Toy Corner

The Best Cooperative Board Games of 2024

May 13, 2024

best cooperative board games 2024

When people think of board games they tend to think of you against the rest and sometimes this does not have to be the case. Game nights can be great but competing against each other can sometimes dampen the fun. So why not try something different and go after a goal together as a team? In this article, I have made a list of the best cooperative games that you can play. You might just find your next favourite board game right here.

1. Pandemic

As a fan of board games, the game of Pandemic holds a special place in my heart. It's one of the best cooperative board games that truly promotes teamwork and collective problem-solving. Designed by Matt Leacock and published in 2008 by Z-Man Games, this game has brought endless hours of excitement to board game enthusiasts around the world. When searching for the best 2 player cooperative board games or even the best cooperative board games for families, I often find myself recommending Pandemic.

In the world of Pandemic, each player collaborates as a member of an elite disease control team. From a bird’s eye view, we plan our moves on a map of the world, with the mission of stopping the spread of four diseases. It's like saving the world from the comfort of your own living room. Can you imagine having the power to control a pandemic? This game gives you that adrenaline rush.

The complexity builds with each turn. Players get to perform a maximum of 4 actions. Where should you move? Every city you visit will be infected with diseases depicted by colourful cubes. Your task list includes moving across the cities, treating diseases, building research stations and exchanging knowledge. But beware! An unsuspecting draw of a card could trigger an epidemic, making the disease spread faster. Strategy, communication and resource management are key in this action-packed game.

The brilliance of Pandemic lies not only in play dynamics but also in its character roles. As a player, you need to take on unique roles. You may be a Medic, treating diseases more effectively, or a Researcher, allowing you to share knowledge with other players more easily. Every role comes with its special abilities, contributing to the overall success of your team. It's about combining strengths to face a common threat – a life lesson wrapped in a board game.

Pandemic Board game

2. Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is an all-time favourite, known for truly pushing the boundaries of cooperative fantasy games since 2017. Designed by the skilled Isaac Childres and brought to life by Cephalofair Games, Gloomhaven offers a unique, memorable gaming experience every time you play.

Let's dive into the gameplay, shall we? In Gloomhaven, you're thrust into a persistent world as an adventurer with unique abilities and goals. Your team's mission? Clear out the game's dungeons, ruins, and all other locations; all it takes is synergy and tactical gameplay. The game doesn't rely on dice rolls; instead, it utilises a personal deck of ability cards from which each player selects about 10 cards per scenario and with Gloomhaven bringing nearly 100 scenarios to the table, you will be sure to be entertained. Pouring over these cards, deciding which one applies best to each situation, is what truly brings Gloomhaven into rough contention for the best 2 player cooperative board games.

Think Gloomhaven is just about fight scenes and looting? Think again. This game has depth - a legacy format, to be precise. The world of Gloomhaven is continually evolving, and changing based on your team's decisions and triumphs. How will this legacy play out for you? There's only one way to find out.

Gloomhaven board game

3. Aeon’s End

Coming in at number three on our list of the best cooperative board games is an enchanting blend of strategy, cooperation and mystic allure, none other than Aeon’s End.

In this captivating game, you'd become a mystical being yourself, protecting the final city against the dreadful onslaught of The Greed. It's a deck-building game where each player starts with a small set of cards depicting their character's spells and abilities. The main strategy involved? Knowing when to play your cards to gain resources, charge up your attacks, or fortify your deck. It's like a magical dance where you must skillfully balance your personal deck development whilst also working collaboratively with others. The thrill? Outsmarting and depleting the life of the Nemesis before it penetrates the city's defences.

The sheer strategy involved in Aeon's End makes it one of the best cooperative board games for families. See, as you acquire new cards, you can strengthen your deck's capabilities over time by adding them to your discard pile. With different nemeses, each with unique abilities and mechanics, the game forces you to constantly adapt your strategies. A game with shifting variables, it ensures you're always on your toes, making each play excitingly unique.

