15 Best Cooperative Board Games in 2024: Fun for the Whole Crew

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Board games have traditionally been a great excuse to be a terrible friend. Stabbing people in the back or unleashing a monster on them and running off with their loot? Check. Teaching them the harsh realities of capitalism by trouncing them in a eurogame or two? Yeah, sure. Helping them become the next Alien meal? Don’t mind if I do.

But, what if you want to spend some quality time with your gaming crew, but aren’t a big fan of conflict or competition? Enter cooperative games – titles you can enjoy with your friends by working together towards a common goal, instead of rushing after those victory points by yourself.

Here at Boar Gamer, we spent countless hours with the likes of Pandemic and Gloomhaven and can testify they are just as fun as any competitive board game experience we’ve had. Here’s a list of the best cooperative board games we’d recommend for anyone looking for jolly cooperation!

Top Cooperative Board Games in 2024

  1. Pandemic Legacy
  2. Spirit Island
  3. Gloomhaven
  4. The Mind
  5. The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
  6. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
  7. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
  8. Hanabi
  9. Mysterium
  10. Just One
  11. Ghost Stories
  12. Arkham Horror: The Card Game (Revised Edition)
  13. Marvel Champions: The Card Game
  14. Horrified
  15. Magic Maze

How We Chose Our Favorites

Board gaming as a hobby exploded in recent years, and it can be hard to keep up with all the new titles coming out each year.  So, how did we pick our top co-op board games from an ever-growing library of fantastic titles? 

The same way you would, dear readers: by coming up with a list of things that a board game has to get right, playing a bunch of different titles, and seeing how they all measure up.

While the fun factor is a highly subjective criterion, many others aren’t. Is the game well-suited for a gaming group, and easy to scale from two to at least four players? Are the core mechanics easy to grasp and the rules explained well or are they unnecessarily convoluted? How is the game’s flow and is the length appropriate for what the game is trying to do?

Is the game suitable for solo play? How is the replayability? Do the mechanics offer enough flexibility for the game to be fun across numerous sessions? Can the difficulty be scaled and is the game too hard or too easy? Beautiful cards, artwork, and miniatures are always nice to see, but are they functional and useful, or just there for show? 

These and many similar questions make the core of our review criteria. That said, it’s important to stress that we don’t consider any game on our list inherently superior to any of the others, and we can vouch that every single one of them will be a fantastic choice for your next board gaming night.

The Best Cooperative Board Games in 2024

1. Pandemic Legacy (Season I): A Legacy Spin on a Co-Op Classic

Pandemic Legacy (Season I)
Number of players:2 to 4
Playing time:60 minutes
Age:13+

Pandemic is considered by many to be the granddaddy of modern co-op board games, so when Zman Games announced the legacy version in 2015, community hype went through the roof. Even today, it remains the second-best-rated board game of all time.

The popularity is well-deserved, though. Pandemic Legacy took the core gameplay mechanics from the original game and put them into a proper overarching story, lasting anywhere between 12 and 24 sessions. You’ll still get the unique player roles and abilities and agonize over the best way to spend your limited action pool each round. But, now the stakes are even higher. 

As the campaign progresses, your characters might learn new abilities but will also get new detrimental effects to deal with. You’ll be forced to physically alter several aspects of the game, placing stickers on certain components, and even ripping up specific cards. The permanence mechanic can be nerve-wracking but adds a whole new dimension to the game.

Following the success of Season 1, Zman Games gave us another two seasons, with Season 2 serving as a direct sequel, and the 1960’s themed Season 0 as a prequel for the whole series. They are both great titles and well worth getting if you enjoyed Season 1.

Pros:

  • Immersive campaign experience
  • Evolving gameplay
  • High quality components

Cons:

  • Requires significant time commitment

2. Spirit Island: A Magical Anti-Colonial Adventure

Spirit Island
Number of players:2 to 4
Playing time:90 to 120 minutes
Age:13+

Did you ever play a popular settler-themed game like Catan or Puerto Rico and feel a bit uncomfortable taking on the role of yet another colonizer in a brave new world? Spirit Island flips a somewhat tired trope on its head and is a super fun cooperative board game to boot, offering one of the most unique cooperative play experiences in the genre.

In this quirky co-op board game, the players take on the role of island spirits, trying to protect their little strip of paradise from dastardly colonizers who, predictably, came there to settle, pillage, and chew sugar cane, but are all out of sugar cane. Each spirit has unique elemental abilities used through power cards, and matching the card powers with the elemental affinities of the spirits gives players free and powerful bonuses.

