A.I

The best cooperative board games

Breaking out 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 co-op spirit alive after that first playthrough. They feature shared goals and objectives that keep players working together each and every game. That means more time enjoying the game, and less time tilting from a fellow player’s questionable tactics.

From high fantasy deck builders to sci-fi set collection, the best cooperative board games have just as much variety as your go-to competitive games. So dive in! Be the hero of the table, and introduce your friends to cooperative games they’ll love.

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


Best cooperative board games


Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Image: Fantasy Flight Games/Asmodee

Unearth the secrets of the city to stop the ancient forces of evil. Arkham Horror: The Card Game is the only two-player co-op on our list, keeping the spirit of co-op alive without requiring four or more people for quality play. Its Lovecraftian themes are sure to delight any horror fan with cultists, ancient monsters, madness, and more. Choose a character and work together to build decks to rival the forces plaguing the city of Arkham. The unpredictability of the encounter deck helps keep playthroughs fresh and outcomes uncertain. Enjoy a one-to-two hour game as a one-off, or continue the adventure with a longer campaign.


Spirit Island

Core Mechanics: area influence, strategy

Players & Time: 1-4 players | 1.5-2 hrs.

If you like: Risk, fantasy history, mythology

Fight for control. Write your own alternate history. Immerse yourself in a few hours of fantasy! Spirit Island pits up to four spirits (players) against invading colonists. Unlike traitor co-ops like Betrayal at House on the Hill where one of your group members must play the antagonist, in this top-five pick you have a common enemy. This makes gameplay a truly cooperative and enjoyable experience for all players. Every turn your enemies will increase their efforts to colonize your home territories. Work with fellow spirits and the local islanders to stay in control of your island. Choose new colonists to change play and boost difficulty as your group gains skill.

The best cooperative board games

Spirit Island

Prices taken at time of publishing.

• 1-4 players, age 13+

• Playtime: 90-120 minutes

• Game type: Area influence, set collection, campaign

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

• Similar games: Nemo’s War, Pandemic Legacy


Nemesis

Face true terror and challenges with Nemesis. Enjoy a new take on the traitor genre with this semi-cooperative survival horror game. Gameplay focuses less on killing, and more on finding ways to escape, avoid, or outwit danger. You and up to four other crewmates all have unique skills and weaknesses. Working together is the only way to make it back to Earth alive. Complete your objectives quickly. The hostile organisms infesting your ship only get stronger with time. Experience up to three hours of narrative so climactic, you’ll be itching to play again as soon as your story ends.

The best cooperative board games

Nemesis

Prices taken at time of publishing.

• 1-5 players, age 12+

• Playtime: 60-180 minutes

• Game type: Dungeon crawler, hidden role

• Category: Adult board game, cooperative game

• Similar games: Descent: Legends of the Dark


Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Pandemic: Legacy board showing several disease cubes and a few cards for dealing with them.

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

You have one year. Can you save the world from global disaster? Try your hand in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. Gameplay evolves with time, bringing new rules and objectives to keep players on their toes. Prepare a team of up to four and work together to build new infrastructure and attempt to find a cure. Actions have consequences from one game to the next. No two playthroughs will ever be the same, and your team itself may change forever. How long you survive depends on how well you play. Break up the campaign into succinct, one-hour sessions until your journey is done.

The best cooperative board games

Pandemic Legacy Season 1

Prices taken at time of publishing.

Pandemic Legacy is a cooperative board game where players must work together to manage resources to research and combat diseases.

• 2-4 players, age 13+

• Playtime: 60+ minutes

• Game type: 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 spellcaster from Gloomhaven in a smokey photoshoot.

Image: Cephalophair Games

Descend into menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins with Gloomhaven. Up to four brave adventurers hone their decks to battle, explore, and plunder. Play-order and objectives are constantly in flux keeping players engaged round after round. One slip-up 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 a one-off for fast fun, or enjoy a rich, extended campaign with your party to explore all this game has to offer.

The best cooperative board games

Gloomhaven

Prices taken at time of publishing.

• 1-4 players, age 14+

• Playtime: 60-120 minutes

• Game type: Dungeon crawler, campaign, Legacy-style persistence

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

• Similar games: Descent: Legends of the Dark

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