Best Cooperative Board Games 2020 – Top 10 List

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Working together towards a common goal is a great way to connect with your friends. You can do that with board games. Here’s a list of Best Cooperative Board Games, so that you can pick the best one for yourself.

Introduction to Best Cooperative Board Games List

Pros of coop games

They promote discussion and active player participation. Unlike many other games where you are focused on your game and your part of the boards, silently contemplating your next move, in cooperative games, you must work together.

Forging plans and strategies requires a lot of verbal communication and that is an excellent way to bond with others. This is compounded with the feel of mutual achievements and accomplishments when you finally win. A high five is in order!

Players win or lose together. You can rejoice in the wins and comfort each other in defeats. There are no bad winners, bad losers, long faces, or grudges.

The problem of alpha players – “quarterbacking”

Some games suffer from a problem of quarterbacking – when more experienced players instruct others what to do. This is especially true in simple games with open information (i.e. Forbidden Island). It’s the responsibility of the experienced player to restrain himself and allow others to make their own decisions.

Some games mitigate this problem by

  • introducing a random element (dice),
  • giving players imprecise information,
  • giving players secret personal agendas.

The last mechanic creates a so-called sem-cooperative game. Players work together towards a common goal, while also looking for their personal gains, often betraying the team in the process. This can create unhappiness after the game. Nemesis and Dead of Winter are good examples of this sub-genre.

Perhaps the most elegant way of preventing quarterbacking comes from Spirit Island. Each player has his hands full by handling his complex spirit, making it very hard to leave enough mental capacity to do the same for other players’ spirits.

The list below has been compiled with the help of BGG’s list of top-ranked coop games, various internet sources, and personal board-gaming experience.

There are affiliate links by the titles. I am affiliated with Amazon (as well as with some other stores) and will earn a commission if you buy something through my link.


Table of Contents


Bonus: Honorable Mentions from 20 to 11

20. Forbidden Island, Desert, Sky

Forbidden Island is one of the more basic cooperative games. You land on a sinking island, try to obtain 4 treasures, and escape before you drown. Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Sky are sequels.

19. Mage Knight

While primarily a single-player game, this behemoth can be awesome if you find a like-minded soul. Here’s my review of Mage Knight.

18. Kingdom Death: Monster

A combination of civilization building, adventure, and tactical combat. A very unique game with a high entry cost.

Best Cooperative Board Games Kingdom Death Monster

17. The 7th Continent

Explore a mysterious continent to lift a curse. Choose-your-own-adventure type of game with a high emphasis on narrative.

16. Marvel Champions

A cooperative living card game set in the world of Marvel heroes (and villains). Play as Spider-Man, Iron Man, and others and face famous villains like Ultron and Rhino. Read more here.

15. Arkham Horror: The Card Game (h)

Another cooperative living card game. Arkham Horror is set in the world of H.P. Lovecraft and has a strong story with a great atmosphere and artwork. A lot of expansions available too.

14. Nemesis

Remember that movie with Sigourney Weaver where a space ship gets invaded by a hostile alien, which is killing crew members one by one?

That’s Nemesis, a semi-cooperative board game, where players are not only working together, but they also have personal agendas, that sometimes require backstabbing others. A very tense game, the only thing it misses is the official license.

13. Dead of Winter

This time your group is threatened by zombies. Players must work together to fight them, while also having secret objectives, often betraying others. Dead of Winter is full of difficult decisions and dilemmas. Help each other, but trust no one.

Best Cooperative Board Games Dead of Winter

12. Too Many Bones

Too Many Bones is a dice-builder RPG. You train skills and progress your Gearloc (your playable character) with dice, which you place into a high-quality neoprene character map. There are a total of 136 custom dice included.

The goal of the game is to defeat one of the seven Tyrants, but on your way to the boss, there will be a lot of adventuring, building up your character, and fighting other monsters.

11. Eldritch Horror

Also set in the world of H.P. Lovecraft, Eldritch Horror is a cooperative adventure game in which players take the roles of investigators who travel the world, solve mysteries, gather clues, and protect the world from the Ancient Ones.