So, if a blend of magic, fantasy, and teamwork is your cup of tea, then Aeon's End deserves to be on your list of the best cooperative board games and beyond. Whether it's a gathering with friends or a family game night, this game is certain to spellbind.

aeon's end board game

4. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

With Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, you're thrusted into the mysterious world of the renowned detective and his loyal team of the Baker Street Irregulars. You're faced with a total of ten riveting cases, each unfolding through a unique story booklet, map, and directory, as well as evidence to dissect. The game relies on your keen ability to deduce information from the evidence and cooperate with your fellow players to decide which locations to visit to gather clues. Each player gets to contribute their analytical skills, ensuring a conducive environment for cooperative play.

Exploring this game thoroughly, you'll realise that it's missing a game board or pieces. Apart from physical evidence, everything unfolds through reading, discussion, and deduction - a refreshing format that only heightens the cooperative thrill. It upholds crucial replay value, meaning that once you finish a case, you can easily enjoy the game again without knowing the outcome. The game supports solo play, but it's when you play it with others that you truly realise its rank among the best cooperative board games for families. Adding to the charm of the base game, expansion packs are available, introducing thrilling new cases set in different time periods and locations.

sherlock holmes board game

5. Forbidden Island

Dipping our toes into a different kind of adventure, let's explore Forbidden Island, a fascinating entry on my list of best cooperative board games. This offering from award-winning designer Matt Leacock is a unique, shared adventure that distils the essence of teamwork beautifully.

In Forbidden Island 2-4 players don the hats of daring adventurers, all eyeing a treasure trove hidden in a gradually sinking island. The heart races, the clock ticks and every decision counts. You get to make up to 3 moves per turn, from moving across the island, shoring up the rapidly diminishing islands, collecting treasure cards, and much more.

A concerning aspect is the flood deck. After each turn, a certain number of island tiles drown based on the water level, pushing you, and your team, to strategise and plan moves wisely. Winning is a delightful blend of skilful play, cooperation, and a dash of good luck, as you must locate all four treasures and make it to the helicopter pad before the island disappears into the sea!

The components add to the paradise-like allure of the game. The illustrated cards, plastic treasure pieces, and a shiny metal tin, all contribute to a high-quality, immersive experience. Plus, with a quick playtime of around 30 minutes, it's perfect for a quick family game night or a lighthearted evening with friends.

No wonder Forbidden Island features time and time again in conversations around the best cooperative board games for families. Its blend of simple rules, compelling gameplay, and enticing expansions make it a must for every board game enthusiast's collection.

forbidden island board game

6 . Zombicide: Black Plague

When talking about the best cooperative board games, I can't ignore Zombicide: Black Plague. This gold piece is a treasure trove of fun, setting you in a unique, zombie-infested medieval world. Let's delve into what makes it a great pick for gamers of all stripes, and why it might just tickle the fancy of your gaming group.

Think of yourself battling hordes of zombies, but not all by your lonesome. Zombicide: Black Plague is designed for 1-6 players, making it perfect for solo play or those looking for the best board games cooperative games for their gaming groups. Each turn allows you to take up to 3 actions like moving, searching for equipment, battling zombies, or even casting spells. The more you play, the stronger your survivor gets, unlocking new abilities and equipment that enhance the game experience.

zombicide: black plague board game

7. Robinson Crusoe

Emerging to rank among the best cooperative board games, Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island captures the essence of survival. It's a cooperative survival board game where interaction, strategy, and the role-play of shipwrecked castaways keep you invested.

In this game, teamwork isn't just an asset, it's a necessity. With 1-4 players taking on castaway roles, we're manoeuvring worker pawns across action spaces. We're gathering resources, constructing shelter, forging tools, and delving into the depths of the mysterious island. Every tactical move matters and you're constantly questioning, "What's the best way for us to survive?"

The game is separated into rounds, each featuring a morning phase, an afternoon phase, and an evening phase. But don't breathe a sigh of relief yet! With every setting sun awaits an array of events and challenges—weather that fluctuates like your rapidly beating heart, sneaky predators, and debilitating illnesses.

