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17 Best Cooperative Board Games That You’ll Actually Enjoy - Happier Human

17 Best Cooperative Board Games That You’ll Actually Enjoy

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Board games have seen a huge growth in popularity in recent years, and certainly make our list of fun things to do at home. But we are particularly excited about the new genre of cooperative board games, where players work together to win the game, instead of competing with each other. Today we are taking a look at some of the best cooperative board games, that you can play alone or with a crowd.

Before we proceed, if you don’t have the time to read the entire review, here’s a quick look at our top choices for the best cooperative board games:

Benefits of Cooperative Board Games

The concept of cooperative board games arose in the 1950s, where they were used with children in educational settings, to teach the benefits of working together rather than competing with each other.

In the 1980s, cooperative games started to become popular with adults, as friendly social activities where people could have fun with each other without some of the tension that can arise during competitive games.

In the 21st century, cooperative games have increased tremendously in number, variety, and complexity, so that today there are cooperative games for any player and preference. The benefits of cooperative board games include:

Improving social skills

According to this study by the University of Abertay Dundee, children who played cooperative games had increased classroom interactions with each other, as opposed to students who played competitive games. Teaching children to work together in the context of the game creates a greater sense of inclusiveness and belonging, and improves social interactions.

Improving problem-solving skills

Cooperative games present players with puzzles and challenges they need to solve together. These games involve more problem-solving and strategy than games that rely on random factors like dice, and the games can usually be won in a variety of ways. These games allow players to practice and reward skills like communication, creativity, and problem-solving.

Emotionally rewarding play

We are just beginning to understand the benefits of play, for both children and adults. We have learned that play is an essential aspect of reducing stress, developing creativity, and building relationships. Play time is crucial for our physical and emotional health, and cooperative board games allow healthy play, without the tension and conflict that can arise during competitive games.

Best Cooperative Board Games

1. Best Cooperative Board Game for Horror Fans: Asmodee Ghost Stories

Horror games aren’t for everyone, but in this game, horror creates a great environment for cooperative play. In Ghost Stories, a team of 1-4 people play the role of Taoist priests who must protect their village from a swarm of evil ghosts. This game has a ton of versatility and replay-ability, with four difficulty levels, unique abilities for each player, and a variety of village setups.

It’s suited for players 10 and over, and takes about an hour to play. It’s a game with simple rules, but requiring complex strategy: it’s easy to learn, and hard to win. This board game has great artwork, high quality pieces, and optional expansions that increase options, depth, and complexity of the game.

Pros

  • Deeply engaging and challenging
  • Endless replay value
  • Easy to learn and fun to play
  • Optional game expansions for more challenges over time

Cons

  • Although the game is rated for players 10 and over, it is challenging and young players may need a lot of support
  • Many people love this game so much they wish it could have more than 4 players

2. Best Cooperative Board Game for Solo Play: Portal Games Robinson Crusoe Adventures on the Cursed Island Board Game

While we love cooperative board games for their social aspect, board games you can play alone also ranked as one of our favorite hobbies because they help to preserve mental sharpness as we age. Robinson Crusoe Adventures are a fantastic choice for solo play, or for cooperative play with up to 4 players.

This survival game has won multiple awards for its versatility and complexity, with seven different missions that take the form of interactive, exciting stories every time. It can be completed in 1-2 hours, but can be replayed for years, and has optional expansions for even more replay. This bestselling game has stunning artwork by Vincent Dutrait, high quality markers and tokens, and a fantastic, detailed rule book. Robinson Crusoe Adventures is an extremely challenging game, and appeals to players who are experienced in RPGs.

Pros

  • Award-winning and bestselling game
  • Can be played alone or with a team
  • Complex and challenging
  • Huge replay value with multiple variables, scenarios, difficulty, and optional expansions
  • Has a storytelling structure that appeals to RPG fans

Cons

  • Incredibly difficult to beat
  • Can be time-consuming to set up and clean up

3. Best Cooperative Board Game for a Couple: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures Strategy Board Game

A board game is a fantastic rainy day date idea, and a cooperative game is even better for enhancing communication and bringing couples together. The Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective cooperative game series is perfect for couples. While the game can be played by up to 8 players, game play involves closely reading a lot of text and poring over clues, so many people find it’s not a good party game.

