When you think of playing board games with friends and family, the first image that pops into your head probably consists of you yelling at each other and flipping tables. After all, most of us know how Monopoly plays out. However, you do not need to stop playing board games with other people to save yourself some arguments. Instead, you can play some of the best co-op board games that will consist of you all working together and can strengthen your relationships instead of strain them, even if it is just a game!
As well as keeping the peace, co-op board games are fun because you get to make decisions together. There are co-op games on the market that cater to many different interested such as sci-fi, mystery, and adventure just to name a few. We will go over some of the best co-op board games that you can play for your next game night!
The Best Co-Op Board Games for Game Night
1. Descent: Legends Of The Dark
This co-op board game is a great one to pull out especially when you have plenty of free time with friends and family as this game can take over two hours to complete but the immersion it offers will suck you in and make the time fly by.
The Descent: Legends of the Dark comes with a companion app that sort of acts like a virtual dungeon master that will take care of the numbers and equations that determine if your attack is successful or not. This leaves you to enjoy the game and not get distracted from the roleplaying aspect, besides who wants to do math when you’re meant to be playing a game?
Not only does the companion app sort out the numbers and behind-the-scenes technicalities, but it also dictates where your enemies are and what happens next in the narrative. There is exciting combat that is fast-paced and you navigate through these sequences with a fatigue mechanic to add a challenge and item cards where you can use your unique abilities to defeat your foes.
It’s not all hack and slash though because there are also detailed cutscenes and dialogue options you can choose to define your character and bring them to life. The actions you choose have consequences that you will see coming into play as the game progresses and it all takes place on the terrain in the form of 3D cardboard with 40 immensely detailed miniatures that you can play as.
- Detailed miniatures – There are 40 detailed miniatures that you can use to play as and feel more involved in the game world
- Companion app – saves you having to stop the game to calculate numbers and the app adds some mystery as it decides on what happens at points throughout the game
- Length of time to complete – it takes over two hours to play which may be too long for some people
2. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures On The Cursed Island
Can you and your family or friends survive on a deserted island? If your answer was yes then you might change your mind after playing this game because not only are you stranded but you also have to fight against wild animals and harsh weather conditions.
You can play this yourself or with three other people, and it begins with each player freezing and soaked after being washed up on the island so your first task is to find food and shelter before it gets dark. If you don’t, you can starve, get hypothermia, or something much worse.
There are seven scenarios to choose from that each play differently from one another and have their own set of objectives you have to complete.
The players can pick what character they want to be as well that include a carpenter, cook, soldier, or explorer that also have unique abilities, equipment, and morals. You can also implement these features to change the difficulty of the game.
As you can probably imagine, surviving on a desert island is difficult and this game does not skimp out on trials and tribulations – it is a cursed island after all. What makes this game so fun is the strategic gameplay and detailed environment that you and your friends will need to navigate together to make out of alive.
- High replay value – there are multiple scenarios you can choose from, and the use of dice and cards make each game unlike the last
- Quality components – the board, cards, dice, etc. are high quality and give a very visually pleasing experience
- Difficulty – even on the easier settings, this game is tough and if your group isn’t great at co-op it might end in frustration
3. Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game
You’ve probably heard of the video game Horizon Zero Dawn, but there is now a board game that you can play with your friends and family when you don’t feel like playing PlayStation. Even if you are not familiar with the video game, the Horizon Zero Dawn board game is sure to entertain you and give you a great co-op experience.
This game immerses you into the world and urges you to learn about the quirks and weaknesses of the animals in it that you must stalk and battle. Like the video game, there are skill trees, character progression, and upgradable abilities which will keep you invested as you play.
Combat is an important part of this game and how you position your character is important in order to achieve that critical strike, but if you need to retreat you need to have an escape route planned too. The combat follows a flowchart that shows the unique behaviors of enemies and will bring the world to life with each battle playing out differently.
The Horizon Zero Dawn board game will provide a co-op experience where you have to discuss how to stalk and take down enemies together, but it does sprinkle in a bit of competition as well.
In this game, there can only be one winner, and this crown is given to those who have collected the most ‘Glory’ points which are earned by targeting certain body parts and killing monsters in battle.
- Rewarding – using skill trees, character progression and upgradable abilities make you want to play more
- Competitive co-op – it is mostly co-op but having a competitive edge adds an exciting twist
- Instructions – the instructions can be complicated and take time to get a hang of
4. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Sherlock Holmes is a household name and its universe is home to some of the most compelling mysteries. This co-op game was released in 1981 and is still a great co-op game to this day with plenty of engagement, intrigue, and challenge that will put your sleuthing to the test.
The game starts on Baker Street, you and your friends are tasked to take on one of the ten cases on offer, which is enough challenge in itself but you must also race against Sherlock Holmes himself and solve it before he does.
The tension stays high as the time ticks away and you must work with your group to investigate the clues, props, and case files that will help you close the case. With the amount of detail and immersion that this game offers, it is no surprise that it is very challenging but the reward of knowing you beat the Sherlock Holmes will make it worth it.
