Board games are an incredibly fun way to spend time with friends. However, they can sometimes lead to poor sportsmanship and heated arguments. That’s where cooperative board games come in. Working together and playing as a team can prevent the friendship-ruining altercations some may experience when competing against each other.
There are quite a lot of fun cooperative tabletop games out there, so here’s a list of just some of the best ones to get your hands on.
Monsters in the Elevator
Monsters in the Elevator is an exciting family game that focuses on monsters and math, but there’s no need to be afraid of either. Monsters of all sorts are on their way to work and need to ride the elevator to do so. It’s up to the team of two to six players to ensure that each monster gets off on the right floor without the elevator crashing. Each monster card lists its weight, and if the weight is too much for the elevator, it’s game over for the players and the monsters.
It’s a simple game that can help teach kids basic math while also proving to be a challenging-enough strategy game to keep an older group of players entertained. The monster designs are creative, and there are action cards, like Flatulence or Fire Alarm, that can mess with the game a bit, making it a blast for gamers of all ages.
Betrayal at the House on the Hill
Betrayal at the House on the Hill may not be entirely a co-op game, but it does start out that way as players work together to explore the spooky haunted house and its mysteries. Roughly halfway through, though, it does become more semi-cooperative once the “haunt” begins. After exploring the ever-expanding mansion with your friends and getting bitten by ghost dogs and running from moving shadows, one of you triggers the “haunt” based on what creepy omens you and your crew came across in your journey. When the “haunt” begins, one player becomes the traitor and the gameplay changes to one player competing against everyone else.
Although there is one player who becomes the villain trying to take on everyone, everyone else in the group still plays cooperatively. Working together to either make their way out of the haunted mansion or defeat the traitor adds an extra layer of group strategy and excitement. Plus, the game’s scary themes are an absolute joy to experience.
In Mysterium, one player assumes the role of a murder victim’s ghost, while the others play as mediums trying to solve their murder. The ghost provides vision cards to the mediums that represent suspects, locations, and murder weapons, in which the mediums work together to guess how the killing went down.
The mediums discussing what each clue could mean can lead to creative thinking and even some humorous moments. The ghost trying to communicate with pictures instead of words provides an extremely fun challenge for everyone involved. Mysterium is essentially Clue if everyone worked together, and leads to a memorable gameplay experience.
If you enjoy playing zombie survival video games with friends, then there’s good news for you; Zpocolypse is the board game equivalent to that. Working as a team of up to four players, survivors must scavenge for food, weapons, and other supplies as they also fortify their base and prepare for the next zombie attack. A variety of characters and collectable items make the gameplay feel slightly different each time it’s played.
There is a “winner” based on victory points that are earned by killing zombies and building defenses, but everyone needs to work together to survive the apocalypse. Zpocolypse truly recreates experiences seen in Night of the Living Dead or The Walking Dead, as players must make quick decisions to survive the hoards of zombies heading their way.
Forbidden Island puts players on a team of adventurers to find four sacred treasures on a deserted island paradise before it sinks. Each player selects a different character with their own unique abilities to assist each other as they make daring maneuvers to snatch up each treasure and get out alive, Indiana Jones-style. The game board is made up of tiles depicting gorgeous artwork that flip over to signify that section of the island has sunk.
The game is fast-paced and suspenseful and forces all players to work together before they lose the treasures or their lives. Plus, the artwork is especially pretty to look at, which does add to the enjoyment despite the stressful situation the adventurers got themselves into.
Speaking of fast-paced gameplay, you can’t get too much faster than 5-Minute Dungeon. This real-time card game puts players in a chaotic, cooperative race to defeat every monster and boss in a dungeon. Each player uses a character with unique abilities and cards that can prove useful in combat as you work together to take down enemies. Unlike other cooperative games, there’s no time to form a carefully considered plan. Everyone needs to communicate and make decisions as quickly as possible without knowing what dangers they’ll face next.
With a comic book-esque art style and inventive character designs, the game immerses each player in a fantasy realm ready to assume the roles of heroes and battle some baddies. Imagine your Dungeons & Dragons group trying to get through an entire dungeon in 5 minutes by playing cards, and you get 5-Minute Dungeon.
Pandemic may hit a little close to home for many since COVID-19 engulfed the world, but this game is actually a ton of fun. Multiple diseases spread around the world simultaneously, and the players are disease-fighting specialists who must work together to treat and cure each one. With each player assuming a unique role, they must plan their strategy to mesh with their specialists’ strengths in order to conquer the diseases and save the world.
With the diseases spreading quickly and time running out, everyone must put their heads together to figure out the best plan for action. If one of the diseases spreads beyond recovery, then everyone loses together. If the diseases are all cured, then everyone wins together. Give it a try and see if you have what it takes to accomplish team-based problem solving.
Gloomhaven is a fantastically unique game for up to four players. With tons of characters to play as, the team of players must follow a fantasy-based, Dungeons & Dragons-esque story while making crucial decisions along the way. It’s essentially a D&D campaign with its own interesting mechanics, creatures, and classes. Cards are used to choose which actions you want to perform on each turn while exploring dungeons, battling monsters, and defeating bosses. The decisions made while traveling between dungeons can affect an element of the next scenario.
This one stands out from any other cooperative game because each scenario is completely different, and there are roughly one hundred different ones. It’s a long story to follow with many quests to go on, so it’ll take quite a lot of play-sessions to get through everything, but it’s more than worth it.
If you’re a fan of Universal Pictures’ classic monster movies, then this is the game for you. Horrified has players team up to rescue villagers and defeat the most iconic monsters of all time, Dracula, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Bride of Frankenstein, and the Invisible Man. The monsters in play affect the gameplay and the goal the players must achieve to ultimately win the game.
The game fits the classic horror theme perfectly, as it makes the players feel immersed in the beloved monster movies. Teaming up to take on the biggest baddies in cinema history while enjoying some scary artwork, getting chased down by terrifying creatures, and rescuing the locals is an absolute blast.
Castle Panic unites players to defend their castle walls against an oncoming onslaught of orcs, trolls, and goblins. Players use Archer, Knight, and Swordsman cards to take down the fiends before they destroy all six of their towers. The evil army does have some tricks up their sleeves, though, like rolling boulders into your castle or sending in some powerful bosses for the players to deal with.
Imagine the board game version of the Battle of Helm’s Deep from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, but the enemies come in from all sides. It requires clever planning, constant communication, and foresight. You’ll hold your breath for some of the suspenseful gameplay, but it’s hard not to love this game and its cooperative experience.
Competing against your friends in a board game can be an extremely enjoyable experience, but sometimes it’s nice to actually work together to overcome whatever challenge the game throws at you. There are countless cooperative tabletop games out there, so try them out and see which ones work best for your gaming group.