But for adults who want to take their time reading, thinking, talking, and problem-solving, it’s an excellent, challenging game. There are ten cases in the box, and each case takes an hour or two to solve.

The writing is exceptional, perfect for people who already love Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and the game is simple to set up and understand. There are also further games in the series if you want to solve more detective mysteries.

Pros

  • Complex, thought-provoking, and engaging
  • Can be played alone or with a team
  • High quality writing, artwork, and game materials
  • Easy to understand, challenging to solve
  • 10 mysteries in the box, with optional additional games and expansions

Cons

  • No replay value once you have solved a case
  • While the game is rated for players as young as 10, and for large groups of players, it does involve a lot of reading, which may make some players impatient

4. Best Cooperative Game for Fast Play: Pandemic

The award-winning Pandemic is a fantastic game, and is another fantastic cooperative board game for couples. In Pandemic, 2-4 players race against time to keep the world safe from epidemics. Pandemic is fun and challenging, but it takes as little as 45 minutes to complete a game. With different player skills, different difficulties, and optional game expansions, Pandemic has excellent replay value, and can be enjoyed by young players as well as adults.

This game is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Although it’s rated for kids 8 and up, it may be better for kids 10 and over, because of the complexity of the strategies involved. It’s a deeply engaging game, with the fate of the world at stake.

Pros

  • Fun, challenging, fast-paced cooperative game
  • Easy to learn and play, difficult to win
  • Excellent replay-ability and optional expansion sets

Cons

  • Some people love the high stakes and high energy of Pandemic, and some people find it stressful

5. Best Cooperative Board Game for Video Game Lovers: Indie Boards and Cards Aeon’s End Game

Aeon’s End is a cooperative deck-building game that plays like a video game. Designed by professional StarCraft player Kevin Riley, in Aeon’s End, 1-4 players have to fight the evil hordes using each player’s ability and magical spells, with a variable turn order system that simulates the chaos of real-world battle. This game has endless replay-ability, with different enemies that require different strategies to defeat and constant new challenges. It’s rated for players 13 and up, and takes up to an hour to play. Aeon’s End has a number of expansions that add more heroes, monsters, and spells.

Pros

  • Great for solo play or with up to 4 players
  • Dynamic game play with variable turn order to add challenges
  • Excellent replay-ability and optional expansions
  • Easy to learn and understand

Cons

  • Players may soon want to buy an expansion to access more than the 4 included “bosses”

6. Best Cooperative Board Game for Fantasy Genre: Legends of Andor Board Game

For people who love fantasy and classic RPGs, the Legends of Andor creates a vibrant cooperative game where 2-4 heroes work together to save the land. The game includes five different scenarios, called “legends,” and each character can play as a male or female hero.

Because the scenarios are so complex and strategic, and the game has fewer random elements and options than some, it has lower replay value than some of our other top cooperative board games. However, not only are there expansion sets available with more legends, heroes, and monsters to play, but there is also a thriving fan community that creates downloadable content to get more value from the game.

The game has a full reference manual, but also has a quick-start guide that lets you play the first legend quickly, so you are familiar with the rules and game play before advancing to more difficult scenarios. The game takes about an hour to play, is fun for children 10 and up, and is easier with more players.

Pros

  • Beautiful fantasy epic game
  • Several scenarios to play through
  • Expansions and fan content available
  • Male and female player characters
  • Fun and unusual game play
  • Quick-start scenario lets you play the first legend as a tutorial

Cons

  • Not as re-playable as some games
  • Difficult to win with 2 players, unless each plays 2 characters

7. Best Cooperative Board Game for a Grown-Up Game Night: Dead of Winter

Social time is crucial for our health and happiness, and Dead of Winter is an amazing cooperative board game to play on a night in with friends. Dead of Winter is a complex, psychological game where each player has a secret personal objective, and all players have a shared objective together, creating complex dynamics and a variety of outcomes.

