Next update: ~May 2021
Another year, another Best Cooperative Board Games list update! I used to keep all of the past lists on the site, but to avoid confusion I’m deleting those and from now on I’m just going to keep this page updated.
There was a little bit of reshuffling in this November 2020 update, but only a handful of games have been added/removed. I’ll probably make this a top 50 next update because there are quite a few co-ops that I rank very closely to the first five or so games on the list below.
To create this top 40, I made the initial list and then I made some adjustments based on my group’s feedback. It was a collaborative effort! There are only fully cooperative board games listed here, so you won’t find any semi-cooperative games, One vs. Many games, or games with traitors.
Let’s get to it, shall we? Below you’ll find 40 of the best cooperative board games that have come out over the years!
40. The Grizzled – There still isn’t anything else quite like The Grizzled. It’s a war game, but it’s really all about working together to survive during World War I. It’s a light-but-tough cooperative card game with a unique war theme.
39. Castle Panic – Castle Panic is a go-to gateway and family game for many people and it’s one of very few really good cooperative tower defense games out there right now. It also becomes a solid gamer’s game once you add in one or more of the expansions.
38. Forbidden Desert – Forbidden Island also could have gone in this spot as the two games have very similar feels to them, but they do have very different themes. Both are great gateway games, though Forbidden Desert has a little bit more going on in it as you attempt to clear sand, find parts, and escape.
37. Quirky Circuits – One of the top co-ops of 2019, Quirky Circuits is a great limited communication programming game in which you’re attempting to move one of the game’s four robots around a map and accomplish goals before its battery runs out. Quirky Circuits is a really fun game that works just as well for families as it does for adult gaming groups.
36. Hanabi – Hanabi started the recent limited communication craze and it is still one of the best ones out there. I’ve played it many times and with many groups and I still have a blast trying to put those fireworks in order. It also works quite well as a co-op gateway game.
35. Resident Evil 2 – This is a great survival campaign game and one of the better video game-inspired board games out there right now. It has a great flow to it yet there are plenty of tough decisions to make throughout each mission. Most fans of the Resident Evil 2 video game will love this one.
34. Flash Point: Fire Rescue – If you like the firefighting theme at all, Flash Point is a must-own. Gamers of all ages get a kick out of running into a house, putting out fires, and saving as many people (and pets) as they can. It’s a great family game with a theme that everyone can get into.
33. One Deck Dungeon – This little solo or two-play cooperative game is a great pick for anyone who loves dice games. It has a simple set of rules, challenging gameplay, fantastic artwork, and it is very portable. This one has been in my game bag for a long time now.
32. Maximum Apocalypse – This post-apocalyptic survival game comes with a dozen enjoyable and replayable missions to play through (plus more in the expansions). The characters have unique decks and are all fun to play, and it’s the type of game that requires a high amount of cooperation to beat. A Legendary Edition of the game was released in 2020 that includes all of the expansions and some miniatures for the characters.
31. Spy Club – At its core, Spy Club is a cooperative set collection game, but it’s really so much more than that. I’ve played through campaigns with multiple groups and everyone has had a blast playing this unique detective game. It’s a great cooperative board game for adult groups and for families.
Check out our Top 10 Co-ops of 2020!
30. Dragonfire – Dragonfire is a very fun deck building campaign game set in the D&D universe. Watching your characters improve throughout the campaign is very satisfying, the game is surprisingly easy to play, and there is plenty of content in the box.
29. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures – This is a series of big-box games that allow you to play as and against the popular characters from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles world. It has a very cool action-sharing mechanism and each mission gives you a different type of puzzle to solve. Every gamer who also happens to be a TMNT fan should give at least one of these games a try (I’d recommend starting with Change is Constant).
28. Mage Knight – Still one of the best adventure games, Mage Knight is a big fantasy board game with co-op, competitive, and solo scenarios. If you don’t mind complex co-ops, it is definitely worth checking out. Also, the newest version of the game, Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition, includes all three of the expansions.
27. Dungeons & Dragons Board Games – One of the issues that I usually have with dungeon crawlers is that they’re too fiddly, but that’s not a problem with these games. They definitely scratch the dungeon crawler itch, but they play very smoothly. I’ve only reviewed Castle Ravenloft, but my group has actually played three of the games in the D&D Adventure System Series and they’ve all been great.
26. Mysterium – Still one of the most attractive board games that you can buy, Mysterium is a great whodunit game. The dream and location cards look amazing on the table and they do the job of pulling players into the mystery theme. Plus, it’s really fun to play as both the ghost and the investigators.
