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Ah, real-time co-op board games. Some people love them, some people definitely do not. Most of the folks I play games with fall somewhere in between those two groups. However, we’ve had quite a few memorable experiences with these games.
Even though I’m not a big fan of real-time games, I do think it’s worth having at least one on your shelf for when you want an intense challenge that requires a lot of teamwork. Plus, these types of games are so different than everything else that’s out there and are sometimes the best way to get people into modern board games. Oh, and you rarely have the alpha player problem in these games, which is awesome.
This is the one list that could change a lot as time goes by. There really aren’t that many real-time cooperative games out there right now (that’s why this is a top 5 and not a top 10 list), but it looks like a lot more are going to be coming out in the next year or two. UBOOT: The Board Game is an example of one that a lot of people are looking forward to.
So, here they are… our Top 5 Real-Time Cooperative Board Games!
5. Space Alert
Space Alert was the second real-time co-op I ever played (after Hoopla), and it was a pretty amazing experience because it was so different. My group played Space Alert so much that it did start to feel repetitive, so it would probably be closer to the top of the list had we made these rankings a few years ago.
I think a lot of people would still say Space Alert is the best real-time cooperative board game out there, and for good reason. It’s definitely worth checking out if you like programming games like Robo Rally and the space theme.
Read our full Space Alert review
The Unlock! escape-room-in-a-box game system is excellent. You have a single deck of cards (with fantastic artwork) and you need to work together to solve multiple puzzles. The app is also very cool because it’s a timer and it’s also what you use to check if your solutions are correct.
We haven’t found an individual Unlock! game that we love yet, but most of the people in my group are looking forward to playing more games in the series.
Read our full Unlock! review
FUSE was a pretty big hit with my group when we first played it. It’s portable, it’s quick, the app helps to ratchet up the tension, and the theme just works for this type of game.
We haven’t had a chance to play Flatline: A FUSE Aftershock Game yet, which is another real-time co-op from the same designer, but it seems like a lot of people like that one even more than the original FUSE.
Read our full FUSE review
2. Magic Maze
Magic Maze definitely brought something new to the real-time genre in 2017. You don’t talk to each for most of the game and everyone is controlling all of the characters. It’s chaotic, super fun, and I really like that it introduces new rules and challenges as you get past each scenario.
This is not the type of game that is going to hit the table often for my group (same goes for all the games listed above), but everyone I’ve played Magic Maze with has enjoyed it and it’s different and fun enough to earn a spot on my shelf.
Read our full Magic Maze review
In my group’s opinion, 5-Minute Dungeon is the best real-time cooperative board game… and it’s not even close. It’s easy to learn how to play, it’s quick, it’s intense, it’s challenging, and the artwork is great. This is the one game on this list that everyone in my group would be happy to play on any game night.
If you’re interested in getting just one real-time cooperative game for your collection, this is the one I’d suggest getting. It’s especially good at three and four players, but it’s solid at all player counts.
Read our full 5-Minute Dungeon review
Spaceteam – This is definitely a top 5 real-time game for a few people in my group, which really surprised me, to be honest. Goofy space game and it only takes five minutes to play. (read our full review)
XCOM: The Board Game – This is a real-time game that feels like a full board game, and it’s definitely longer than all of the other ones, too. A lot of people I’ve talked to think this is the best real-time board game around, so check it out if the theme intrigues you. (read our full review)