The 5 best cooperative board games


Launching a new cooperative board game is always a cooperative experience. Everyone works together to find the best strategies to navigate an unknown landscape and achieve victory. But some games keep that cooperative spirit alive after the first game. They present shared goals and objectives that keep players working together in each and every game. That means more time to enjoy the game and less time to lean on a partner’s questionable tactics.

From high-fantasy deck builders to sci-fi set collections, the best co-op board games have as much variety as your favorite competitive games. So dive in! Be the hero of the table and introduce your friends to cooperative games that they will love.

From themes to mechanics, our breakdowns make it easy to choose the best game for your group. All of our picks were chosen for their replay value and cooperative style. Find them easily online or at a friendly local game store near you. Read on to find new favorites.


The best cooperative board games


Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Arkham Horror: The Card Game sample cards, including Roland “The Fed” banks.

Image: Fantasy Flight Games / Asmodee

Discover the secrets of the city to stop the ancient forces of evil. Arkham Horror: The Card Game It’s the only two-player co-op on our list that keeps the co-op spirit alive without requiring four or more people to play quality. Its Lovecraftian themes are sure to delight any fan of horror with cultists, ancient monsters, madness, and more. Choose a character and work together to build decks to rival the forces ravaging Arkham City. The unpredictability of the encounter deck helps keep games fresh and uncertain outcomes fresh. Enjoy a game of one to two hours as a single, or continue the adventure with a longer campaign.


Island of spirits

Basic mechanics: area influence, strategy

Players and time: 1-4 players | 1.5-2 hours

If you like: Risk, fantasy story, mythology

Fight for control. Write your own alternate story. Immerse yourself in a few hours of fantasy! Island of spirits pit up to four spirits (players) against invading colonists. Unlike treacherous cooperatives like Betrayal at House on the Hill where one of your party members must play the antagonist, in this top five selection you have a common enemy. This makes the game a truly cooperative and enjoyable experience for all players. On each turn, your enemies will increase their efforts to colonize your home territories. Work with other spirits and local islanders to stay in control of your island. Choose new settlers to change the game and increase the difficulty as your party gains skill.


Island of spirits

Prices taken at the time of publication.

• 1-4 players, over 13 years old

• Playing time: 90-120 minutes

• Type of game: catchment area, set collection, campaign

• Category: adult board game, family board game, cooperative board game, solo board game

• Similar games: Nemo war, Pandemic legacy


Justice

Face true terror and challenges with Justice. Enjoy a new version of the treacherous genre with this semi-cooperative survival horror game. The game is less about killing and more about finding ways to escape, avoid, or outsmart danger. You and up to four other crewmates have unique abilities and weaknesses. Working together is the only way to get back to Earth alive. Complete your goals quickly. The hostile organisms that infest your ship only get stronger over time. Experience up to three hours of narrative so climactic you’ll want to play again as soon as your story ends.


Justice

Prices taken at the time of publication.

• 1-5 players, over 12 years old

• Playing time: 60-180 minutes

• Game Type: Dungeon Explorer, Hidden Role

• Category: board game for adults, cooperative game

• Similar games: Descent: Legends of Darkness


Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Pandemic - Legacy board showing various disease cubes and some cards to deal with them.

Photo: Charlie Hall / Polygon

You have one year. Can you save the world from global disaster? Try your hand on Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. The game evolves over time, bringing new rules and objectives to keep players on their toes. Assemble a team of up to four and work together to build a new infrastructure and try to find a cure. Actions have consequences from game to game. No two games will be the same, and your team can change forever. How long you survive depends on how well you play. Divide the campaign into short one-hour sessions until your trip is over.


Pandemic Legacy Season 1

Prices taken at the time of publication.

Pandemic legacy is a cooperative board game in which players must work together to manage resources to investigate and fight diseases.

• 2-4 players, over 13 years old

• Play time: more than 60 minutes

• Type of game: strategy, set collection, cooperative

• Category: adult board game, family board game, cooperative board game, two player board game

• Similar games: Pandemic: Hot Zone


Gloomhaven

A Gloomhaven spellcaster in a steamy photoshoot.

Image: Cephalophair Games

Descend into menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins with Gloomhaven. Up to four brave adventurers perfect their decks to fight, explore, and loot. The order of play and objectives are constantly changing, keeping players engaged round after round. One slip could destroy the best card in your deck forever. Players also have control over their adventure. At the end of each one to two hour scenario, you must decide how the story continues. Play just once for quick fun, or enjoy a rich and extended campaign with your party to explore all that this game has to offer.


Gloomhaven

Prices taken at the time of publication.

• 1-4 players, over 14 years old

• Playing time: 60-120 minutes

• Game Type: Dungeon Explorer, Campaign, Legacy Style Persistence

• Category: adult board game, cooperative board game, solo board game

• Similar games: Descent: Legends of Darkness


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