25. Black Orchestra – I think everyone in my group likes this game even more than we did back when I posted my review for it. It has an interesting mix of mechanisms, including pick-up and deliver and push-your-luck dice play, that just work well together in this game for some reason. It’s very hard to assassinate Hitler, but the game is never frustrating.
24. Shadowrift – One of my group’s favorite deck building games, Shadowrift gives you plenty of card-buying options as you attempt to take down powerful monsters. It’s also the only game that I can think of that has players building their own decks while also buying cards to add to a neutral, shared deck.
23. Chronicles of Crime – This is one of quite a few excellent detective games that have come out in recent years. The cases my group has played through have all been interesting and the app works really well to both tell the stories and to help you investigate the crimes. The base game is great and the Welcome to Redview expansion is also solid, but the Noir expansion has been my group’s favorite Chronicles of Crime experience so far.
22. D-Day Dice (2nd Edition) – This is one of the best dice games that I’ve played in recent years. It’s easy to learn and it’s also very challenging, which is a great co-op combo! If you like dice games and you also happen to like war-themed games, D-Day Dice is a must-try.
21. CO₂: Second Chance – This is easily one of the top Euro-style collaborative games my group has ever played. It’s a consistently tough puzzle to solve as you have to figure out how to work together to keep the world’s carbon dioxide levels down while also completing your own private goals.
Check out our Top 10 Family Games!
20. Codenames Duet – This is one of the best two-player cooperative games and arguably the best version of Codenames that you can buy. It’s also one of the best filler games out there, so it gets to the table a lot. If you’re a fan of word games and/or deduction games, you really have to give Codenames Duet a play.
19. Legendary Encounters: Alien – This is such a cool deck building game system. Alien is still my group’s favorite one in the series, but Upper Deck has also put out Legendary Encounters games for Firefly, The X-Files, and Predator. The games are very thematic, there’s plenty of cooperation, and every deck-building choice you make feels very important.
18. V-Commandos – What makes V-Commandos one of the best cooperative board games is that it does a great job of making players actually feel like highly trained commandos. You focus on staying undetected most of the time so you can complete objectives, which definitely ratchets up the tension. A must-have if you like the WWII theme.
17. Marvel Champions – This was my pick for 2019 game of the year. The Marvel theme shines through everything you do and it’s a lot of fun tweaking your decks to give yourself the best chance to defeat the villains. Definitely give this a try if you’re a Marvel fan.
16. Spirit Island – My group’s rankings are all over the place for this one. Some love the game’s complexity while others find it to be a bit too much. Spirit Island is in my personal Top 10 because I’m a huge fan of the asymmetrical spirits and the twist on the colonization theme.
15. Burgle Bros. – If you like the idea of trying to pull off a heist with your group, Burgle Bros. is a great co-op game to get. It’s a good team challenge as you have to find a way to move around the building with the guards constantly moving around you. My group has played Burgle Bros. many times and still enjoy it every time it hits the table. Oh, and there’s a sequel coming soon!
14. Project: ELITE – This is an amazing real-time game that has you attempting to fight off alien invaders and complete different objectives. Each round you have two minutes to frantically roll dice, move, and kill aliens all while trying to communicate with your teammates. It’s easily one of the most tense games that I’ve ever played, but that just makes winning that much more satisfying.
13. Pandemic – This spot is for all of the games in the Pandemic line, including the classic original game, Pandemic Legacy, Pandemic Iberia, Pandemic: The Cure, and the others that Matt Leacock has designed. They’re all fantastic cooperative strategy games, though I’d still recommend the original Pandemic (along with the excellent On the Brink expansion) to newer gamers and anyone else who hasn’t played any version of Pandemic yet.
12. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Every fan of The Lord of the Rings should at least try this awesome two-player cooperative game. The base game doesn’t give you a lot of cards to construct decks with, but there are dozens of expansions that allow you to play with all of the popular heroes and in all of the well-known locations in that world. If you want a cooperative Lord of the Rings game that is great at higher player counts, you’ll want to check out Journeys in Middle-earth.
11. Mechs vs. Minions – If you enjoy playing programming games like Robo Rally, you really should check out Mechs vs. Minions. Drafting cards for your mechs is a lot of fun and the missions ramp up in difficulty as you move through them. Mechs vs. Minions also happens to be one of the best-looking games that you can get right now.
10. The Mind
The Mind has gone over well with everyone I’ve taught it to. It’s my group’s top limited communication game and it was our highest-rated game of 2018. When you read the rules you’ll probably think it’s going to be too simple to be special, but chances are you’ll be surprised by how unique the experience is once you get it to the table.