10. Sword & Sorcery

Designers: Simone Romano, Nunzio Surace
Year published: 2017
Players: 1-4, best with 1-3
Playing time: 60-90 minutes
Complexity: heavy

Best Cooperative Board Games Sword & Sorcery

Theme and Setting

The kingdom is in trouble, evil is on the rise and it’s time to call in our champions to defeat it. You know the drill, you’ve heard it a thousand times before in these fantasy games. You play as a group of those heroes, crawling through dungeons, slaying enemies, and unraveling the story of the campaign.

Sword & Sorcery is a cooperative dungeon crawler. Your group can contain up to five heroes, but the game becomes a bit chaotic with that many (since more enemies are spawned when there are more heroes). Two or three heroes is an ideal number.

Game Mechanics

There are seven scenarios in the base game and you should play them in order – they are story-connected.

After a bit of flavor text, you set up a dungeon, as is instructed in a scenario. When you complete it, you go back to the storybook and read what happens next.

A scenario consists of a dungeon, that must be cleared of monsters. You can also discover weapons, items, and secrets helping you on your quest.

Exactly what you can do in a turn depends on your hero’s stats, but normally, you will:

  • Move for a certain number of tiles.
  • Combat enemies.
  • Perform actions like dash, focus attack, open chest, open door, pick up or drop items.

After each hero’s turn, it’s the enemy’s turn. You draw Encounter cards to determine how many of them will activate, and then they will be controlled by their cards, which act as a very clever artificial intelligence.

Depending on distance to heroes and what items certain heroes carry (some creatures like to attack wounded heroes, other target heroes that have coins on them), conditions on the card will tell you whether to move or attack. Also who and how to attack.

Combat (attacking and blocking) is resolved by dice. But it’s not down to just luck, there are shields, armors, weapons, and abilities that all impact the dice and can turn the fortune to your favor.

A player with good armor can still be hit if he’s unlucky, but I think they’ve hit the sweet spot with how much luck affects the game – it brings excitement and uncertainty but it’s not a rule-all.

This creates great cooperative gameplay, where you have to plan, depending on your characters and map. You also can’t play it too safe and risk running out of encounter cards, because then you lose the game. Sometimes you just have to take a risk and move into an unexplored room to see what you wake up.

Expansions

If the base game comes with a limited number of scenarios, expansions more than make up the content. Hero packs, new campaign quests (with new enemies, playing modes, items, weapons, etc.).

Main Features

  • Polished components with nice art.
  • Every character feels unique, offering a lot of replay value.
  • Quite accessible for a game of such scope.

Should you get it?

Sword & Sorcery is for people looking for a dungeon crawler with good combat mechanics, good AI, a good progression system for heroes, and a decent (although a bit cliche) narrative.

The game’s main negative is the number of scenarios – only 7. Prepare to open your wallet for expansions.

Click below to check out the price for Sword & Sorcery on Amazon


9. Zombicide (series)

Designers: Raphaël Guiton, Jean-Baptiste Lullien, Nicolas Raoult
Year published: 2012
Players: 1-6, best with 3, 6
Playing time: 60 minutes
Complexity: light/medium

Best Cooperative Board Games Zombicide

Theme and Setting

If zombies are your thing, then this is the series you should be looking at. Zombicide is the most popular and successful cooperative zombie-killing game.

In fact, after the original crowd-funded title in 2012, it has become a whole franchise of numerous alone-standing board games and expansion.

Game Mechanics

Zombicide editions all use slightly adapted game mechanics and all of them are well-received by the community.

Each player takes the role of a survivor with different skill sets. Moving on the (modular) board, finding weapons – and then using them wisely along with your abilities to kill zombies is your job.

There are different random objectives every game, increasing replay value.

The outcome of the fights is decided by dice, but it’s heavily affected by weapons you hold and your character level. Zombies are controlled by the game (a deck of cards) and, although not very smart, outnumber you a lot, making the fights tense and exciting.

The game really comes alive towards the end, when you have leveled-up a couple of times and have a better weapon, making you a true zombie-killing machine. The carnage you can inflict is a lot of fun.