There are other complexities, too, such as weaker powers taking effect immediately, while the stronger ones require a lot more careful planning. The game also ramps up significantly in the later stages, and it becomes very difficult stopping the colonists if they’re allowed too much expansion early on. 

While it can be a tough challenge for inexperienced players and is far more complicated than the likes of Pandemic or the similarly-named Forbidden Island, Spirit Island is still a great cooperative board game well worth your time.

Pros: 

  • Great theme
  • Excellent for groups looking for a strategic challenge
  • Play as spirits of nature defending against greedy colonialists

Cons: 

3. Gloomhaven: Epic Fantasy Roleplaying in a Box

gloomhaven
Number of players:1 to 4
Playing time:60 to 120 minutes
Age:14+

Gloomhaven was a revolutionary game when it came out in 2017. It introduced players to a fantastic roleplaying experience that married a Pandemic-like fantasy campaign with tough, tactical combat and rewarding dungeon-delving expeditions. Players take on the role of a party of D&D-like characters, each with unique skills and gameplay styles. 

The gameplay revolves around the titular city of Gloomhaven, where our motley crew of heroes will brave dank sewers and creepy crypts, fight monsters, and loot their way through a branching narrative with unique scenarios and “Choose Your Own Adventure”-type quests.

Gloomhaven is arguably the best cooperative board game for fantasy roleplaying lovers and a great cooperative game for anyone into D&D or video game-like narratives. Adopting game mechanics from other cooperative board games, deck-building games, and even old-school tabletop gaming with miniatures such as Warhammer, it’s a great game for anyone with even a passing interest in the fantasy genre.

It’s also a massive title, going beyond what many board games even in the genre consider appropriate. The game includes over 1,000 cards, more tokens than you’ll know what to do with, a fold-out map with detailed achievements to accomplish, and even secret characters and quests to unlock. A hearty Boar Gamer recommendation.

Pros: 

  • Addictive deck building mechanic
  • Branching narrative 
  • Plenty of gameplay and value from an enormous game

Cons:

  • Can be overwhelming for those new to the hobby

4. The Mind: A Unique Card Game With No Talking Allowed

the mind
Number of players:2 to 4
Playing time:20 minutes
Age:8+

The Mind was a bold experiment when it first came out: could you create a candidate for the best co-op board game of the year while removing one of the core tenets of the genre and making its absence a core game mechanic? Judging by the game’s numerous awards and popularity in board gaming circles, the answer was a resounding yes.

While most good co-op board games​ encourage player communication in order to complete objectives and achieve victory, here all talking is strictly forbidden. You have to rely on your deduction skills and carefully watch all the players at the table to gather clues and determine your next move.

The game is won by completing an ascending sequence of numbers between 1 and 100 each round by placing their cards on a discard deck in the middle of the table. The trick is that you want to place the lowest card of any player at the table at any given time, and failing that you’ll lose one life, with the number of lives being determined by the number of players in the game.

While it has since been surpassed by titles such as The Crew, the game offers an interesting and unique take on co-op board games, and while not everyone may love it at first glance, it’s a title well worth trying out with your friends.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Simple and accessible rules
  • Fits in a pocket

Cons: 

  • Can be luck-dependant 

5. The Crew: Mission Deep Sea: Cooperative Trick-Taking Under the Sea

the crew mission deep sea
Number of players:2 to 5
Playing time:20 minutes
Age:10

If you liked The Mind, you’ll love The Crew games, too. Taking the novel idea of forbidding verbal player communication and expanding on it with several fun new mechanics, 2019’s The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine was an instant hit. It was a fun cooperative card game for up to five players that relied on trick-taking mechanics and non-verbal teamwork. with players uncovering the mysteries of a newly-discovered planet by completing a series of cooperative missions.

Mission Deep Sea takes the main ideas and gameplay from its predecessor, ramping up the challenge through new specific objectives and challenges, that are often far more creative and challenging than those found in Quest for Planet Nine. It also moves the action to the bottom of the sea, as the players now search to uncover the mysteries of the lost continent of Mu.

The core of the game remains the same, though, including the ability to give other players a hint about the cards in your possession by placing one of them face up, and the unique mechanic with black cards, that automatically win against any other color and number combination.

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea is a very good party game and one of the best co-op board games for developing non-verbal communication skills. And, with each mission typically taking only a few minutes, it’s a fantastic game to play in between more demanding titles such as Pandemic or Gloomhaven.

