The definitive 2020 ranked list of the best cooperative board games. Players coordinate their actions to achieve a common win condition or conditions. There are some slight nuances but generally, players all win or lose the game together. The category has gotten incredibly deep over the years and includes everything from deep epics to fun party games. This should not be confused with “semi-cooperative” where sure you are all kind of in it together and need to team up at times for the interest of the group as a whole, but at the end of the day, it is every player for themselves. These are our top 10 best cooperative board games.
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#10 | Horrified
Horrified just makes the list of the best cooperative board games because it blends many nice and light-hearted aspects that make for a nice package that is going to appeal to a large group, maybe even those who would never pick up a game. First off there is the theme, the most iconic monsters used in interesting ways. then there are all the mechanics and where it sits on the intensity scale. You have unique powers, movement and ever-changing game details. It is just a very solid game that is all about working together.
In this game, you’ll come face to face with them all as you work together to rid the town of the maniacal or misunderstood creatures…before it’s too late. Horrified includes legends Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. You all have to work together using different strategies against the monsters to claim victory. For 1 – 5 players, games run about 60 minutes.
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#09 | Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is an oldie (1982) but a goodie. It makes the list of the best cooperative board games because it is probably the best deduction crime-solving game to ever hit the market. You need to take in information and figure out what to do next. This can be done solo, so the cooperativeness is not what makes it, but anyone who has spent time in an escape room knows that groupthink is the best way to get these things done.
You are presented with a mystery to solve, and it is then up to you to trace the threads of evidence through the byways and mansions of 19th century London. You will interview suspects, search the newspapers for clues, and put together the facts to reach a solution. For 1 – 8 players, games run about 1 – 2 hours.
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#08 | Just One
Just One is the lone party game here, a genre that certainly deserves representation here. This title makes the list of the best cooperative board games because the fun experience of the game is a direct result of how everyone interacts in response to a clue that everyone may see completely different or the exact same. This game could have turned into something cutthroat, but it remained all cooperative to make players keep their eye on the prize, see how many you could get as a group.
Players take turns having to guess a word. Before they do, the card with the word is revealed to the other players and they need to write down a clue to help them get there. It can be anything, but the hook is that duplicate clues get removed. It is more difficult than you think. The goal is to get a score as close to 13 as possible. For 3 – 7 players, games run about 20 minutes each.
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#07 | Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island makes the list of the best cooperative board games because it is one of the most fun adventure games out there that puts you and your crew against the game. Survival against the island is the name of the game and that is best to do as a group. The more people you have constructing your new civilization and protecting others, the better off you will be.
You take on the role of one of four characters from the ship crew (cook, carpenter, explorer or soldier) and face the adventure as a group. Use your determination skills to help your teammates, discuss with them your plan and put it into practice. Debate, discuss and work on the best plan you all can make. You will build a shelter, palisade, weapons, you will create tools like axes, knives, sacks, you will do everything you can to… to survive. You will have to find food, fight wild beasts, protect yourself. For 1 – 4 players, games last about 1 – 2 hours.
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#06 | Zombicide
Zombicide makes the list of the best cooperative board games because it is you and your squad against a massive incoming squad of emenies. The more you take out, the more that come. When fleeing is not an option, all you can do is fight through the belly of the beast and hopefully have your fellow players watch your back.
Players take the role of a survivor – each with unique abilities – and harness both their skills and the power of teamwork against the hordes of the unthinking undead. Zombies are predictable, stupid but deadly, controlled by simple rules and a deck of cards. Unfortunately for you, there are a LOT more zombies than you have bullets. Find weapons, kill zombies. The more zombies you kill, the more skilled you get; the more skilled you get, the more zombies appear. For 1 – 6 players, games run about 1 hour.
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#05 | Arkham Horror
Arkham Horror makes the list of the best cooperative board games because it takes a group to piece the clues together to stop the horrors before your sanity shatters in this game that is one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved by audiences in existence. The game blends together a few different aspects of deduction and adventure that create a great task for a group to take on.
The year is 1926, and it is the height of the Roaring Twenties. You and other players choose from 16 Investigators. Each game, one of the eight “ancient ones” villians in released into the world of Arkham. During the course of the game, you will upgrade your character by acquiring skills, allies, items, weapons, and spells. It’s up to you to clean out the streets and fight different types of monsters, but your main goal is to close portals to other dimensions. For 1 – 8 players, games last 2 – 4 hours.
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#04 | Nemesis
Nemesis makes the list of the best cooperative board games because you and your fellow players are thrown together into an incredibly intense space epic. There is so much to do and it takes everyone to contribute. This one is cheating because it is technically semi-cooperative but if you are looking for something with tons of meat on the bone to approach as a cohesive unit, this is a fantastic choice.
You and your crew-mates must survive on a ship infested with hostile organisms. To win, you will need to complete a variety of missions and return back to Earth alive. You will find many obstacles on your way: swarms of Alien organisms, the poor physical condition of the ship, the other players that will have their own agendas and, sometimes, just cruel fate. For 1 – 5 players, games last about 90 – 180 minutes.
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#03 | Pandemic
Pandemic makes the list of the best cooperative board games because it is the franchise that made cooperative what it is today. It certainly did not invent the idea but it still remains the race against the clock as a group gold standard in board game play. There have been many different versions and expansions of this game that provide a flavor for every player, but respect needs to be given where it is due. The game is not easy and it really requires everyone using their particular skill to get the job done well.
Several virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously all over the world! The players are disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand. On each turn, a player can use up to four actions to travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure, or build a research station. You need to stop if before it is too late. For 2 – 4 players, games last about 45 minutes.
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#02 | Gloomhaven
Gloomhaven makes the list of the best cooperative board games because it is widely considered to be the most robust and deep dungeon crawling title, and heading into the unknown is much better with a group. With the simultaneous actions of all the different beasts and effects from unknown rooms coming at you from all angles, it is important to have a crew that are going to watch your back and bring different skills to the table.
This is a game of tactical combat in a persistent world of shifting motives. You take on the role of a wandering adventurer forced to work with other players to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. In the process, you will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions you make. For 1 – 4 players, games last about 1 – 2 hours
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#01 | The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine takes the top spot on the list of the best cooperative board games because in order to meet the varied challenges, communication is essential in the team, and far more difficult than expected in space. The collection of mechanics and how you need to work together makes this game built perfectly for an amazing cooperative gameplay experience.
Players set out as astronauts on an uncertain space adventure, exploring the rumors about an unknown planet. The eventful journey through space extends over 50 exciting missions. But this game can only be defeated by meeting common individual tasks of each player. With each mission, the game becomes more difficult. After each, the game can be paused and continued later. During each mission, it is not the amount of tricks, but the right tricks at the right time that count. For 2 – 5 players, each game runs about 20 minutes.