I think everyone should play The Mind at least a couple of times to see if it’s for them, especially since it only costs about 10 bucks. It’s an excellent cooperative game.
Read our The Mind review
We’ve had so many exciting 5-Minute Dungeon gaming sessions. I think I’ve personally played it about 40 times and I still haven’t beaten all of the bosses! This is my group’s favorite real-time game right now and something pretty special would have to come along to replace it.
If you don’t mind the stress that a lot of these types of games bring, chances are you will have a great time playing 5-Minute Dungeon. It’s fast-paced, it’s challenging, the narration in the app is fantastic, and it’s highly replayable. There’s also a Marvel version that came out in 2018.
Read our 5-Minute Dungeon review
Legends of Andor is still one of the best cooperative adventure board games around. It has a great look to it, it tells some good stories, and there are some tough puzzles to work through. It’s also really cool how it ramps up the tension and challenge as you play through the adventures. Legends of Andor is an outstanding fantasy game and I’m looking forward to playing through all of the original legends again once enough time has passed.
Read our Legends of Andor review
Too Many Bones has some of the nicest components that you will find in a board game, and the gameplay is awesome as well. It does take some time to get used to all of the characters’ unique abilities and the “dice-building” concept, but it’s worth it. I’ve played with all of the base game characters a bunch and I still haven’t even come close to mastering any of them.
Chip Theory Games also released a two-player version of Too Many Bones called Too Many Bones: Undertow, which works as both a standalone game and as an expansion to the original.
Read our Too Many Bones review
Atlantis Rising (Second Edition) is an excellent cooperative worker placement game in which you’re attempting to get the resources you need from your island and escape before it floods. It has some very nice-looking components, it plays smoothly, and it’s a rare co-op that plays well at both low and high player counts.
If you enjoy playing competitive worker placement games and you’re also a fan of co-ops, I’d say there’s a very good chance that you’ll end up loving Atlantis Rising.
Read our Atlantis Rising review
I still haven’t written my Gloomhaven review yet, which my group likes to laugh at me about, but I said from the beginning that I won’t review it until I’ve completed a full campaign. We’re “only” about 40 hours into the 120+ hour campaign and it has been a tough one to get back to the table, so it might be a while before that review gets posted.
Gloomhaven is definitely one of the greatest cooperative board games ever made, so it doesn’t surprise me that it currently sits atop BGG’s rankings. It has arguably the best action-selection system and it’s extremely satisfying watching your characters improve over time. This would probably be my “stranded on a deserted island” game since there is so much content in that huge box.
If you have a group that can commit to playing through Gloomhaven, it’s definitely worth getting. If you want to test out the system before you commit to the big game, a streamlined standalone game called Gloomhaven: Jaw of the Lion was released in 2020.
It’s going to take a pretty special game to replace Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective as my group’s top crime-solving game. The cases are tough and memorable and they do a great job of making everyone feel like real detectives. If you’ve been a fan of other co-op mystery games or you just like the murder-mystery genre in general, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.
There are now a lot of new cases that you can check out for this system, including the cases found in Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures (2016), Carlton House & Queen’s Park (2017), and The Baker Street Irregulars (2020).
Ghost Stories is still one of the toughest cooperative board games out there. My group’s overall win percentage after over 100 games is only about 20 percent, but that just makes us want to keep playing it. The artwork is excellent, the game plays smoothly once you know the rules, and the random village layout and the ghost cards help to make each game feel different.
If you like difficult co-ops, I highly recommend getting Ghost Stories. Also worth checking out is Last Bastion, a fantasy version of Ghost Stories released in late 2019.
Read our Ghost Stories review
2. Aeon’s End
Aeon’s End has been my group’s top cooperative deck building game for a while now, and it’s our favorite two-player co-op (it also plays well at three and four). It has a great spell-casting mechanism, the variable turn order adds in extra tension, and it plays at a nice pace. This is a great game to get if you enjoy fantasy games and/or deck building games.
Read our Aeon’s End review
There still isn’t a better survival game or adventure game than Robinson Crusoe: Adventures of the Cursed Island. After every win or loss (mostly losses), my group spends some time talking about how the story played out because the game does such a great job pulling you onto the island and not letting you go until you either succeed or fail.
Even if it only came with the first scenario in the box – the newest version has seven scenarios – Robinson Crusoe would probably still sit in this top spot. It’s highly thematic, every decision you make feels important, and you have to work hard as a team to have a chance to win. Yeah, it’s amazing.
Read our Robinson Crusoe review
What are your favorite cooperative board games? Are there any that you’d recommend that aren’t on this list?