Pros: 

  • Great vacation/traveling board game
  • Missions are fast-paced
  • Hours of gameplay

Cons:

  • Hard to put down and play something else during game night

6. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island: Gritty Survival Sim on a Board

Robinson Crusoe
Number of players:1 to 4
Playing time:60 to 120 minutes
Age:14+

As its name may imply, Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island doesn’t pull any punches. This is a dark and heavy co-op survival game that doesn’t just encourage communication, but actively demands teamwork and striving together towards the same goal – surviving a deadly island rife with beasts and other dangers.

If you’re a fan of survival video games, this one will feel right at home, as you the other players scrounge up resources, build tools, weapons, and shelters, trying to stay alive on a hostile island while trying to unlock its mysteries. 

The base game has seven scenarios, including a free King Kong-themed one that was released later and is not included in the game’s box. These are highly varied, ensuring no two games will feel the same. There’s also an excellent expansion that adds five more scenarios following the HMS Beagle with Charles Darwin, and numerous fan-made scenarios pitting players against all sorts of nasties, including even dinosaurs.

Add to this the unique gameplay strengths of every playable character and you have a fantastic title that feels great even in solo play but really ramps up when you bring along your friends.

Pros: 

  • Fun survival mechanics
  • Every decision matters
  • Great replay value

Cons:

  • Horrible rulebook

7. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective: The Definitive Detective Simulator

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Number of players:1 to 8
Playing time:60 to 120 minutes
Age:13+

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is a tabletop classic. Released way back in 1982, it still remains one of the best board games for anyone who isn’t put off by complex puzzles and a game that truly channels the spirit of the famous detective, refusing to hold your hand at any point.

Whether you’re gathering clues from newspapers, interviewing shady suspects, or just following the trail of a murder weapon, there’s always a sense of solving larger-than-life mysteries with nothing more than your wits, as the game features no dice or luck-based mechanics.

The cases in the different scenarios follow the format of the legendary tales, having you solve everything from murder cases to strange phenomena and even artwork heists, with future expansions even putting Holmes up against legendary foes such as Jack the Ripper. 

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is one of the best 2-player co-op board games and a very fun solo title. That said, although you could theoretically play it with up to seven other friends, the game’s slow pace and focus on reading may not make it very engaging in a larger group.

Pros: 

  • Amazing atmosphere
  • Excellent writing
  • You are free to choose your path

Cons: 

8. Hanabi: Explosive Fun for the Whole Gang

Hanabi
Number of players:2 to 5
Playing time:25 minutes
Age:8+

Taking its name from the Japanese word for fireworks, Hanabi is a brilliant and lighthearted game that’s one of the best cooperative board games for families on our list. The central theme is building a glorious fireworks display together with your friends, by playing cards from one to five across five different colored rows. The catch? Only the other players can see your card.

On their turn, each player can either try to guess the card they are holding and place it in the appropriate row (matching the number and color) or give the other players a hint about the cards they are holding. The trouble is you can’t just outright say the color or card number, but rely on a limited number of in-game tokens (such as “you have two yellow cards”).

The game quickly becomes rather challenging, especially when played with the maximum number of players, as you’ll have to remember each clue about your hand given by the other players. And when you inevitably mess up and place down the wrong card, the whole fireworks display goes boom, so the tension definitely ramps up as the game progresses.

If you’re tired of complex eurogame titles or other heavy co-op games, we heartily recommend giving Hanabi a go – just be prepared for a stiffer challenge than you may expect. 

Pros:

  • Different kind of coop game
  • Fun guessing mechanic
  • Easy to learn and start blasting

Cons: 

  • Not for those that dislike memory or deduction board games

9. Mysterium: Murder Mystery with an Amnesiac Ghost

Mysterium
Number of players:2 to 7
Playing time:42 minutes
Age:10+

Are you a fan of Clue or Dixit? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be a medium or a paranormal detective? If you’ve answered yes to any of those, you’ll probably love Mysterium. As with other games in the genre, one player takes on the role of the clue giver. In this case, it’s the ghost of the murder victim, who is trying to help the other players solve the mystery of their demise.

Unfortunately, our ghost is not big on verbal communication and his memory is kind of spotty, so the only way they can communicate with our would-be detectives is by sending them cryptic visions and dreams. 

These will hopefully steer them toward the murder suspect and the other relevant details of the investigation, as the game progresses only when all of the players guess their clues correctly. Each investigator has their own set of cards that need to be solved in exact order, and everyone has seven rounds to solve the mystery before the game moves into its final stage.

