Cooperative board games are among the most popular games in the industry but there is a tremendous disparity between those that like cooperative games and those that don’t.
Cooperative games involve 2 or more players working together to beat the game. The most well-known cooperative board game is Pandemic, a game in which players are working together to manage disease outbreaks occurring around the world.
Pandemic is still one of the most played games in the hobby and it is highly recommended as a starting point for those who have yet to try cooperative games.
*Skip to the end of this article to see our recommendations for the best co-op games in a number of different categories*
Pros of Coop Games:
In cooperative games, most information is open to all players. In this way, cooperative games are a great way to get non-gamers involved as more experienced players can help them when they don’t necessarily understand what they are doing or why.
Players must work together and therefore cooperative games are a great team-building exercise. They provide people the opportunity to communicate with each other about their strategies and it can feel more inclusive and social than many competitive games.
Cooperative games can be extremely satisfying when you are able to pull together and eek out a victory, but because you aren’t playing against other players, even losing is a shared experience that can lead to a satisfying discussion about what you (as a team) could have done differently.
Cons of Coop Games:
In cooperative games, there is a huge problem with what is called the “alpha player.” This is someone that is so concerned with being in control (or with winning) that they map out everyone’s turns in order to best optimize the team’s actions.
On top of this, they will adamantly tell you what to do and it can lead to a very frustrating experience. New players tend to be put off by the fact that they they did not get a chance to make a decision and experienced players can get frustrated that they are not being trusted to make the right decisions.
Designers of recent cooperative games have made efforts to avoid this pitfall by giving players hidden information and/or limited communication.
Since cooperative games do not have human opponents who can adjust and change their strategies on the fly, these games tend to be solvable. What I mean by this, is that these games often can have optimal strategies which will leave the game feeling stale and broken. Once you have spent enough time playing and discussing these games, you often know that you will win if you “always do this on your first turn” or if you “combine these particular character abilities.” In an effort to mitigate this, designers often make cooperative game brutally difficult to avoid a feeling of the game being beatable even under optimal conditions.
Gateway Cooperative Games:
Unique Cooperative Games:
Thematic Cooperative Games:
Challenging Cooperative Games:
At Game Hungry, we always welcome submissions of recommendations from our audience, and we invite you to share your own thoughts about co-operative board games. Do you agree or disagree with anything mention in this post? Leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.