Most tabletop games focus on scrambling to victory at the expense of your opponent’s dignity, but sometimes you just want everyone to get along. The best cooperative board games let you do that. If you’d like to put your differences aside for a change, we’ve gathered our favorites here.
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The best cooperative board games also emphasise replayability as well as fun, so these ones - drawn from multiple genres - should keep you going for a while. We’ve tried to provide examples with a variety of game durations and player numbers, too. Whether it’s for you and a friend or a larger group, there’s something to love here.
Fancy crushing the opposition beneath your bootheel instead? No problem - be sure to read our recommendations for the best board games out there. While you're at it, don't miss our guide to the coolest board games for 2 players.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Players: 3-6 | Difficulty: Moderate | Time to set up: 5 minutes | Time to play: 40-90 minutes | Age: 12+
It’s not a coincidence that Betrayal at House on the Hill springs to mind when someone mentions co-op board games. Its unpredictable nature, procedurally-generated map and random scenarios result in very different experiences each time. What’s more, the title isn’t an empty threat. Once you’ve explored enough of the house, a ‘Haunt’ will activate and you’ll face off against a random foe, disaster, or one of your own allies turned traitor. This unexpected backstabber receives a secret rulebook and goal of their own, so teamwork amongst everyone else becomes all the more essential.
With 50 scenarios to work through and a couple of expansions that will enhance your game (including a customizable ‘Legacy’ edition), Betrayal stays fresh for a long while.
Players: 2-4 | Difficulty: Hard | Time to set up: 5 minutes | Time to play: 30-60 minutes | Age: 10+
Death comes quickly in Pandemic, so victory hinges on your ability to communicate. With four deadly diseases having broken out across the globe, your job is to cure and eradicate them before civilisation is overwhelmed (no pressure). This makes Pandemic a tense race against time in which every decision counts - the literal fate of the world depends on it.
With a focus on strategy and coordination, teamwork forms the backbone of the game. This is especially true of character abilities that can turn the tide of a match. As such, Pandemic’s tough enough to be very replayable.
Players: 2-5 | Difficulty: Moderate | Time to set up: 2-3 minutes | Time to play: 20-30 minutes | Age: 8+
Hanabi flips standard card game rules on their head: rather than keeping your hand a secret, everyone else can see it but you. Players take on the role of a firework master who’s buggered up their display, and the aim is to reassemble your rockets by ordering sets of numbered cards from 1 to 5. Not knowing what you’ve got makes this a tad difficult, obviously. That’s where Knowledge tokens come in. These are used to reveal something about another player’s hand (e.g. “you have three ones”), but there are only a finite number available. Because there are no more than 2 of each card beyond the number 1, Hanabi becomes a dangerous balancing act of memory and educated guesswork.
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Players: 1-8 | Difficulty: Hard | Time to set up: 15 minutes | Time to play: 60-120 minutes | Age: 13+
Do you enjoy solving a TV murder mystery before the hero and feeling properly smug? Good news! Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective allows you to do exactly that, up to and including the “aha! I have it” moment (even if you don’t). You and upt to 7 others play as a Baker Street Irregular who’s been sent to gather evidence, wander the muggy streets of Victorian London for clues, peruse newspapers and case files, and attempt to solve the case before Holmes himself does. Time is your enemy here; every move brings Holmes closer to closing the case without you.
Make no mistake, Consulting Detective is a tricky game. All the same, it’s a memorable cooperative experience that’s different to almost everything else out there before or since it launched in 1981.
Last Night on Earth
Players: 2-6 | Difficulty: Moderate | Time to set up: 5-10 minutes | Time to play: 60-90 minutes | Age: 12+
The dead have risen and you’ve got to survive until dawn - bad luck, right? Fortunately, doing so is a laugh. Despite the severity of the situation, this isn’t an overly serious game; the characters are tongue-in-cheek tropes and event cards include the likes of an old school teacher appearing from nowhere to save you with a woodworking saw. In other words, it’s stupid and wonderful.
Most players control the survivor team, while another is in charge of the zombie horde. You’ll then select a random objective and try to see it through before time runs out. Thanks to a modular board, the arena is different each time you play as well.
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