Mysterium is one of the best cooperative board games around if you’re a fan of abstract thinking and love ghostly mysteries, but its deliberately vague cards can sometimes be frustrating to work out despite their exceptional artwork. 

Pros:

  • Amazing art
  • Great theme
  • Both mystics and the ghost are fun to play

Cons:

  • Not for everyone

10. Just One: A Simple but Fun Word Game

Just One
Number of players:3 to 7
Playing time:20 to 60 minutes
Age:8+

The best cooperative board games of all time often share a design principle – a simple, yet ingenious idea, that’s executed well. In the case of Just One, the name hints at the game’s key mechanic: one player has to guess a mystery word, while the others help them by giving one-word clues.

The catch? Everyone writes their clues down separately, and if any of the clues are the same, they’ll get eliminated, giving the guessing player fewer hints as to the mystery word. This forces everyone to get creative with associations, at times getting into Mysterium-like levels of abstract thinking.

If we had to find something to nitpick about, the default difficulty is just a little too easy. Experienced players may want to add house rules, such as having more than one guesser and not allowing them to communicate with each other or the other players. That said, Just One is a fantastic filler title between bouts of more complicated board games and is a great starter game to get your family and friends into the hobby.

Pros:

  • Works well with a larger group
  • Excellent for newcomers to the board gaming hobby
  • Learning how to play takes minutes

Cons: 

  • Dry-erase markers are not the best

11. Ghost Stories: Chinese Ghost Busters

Ghost Stories
Number of players:1 to 4
Playing time:60 minutes
Age:12+

Supernatural horrors and ghosts are popular staples in cooperative board games, as the success of Arkham Horror and Mysterium can testify. Not many Western fantasy and horror games have an authentic Asian setting, though, giving Ghost Stories a unique flavor. It also looks great, with lovely miniature, interesting-looking tokens, and great artwork. 

The game puts you in the shoes of ghost-busting Taoist monks, fighting the literal lord of hell, Wu-Feng, and his various incarnations. If you think that sounds tough, it absolutely is, and Ghost Stories is definitely one of those games that’s easy to learn, but tough to master. 

Whether you’re fighting off Wu-Feng’s various incarnations or his ghostly henchmen, the game demands excellent knowledge of each player class and solid teamwork skills to beat. 

The expansions further complicate matters by adding new tiles and mechanics, such as having to save the villagers from the rampaging ghosts before their family curse further complicates your game. If you have even a passing interest in mythology or the supernatural, give Ghost Stories a go – we can vouch that you won’t regret it.

Pros: 

  • Amazing game components
  • High replay value
  • Short playing time for this type of coop game

Cons: 

  • Could be quite difficult, especially if you are unlucky with dice rolls

12. Arkham Horror: The Card Game (Revised): An LCG Take on the Horror Classic

Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Number of players:1 to 4
Playing time:45 to 180 minutes
Age:14+

Arkham Horror was one of the first modern board games to tap into the famous H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos, offering an epic cooperative adventure for up to eight players, as they try to save the city of Arkham from the awakening of the Ancient Ones.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game takes the idea of a team of supernatural detectives investigating Cthulhu and the gang, but transforms it into a more focused living card game, played out across different scenarios that can last several sessions each. 

The original release was one of the best board games for 2 players on the market, and the 2021 version added support for up to four detectives, each with unique special abilities and customizable decks. 

Combine that with varied scenarios, numerous clue, monster, and location cards, and persistent effects that fighting supernatural horrors can leave on your heroes, and you have a recipe for a highly fun and replayable game. A definitive Boar Gamer recommendation.

Pros: 

Cons: 

  • Can take some time to set up and start playing

13. Marvel Champions: The Card Game: Cooperative Superhero Brawler

Marvel Champions: The Card Game
Number of players:1 to 4
Playing time:45 to 90 minutes
Age:14+

If you’re a fan of the living card genre, but would rather battle iconic Marvel villains than Lovecraftian horrors, Marvel Champions will be just the game for you. Taking on the mantle of classic superheroes such as Spiderman and Black Panther, you and up to three friends will be taking on legendary Marvel villains such as Red Skull and Ronan the Accuser.

You’ll avoid a lot of the randomness of collectible card games by buying specific sets and expansions to get exactly the cards you need, for both the heroes and the villains. Deck building is simple and modular, but a ton of fun. 