How do you win? Well, that's dictated by the objectives of the scenarios you’re participating in. Rescue ship on the horizon? Light up a signal fire. Do you have a treasure map? Set off on a journey to discover that hidden treasure!

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island measures high on the difficulty scale and replayability index among cooperative board games. It's like a never-ending survival guide, packed with several scenarios. Each scenario boasts unique objectives, challenges, and starting conditions.

Surprisingly, despite the nail-biting tensions, the thrill of the game is never lost, ensuring it's always a top pick in the best cooperative board games for families.

robinson crusoe board game

8. Marvel Champions: The Card Game

Steeped deep in the Marvel lore, this living card game allows players to control decks representing their favourite Marvel heroes, ranging from Iron Man, Black Panther, to Captain Marvel. Each hero deck, comprising 40-50 cards, acts as a means to defeat dastardly villains attempting to complete their evil schemes. On each player's turn, they're allowed to perform actions like playing cards, activating abilities, attacking villains and minions, or switching between hero and alter-ego forms.

The fate of the game rests in your team's hands. You can claim victory by reducing the villain's health to zero, or conversely, you could lose if the villain completes their scheme or knocks out all heroes. It's like manually stepping into an exhilarating Marvel movie! But can you strategize and collaborate well enough to come out on top?

Starting with a core set including five heroes and three villains, the game can be further expanded, thanks to its hero packs, scenario packs, and larger campaign boxes. These packs introduce new heroes and villains, adding a deluge of fresh challenges and strategic possibilities.

marvel champions card game

9. Mysterium

Mysterium holds a firm spot on my list of best cooperative board games, presenting an innovative blend of murder mystery and card-based guessing elements. Designed by the dynamic duo Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko, you're in for a unique and thrilling gaming experience.

One player assumes a spectral role, that of a ghost, communicating with other players, who portray psychic mediums, through vision cards filled with mysterious illustrations. The ghost then secretly selects characters, locations, and murder weapons that each medium has to guess. The game unfolds in rounds, with the ghost dispensing vision cards to each medium, providing intriguing clues. The mediums then walk a knife's edge, correctly identifying their respective character, location, and murder weapon cards to advance.

By round seven, if all players traverse past the third stage, the spectral player reveals a final clue. The mediums then put their psychic powers to the test and vote on who, they feel, might be the true identity of the ghost's killer. Guess right, and rejoice as the ghost is set free and your team triumphs.

Keeping the mystery alive, Mysterium boasts an attractive package, teeming with illustrated vision cards, tokens, as well as character, location, and weapon cards. The addition of expansions, like Mysterium: Hidden Signs and Mysterium: Secrets and Lies, introduces exciting new elements and card types, keeping the gameplay fresh for families or teams seeking out the best cooperative board games.

mysterium board game

10. Pandemic Legacy Season 1

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 stands out by offering an exciting blend of the base Pandemic game's mechanics and its twists. We participate in the power-packed journey that spans across a series of 12 to 24 games. Just like chapters in a book, each game represents a month, and the ever-evolving game state undeniably elevates the thrill. One moment, you're scribbling on the board, and the very next, you're unveiling secrets from sealed boxes!

You wouldn't think of board games as a vessel for captivating stories, would you? Well, prepare to be surprised. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 unveils an enthralling narrative brimming with plot twists and player upgrades. Each decision made carries future fallouts, making each of our playthroughs feel like a nail-biting movie climax. Hands down, one of the best board games cooperative players would relish!

When it comes to board games, replayability is a key selling point. But here's an odd fun fact: once you've completed a Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 campaign, you can't reset it. Odd as it sounds, it's what sets this game apart. It's currently holding the fort at #2 on BoardGameGeek's top games list. No resetting means each campaign is a unique, cherished memory, making it one of the best 2-player cooperative board games, or for larger groups too.

pandemic legacy season 1 board game