Cooperative board games are one of the best types of games because there’s no pressure to compete, and you get to work together as a team and be collaborative. I find this makes for an enjoyable and much more relaxing gaming experience, as even if the game is tense, you are still supporting each other.
There are so many amazing cooperative board games with so many different play styles and mechanisms that narrowing it down to just ten was hard to do. I’d highly recommend everything on this list, as well as all the honorable mentions, as they’re all amazing games.
Best Board Games Where You Work Together – Quick Comparison
|Rank||Name||# Players||Time||Complexity||Good For|
|#1||Pandemic||2 – 4||45 mins||Medium||Best Overall|
|#2||Aeon’s End||1 – 4||1 hour||Medium||Best Deck Builder|
|#3||The Crew Mission Deep Sea||2 – 5||20 mins||Light||Most Approachable|
1. Best Overall: Pandemic
Pandemic is a game for 2 – 4 players that is medium in complexity and takes around 45 minutes.
In Pandemic, you are a group of experts trying to save the world from diseases breaking out, so you need to work together to eradicate the disease while you also find a cure.
This is a great game, and I think it’s one of the best casual cooperative gaming experiences out there.
If you have a regular gaming group that is committed to playing a campaign then Pandemic Legacy is a legacy game built on the Pandemic formula that adds in character development and scenarios to play through and will honestly be one of the best gaming experiences you’ll ever have.
- Approachable rules and gameplay
- Great theme that works well
- Amazing replay value, doesn’t get boring after many plays
- A satisfying puzzle
- Because this is an entry-level board game, the strategy isn’t as deep as some other games (though expansions do add more to the game).
- It can start to feel the same after many plays
- Pandemic Legacy provides a better gaming experience along the same lines
2. Best Deck Builder: Aeon’s End
Aeons End is a medium complexity game for 1 – 4 players that takes around an hour to play.
This is a cooperative deck-building game where you are in a fantasy post-apocalyptic setting. You are a mage hiding in an underground city, and you need to use spells and magic to destroy monstrous evil incarnations.
There are a lot of different cards, which creates a lot of different strategies and decisions regarding what abilities to use and what deck to build. There’s quite a lot of balancing in choosing the best actions to take: do you want to build your deck, power up, or open new breaches and fight monsters?
This is an engaging and exciting experience that will keep you coming back to play again and again. And while it’s quite a deep game, it’s pretty approachable to learn to play.
- An engaging and tense game
- Lots of different strategies and decisions
- Varied monsters
- Excellent solo mode
- Approachable rules
- Slower paced game
- The random turn order mechanism can annoy some people
3. Most Approachable: The Crew Mission Deep Sea
The Crew is a cooperative card game for 2 – 5 players that takes about 20 minutes and is very easy.
If you’ve ever played a traditional trick-taking game before (like spades), where you all have to put cards into the center according to certain rules (eg. all cards of the same suit), and the person with the highest card wins the trick. Well, this is similar, except it’s cooperative. So rather than trying to win the trick, you are trying to complete certain missions together (for example the mission may be for a certain player to win, or for a certain player to not collect any cards of a certain color). But you have a limited ability to communicate about what cards you have in your hand, which makes the game much harder!
It’s a very cool twist on a traditional trick-taking game, and it’s very approachable for non-gamers, as most are pretty familiar with card games. If possible, it would be good to have a regular group to work together through the missions, but there’s a lot of replayability as you can play through the missions over and over again.
The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine is the prequel to this game, and they are both pretty similar, so if you pick that one up it’s also a great game.
- One of the most approachable cooperative games
- Still has a lot of strategy required to work together
- Tons of replayability
- Lots of player interaction
- The theme is very pasted on
- The group’s luck is determined by the cards they draw
- Not a deeply strategic game
4. Best Strategic: Spirit Island
Spirit Island is a complex game for 1 – 4 players and takes 1.5 – 3 hours.
In Spirit Island, you are spirits protecting an island that has been colonized by Europeans who are trying to ruin the environment. You fight the Europeans using your spirit powers, which are different for each type of spirit. There is a lot of strategy in learning how to get the different spirits to work together to make powerful combinations.
This is a very deep strategy game, with elements of area control and action-taking. Every game plays differently, with different options and strategies. If you want a game your group can sink its teeth into for an evening then this is the way to go.
- Amazing theme
- Different spirits have different powers, and they synergize together differently
- Feels unique each time you play
- A deep and strategic game with many decisions
- Dark theme
- A game with a lot of rules
- Prone to analysis paralysis
5. Best Dungeon Crawling: Gloomhaven and Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
Gloomhaven is a game for 1 – 4 players that is complex and takes 1 – 2 hours per session to play.
This is a fantasy RPG game where you play through 95 different scenarios that string together to make an overarching storyline. It takes a party of heroes through a dungeon crawl and is often compared as a similar board game to the experience you get when playing D&D.
This is the #1 game on Board Game Geek, and for good reason. It’s an amazing adventure, and while expensive has so much content for your money. You will need a regular gaming group who wants to play through a longer campaign though.
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is like Gloomhaven’s little brother, it’s much simpler and walks you through the rules to Gloomhaven, is cheaper, and has less content. It’s an easier and lighter stand-alone game or the perfect stepping stone to playing Gloomhaven.
- Storyline is fantastic and immersive.
- Deep and strategic gameplay
- So much content – 95 scenarios
- You feel like you are playing an RPG
- Complex game
- Needs a regular gaming group to play through
6. Best Thematic: Marvel Champions
Marvel Champions is a medium-complexity game for 1 – 4 players that takes around 45 – 90 minutes to play.
