We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

The best cooperative board games 2024

Cooperative and team board games are among the biggest tabletop genres - from Gloomhaven to Pandemic Legacy, here are our top 9 coop games.

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Mechs vs Minions board game board and pieces in play

Competition is one of the biggest barriers to getting games to the table, so the best coop board games can get plenty of table time for team play. Not everyone enjoys the struggle for supremacy and, if there are kids involved, a cooperative board game can save tears and tantrums if the group wins and loses together. This guide profiles the cream of the cooperative crop in 2023.

Making for some of the very best board games, the cooperative game format makes it easier to teach rules, as there’s no fear of someone being at a disadvantage because they didn’t understand something. With so much to enjoy it’s no wonder team board games dominate our lists of the best family board games and couples board games.

The best coop board games are:

  1. Spirit Island – best overall
  2. The Crew: Mission Deep Sea – best for newcomers
  3. Nemesis – best survival horror game
  4. Alien: Fate of the Nostromo – best quick horror game
  5. Gloomhaven – best coop RPG campaign game
  6. Pandemic Legacy Season 1 – best legacy coop game
  7. Horrified – best family friendly coop adventure
  8. Mechs vs Minions – best for miniatures lovers
  9. Robinson Crusoe – best for an engaging story 

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Spirit Island board game box art

Spirit Island

The best cooperative board game overall is Spirit Island.

In a melange of missions and monster hunting, Spirit Island stands out with its theme of resisting colonial incursions on a pristine island. You and your group take the role of powerful nature spirits who must help the native inhabitants of the island defeat an incoming wave of colonising invaders, intent on subjugating the populace and stripping the land of resources.

This involves choosing power cards from your hand – which must be paid for with energy – and looking for combinations in both their effects and elemental affinities to reduce the costs. Some powers take effect right away, while others play out in the future, forcing you to plan ahead. Here’s YouTube supremos Shut Up and Sit Down to break it down:

YouTube Thumbnail

There’s a lot to learn, and – honestly – Spirit Island is one of the most consistently bastard hard board games we’ve played, even once you’ve started to get the measure of its systems. But that complexity also stops the game from getting stale, and keeps experienced players from bossing the others around.

This marvellous combination of deep, ruthlessly challenging gameplay; vivid and enchanting aesthetics; and a refreshing anti-colonial theme (as foil to classic board gaming’s west-centric roots) wins Spirit Island the top spot in our guide – and makes it an essential pick for your collection. 

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing The Crew coop board game box art

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea

The best coop game for beginners is The Crew: Mission Deep Sea.

Thomas Sing and Kosmos’ The Crew rests on a very simple, very clever idea: take the age-old, familiar concept of a trick-taking card game and make it cooperative. Players need to fulfil certain goals, like having a particular player win a particular card in a trick, but they’re only allowed to reveal limited information about their hands.

With an imaginative array of different goals and missions to fulfil that start out simple but ramp up to demanding challenges, The Crew is among the best card games, simple enough for family play and tough enough for veterans. 

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Nemesis board game box art with an alien

Nemesis

The best heavyweight survival horror coop game is Nemesis.

Not all cooperative games have to be about playing nice. Nemesis is perhaps the ultimate example, an Aliens-inspired survival horror game where each player must both survive and fulfil a secret goal in order to win.

In theory, all the players can emerge victorious, but not all the goals involve helping your fellow players, and some require you to be actively hostile, making this a dream scenario.

So, while you’ll need to work together to take down the vicious extra-terrestrial predators stalking you and activate the ship’s escape systems, you’ll have to balance that with trying to keep yourself alive and advance your mission to become one of the lucky few. 

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Alien Fate of the Nostromo box art, board, and pieces

Alien: Fate of the Nostromo

The best accessible, quick coop horror game is Alien: Fate of the Nostromo.

If the long and complex Nemesis proves too daunting for your group, you can get your Xenomorph fix from the much more approachable Alien: Fate of the Nostromo. Well, as approachable as a face-eating creature from outer space gets, at least.

Playing as members of the crew, you’ll need to scavenge items from the belly of the Nostromo while also gathering scrap to craft new ones like motion trackers and incinerators, trying to fulfil randomly drawn objectives.

But beware, as the alien is stalking you through the ship. As well as moving the figure inexorably towards your squishy human characters, it also lays ambush tokens which you can trip serially as you run from the monster, creating cinematic chase sequences.