Best Cooperative Board Games Zombicide Board

Editions

  • the original Zombicide from 2012,
  • Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak (2013): with more close-up melee brawls,
  • Zombicide Season 3: Rue Morgue (2015): introducing more powerful zombies,
  • Zombicide: Black Plague (2015): zombies in middle ages,
  • Zombicide: Green Horde (2018): fantasy world fighting orcs and goblins,
  • Zombicide: Invader (2019): aliens as zombies,
  • Zombicide: Second Edition (2020).

Main Features

  • Simple rules create a fast-flowing game.
  • Excellent miniatures and components.
  • Feels like a Hollywood blockbuster.

Should you get it?

If you’re looking for an accessible, fast-paced action game with a lot of fighting, Zombicide will deliver a fun and exciting experience.

It has enough flesh on the bones to satisfy the more demanding players, plus there are several editions available. My personal favorite is Zombicide: Black Plague.

Click below to check out the price for Zombicide: Black Plague on Amazon


8. Gloomhaven

Designer: Isaac Childres
Years published: 2017, 2020
Players: 1-4
Playing time: 60-120 minutes
Complexity: medium/heavy

Best Cooperative Board Games Gloomhaven

Theme and Setting

Gloomhaven is set in a fantasy world, which you will fully immerse in. Clear the dungeons, improve abilities with experience, find, buy and sell loot, and discover the story, depending on the decisions you make.

Its 95 scenario campaign is riddled with player choices, character progression, growth, and narrative. You’ll also unlock new stuff that comes in mysterious envelopes.

Game Mechanics

Gloomhaven is a dungeon-crawler. Each of the scenarios requires you to build a map, set out enemies, treasures, doors, and other objects. Then it’s your job to explore it, clear it, escape it, or whatever the scenario demands.

You start each scenario with several cards in your hand. That depends on your character. Cards determine what you can do: move, fight, loot, heal, etc.

Each character plays 2 action cards per round and reveals them face-up. The initiative number on the cards determines the order of play. Low-initiative cards are usually weaker than high-initiative cards.

Including monsters, players act from the lowest initiative value to the highest. Actions are carried out immediately and are affected by combat modifier cards (you can customize this deck during the campaign in your favor).

Action cards have top and bottom action (typically the top being for attacking and bottom for moving) and you have to decide on one top action and one bottom action from each card.

Used cards are discarded, and you can only regain them by resting, but that means you have to give away one of the cards for good. And beware – if you run out of action cards, the scenario is over for you – you are exhausted.

Deciding what combination of cards to use, when to use them, and what is the most effective way of doing that, is the core of Gloomhaven’s gameplay, creating a giant puzzle. How do you come through a dungeon with your hand?

Monsters are controlled by drawing from an artificial intelligence deck of cards, so you’ll never know how exactly approach a certain monster since it can behave differently as last time.

Prequel and Sequel

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a standalone prequel. It takes the best bits of Gloomhaven, simplifies setup and fiddliness, and makes itself accessible to less-hardcore players.

It’s still Gloomhaven but dialed down so that “normal” people can enjoy it as well. The reviews so far have been overwhelmingly positive and if there’s one game that could throw Gloomhaven down from BGG #1 spot, it could be Jaws of the Lion.

But things could change once again in 2021, when Frostahaven, the true sequel is bound to be released. We shall see.

Main Features

  • A long campaign is guaranteed to keep you busy for a while.
  • Refined game mechanics.
  • The strong feel of progression and bond with your character.

Should you get it?

If you’re a hardcore enthusiastic gamer that has (both physical and mental) space and time, Gloomhaven is the best available. But I don’t recommend buying it.

If you like the idea of Gloomhaven but are scared away by the number of components and complexity, look up for Jaws of the Lion instead. This should be your starting point into the world of Gloomhaven. It’s simpler, shorter, and much cheaper.

You can still get the big box, Forgotten Circles expansion, or Frosthaven when you finish it.

Click below to check out the price for Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion on Amazon


7. Mechs vs. Minions

Designers: Chris Cantrell, Rick Ernst, Stone Librande, Prashant Saraswat, Nathan Tiras
Year published: 2016
Players: 2-4, best with 4
Playing time: 60-120 minutes
Complexity: light/medium

Best Cooperative Board Games Mechs vs Minions

Theme and Setting

Mechs vs. Minions is set in a world build by League of Legends. But it’s not a MOBA game – it’s a cooperative programming game.