It’s for 2-5 players over the age of 13, in a tension-filled survival scenario where each player makes crucial decisions for themselves and everyone. The game comes with several scenarios and has optional expansions, but the base game itself, with the complex and overlapping objectives and the possibility of betrayal, has incredible replay value. It’s an edge-of-your-seat, story-centered game like no other.

Pros

  • Complex psychological game with shared and competing aspects
  • Huge variety of outcomes
  • Great replay value
  • Expansions available

Cons

  • Game can take 2+ hours to play including setup, which may be long for some people

8. Best Cooperative Board Game for Movie Lovers: Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

You don’t have to love the Alien movie franchise and distinctive artwork to enjoy this cooperative deck building game, but it helps. It has beautiful original cards, and players cooperate through storylines based on all four movies in the original Alien film series. Unlucky players may become xenomorphs, and have to fight against the other players. It has multiple playing modes, and cards and scenarios can be mixed for more and different challenges during replays. This game is great for solo play or for up to 5 players, and is best for players over 17.

Pros

  • Complex deck building game
  • Great artwork and storylines based on the Aliens movie franchise
  • Can be played solo or by up to 5 players
  • Excellent replay-ability

Cons

  • Cards do not come organized, and it’s difficult for players to get and keep them organized, adding some time and tedium to game play

9. Best Cooperative Board Game for Replaying: Tim Fowers Burgle Bros

If you’ve ever wanted to plan and execute the perfect heist, Burgle Bros. is the game for you. It’s an award-winning cooperative game where you assemble your crew, plan your heist, and try to escape with the loot. It’s easy to learn, but filled with complex puzzles, strategy, and excitement.

You can customize the difficulty, and 1-4 players can play up to 9 characters with different skills and abilities. It has a fun, graphic art style that will appeal to fans of classic cartoons, and can be played with kids 10 and over.

Because of the customizable scenario setups, wide choices of characters, and element of chance, it has fantastic replay value and can get more challenging over time. The attractive box also makes this game easy to travel with.

Pros

  • Fun and complex cooperative game where strategy and planning are crucial
  • Customizable scenario so no two games are alike
  • Can be played with 1-4 players

Cons

  • While the game is fun for kids, it has lots of small cardboard pieces and multilayered cardboard setup, which may not be friendly for nearby beverages or sticky fingers

10. Best Cooperative Board Game for the Whole Family: Spin Master Games 5 – Minute Dungeon

5-Minute Dungeon is fast to play, easy to learn, and friendly for 2-5 players over the age of 8. It requires quick thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. It has elements of a fantasy RPG, and was designed for players of all ages, so it’s not just a kids game that is fun for adults, or an adult game that kids can play. It’s fast and chaotic, and invites playing over and over again. Beginners can play without the timer, to make it easier to learn the game without the time pressure.

Pros

  • Designed for 2-5 players of all ages
  • Fast, chaotic fun
  • Easy to learn
  • Minimal setup and organization
  • Good replay value

Cons

  • Easier with more players, and a single player can’t play two characters because of the time pressure of the game

11. Best Cooperative Board Game for Young Children: Peaceable Kingdom Hoot Owl Hoot – Cooperative Matching Game For Kids

Cooperative games can be a great way to gain the benefits of play therapy at home, and Hoot Owl Hoot is a fantastic cooperative game for kids. In this game, kids have to get all the owls home to their nest before the sun goes down; if any owl is left behind, the game is lost. The game has a lot of ways it can be customized, with two built-in levels to grow in difficulty and continue to engage growing children.

Adults can also simply remove some of the sun cards to make the game easier to play for small children. It’s fun and interesting enough for older siblings to play with younger, and help them with the difficult parts, and is a great way to encourage communication and cooperation between children. It’s also fun for an adult to play with a child, so it’s a great family game.