Check out our Alien Fate of the Nostromo review for the full lowdown. 

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Gloomhaven main edition box

Gloomhaven

The best coop RPG campaign board game is the mighty Gloomhaven.

Long cited as the best game of all time, Gloomhaven’s epic dungeon crawler campaign has players working together, controlling different characters in a branching narrative. Mechanically, its big novelty is the combination of multi-use action cards that also play a role in turn order and health, giving you lots of meaty decisions to chew over.

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Gloomhaven board, standees, and cards

Co-operatively, its big novelty is that while players share a win, they find and keep loot individually, meaning everyone is torn between their group goal and empowering their own characters. That gives working together a delicious tension for your group to navigate alongside the brilliance of the card-driven tactical combat and slowly unfolding narrative.

If you don’t have the time or money for the huge big-box edition, consider the excellent, lighter-weight prequel, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, instead.

We’re not officially recommending it here just yet due to its heavier price tag, but if the idea of Gloomhaven gets you going (and you’ve got the budget) you should absolutely play its brand new sequel, Frosthaven.

Frosty is everything Gloomhaven was, and more, with expanded world building and campaign options, all new character classes and abilities, and a hell of a lot of cooperative adventuring to do. You can read more about it in our full Frosthaven review

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Pandemic Legacy Season 1 board game box art

Pandemic Legacy Season 1

The best coop legacy board game is Pandemic Legacy Season 1.

Another game frequently talked about as the best ever (and feted in our guide to the best two-player board games), Pandemic Legacy is an offshoot of Matt Leacock’s original Pandemic, which kickstarted the modern craze for cooperative games.

In both titles, you’re a team of scientists working together to eliminate deadly diseases sweeping the world, a topic that may be a little close to the bone nowadays.

If you can overcome that, this legacy board game version adds an ongoing campaign to the clever disease outbreak mechanic of the original – which means not only a thrilling story but physical changes to the game as you play. By the end, your copy will be unique, and personal to your group. 

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Horrified board game box art

Horrified

The best family friendly coop adventure is Horrified.

Based on the classic Universal monster films of the 30s and 40s, Horrified won’t be horrifying you any time soon. It is, instead, a great family board game that has you pool resources to protect villagers and hunt down the items needed to banish the monsters for good.

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the board and pieces for the Horrified board game in play

There are six villains included, each with its own special win conditions. They range in complexity from Dracula, where you must smash his coffins before confronting the count, to The Mummy, which requires you to solve a sliding scarab puzzle to weaken him.

This scale of difficulty, together with a choice of how many monsters to confront at once, means the game works as well for seasoned strategy board game fans as it does for rainy weekends with the kids. 

 

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Mechs vs Minions board game box art

Mechs vs Minions

The best coop game for miniatures lovers is Mechs vs Minions.

You may not know it, but Riot Games didn’t just create top battle arena video game League of Legends, it also created Mechs vs Minions, a top cooperative spin-off version for the tabletop. It’s ridiculously overproduced, from the dozens of ink-washed minion miniatures to the metal coins and glittering crystals – but it’s also great fun to play.

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Mechs vs Minions board game board and pieces in play

Through a series of scenarios, you and your fellow mech pilots must pre-program your moves from a hand of cards, then watch as they play out against an ever-increasing horde of minions following AI routines.

It’s an engaging mix of strategy and hilarity as you try your best to plan ahead, then sometimes watch it all come crashing down, your mistakes or minion moves compounding an early error and snowballing into total chaos. 

Best coop board games guide - publisher sales image showing the Robinson Crusoe board game box art

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island

The best coop board game for an engaging story is Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island.

At first glance, Robinson Crusoe resembles the typical cooperative game format of hunting for resources to complete objectives – in this case, things like food and shelter – before a timer runs out.

What makes it special is the brilliant event system, in which some cards are shuffled back into the deck to represent future consequences. A head injury, for example, might reappear later as pernicious recurring headaches.

Together with the threat track, it gives you a real sense of foreshadowing as well as letting you try and prepare or take risks to advance your goals faster. A triumph of both strategy and storytelling, it’s one game you’d love to be stranded on a desert island with.

If you’ve made it through this guide and realised what you actually want isn’t to work together, but crush your opponents, don’t fear – we got you. Try our picks of the best strategy board games and miniature wargames on for size – or go full combat with our favorite war board games.