Forest of the Impaled is one of the best team building cooperative board games I’ve ever seen. Six Muslim players must cooperate as a team to defeat the historical Vlad Dracula. The trick is: They Can’t Talk! Actually, the rules say they can’t “communicate” in any way, to include pointing, eye rolling, groaning, banging your head against the wall, etc.
“This game is about teamwork, leadership and communication.”
This game plays fast (1-2 hours) and is easy to learn and teach. It has some fun stuff in it: Castles, secret mountain passes, hideouts and impalements but really this game is about teamwork, leadership and communication.
One player is Dracula. Up to 6 other players must cooperate as a team of Muslim invaders to conquer Romania. This asymmetrical situation immediately raises a very interesting question. What is better? The efficiency of a small 1 person, autocratic, dictatorship? Or a very large, slow moving team? Are more minds better than one? What are their advantages and disadvantages? With practice, a good team can overcome their weakness and maximize their power of synergy. How do you do this? Through leadership, planning and communication.
The Muslim players can talk and plan freely before the game starts. After it begins, players can only talk briefly with other players while they are in the same spot on the board. So what happens when the plan gets disrupted?
Let’s say 3 players are supposed to move up the middle and take on Dracula. I’m supposed to take my army around the west to capture castles and drive deep into Transylvania. I shouldn’t be facing any serious resistance. That’s the plan.
On turn 1, Dracula unexpectedly races across the board to the west and bam, there he is right in front of me. Now what? We can’t talk. What should I do? What should the 3 players in the middle of the board do? We need to adapt but how?
I could march over to talk to them but that will waste a couple of turns to get there and then back. There usually isn’t time for that. The Muslims only have 4 turns to defeat Dracula!
Painful. Agonizing. Interesting. Fun. Also the same types of situations we run into at work. Well, maybe not impalements and castle sieges but things like:
- How to plan for the unexpected.
- How to react to the unexpected when you are stopped in the field and not able to consult your team or management. -or maybe how do you react on the spot BEFORE you can consult your team and management.
- How important it is for everybody at your organization to know the strategic goal and keep it in mind.
- How will your individual decisions and actions affect that plan and others on your team.
Just to name a few.
This game brings out the very best in team building, cooperative board games.