Each mission in a 10-part campaign is set on a board where your mechs are trying to accomplish certain goals (i.e. destroy a part of the map, haul important objects, reach a location, stomp minions) with minions in their way in high numbers.

The first thing you will notice is the sheer number of miniatures and their quality. The four mechs come prepainted, while the minions (100 of them) are grey. Other components (cards, coins, gears) follow the high standards. And they all have a dedicated slot in the well-designed inserts.

Game Mechanics

Each player controls one of the mechs. While they eventually share command cards, they come with unique abilities and can level-up several times.

Your Command line is a board with six card spaces. In every round, this command line will instruct your mech on how to act.

This process can be dissected into 3 Phases:

  1. Draft Command cards. Player draft command cards and then have one minute to distribute them.
  2. Play Command cards by putting them in their slots.
  3. Execute Command lines.

Command cards come in 4 flavors (elements) which you can stack and achieve a more powerful effect, instead of being forced to play a card when you don’t want it (as it can happen in Robo Rally, a programming game, Mechs vs. Minions draws from a lot).

There are three types of core actions (attack, move, and turn), but counting in passive effects (like drawing extra cards) and options to stack, there is enough tactical variety in the game.

Minions move accordingly to the scenario rules. They are predictable and weak, but their strength lies in numbers. They will often respawn, creating a constant flow of opposition towards you.

You can attack them or just stomp over them. But if they catch you on their turn, you will receive damage cards, which clog up your Command line.

This creates a two-layered puzzle. First, you must consider your overall objective as a group, secondly, you must optimally program your mechs, so that all of them are useful.

While the simple rules, the easy-going tutorial, and the initial missions can create an illusion that this is an easy game, the later missions will prove brutally difficult. Many trials and errors are needed to find the correct approach. And even then an unlucky card draft can be detrimental.

Main Features

  • Very high production value.
  • Good programming mechanics.
  • Easy to learn, with some very challenging missions.

Should you get it?

Mechs vs. Minions is an excellent piece of cooperative board gaming. It appears deceptively easy, but you should be prepared for a difficult programming puzzle. It’s very thematically strong with some of the most wonderful miniatures you will find in the hobby.

Click below to check out the price for Mechs vs. Minions on Amazon or from RIOT Games


6. Mansions of Madness: Second Edition

Designer: Nikki Valens
Year published: 2016
Players: 1-5, best with 3-4
Playing time: 120-180 minutes
Complexity: medium

Best Cooperative Board Games Mansions of Madness Second Edition

Theme and Setting

A group of investigators has just arrived at a cursed mansion in Arkham. You will play as one of them and your goal is to find out what is going on.

Traveling the corridors of the mansions, you never know what lies behind next door: could be a clue, puzzle, useful item, a weapon, or perhaps a scary monster trying to kill you. Will your group be able to complete the objective in time or will you lose your mind in the process?

Game Mechanics

The gameplay is divided into rounds. Each round has two phases:

  • the players’ phase and
  • the game’s phase.

In their phase, players get to move, explore, interact with objects, and attack enemies.

After the players are done, the game will perform scenario-specific events (progressing story) and activate monsters (miniatures included).

Each scenario has a different object for winning, which is discovered during play. It’s in the best interest of investigators to discover this as soon as possible by listening to the narrative and searching for clues and complete it – if they take too long, the game wins. Or if everyone dies, the game also wins.

Compared to the first edition, the gameplay is highly assisted by the app, making set-up, playing, and following the story a breeze. Puzzles that the game throws at you, are also solved on the app.

Best Cooperative Board Games Mansions of Madness Second Edition Play

Expansions

While the base game comes with only four scenarios, there are more available in the expansions – usually 2-3 per expansion. New characters, tiles, and monsters are also included.

  • Suppressed Memories: Figure and Tile Collection (2016)
  • Recurring Nightmares: Figure and Tile Collection (2016)
  • Streets of Arkham Expansion (2017)
  • Beyond the Threshold: Expansion (2017)
  • Sanctum of Twilight: Expansion (2018)
  • Horrific Journeys: Expansion (2018)
  • Path of the Serpent (2019)

I listed the expansions just because they have cool names. 🙂 Anyway, you should start with the base game and then move on to expansions. The order is not important.

