Now don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite things about board games is trying to win one over my friends and family. It’s all part of the fun.
However, sometimes other people don’t agree or don’t want to play against me. I’ve been told I’m a bit of a sore loser. I suppose I can kind of see their point (a bit). I do recall a rather quarrelsome game of Pictionary a couple of years back, which resulted in the game being banned from our get-togethers.
So on some game nights (when the timider amongst us don’t have the energy for my wrath), we opt for something a little more friendly and bond-building—games where we can work together instead of against each other.
Not only can cooperative board games help diffuse family feuds over games such as Monopoly, but they are also an excellent way of getting people to interact with one another. So not only are they great for game nights with friends, but they also work well for team meets or parties where there are unfamiliar faces.
Think of them kind of like an icebreaker, if you will.
Best Cooperative Board Games to Bring People Together
Throughout this guide, I’ve listed my favorite cooperative board games and some of the most popular ones of all time that are proven to bring life to the party and lead everyone to contribute to the group.
Cooperative board games come in various styles, some fun and themed towards families and children, and others better suited to those with more complex thinking skills.
Okay, let’s get started.
I thought I would start with this game. It seemed pretty fitting, as recent events are still fresh in our minds.
The good thing is that the pandemic game version is much more fun than the real-life events we all experienced in recent years.
In this strategy-style board game, everyone must work together, using their characters’ strengths and skills to wipe out the diseases spreading across the land.
Whether you succeed or not in your journey, you will win or lose together with your teammates. So, discussing and working together for a winning outcome is essential.
I think the thing I enjoy the most about this game is that the density builds up the longer you play. It takes around 45 minutes to complete the game, and although nobody competes against each other, the element of pressure is still there to beat the board.
Can you and your team develop a cure for some of the world’s deadliest diseases before it’s too late? Only time will tell.
Check out my more in-depth guide on how to play Pandemic here.
I don’t know about you, but for me, the best kind of board game is one that oozes a bit of fear and a creepy atmosphere. Combine those two factors with a sense of nostalgia, and you’ve got yourself a stupefying board game.
If you’re a fan of horror board games, then you’re undoubtedly going to be rushing to buy this at your next available chance and calling your friends around to play.
Imagine all the frightening characters you can think of from your childhood, such as Frankenstein and his bride, Dracula, and The Mummy, and put them all into one game where you need to work together to stop the evil monsters from destroying villages and the locals. That’s what we’ve got.
For you and your teammates to have any chance of success, you’ll need to communicate with each other and work together, using your character’s strengths to defeat the tormentors.
The great thing about this game is that while it’s entertaining and wistful for us adults, it’s also enjoyable for the kids, making it an excellent addition to family nights.
Furthermore, it’s straightforward to understand and follow the rules, another reason Horrified makes a great group game.
The artwork of the game is excellent. However, one slight bugbear I have is that the tokens and badge pieces feel a little cheaply made; they’re made from cardboard. I think that for the price, I would expect something slightly higher quality. However, the character pieces seem well made and feel as though they’d last well.
I would recommend this game for between two and four players, although it can be played with five if you want to up the ante and make things a little more complex.
3. Spirit Island
Before you get put off by the price of the Spirit Island board game, let me tell you why I believe it’s more than worth the money.
For a start, the work that has clearly gone into designing this game is clear to see before you even begin playing. The maps on which you play are well made, and the quality of all the components is excellent, so you can see from the get that this set will last you for years to come.
The only downside I would likely claim about Spirit Island is its complexity. This isn’t a personal grievance, as I myself think the more complicated a board game is, usually the better it is, but I understand that for some, this might be a drawback.
However, once you’ve wrapped your head around the rules, this game will provide you with hours of fun for many years.
I love the combination of tactical skill and fast-paced moves and the fact you always have to be one step ahead of the game, keeping everyone on their toes throughout and building up a level of pure tension from start to finish.
It might take you a while to come to terms with the rules of play, but once you do, the moves flow, and it becomes completely natural. Also, once you feel confident enough, there are many expansion packs to keep the game alive. So just when you think you simply can’t get any more out of it, there’s so much to learn and play.
The question is, when the Island fights back against the natural world, have you and your friends got what it takes to keep the peace and regain harmony as spirits of the land?
4. The Captain is Dead: Dangerous Planet
Before I go any further, I’ll warn you now you’ll need to be prepared for a steep learning curve if you’re discovering The Captain is Dead: Dangerous Planet for the first time. And if you’re new to these styles of games, you might want to start with something a little less complicated.
However, if you seek a challenge in the board game world, keep reading.
You’ll love this Star trek themed game if you’re a fan of the Starfleet series. However, even if you’re not, this game is extremely enjoyable for anyone.
If you check out the reviews for this game, you’ll see it’s probably one of the most popular cooperative board games on the market.
