A good friendly competition never hurts anyone and well, gives us a chance to test our skills against other players. However, sometimes people just want to be on the same side and not only challenge their skills in a team environment but also get to play their own role in achieving their team’s victory.
Cooperative board games are those that require the players to work together to complete the game’s objective(s) and with the right group of people they’re a ton of fun. In cooperative games you get to negotiate with your friends, discuss strategies and tactics, and join forces against threats you may find difficult to defeat on your own. The title of the best player is anyone’s for the taking but it’s often nice to know the other players are not actively trying to sabotage what you’re doing.
Cooperative board games are also ideal for people who are only starting out their board gaming life. They provide a friendly space for the new players to test out what they can and want to do and chances are that the more experienced players will balance the game out in a way that these experimentations (read baby steps) don’t conflict any major damage to the team and their ultimate goal.
If you’re in the mood for some team adventures or having a gathering at your house that you don’t want to get too intense or have invited a crush for this game night, you will find our list of the best cooperative board games noteworthy.
The Best Cooperative Board Games
7. Arkham Horror: The Card Game
We’ve appreciated Fantasy Flight’s Arkham franchise before and it holds true to our compliments on yet another list. These games are all outstanding in their own genre and Arkham Horror: The Cooperative Card Game, designed by Nate French and Matthew Newman, is not an exception. It’s a game of wits and strategy in dwelling cards of course but just like in any other coop game, team work comes first.
Arkham Horror offers many different scenarios for you to engage with and in all of them, players are investigators who try to solve a great mystery or save the world. These investigators will have to rely on many different abilities and tools if they want to make it through this horrifying adventure alive and those, are represented by your deck of cards, which indicates your character’s strengths and weaknesses.
Search for clues, destroy your enemies and work with your trusted associates to fight and defeat the evil that lurks in the city with this highly acclaimed winner of the Origins Award for Best Card Game in 2017. The title has been nominated for several other awards as well and is often recommended to anyone who’s interested in mystery-solving, collaboration and all sorts of excitingly immersive detective work.
6. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, by Portal, is an epic adventure of teaming up to survive. The game includes multiple scenarios for the players to choose from and each scenarios has its own objectives. The main principal of the game is that you have to achieve a certain goal before any member of your team dies. Sounds simple enough right? Well, not always.
In Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island you will fight to gather resources, overcome obstacles and build your shelter, as well as many other things. You and your friends get to retell this widely-known tale in your own words and with your own characters.
This game is one of the most interesting titles in the list and if magical deserted locations with a killer view and a killer food supply along with numerous other deadly threats sounds like something you’d have a fun time surviving with your friends, you are certainly recommended to check it out. Everyone comes looking for the great adventure experience but stay for the team work experience. Lots of (semi-cursed) fun all around!
Mysterium is a cooperative murder mystery solving board game for 2-7 players with a little twist on the genre’s stereotypes. In their journey to find the mystery man behind the murder, the players are assisted from the other side. The uneasy ghost of the murdered who wants their case solved and is capable of slightly interacting with the material world, leaves them clues from the realm of the dead.
Libellud’s Mysterium is a game that has you and your friends carefully planning your moves together while always keeping an eye out on what your dead companion might have to say. Murder mysteries have always mostly been about cooperation and Mysterium is a splendid remark on that regard. A game that has pleasantly mixed the good old card guessing games with an immersive homicide story in the background of the easy-to-learn gameplay.
All in all, Mysterium is a great board game title in many different aspects and one that fans of mystery-solving such as myself will appreciate. Gather your friends and join your heads to solve the mystery of a poor servant’s murder. Their resting in peace depends on it and they have put their trust in you all the way from across the bridge. It’s really an especially memorable experience.
We’ve Talked about Gloomhavenbefore and it deserves all the praise it gets. Cephalofair released Gloomhaven in 2017 and it’s done nothing but grow ever since. It mixes RPG and story-telling with tactical combat and cooperation in such a masterful way that makes its way up on yet another one of our lists. You will explore, fight, scavenge, evolve and most importantly cooperate with your team on your journey to glorious victory.