It’s a cooperative adventure game. Players will take on roles of LotR characters (Bilbo, Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn, Elena, and Beravor) and embark on a campaign. Each chapter of that campaign will offer a different set of map tiles, enemies, and objectives.

They are all tied together with an immersive story, managed elegantly by the robust app. Rightfully one of 2019’s best board games.

Main Features

  • Narrative scenarios, full of mystery make for a very immersive horror experience.
  • A powerful app, working as a game master makes the game very accessible and easy to learn.
  • A lot of available expansions.
  • A high price tag for the base game, which contains only four scenarios.

Should you get it?

Mansions of Madness offers one of the best cooperative adventure experiences available in board gaming. The app makes the game accessible to everybody, without the need to fiddle with numerous markers and trackers.

The Game’s only drawback is the lack of scenarios for the base game, which is rectified with expansions.

Click below to check out the price for Mansions of Madness: Second Edition on Amazon


5. Horrified

Designer: Prospero Hall
Year published: 2019
Players: 1-5, best with 3
Playing time: 60 minutes
Complexity: light/medium

Best Cooperative Board Games Horrified

Theme and Setting

There are a few iconic horror monsters that everyone knows about. I’m talking about classic movies like Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon.

In Horrified, you play as heroes that must save the village from them. Monsters come with miniatures and the board embraces the black and white movie technique perfectly, although it uses crimson and yellow tones.

The immersion in the theme is perfect – it’s like being one of those guys with torches and pitchforks, hunting down Frankenstein’s Monster.

Game Mechanics

You start the game by selecting the monsters. On normal difficulty, you face 3 (you can change the difficulty by adding/removing monsters). The heroes (professor, mayor, courier, scientist, archeologist, explorer, and inspector) you pick all come with a special ability and several action points.

Possible monster and hero picks produce a lot of variations, making the replay factor quite high.

On your turn, you will spend your action points to move your hero, escort villagers out of harm’s way, pick up or trade items, advance a monster’s task, or finally defeat it.

Collecting items and then carrying them somewhere else to use them (to accomplish monster’s tasks, which eventually makes it possible to kill it), is the core of the Horrified gameplay.

Different monsters require different thematic tasks to defeat them – i.e. you have to smash Dracula’s coffins on the map. There are several types of items scattered around, so collecting and trading with others is essential when producing required combinations.

After the player’s turn, you draw a monster card, which tells you how many items will be added to the board, possible events, and which monsters move and attack (sometimes resolved with a die roll). Attacking a hero makes them discard an item while attacking a villager will kill him, increasing the terror track.

The game ends when all monsters are defeated, the terror track reaches the end, or the monster deck runs out of cards.

Best Cooperative Board Games Horrified Minis

Main Features

  • Strong and immersive theme.
  • Very accessible and scalable for difficulty.
  • Every monster requires a different tactic.

Should you get it?

Horrified uses action points, a simple and proven cooperative board game mechanic. This makes the game very easy to learn and play. The immersive and well-known theme and scalable difficulty make this an ideal family game.

While the higher difficulties and 6 different monsters will provide a challenge for seasoned players, the repetitive game mechanics (seen so many times before in games like Forbidden Island, Pandemic, or Dead Men Tell No Tales) are something you can overlook, considering the low price point.

Click below to check out the price for Horrified on Amazon


4. Aeon’s End

Designer: Kevin Riley
Year published: 2016
Players: 1-4, best with 2
Playing time: 60 minutes
Complexity: medium

Best Cooperative Board Games Aeon's End

Theme and Setting

The city of Gravehold is in danger. The Nemeses are pouring through the Breach and it’s up to players who control their unique Breach Mages to stop them and their minions.

Game Mechanics

Aeon’s End is a cooperative deck-builder game. Each of the mages and the Nemesis bosses comes with its unique deck of cards. There are more cards to be purchased during the gameplay that improve your deck.

The goal of the game is to defeat the Nemesis and its minions by playing out spell cards and other abilities. The Nemeses each comes with its deck and you never know what monster or spell will it throw towards you.