In this game, you are a bunch of Marvel superheroes who need to defeat bad guys. It’s very thematic, and has all the known heroes and villains from the movies, with tons of expansions to add your favorite characters.
You defeat villains by making a deck of cards for your hero (it also comes with pre-built suggested decks) and then fighting the villains together using the superpowers from your deck. Each superhero plays and feels quite different, so the game ends up with quite a bit of variety.
- Deck construction is a challenging puzzle
- Gives a very comic book feel
- Lots of content is available through expansions
- Decent solo mode
- So many great expansions can get expensive
- Not much storyline in the game
- Not the deepest or most strategic experience
7. Best Horror: Horrified
Horrified is a game for 1 – 5 players that takes around an hour to play and is of medium complexity.
In Horrified you are in a town plagued by monsters and you are characters that need to fight and defeat them. You need to defeat all the monsters before the monster deck runs out or the terror track reaches the end. There are additional aspects to this, like collecting items and rescuing villagers, which give you bonuses when fighting the monsters.
This game is popular with my kids, they love horror but they’re just not ready for anything too scary. And with the rules being quite approachable and easy to understand it gets pulled out a lot. The theme comes through super well, and you do feel like you’ve spent an evening having an adventure in a monster-filled town.
- Amazingly thematic horror game
- It’s family-friendly as it’s not too scary
- Easy and approachable rules
- An alpha gamer can ruin the game
- Lots of monsters can be extremely difficult
- May fill a similar spot to Pandemic
8. Most Excitement: Burgle Bros.
Burgle Bros is a game for 1 – 4 players that takes 45 – 90 minutes and is of medium complexity.
In this game, you are trying to rob a building without getting caught. It’s a cool concept because the building is 3 stories, represented by the board, and you need to move around, use stealth to avoid guards, open safes, and then escape from the helicopter on the roof.
It’s a very fun and engaging game that makes you feel like you really are part of a heist.
- The artwork is fantastic
- The theme comes through so well it makes you feel like you are a robber
- Very engaging and interactive game
- It’s not a brain burner, just fun to play
- 3D aspect is cool
- It is difficult to fit all the pieces in the box
- It is very difficult, expect to lose a lot
- Luck can occasionally make the game more difficult or impossible to win
- Lots to keep track of
9. Best Investigation: Mysterium
Mysterium is a game for 2 – 7 players that takes around 45 minutes and is pretty easy to learn.
This is a bit like a more interesting version of the traditional game Clue. You need to solve a murder case by figuring out the location, weapon, and murderer using deduction.
The interesting part here is that you do this with one player being the ghost, who gives the other players clues through cards that have different illustrations, which the other players have to try to figure out what they mean.
- Very thematic game with fantastic artwork
- The game is suspenseful and atmospheric
- It’s great for those who like investigation
- It uses different mechanics than most other cooperative games
- One player plays the ghost, so while being part of a team can feel different from the others
- The open nature of the clues may frustrate more strategic players.
- Can fall flat if the group just doesn’t get it or gel together well
10. Best For Kids: Flash Point: Fire Rescue
Flash Point Fire Rescue is a game for 2 – 6 players that takes about 45 minutes. The rules are of medium complexity, but as they fit in with the theme I found it quite easy to teach, even to children.
In this game, you are a group of firefighters moving around the board trying to put out fires and rescue people while trying to ensure no one dies in the blaze and the building doesn’t collapse.
This game has different levels of difficulty, so it can be played by people of all skill levels. There are also a few expansions available that are meant to be good if you want more content.
- The theme works very well
- Easy to understand rules
- Lots of expansions
- Quite forgiving – doesn’t require too much strategy
- Not the deepest strategic game
- It can be distressing when people die
- It can become repetitive after a number of plays if no expansions are added
There are so many great cooperative board games, I really struggled to cut this list down to my favorite ten. These are all also absolutely fantastic choices:
- Forbidden Desert – Forbidden Desert is made by the same game designer as Pandemic and feels very much the same. Instead of fighting a disease that randomly pops up on the board and you need to remove, you are trying to escape a desert with sand popping up on the board. It’s a bit simpler than Pandemic, so it’s a great choice as a family game.
- Fuse – In Fuse, you are rolling dice and making dice combinations to diffuse bombs together, trying to diffuse a certain number of bombs within 10 minutes. This is one of my favorite games as it’s tense and makes you constantly think, but it didn’t quite make the list because it is very challenging.
- Castle Panic – Castle Panic is a bit like a tower defense game, where you are protecting a castle and you are randomly pulling out monsters from a bag that attack the castle.
- Hanabi – Hanabi is a very interesting concept where each player gets a numbered card, and you cooperatively need to place them in sequential order. The catch is that you can’t see your card, only the other players can, and you need to work together to give each other clues.
- MicroMacro: Crime City – This is a bit like a big game of Where’s Wally. You have a board that is a big sheet of paper with lots of stuff printed on it, and you are given clues of things you need to find to solve crimes.
- Codenames Duet – This is a word guessing game for two that is fantastic, where you need to race against the clock to give each other clues and guess the correct words while avoiding the incorrect words. But it’s made so many of my other top 10 lists that I wanted to include some different games.
These days, there are so many fantastic cooperative board games that we are all spoiled for choice.
If you want to play the king of cooperatives, get Pandemic. Or Forbidden Desert or Horrified if you are looking for something similar with a different theme.
Aeons End and Marvel Champions are two fantastic card games where you can build your own deck and fight enemies.
If you are looking for something a bit heavier to sink your teeth into, Spirit Island and Gloomhaven are two of the best cooperative board games available. In fact, they are probably two of the best board games available full stop, cooperative or not.
But, most importantly, with cooperative board games, find a good group, spend time together, and bond in a supportive, non-competitive environment.