The game also has some unique and fun mechanics, such as dual-use cards for flipping between two versions of the hero (Peter Parker and Spiderman, Bruce Banner and Hulk), which completely changes how they play, and WWF-inspired combo moves where your heroes can pull off amazing stunts and really ruin the bad guy (or gal’s) day by working in tandem.

Pros: 

  • Play as iconic heroes from the Marvel universe
  • Ample replay value when playing with different characters against new villains 
  • Deck customization

Cons: 

  • You’ll need expansions if you want to add more heroes and villains

14. Horrified: Loving Homage to the Horror Classics

Horrified
Number of players:1 to 5
Playing time:60 minutes
Age:10+

Are you looking for a good gateway game to get your friends into the board gaming hobby? Is your crew is searching for the perfect Halloween game? Perhaps you are a fan of horror classics like Dracula and The Mummy? If you answered yes to any of those, Horrified will be one of the best cooperative board games you can find on the market at the moment.

Stepping into the shoes of a motley crew of unlikely heroes (archeologist, scientist, explorer, inspector, and so on) your job will be to defeat all of the monsters on the board. The game has a brilliant way of handling difficulty: the more monsters you add to it, the harder it gets, allowing you to easily tailor the difficulty for any gaming group.

Speaking of monsters, they each have their own mechanics that makes fighting them feel completely unique. Not only are the fights themselves different, but each monster requires solving a puzzle of sorts before facing them.  No spoilers here, but just like the rest of the game, these are loving homages to the horror classics that you are sure to enjoy.

Pros: 

  • Classic horror movie theme
  • Each monster is different
  • Minimal downtime

Cons: 

  • Not as tense as other coop games

15. Magic Maze: Cooperative Hero Heist

Magic Maze
Number of players:1 to 8
Playing time:15 minutes
Age:8+

Adventuring is a tough gig. Fighting deadly monsters and breaking ancient curses is all in a day’s work, and there’s no health insurance, but just enough money to buy some better gear.

Understandably, adventurers get pretty upset when they lose their gear, which is what sets up the premise of this brilliant little co-op board game. Players take on the roles of a dwarf, an elf, a warrior, and a mage, who all must get creative in obtaining replacement gear from a local hero supermarket before they’re caught by the law.

The catch is that there is a time limit involved: you only have three minutes to complete a heist (though certain tiles allow you to flip the hourglass) and each player can make all heroes do only one specific action, such as exploring a new area or riding an elevator. 

Worse still, verbal communication is forbidden during most of the game, making collaborative efforts much harder, and requiring all players to watch carefully what everyone else at the table is doing. In short, Magic maze is a fantastic and hectic bite-sized game, ideal for a warmup before an epic session of Gloomhaven or a similar epic dungeon crawler.

Pros: 

  • Limited communication works perfectly
  • Best for larger groups
  • Hilarious theme

Cons:

  • Would be even better if the game used miniatures instead of pawns

Why Do We Love Cooperative Board Games?

While board games were traditionally a competitive sport, (with most of the popular titles dating back to ancient times pitting players against each other), the breakaway success of titles such as Pandemic and Gloomhaven ushered in a new age of cooperative gaming that is here to stay.

And that’s a great thing, too. The inherently competitive nature of traditional board games is appealing to many people, but it doesn’t always make for the best introduction to the hobby for people who just want to kick back with their friends and have a relaxed time playing a game together. 

This is why we love cooperative games: they make for a fantastic bonding experience, and a great gateway to getting your non-gamer friends hooked on the hobby. Whether you’re battling the Ancient Ones in Arkham Horror: The Card Game, helping an unfortunate ghost get closure in Mysterium, besting Ultron in Marvel Champions, or trying to stop the spread of a deadly worldwide disease in Pandemic Legacy, some of today’s best board games are cooperative experiences.

FAQ

  1. What is an example of a cooperative board game?

    Any of the games on our list above are excellent examples of cooperative games. Though there are certainly variations, the main idea with this genre is that players work together as a team, competing against the game itself as they work towards a shared common goal.

  2. What board game is good for 2 people?

    While most board games aim to cater to more people, there are several brilliant titles that work best with two players. Whether they are games designed for couples or one-on-one showdowns like 7 Wonders: Duel, there’s plenty to choose from. When it comes to cooperative board games for 2 people, Arkham Horror: The Card Game and Marvel Champions are excellent picks.

  3. What is the best board game to play with friends?

    This will mostly depend on your gaming circle. If they’re fans of jolly cooperation, check out our list of the best cooperative board games for some ideas. If not, you can’t go wrong with classics such as 7 Wonders, Wingspan, or Terraforming Mars,