The best cooperative board games

Jan 13, 2020
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Love this list! My game group has really taken to Mysterium, as it adjusts well to different numbers of players, and offers a fun spin on exploring communication through subtext and intention. As long as no one gets too frustrated... 😂
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My wife and I just played Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective for the first time this past weekend, and really enjoyed it! I definitely recommend it for solving intricate mysteries with a couple or few friends. You get the details of a case, then venture out into London to look for clues and talk to people by looking them up in a directory and visiting them on the map of the city. There's also a newspaper you can read through for additional clues and leads. Lots of discussion, note-taking, and plenty of red herrings, and then you answer some questions and see how you did when compared to Holmes. The first case took us about two hours to get through and we had a great time!
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PCG Robin

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Dec 10, 2019
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I really like the Hellboy board game for co-op dungeon-crawling - though admittedly I'm a huge fan of the comics. It does some really clever stuff with its dice mechanics, and the miniatures are just fantastic. Completely nails the tone of the source material.

I gave the Arkham Horror Card Game a try with a friend a little while back and we were both actually really disappointed by it. It's very, very difficult, and for us not in a fun 'it's Lovecraft so everyone goes mad and dies!' way. Just in a frustrating 'I've no idea how we could've handled that better and now we don't get to see half the story' way. The answer seems to be you have to get really good at deck-building, and buy multiple copies of the core box for extra cards, but I don't think that gels at all with the game - it's a storytelling experience, not a competitive CCG. But it seems like we're in the minority in not liking it!
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My wife got me D&D: The Legend of Drizz't for my birthday last year and we've been playing through the missions one at a time. I think we got through almost all of them by now and I must say, I'm a bit disappointed. I think we finished almost all of them without even needing a healing surge, the game is way too easy. Only the game modes where there is a competitive element are somewhat interesting.

My favourite co-op board game is Fantasy Flight's The Lord of the Rings: The Board Game. Pretty much from the beginning you have to deal with set backs and halfway through the game it always seems like you're one step from losing the game. Which you probably will, as this game is hard. The only downside to the game is that it relies a lot on luck.

I don't own a ton of co-op board games though, which I'm hoping to change once I have a bit more money. Especially Gloomhaven looks really promising.
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My wife and I just got 5 Minute Dungeon and played a few rounds this weekend—whew, it's pretty hectic, but it's fun and the base game isn't terribly expensive compared to most board games. We had to order it online since none of our local gaming shops had it in stock.

How it works

It can get tricky with just two players even though you get to hold more cards, because you're limited in the special abilities you can have since you only have two character classes going. But it's still a lot of fun, lots of action and constant communication is needed. I'd recommend it!
There are tons of great coop board games out there. Here are a couple of my favorites that didn't make the PCG list.

The Grizzled - A World War 1 cooperative card game where players try to correctly navigate the dangerous battlefields in order to complete missions. Each task feels like a hopeless endeavor as you and your companions develop phobias of the various threats and missions become more difficult to complete. Teamwork and risk taking is the only way to survive.

Magic Maze - A dead simple concept that gets harder and harder to execute with more players. Four adventurers have entered the mall, but they are short of coin and must commit a good old fashion smash and grab. A single tile represents the starting position as the rest of the mall is shrouded in a fog of war. Navigating to the entryways at the edge of a tile allows a new tile to be placed and the heroes must find their weapon of choice and escape before the time limit is reached.

The twist is each player is dealt a card with a movement option on it, and they can only move characters in the direction on their card (players can move any character), and no one is allowed to talk. The game is broken in to several "levels" that each add additional obstacles and rules, such as being able to extend the time, or passageways only the dwarf may enter, for example. The additional layer of rules that come into play as the game progresses makes it incredibly easy to learn, but still challenging enough to creep back on the table months later.

The Mind - A concept so simple one would assume it was already a game. Each player is dealt a card. Cards are numbered from 1 to 100. Without communicating, players must lay down their cards in order from least to most.

Arkham Horror - The card game was mentioned in the article but the boardgame version holds a special place in my heart as one of the first boardgames I played and purchased. Despite your average play though taking three hours the game achieves a level of intensity that few games can, and it carries that intensity though the entire game. Whether you succeed in stopping Shub-Niggurath from awakening or are forced to fight it as a last resort, every game feels like it's own unique Lovecraftian tale.

Battlestar Galactica - TECHNICALLY Battlestar Galactica is a hidden role game, as one or more players may be traitorous cylons , however the bulk of the game revolves around solving crisis's aboard the BSG with your crew, fighting enemy ships outside, and weighting difficult choices to maximize your chances to survive.

Shadows Over Camelot - Similar to BSG, Shadows Over Camelot CAN be a hidden role game, but it really doesn't need to be. It's a hard as nails cooperative game where you and up to 6 other nights of the round table quest the lands to complete quests and save the kingdom. There are several different objectives and you need to carefully balance your efforts to completing each of them. If you focus on one, another may slip from your grasp, bringing ruin to the lands.
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