Not all board gaming experiences have to be competitive. Some of the best tabletop games out there require you to work together to succeed. Here’s a look at the best cooperative board games.
We’ve checked out a wide variety of different types of board game. There’s room for a challenge, family gaming, great storytelling, as well as quick sessions that take mere minutes to complete. And, of course, they’re all tremendous fun too. Here are some of our favorite cooperative board games.
Best Challenging Cooperative Game: Pandemic ($24)
Pandemic isn’t an easy game to succeed at but it is a ton of fun in the meantime. You and your teammates are the last defense standing in the way of deadly diseases and you have to travel the world together to treat infections while attempting to discover a cure.
Each session takes about an hour or so, and there’s actually a keen sense of urgency. After all, who wants to run out of time and watch plague wipe everyone out, right? Strategy and a little luck play a role here as you use time management skills and shrewd thinking to try to succeed. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy.
Best Family Cooperative Game: Forbidden Island ($18)
A little more family-friendly than Pandemic, Forbidden Island has 2 to 4 players working together to find four sacred treasures from the island ruins. A mixture of strategy and problem-solving is required here, and it’s actually quite smart.
You have to use a combination of cards to stop the Forbidden Island from sinking while you explore it with your mission ending in defeat if you don’t make it in time. There’s endless replayability here with random game tiles and cards, as well as the option to adjust the difficulty level.
Best For Horror Fans: Betrayal at House on the Hill ($30)
Ideal for horror fans, Betrayal at House on the Hill tells a creepy story. Aimed at 3 to 6 players, there are multiple scenarios, as well as a different layout for every game, so you have plenty of excuses to keep coming back for more.
It takes a little time to figure out and set up but it’s immensely satisfying to watch as the ‘house’ grows and the monsters and pieces develop. It’s all about exploring the board you’re building with some creepy surprises along the way. For those who are a little wary of the occult or voodoo, this isn’t a great idea, but for everyone else, it’s fun seeing how the house grows differently every time. Just feel pleased with yourself if you all manage to survive.
Best Storytelling Game: T.I.M.E. Stories ($48)
Arguably the most beautiful looking board game here, T.I.M.E. Stories also tells a fantastic story too. Players become temporal agents who have been sent into different bodies of reality in a bid to fulfill certain missions. Think Quantum Leap (but less cheesy) and you’re not far off. Everything is geared around ensuring that you don’t mess up the fabric of the universe while still achieving your goals.
Due to such creativity, a certain amount of roleplaying is encouraged but it’s not vital if you don’t feel in the mood for it. Instead, you can spend your time fighting bad guys, charming the characters you meet, and doing so much more. Sounds wonderfully open-ended, doesn’t it? Yup, that’s about right. Just be aware that each session will take a couple of hours so this is more of a commitment than some other options listed.
Best Fantasy Combat Game: Gloomhaven ($95)
Gloomhaven is a vast persistent world of shifting motives, tactical combat, and the kind of thing that will immediately endear itself to fantasy fans (hey there, Game of Thrones addicts). It’s not cheap, it’s not a game that will take minutes to complete, and it’s a little complex, but boy is it rewarding.
Players take the role of a mercenary, exploring remote corners of the world and working together to clear dungeons and ruins in a bid to become stronger and more powerful. Think Diablo, board game style. Due to its sheer ambition, it’s made with multiple game sessions in mind. Each session will take a couple of hours but expect to keep returning back for more. It requires dedication from your team, and it’s not going to appeal to more casual players, but it’s worth investing the time.
Best Couples Game: Codenames Duet ($14)
Date night and you just want to do something different than watching a movie? Buy Codenames Duet and you can have fun working together to identify secret agents based around one-world clues. It’s as simple as that, except obviously, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The aim of the game is to reveal all 15 agents in time without taking out too many innocent bystanders along the way. It involves strong teamwork skills as well as some good deduction skills, but it’s a blast. It won’t take long to learn either and each game is fast, so it’s ideal for a quiet night in with your partner. There’s little risk of getting overly competitive either as you’re working together.
Best Speedy Game: 5 – Minute Dungeon ($15)
Many of the games here take a long time to play through. 5 – Minute Dungeon isn’t like that because if it was, it wouldn’t really deserve the name of 5 – Minute Dungeon.
A fantasy based card game, you work together to use quick thinking and teamwork to defeat monsters, overcome obstacles, and escape dungeons. In 5 minutes. Seriously. It might sound implausible but it really is the case, with an app timer that ensures you don’t go over that limit.
Predictably, it’s chaotic at times but in an incredibly enjoyable way. Every card is vital in its own way, and the added pressure of time means you learn to think fast if you want to succeed. It’s like precious little already out there.