Cooperative games are one of my favorite genres of board games. They allow me to play a game with my wife and/or kids and we compete together against the board, instead of against each other. It is a great way to build teamwork and problem-solving skills, all while having a blast playing a game together as a family.
Below are my top ten cooperative games. This is my personal “Top 10 List,” and it does not necessarily reflect the views of every writer here at Board Game Quest. I made the list based on my experiences with many cooperative games, as I have not played every cooperative game.
(Note: This list is for pure cooperative games, so a game like Legendary has been left off the list due to it being semi-cooperative.)
Top Ten Cooperative Games
A cooperative game set in the fantasy land of Andor that plays as five linked scenarios. The game is unique in that, although there is combat, stopping and fighting every baddie will result in a loss due to the time wasted fighting instead of completing the objective. Legends of Andor is a great introduction to cooperative gaming. The one downside is that there are only five scenarios. None of the game’s expansions have been released in the United States yet.
Ever wanted to be a firefighter but just could not pass the conditioning test? This game will in no way help you become a firefighter, but it is a fun cooperative fire fighting game. There are two modes of play – basic and advanced. Both feature rescuing people (and animals) from an unpredictable fire, but the advanced version adds unique roles, such as driving ambulances and fire trucks, as well as more unpredictable fire hazards. There have also been five expansions to Flash Point that add variety in the form of new maps, roles, and hazards.
Legendary is a deck building game that recreates the four Alien films. It is similar to Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game. In fact, the two games are compatible. The cards in Legendary Encounters are used in ingenious ways to relive classic scenes from the movie. It also introduces the “coordinate mechanic”, which allows players to assist others when it is not their turn, bolstering the cooperative options available to players. Legendary Encounter’s only weakness is that it is too easy solo, and nigh impossible for five. Two to three players is this game’s sweet spot.
If you like/love games that lead to your death, like Dark Souls, Rogue Legacy, or Lords of the Fallen, then this is the cooperative game for you. You begin the first, and easiest, scenario stranded on a beach with little food and no shelter. And then things get bad. You and your fellow players must decide how to explore the island, get food, address threats, and survive inclement weather. Unfortunately, you do not have enough time to address everything. Then you die. Robinson Crusoe comes with six scenarios, a map that is different every time, and many cards leading to incredible replay value.
Samurai Spirit could easily be renamed Seven Samurai: The Blackjack Game and you would not be far from the truth. You and up to six others command your own samurai, attempting to defend a village from an invading horde. Over three rounds, cards are presented to you and you must determine how to handle them. Do you engage the enemy, hoping the sum of the enemies you face will equal your samurai’s Ki value, allowing you to use his special power? Or do you defend, waiting to attack the next turn? In addition, you can assist your fellow players if you wish. Samurai Spirit is fun, but can turn badly in the flip of a card; however, the quick setup and playtime allow you to play just one more time…
5. Pandemic (review)
Although not the first cooperative game, Pandemic is one of the most well-known. It is one of my oldest games, and although I suffer from a serious case of the Cult of the New, I still play this game regularly with my family. We love Pandemic. It’s set up and playtime are quick, and it plays well for two to four (but best with four). After you have played many times, you can add the expansions to increase the variability (On the Brink) or to cure diseases (In the Lab).
4. Freedom: Underground Railroad (review)
This is a cooperative game that has one to four players joining the abolitionist movement and attempting to move slaves from the South to their freedom in Canada. Freedom: Underground Railroad weaves historical events and people, both good and bad, into a strategic game of moving slaves northward while attempting to avoid slave catchers. The game is VERY tense, and, to be honest, it really gripped me thematically. I felt guilty sacrificing a STUPID WOODEN cube because it meant I intentionally sent a person back to slavery, even if it meant opening the way to freedom for many others.
3. Eldritch Horror (review)
Eldritch Horror is essentially Arkham Horror 2.0, but instead of focusing on one city (or a couple of cities, if you have the expansions), it moves the focus to a globe-trotting adventure. To be honest, I have not played Arkham Horror since buying this game. Eldritch Horror is more streamlined, less fiddly (more so than most games, but bearable compared to Arkham), plays more quickly, yet it still provides an engrossing story that keeps me coming back for more. Two expansions increase the number of options (and replay value) even more. For a thematic, cooperative game with a story, I cannot think of a better game.
Disclaimer: I love Lord of the Rings. Disclaimer #2: I love “what if” games. Given this background, it should be no surprise that I love the Lord of the Rings card game. Although not a collectible game like Magic: the Gathering (the card packs have a fixed distribution), there can be a hefty investment if you want to follow the main quest line as well as recreate the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings sagas. The variability is amazing between the different decks you can build and the additional quests provided by the adventure packs and expansions. Check out the Lord of the Rings card game if you are looking for a great, thematic game.
1. Sentinels of the Multiverse (review)
This is my go-to cooperative game. This card game plays two to five players (four is the best). You choose from ten super heroes to face off against one of four super villains, and then choose from one of four environments for the confrontation. Of course new heroes, villains, and environments are available in expansions. The setup is fast, the interaction between the different heroes, villains, and environments promises a different game every time you play. The card art is amazing. Sentinels of the Multiverse is our family’s favorite cooperative game!
That about wraps it up for my Top 10 Cooperative Games. While I’m sure my list won’t match up to everyone’s, I think there is a good representation of many great games here. Did I miss your favorite game? Let me know in the comments below.