- Components – very detailed case files, props, and clues that immerse you into the cases
- Time limit – the race against time is exciting and prevents the game from dragging on
- Difficulty – the cases are hard to crack and will be extra challenging if you are not into mysteries
5. The Mind
Sometimes, all you need to make a great co-op game is a set of cards, and The Mind is an example of this. Due to the fact that the game only consists of cards, it makes the rules of the game very simple which lets you get stuck in straight away.
In the first level, the players start with one card each and must play them in ascending order as a team. For every level that you reach, each player gets another card so if you are on the fifth level you will have five cards, six cards when you reach the sixth level, and so on.
However, here is where the challenge comes in though because the players are not allowed to communicate with one another about what cards they have. There will be easier rounds when the players have good number separation but this will not last as most levels will have numbers that are within one or two of each other. Lives are lost when a card lower than the one before it is played.
There are throwing stars that you can use to throw at the other players which will allow them to discard their lowest card, you start the game with one and gain more as you progress through the levels. The team wins the game by getting through all of the levels but if you lose all of your lives you lose the game.
- Simple – the rules are easy to understand and the game has no props or extra components to worry about
- Blind mode – once you have won the game, you can replay it in a different mode that makes it more challenging
- Replayability – unless you play with three or four players, it does not have much replayability
For an extra spooky night in, Horrified is the go-to co-op board game because it has everything from vampires, werewolves, mummies, and more. It is up to you and your friends to get away from these monsters and rescue the townsfolk.
The monsters move in their own unique way around the board and the players must come up with a strategy to defeat the monsters before they cause too much damage and win.
The game stays engaging throughout as you have to come up with a different strategy for defeating each monster. This also gives the game a lot of replayability as you can also change the difficulty by adding more monsters and thus causing different reactions to the environment around them.
The co-op experience also never gets boring as you need to come up with new strategies every time.
- Replayability – each time you play this game, it will be different from the last
- Monsters – the monsters are exciting and operate in their own way
- Instructions – the instructions are confusing at first
This box is bursting with content with over 1,000 cards and lots of miniatures, the story is always evolving and is big enough to get lost in. The game is set in a city called Gloomhaven and you are tasked to find hidden treasure but you must tackle dungeons and monsters to get to it. It also comes with a fold-out map with stickers to mark achievements and secret characters with each set.
It has some resemblance to dungeons and dragons with the RPG aspect and of course the dungeons, but instead of using dice to depict the battle, Gloomhaven uses a card-based system which is efficient and does not focus as much on stats.
The universe in this box has an engaging narrative that is influenced by the decisions you make at the end of each mission. Every player has a different experience of the same game because of this, and changes are carried over into the next session.
With the massive story and narrative that Gloomhaven has to offer, it comes with a hefty price tag but the replayability of it will pay for itself.
- Large scope – there are so much to uncover as you play and it can be replayed many times
- Components – the game box comes with lots of high quality components that helps give the world a visual representation
- Expensive – even though you get a lot for your money, it is still much more expensive than other co-op games
8. The Captain Is Dead
Your captain was killed in action during a mission and now you must complete it without them. To complete the mission, you and your friends must collect alien artifacts before the creepy-crawly enemies take over. This game will put your team’s cooperation to the test as you travel further into the hostile territory to retrieve enough alien artifacts to win the game.
Each character that you can play as has unique abilities and skills which can be used to tackle the numerous threats that are thrown your way, and you must come up with a strategy that will have these characters in the right place at the right time.
- Exciting – the game stays engaging throughout
- Unique Concept – it has a unique setting and lots of depth
- Complicated – the instructions and rules are confusing, to begin with
Best Co-Op Board Games Buyer’s Guide
It is quite simple when looking for the right co-op game, first ask yourself what theme you find interesting. If it’s mystery and the group you want to play with like to solve mysteries, then there are great co-op games that will make you feel like you are solving real cases with the amount of detail that they offer.
If you prefer horror, sci-fi or adventure then there are also great co-op games that you can play to live out those experiences.
Some co-op games come with lots of components such as maps, props, miniatures, and more that can give you a visual representation of your journey which is helpful for a lot of people to feel more involved in the game.
On the other hand, you may want to stick to something that is easy to tuck in your bag and bring anywhere without having to worry about losing the dice or figurines.
Co-op games with less components also tend to be more straightforward and have less of a learning curve. If you have a short attention span or want to have a game that you don’t have to spend a long time explaining to people, then a co-op game that is simple will be a better option.
If you don’t mind a bit of head scratching and love big narratives and worlds, then it would be a good start to look at co-op board games labeled as RPGs.
Some co-op board games work best with two players and some are better with eight players, so to get the best out of the experience make sure you play with the recommended amount.
Another thing to keep in mind when hunting for co-op board games is budget. It may seem weird to think about budgeting for board games but you’ll be surprised how expensive some can be. Board games that have lots of extra, high quality components with in-depth stories will typically cost more than those with less included.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Co-Op Different From Multiplayer?
Co-op stands for cooperative and is a subcategory of multiplayer which is when games have more than one player, whereas co-op refers to a multiplayer game where you play together to reach the same goal.