It’s designed for 2-4 players ages 4 and over, and only takes about 15 minutes to play, so it’s perfect for short attention spans. Parents and teachers love this game at home and at school, and it’s won multiple awards.

Pros

  • Simple enough for children to play by themselves
  • Fun for adults and older siblings to play
  • Cooperative game where no one is left out
  • Teaches collaboration and communication
  • Customizable difficulty to grow with children and remain re-playable for a long time

Cons

  • Pieces are made of cardboard, and may not be durable in young hands

12. Best Cooperative Roleplaying Game: Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is considered to be one of the best board games ever made, whether for solo or cooperative gaming. Designed with a Euro-inspired setting, this is a roleplaying game (RPG) that lets you hone your tactical combat skills while selecting your own adventure.

The game starts after each team or player draws two cards to play. For every card, there exist special moves called “top” and “bottom” powers. You may use these powers however you like, depending on your strategy. What matters is that you achieve your goal, and that is to defeat as many monsters and beasts as you can before time (the cards) runs out.

Gloomhaven is a “persistent and changing world,” where monsters lurk and skulk in the darkest corners of the world. You play the role of an adventurer seeking to survive and conquer these monsters as you go on. However, the whole story depends on the cards you pick, the strategy you use, and the decisions you make.

If you are looking for a cooperative, roleplaying game that allows you to be a lot freer in choosing your destiny, then you may want to check this one out. 

Pros

  • Gameplay may take time, but it is quite enjoyable.
  • The card system provides a unique and creative vibe.
  • Game mechanics are simple and easy to understand.

Cons

  • Initial board game setup may take some time.
  • Not recommended for those who want shorter gameplay.

13. Best Supernatural Board Game: Spirit Island

Spirit Island has always been one of the favorite picks when it comes to cooperative board games. It is the perfect choice for those who love playing games that involve magic, spirits, and supernatural events. Here, you take the role of a spirit whose goal is to defend the island from manipulative and deceptive invaders.

As it is a cooperative game, you have to work with your teammates to protect your cherished homeland. Each spirit has its own elemental and unique powers, and so an effective team strategy where everyone gets the best out of their abilities must come into play. These powers vary as well, as some characters are fast while others are slow, so team planning and analysis is a requirement.

What makes this game highly replayable is that there are many kinds of enemies, so the rules change every time you play. Likewise, the level of difficulty increases as the game progresses. It keeps getting more challenging as you reach the end.

We recommend Spirit Island to friends and family members who want to experience exciting and thrilling game nights. It isn’t just a test of your strategic and thinking skills; it is also a test of your bond and relationship.

Pros

  • Good for any type of gaming—cooperative, solo, two-player, three-player, etc.
  • Game components are made out of strong and sturdy materials.
  • Highly replayable, and provides a variety of unique tactics and strategies.

Cons

  • Cooperative gaming does not require 100% consent of all players.
  • Not recommended for beginners or first-time board gamers.

14. Best Silent Cooperative Board Game: The Mind

No words, no large gestures, everything must be done in silence—this is how the mind and The Mind works. Ingeniously and addictively fun, the game’s goal is to arrange the cards in ascending order without speaking or communicating with the other team members.  

The Mind is a test of the bond between you and your teammates. While there are no obvious thinking skills at first glance, you will eventually realize that it actually involves planning, strategy, and wise moves. Small gestures are allowed, like taking glances, furrowing brows, or inventing unspoken languages—but how do you know if these are clues or just reflexes? You have to be strategic enough to know what card your teammate is holding without verbally communicating.

Pros

  • Surprisingly complex and difficult to accomplish; experts gamers will surely love it.
  • Remains fun and exciting no matter how many times you play it.
  • Develops competitiveness even if it is designed as a cooperative game.

Cons

  • The only complaint about it is the card quality—the game is great, but the cards are flimsy and weak.