Although the game is very complex, let me give you a brief overview.
You’ve been sent on a mission through space, but unfortunately, your captain has met a timely end, and now it’s your job to complete the tasks at hand. These include collecting artifacts that are hidden in bug-infested spaces.
Oh, and did I mention these are the bugs you need to avoid at all costs unless you want to end up with the same grizzly termination as your captain?
The further you get into this game, the more challenges arise, and the harder it becomes, which for me is the joy of it.
This game is suited to between two and seven players and is recommended for teens and above due to the complexity of the rules.
The average game length is around 90 minutes. However, I’ve known a game to last over two hours. So, climb aboard, strap your seatbelt, and prepare for a bumpy ride.
5. Jaws: The Game
I will never forget the iconic moment in Jaws. You know the one I mean? The scene that saw viewers shoot out of their seats with one of the most legendary jumpscares of all time. Yeah, that one. I still have nightmares about that!
While you might be too scared to ever enter the ocean after that (I know I was for many years), what if I told you that you could experience the white-knuckle story in the form of a board game while playing the part of the toothy monster himself, the Great White Shark!
During the game, some of you will play the part of the shark, while the rest of you will act out the roles of the main characters from the movie who are trying to defeat the giant hungry trap.
In all, honey, there isn’t anything that I can fault about the Jaws board game. It’s tense, exciting, storytelling, and the design of the game itself is fantastic.
This is a moderately easy game to get involved with, so it would be suitable for kids over ten.
6. Exit: The Sunken Treasure
Sticking with the theme of underwater mystery board games, you will set sail across risky waters to hunt for buried treasure in this escape-style game.
During this hunt, curiosity gets the better of you when you stumble across an eerie-looking shipwreck, and before you know it, you’re trapped!
And so the game begins.
Using the minimal equipment you have to hand (a book and a mystery disk), you will need to solve puzzles and a series of riddles to make your escape.
Exit: Sunken Treasure requires you to work closely with your teammates, taking notes, discussing strategies, and pulling together using your personal skills to determine the answers that will lead to your exit.
Set aside plenty of time for this game because you’re trapped for the long haul; the last time I played it, it was well over two hours of gameplay.
If you’ve outplayed this version, there are tons of others, such as Exit: The Enchanted Forest and Exit: The Haunted Roller Coaster.
7. Hocus Pocus
I couldn’t write these reviews without talking about this Halloween game that features three of my favorite on-screen witches, The Sanderson Sisters of Salem. The game was released in 2020, and it became one of the lockdown pastimes in our house. It’s so addictive.
I’m a bit of a sucker for Disney games, in all honesty, but even if you’re not, this game will keep everyone entertained time and time again.
Considering I thought this would be a game aimed at younger kids, I was wrong. This is surprisingly difficult to comprehend when you first read the rules. However, once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s nothing but pure fun and adventure.
The Hocus Pocus cooperative game, based on the 90s movie of the same name, is a challenge to try to banish the evil magic sisters from the town of Salem by midnight on Halloween, just like the film.
However, the only way you can expel the Sandersons is by brewing the perfect potion.
Despite this being a cooperative board game, players aren’t actually permitted to discuss their actions. This is what makes concocting the right potion even more challenging. The potions are made using color-coordinated cards, so the minute someone adds something wrong to the mix, the brew is ruined.
8. Mysterium Park
I always find the thought of an abandoned fairground super creepy; the empty rides, the distant carnival music, and the shadowed circus tent. I love it!
That’s what first tempted me into purchasing Mysterium Park.
The game is suitable for up to six players and only takes around 30 minutes to play, so a better-suited option for people who don’t have hours to spend getting immersed in lengthy games or who simply just don’t have the stamina.
As players, you will be the psychics whose job is to interpret messages sent by the fairground ghosts that haunt the derelict park. The spirit is a murder victim who is trying to pass on information about their murder.
It’s your job as a psychic to uncover the killer.
Can you rid the park of the ghost that haunts the grounds and get to the bottom of how they ended up there in the first place?
The best thing about this game is that unless you’re the ghost, there are very minimal rules to follow. So this is a great game to bring out later in the day or when everyone’s attention spans have begun to dwindle.
You can read more about this murder mystery game in my comprehensive guide to Mysterium.
Best Cooperative Board Games – The Round Up
So what makes the best cooperative boards so good? Personally, I think it’s the fact that without group cooperation, discussion, and teamwork, they’re virtually impossible to play. Therefore, anyone taking part is forced to bond and intertwine with the rest of the group in order to win.
So, whether you want a speedy game that’s over in under half an hour or something that you’re going to need a rainy afternoon to fully immerse in the story, hopefully, with this list of the best 8 cooperative board games, there’s something to suit your next game night.
If you want to mix things up a bit and learn about other types of games, this list of the best strategic board games might pique your interest.