But compared to other similar games, there are some stand-out features:

  • There is no deck-shuffling. You must plan how you play your cards with future rounds in mind because you will just flip your deck and draw cards from there.
  • The variable turn order (for players and enemies) adds a lot of uncertainty to the game. Sometimes you’ll be first to act, sometimes the monsters (and other players) will act before you.
  • The spells must be prepared one turn in advance, requiring yet more careful planning and coordinating it with your co-players.

This creates a great sandbox card playing battle arena with a lot of variety. Enemies with their unpredictable decks, mages to choose from, and of course the deck-building with limitless options on how to further develop, guarantees a lot of longevity.

Expansions

To further increase the replay value. there are a lot of expansions available. They add new nemeses with minions and breach mages, together with decks.

  • The Depths (2016)
  • The Void (2017)
  • The Outer Dark (2017)
  • The Nameless (2017)
  • The Ancients (2019)
  • Buried Secrets (2019)
  • Into the Wild (2019)
  • Shattered Dreams (2019)

Editions

There are also several standalone titles, reimplementing the mechanics and adding extra features.

  • Aeon’s End: War Eternal (2017) is a standalone game compatible with the original. It introduces an all-new cast of dynamic characters.
  • Aeon’s End: Legacy (2019) adds legacy elements. You discover the world of Gravehold slowly – adding rules one by one as the story progresses and you build you breach mage stronger and stronger.
  • Aeon’s End: The New Age (2019) is a standalone expansion that is compatible with all of the other standalone games. All content can be mixed and used in the Expedition system a brand new short-campaign format, allowing players and enemies to grow from game to game.
  • Aeon’s End: Outcasts (2020) continues the Expedition system.

Main Features

  • Deck-building mechanics are one of the best in business.
  • Good cooperative experience, but also plays well in solo mode.
  • Very tense battles with some innovative game mechanics.
  • A lot of replay value.

Should you get it?

Aeon’s End is an excellent card-battling arena, that offers almost unlimited variety when it comes to heroes, enemies, and the over replay value. The world is vast and there are numerous editions and expansions available, making a tough entry point for new players.

One of the best ways to start is the excellent Aeon’s End: Legacy, which introduces you to the world gradually. You can then move on to other titles, which can eventually all be mixed and matched to create a giant universe of possibilities.

Click below to check out the price for Aeon’s End: Legacy on Amazon


3. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island

Designer: Ignacy Trzewiczek
Year published: 2012
Players: 1-4, plays well with all numbers
Playing time: 60-120 minutes
Complexity: medium/heavy

Best Cooperative Board Games Robinson Crusoe Adventures on the Cursed Island

Theme and Setting

Robinson Crusoe features one of those themes everyone one should be familiar with – survival on a lonely island. If you haven’t read the classic novel by Daniel Defoe, you’ve surely seen the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks.

Want to play as Friday? Friday Board Game Review – A Solo Deck-Builder

Robinson Crusoe the board game differs from the book in a way that now there can be more people stranded. It is a cooperative game for up to 4 people.

Their goal is to survive long enough to complete the scenario objective, while the island is throwing all sorts of obstacles in their way, like diseases, hunger, wild animals, weather, cannibals, etc.

Game Mechanics

You start by choosing a scenario. There are 8 available. Each has a specific story with goals and rules, special items and weather, etc.

Scenarios are so unique, they almost feel like a new game. Some examples: saving a person, defending from cannibals, lifting curses from the island, sheltering against a volcano, etc.

There are four characters available, each with his (or her) special abilities and characteristics: cook, carpenter, explorer, and soldier.

The game is divided into rounds and each round has several phases, like drawing event cards, producing, deciding on your actions (exploring, building, gathering, hunting, resting, etc.), and finally resting for the night. The last phase requires you to spend food and have some shelter ready or you will suffer, either in health or resources.

Taking actions is not a given. It can be if you dedicate two action tokens to it, but usually, that’s not a luxury you can afford. Instead, you will only place one token and decide the outcome by dice. Anything can happen now: you can succeed, get injured in the process, or have an adventure. In that case, you draw an adventure card and resolve it. Outcomes are almost always bad for your party.

