in order to win the game. It's the perfect game for when you just can't agree on what you want to play. [More info]

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

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From the pleasant meadows of the Shire to the forbidding crags of Mordor's mountains, you and your partner with explore Middle-earth in this so-called "Living Card Game." Designed for either one or two players, it's a co-operative twist on the Magic: The Gathering format: you build your own deck of cards from an included base deck, and use it to tackle Tolkien-themed challenges that'll test your wits -- not to mention your luck.

A growing series of extra packs covers familiar themes like Mirkwood and the Mines of Moria, but if that makes it sound like a money sink, don't worry -- it's perfectly playable with the $40 base set. [Buy at Amazon]

Oh, Hell!

Known by the sensitive as "Oh, Heck!" (and known by the even coarser-tongued as, uh, a variety of other things), Oh, Hell! is a member of the Whist family of card games, like Bridge. Played with a standard deck, it has both competitive and cooperative variants; in one, players compete to take the most tricks, whereas in the other, they work together to take exactly the right number without going over. [More info]

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Inspired by the spaghetti-Western movie genre, card game Bang! is played in teams, but with a twist: you don't necessarily know which of the other players is on your side. Most players will be outlaws, or the sheriff and his deputies, but there's also a mystery "renegade" player whose sole aim is to be the last one standing.

Who's good? Who's bad? And who's ugly? Piecing that together is what makes Bang! tick. [Buy at Amazon]

Elder Sign

Small and innocuous though the box might be, inside Elder Sign lurk horrors both unimaginable and deadly. Inside also lurks a bunch of cards and a handful of dice, which is what you and your chums will use to fight off said unimaginable horrors as you explore a 1920s museum full of surprise and mystery. Based on H.P. Lovecraft's classic Cthulhu horror novels, Elder Sign's sumptuous presentation will captivate fans of the author, and the Yahtzee-like gameplay should please just about everybody. [Buy at Amazon]

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