15. Best Treasure Hunting Cooperative Game: Forbidden Island

If you love playing games that involve adventures with treasure hunters, ancient ruins, and gold, then Forbidden Island (and the other Forbidden games) might be a perfect fit. In this game, your main goal is to work together with your teammates to find the treasures of the islands before they disappear into the abyss.

Finding all these treasures before time runs out is the only way to win the game. If the islands vanish before accomplishing the objective, there is no starting over. Your team must strategically plan every single move to win the game.

The game does not require that everyone must survive to the end, but at least one player needs to stay alive and complete the mission. There are times when it will be essential for some to sacrifice their turns and even their game lives in order to accomplish the goal.

Forbidden Island is highly recommended for those who like solving problems and making decisions as a team. After all, it is a cooperative game!

Pros

  • Provides a real adventure experience whether it’s your first time or not.
  • High replayability because of various ways to finish the game.
  • Requires a lot of teamwork—best for cooperative gamers.

Cons

  • Not recommended for children or even first-time board game players.

16. Best Psychic-Themed Board Game: Mysterium

Mysterium is a cooperative board game that will make you think deeply and contemplatively. It is a mystery game that requires you to tap into your mind.

In this game, your goal is to discover the truth behind the death of the ghost in Warwick Manor. There are three things you need to find: the culprit, the specific crime scene, and the murder weapon. The game ends and you win once you find the answers to these questions.

Note, however, that there has to be one person among all the players who will take the role of the ghost. This person provides insights, clues, and other hints to help the others investigate. The other team members need to communicate with the ghost via card representations.

This cooperative board game is easy and simple to understand. It doesn’t require expertise in board gaming, so it may be a perfect fit even for kids or teens who want to try out board games. In addition to their critical thinking skills, they will have a chance to develop their interpersonal and communication skills.

Pros

  • The storyline is great and has been commended by a lot of consumers.
  • Highly replayable and provides various ways to strategize and play.
  • Game components are made out of high-quality materials.

Cons

  • Not recommended for a small group of players.
  • The manual can be quite tricky, wordy, and difficult to understand.

17. Best Deduction and Memory Retention Game: Hanabi

We recommend this game if you’re tired of adventure and horror games. Instead, Hanabi is a game of deduction skills and memory retention. The game is named for the Japanese word “Hanabi,” which means “fireworks,” and your goal is simple: to be able to launch a spectacular fireworks display at the end of the game.

You need two valuable attributes to win this game: teamwork and support. These are vital because you don’t get to see your cards. Instead, they can only be seen by your teammates, who have to give you clues regarding their colors and numbers. If they don’t give you the right clues, you won’t be able to pick the right cards.

In this cooperative game you have to help each other in order to win. The minimum number of players is two and the maximum is five, so it is obviously not meant for solo playing.

Hanabi is highly recommended to couples or groups of friends who want a simple yet entertaining game. You may also engage children to help them develop values and skills like cooperativeness and communication.

Pros

  • Not seeing your cards provides an interesting and exciting element to the game’s mechanism.
  • Strengthens the bond and communication between players.
  • Highly recommended to those who are very fond of cooperative games with zero competition.

Cons

  • Cheating among players may be an issue, reducing the fun and thrill of the game.
  • Winning depends on how good the other members are at giving clues.

Conclusion

What we love about cooperative board games is that they are fun and engaging for everyone, and there isn’t a bad game on this list. Our overall top pick is Pandemic, because it creates a real sense of excitement and urgency, where players work together to save the world.

It has fantastic replay value, and expansions are available to continue the challenge. There’s a reason Pandemic has won so many awards, and remains a bestselling game year after year.

If you prefer a cooperative board game that won’t keep you on the edge of your seat, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures Strategy Board Game is a fantastic alternative.

Like Holmes himself, players take their time exploring and deciphering clues, and it’s a quieter, more leisurely game. It has less replay value than Pandemic, but the multiple scenarios and available expansions still make this game a great value, and it’s an excellent brain-teaser.

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