Rounds continue until you either complete your objective or die. And the latter is not that rare to occur. Robinson Crusoe is a very hard game and you’ll be on the verge of dying all the time. But even when you think you have everything under control, an unlucky dice roll or an adventure card will shatter your well-prepared plans in a heartbeat.

Winning a game of Robinson Crusoe requires a lot o strategy, careful planning, and a bit of luck. But when you succeed, it will feel memorable.

Best Cooperative Board Games Robinson Crusoe Adventures on the Cursed Island Fruit

Expansions

Two large expansions have been published, each with a several scenario-long campaign:

  • Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island – Voyage of the Beagle (Vol. 1) (2013)
  • Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island – Mystery Tales (2019)

On top of that, there are numerous standalone scenarios and promos available, often packed in sets. Many of the scenarios are fan-made.

Main Features

  • Very good thematic experience with a feel of exploration and growth.
  • Good replay value out of the box.
  • Complex rules and overall game difficulty.
  • Luck plays a role.

Should you get it?

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is a very good game. It plays very well in cooperative mode and is pretty solid as a single-player.

The adventure of being stranded on an island never felt so pristine. The might with which this island is fighting back is a force to be reckoned with.

You might take the difficulty as a challenge or it may be a negative for you. Or it just might be how it feels being stranded – at mother nature’s mercy.

Click below to check out the price for Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island on Amazon


2. Pandemic Legacy

Designers: Rob Daviau, Matt Leacock
Year published: 2015, 2017, 2020
Players: 2-4, plays well with all numbers
Playing time: 60 minutes
Complexity: medium

Best Cooperative Board Games Pandemic Legacy

Theme and Setting

Matt Leacock’s Pandemic from 2005 is renowned as one of the best cooperative euro games. But it was Rob Daviau’s legacy touch, that lifted the game to legendary status.

Pandemic is a game where players play as a team (they can choose the roles of Medic, Scientist, Researcher, Generalist, or Dispatcher) and fight four lethal diseases that are spreading around the globe.

Game Mechanics

The game mechanics of Pandemic are very solid and easy to comprehend. Each turn consists of three phases, with the players making their moves in the first.

On your turn, you can take 4 actions. Your options are:

  • move,
  • treat diseases,
  • build a research station,
  • cure a disease (certain conditions must be met for this one),
  • or share knowledge (cards).

After your turn, you draw two new cards. Cards are used to travel faster or cure diseases if you have a completed set of them.

Then the infection phase starts. You draw cards from the infection deck, infecting more cities (adding cubes to them). If a city already has 3 cubes, an outbreak occurs, infecting all nearby cities.

Players win if they manage to cure all four diseases or lose if there are too many outbreaks, they run out of cubes or cards. This results in a very challenging co-op experience, where you’re constantly on the brink of losing. Players must use their special abilities wisely and work together.

Let’s add the legacy deck now. The deck of cards will guide you through the 12 scenario campaign. Every scenario has a special set of rules and after the game, the deck will tell you what to do with your game. (If you fail a scenario, you can replay it.)

Anything can happen and it depends on how and what you did so far: there are sealed boxes to open, the story progresses, you will permanently alter the board with stickers or writing, and many more things.

There’s always something new and exciting happening – a twist in the story, an interesting new component or a concept. There are a lot of surprises and memorable moments. Indeed, Pandemic: Legacy is one of the most memorable board-gaming experience.

Best Cooperative Board Games Pandemic: Legacy

The Seasons

Season 1 is the one that’s most similar to the original Pandemic. It’s very strong in the narrative. Although somewhat linear, the story provides a lot of twists and “wow” moments.

Season 2 takes place some 70 years after Season 1. The world is a lot different and you build it from the “inside-out”. It tries a lot of experiential game mechanics and the story branches out more. The game feels different from Season 1 but is still excellent.

Season 0 is the latest addition. You’re not fighting diseases, but rather enemy agents. The year is 1962 and the Soviets are preparing a dangerous new bio-weapon, called Project Medusa.

It’s remarkable how they managed to keep the approach fresh through the 3 seasons. Although they are based on the same mechanics, the rules’ twists, story, and other elements make each one worthy of a play, even if you experienced the others.