You are adventurers who wander into each other and are forced by the events of the scenario to work with each other and find a way to clear their path. Each of you has their own character and personality as well as their own motives, however, you must always remember what’s best for the team even when the situation gets heated up, which it will. You character advances as the story does and the story is developed in real-time based on your decisions, which provides you with near infinite flexibility.
Gloomhaven is a great board game for essentially all board gamers and it’s such an epic experience that I recommend to almost everyone but it’s safe to say that if you’re into dungeon-crawling RPG games this title is a must-play for you.
3. Spirit Island
Surprisingly not our only island today, Spirit Island was published in 2017 by Greater Than Games and it is a strategic cooperative board game that slightly resembles Plants vs. Zombies but in tabletop. Quite spiritual too.
In Spirit Island players take on the role of ancient protective spirits each with their own unique abilities and source of power. They struggle to protect their island from being colonized by outsiders and taken over by their malicious intentions. The colonizing invaders come in different factions that require different strategies to defeat and they will try to build towns and cities on your land. However, the island’s native population, known as the Dahan, are on your side against the invaders and cooperating with your fellow ancient spirits, you’re capable of saving the island.
Spirit Island is a challenging board game that requires players to carefully plan and coordinate their every move while also being highly thematic, with a strong narrative and a richly detailed world that you will find joyous to engage in. Specifically, if you consider yourself to be a fan of strategic thinking and team work.
2. Forbidden Island
Imagine you and up to 3 other explorers have ended up in the same Forbidden Island to retrieve the same ancient artifacts that are of extreme importance to all of you and you somehow manage to convince these other explorers to cooperate with you. So, what’s the catch? Everyone’s mortal enemy, time. The island is sinking and you don’t have much time until the precious artifacts are lost to the wrath of the ocean.
In Gamewright’s Forbidden Island you and your fellow adventures have to work together to not hold off the island’s sinking for as possible but also loot the island in the process as much as you can. Afterall, a good scavenger prioritizes the loot. As you explore the randomly generated map of the island you will encounter danger as well as opportunity and treasure. Just keep in mind that time is of the essence and if any one of the players is gone with the flood, the game is lost. However, if the team manage to find all four artifact and make it to the extraction zone before the island drowns, they win.
This game is a challenging adventure that also offers the ability to adjust the difficulty to your own preference for maximum immersion. If team work, Indiana Jones and tropical weather seems like a mixture you’d like, you have to give Forbidden Island a shot.
You simply can’t mention cooperative board games without pointing at Pandemic at least a few times. It’s been one of the most popular board games in the world since it’s initial release in 2008 by Z-Man and its growing popularity is due to good reasons. The Pandemic world has also been extended into a number of different expansions and alternative versions that try to capture the essence of the original game in new different ways.
In Pandemic, you and your friends must come together as experts and researchers and use your joint knowledge and decision-making skills to stop dangerous epidemic diseases from vitally spreading over the globe. The goal seems to be simple but as we all learned during these last couple of years, biological threats are not to be taken lightly.
You’ll be required to move between countries, visit patients, do research, discover cures for the new illnesses and of course to wear a mask at all times. Each specialist on your team is equipped with their own unique set of abilities and can contribute to the objective in various forms. The important factor to keep in mind is to stay in coordination with your partners to remain at maximum efficiency throughout the campaign.
Pandemic owes its massive universal success to no one and you will know why once you’ve played it enough. It’s just the right amount of challenging team work and engagement that makes this game a pioneer of its genre and a huge amount of fun for players of all sorts.
In the spirit of cooperation and team work, these games shall give you the perfect chance to play some of the best tabletop games out there with your friends side-by-side instead of head-to-head for a little change. If you think the list is lacking any particular titles, make sure to let us know in the comments!