Which one to buy then? Although the games are independent of each other (meaning you can start anywhere), I am an advocate of starting with Season 1. I’m sure you’ll buy the other two seasons next. 🙂

Main Features

  • Solid game mechanics, enhanced with one of the best legacy components on the market.
  • Unforgettable experience.
  • You have to replay the scenario if you fail the first time.
  • Some issues with “quarterbacking” (players instructing other what to do)

Should you get it?

Pandemic: Legacy is one of the best legacy board games and cooperative board games in general. I believe everyone should experience what Matt and Rob did – it truly is a remarkable, unique, and highly entertaining board game series.

Click below to check out the price for Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 on Amazon


1. Spirit Island

Designer: R. Eric Reuss
Year published: 2017
Players: 1-4, best with 2
Playing time: 90-120 minutes
Complexity: heavy

Best Cooperative Board Games Spirit Island

Theme and Setting

How many times have you played a game where you have to colonize a previously uninhabited land? The land belongs to no one and just lays there, ready to be claimed by settlers or an invading force.

But what if the land does have an owner? What if it’s owned by nature or by spirits of nature who would prefer nothing more, than just being left alone?

In Spirit Island, you play as one of these spirits, fighting humans from colonizing your island, your home. Can you scare the invaders enough that they will leave you be, or will they overwhelm you?

Game Mechanics

Spirit Island is a cooperative game, where players fight against the game, in this case, invaders. Board is modular and its size depends on the number of players.

Each player takes on a role of a spirit, and every spirit has its characteristics – some better at scaring, others at natural elements like tsunamis and crop diseases, handling the island natives (your allies, the Dahan), and so on.

Invaders can come from different European countries – again with different styles of invading and difficulty. For more of a challenge, you can turn over the map to its thematic side or use an optional scenario, altering victory conditions.

All these set-up combinations are well explained in the rules, so you can easily select the difficulty you want to play at. With eight different spirits to choose from, you are in no fear of running out of options.

The game is played in rounds until either side wins. Each round, spirits decide what to do (growing, gaining energy, playing cards) and then invaders answer by exploring and ravaging the land, building towns, and cities. This is done by drawing terrain cards, very similar to Pandemic, but with a lot more depth and possible outcomes.

Your spirit powers, destruction of towns and cities generate Fear and terror in invaders. Generating enough fear, so that the invaders have no wish to venture onto your island further, is your main tool to victory.

On the other hand, if the invaders overrun you, destroy your spirit or their invader card deck runs out, you lose.

The cooperative component is very strong in Spirit Island – with each spirit being so complex, that it’s hard to look outside of your own board, players will communicate only in ideas and general strategy. This makes quarterbacking not much of an issue and you are truly a master of your own spirit.

The game scales very well as a single-player. You have options to control just one of the spirits or, if you can wrap your head around it, you can play with several. It also plays well with 3 or 4, but you’ve got to be careful as there is a chance of analysis paralysis prolonging the game.

The spirits complement each other nicely and they can help others during the game. Some have more of a supporting role, while others deal “direct damage”. Together they can create powerful synergies.

There is a learning curve to it, as the game is quite complex, but once you get your head around it, the fun begins.

Expansions/Editions

Spirit Island: Branch & Claw (2017) introduces the wildlife. Take control of the beasts and diseases! Two new spirits, new powers, fear cards, blight cards, and scenarios are available.

Spirit Island: Jagged Earth (2020) is an absolutely massive expansion. It introduces Badlands, another mechanic to fight the invaders, as well as 10 new spirits, over 100 new cards, over 200 tokens, 3 new scenarios, and even new island boards. While it may be expensive, it’s worth every penny and raises the game to an even higher level.

Main Features

  • A complex mental exercise with a lot of strategic options.
  • Very high replay value.
  • Scales well for all player numbers, including solo.
  • Possible analysis paralysis trap.

Should you get it?

Spirit Island is the best cooperative board game around. It’s ideally for two players but scales well for other numbers. It’s a challenging mental balance of risk management while being squeezed to a corner by relentless enemies.

It does come with a learning curve, but good things in life don’t come cheap.

Click below to check out the price for Spirit Island on Amazon


Do you agree with my list? Name your best cooperative board games in the comments below.

Vasilij

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