Top 10 – Cooperative Games

Top 10 – Cooperative Games

This is going to be another Top 10 list that hits on a bunch of games that I like a lot. There’s something about cooperative games that is quite nice, mainly being able to sit down and if someone at the table is lagging behind in knowledge of the game, they can be brought up into the game without needing to know every rule perfectly because we can all work together and learn as a group versus be stomped if you don’t fully get the strategy in a competitive game.

So what are my top 10 cooperative games?

10 – The Lost Expedition
Number ten on the list is the smallest game of the group but also one of the easier ones to teach and get to the table. In this, you are your fellow players are trying to lead your team of adventurers on hikes twice a day so that they can get to the Lost City of Z, but the jungles are dangerous, and you never know what might be coming up next. But that’s for you to decide as players, without discussing, you put down cards for a morning and evening hike that might get you more food or cause you to find bullets or maybe you get hook worms, and no one wants that, but there are difficult decisions to make on each card, and you can discuss that part. One of the games that really has something built into to stop alpha gamers from being able to run the game. It’s a lot of fun, and it plays fast as well, which some of the games further on the list won’t.

9 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
The first, but not the last Lovecraft Mythos game on the list from Fantasy Flight, this one is the smaller or the two, though it packs a lot of punch. In this one, like all of Fantasy Flight’s Lovecraftian Games, you are an investigator working together with the other investigators trying to stop whatever horror is being called through by cultists. But in this you can be fighting, but much of it is investigating, and the game is just basically cards and a bunch of tokens. You don’t need a bit board to tell a big story or change up the game. The different things that the cards can do and how they can use them to create a town or house or other locations and it feels different is impressive. Now, with the base box, it’s only a 1-2 player game, but with another core box you can play up to 4, so if you have a larger group it’s something to consider. And Fantasy Flight does a great job of supporting this, as they do with all their living card games, so there is always more story coming out.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

8 – Aeon’s End: War Eternal
When it comes to deckbuilding a lot of them do similar things, you add cards, you maybe buy more cards or attack, and then you draw a new hand until you can’t fill the hand and then you shuffle up your discard and repeat the process. Aeon’s End: War Eternal is unique because you never shuffle, when you discard cards, you choose the order they go so that you can create, if you’re good at card counting, a hand or combo that you want to get because it’s going to be strong. It’s a lot of fun to see how that piece of the puzzle fits together. Plus, you’re all trying to take down a nemesis who is bent on taking out the town of Gravehold. And each nemesis plays differently. I have really enjoyed both plays of this game, and it’s a good challenge, there are a lot of mages, who play differently, and there are expansions galore for the game with even more nemesis and breach mages to choose from.

7- T.I.M.E. Stories
One of the most unique games on the list, T.I.M.E. Stories has an element of an escape room game, it has some role playing aspects, and there’s a good amount of narrative to it. You are all part of a time agency who is trying to stop unwanted time incursions from happening and messing up the timeline. This means you might be going to the earth in the 90’s, or another dimension where there is magic and dragons. And it can change that wildly in each of the expansions and each time you play. Now, each scenario can only be played once, but to get through and beat the story it is at least a couple hours of excitement for 4 players, if not up to 3, and it’s cheaper than a movie at that point. Plus, the upside, and sometimes downside, is that because it’s such a sandbox, you can do anything in the games, and the creators have done a good job of doing that, creating interesting puzzles and mechanics to test out along the way.

Image Source: CMON

6 – XenoShyft: Onslaught
You and your fellow crack team of marines, scientists, and medics have been tasked with protecting a mining facility from hordes and hordes of giant monstrous bugs. Why did they build a mining facility on this remote planet, money of course, but now you’re about to overrun with bugs, can you fend off the waves they’re throwing at you? This is a very tough game, even though it makes it’s deck building easier than a lot of others. You can help other people, you can give them troops or weapons that you’ve bought for your deck to help them shore up their defenses, they can give you stuff in return, or use stim packs and grenades to help you when it’s your turn to face a wave of monsters. This game is clever in what it does, and it creates a good amount of tension, plus I like that the game is basically all simultaneous so there isn’t downtime for anyone.

5 – Pandemic Legacy Season 1
Seems a bit on the nose to be playing right now (article written 4/13/2020 during Covid-19 Pandemic), but it is a really good cooperative game. I could have put down either season of Pandemic or base Pandemic on the list, and any are great options. Can you prevent the spread and find the cures to four diseases before they run across the world and destroy everything? This game is pretty simple compared to the other ones, but still offers a lot of good choices and you always feel like there are 1-2 more things that you need to do on your turn and you hope that you’ve picked the right things so that you don’t have an outbreak on your hands. Also, do you have a good combination of characters that are able to fight it off and can you use it to the best of your ability. A lot of questions, but it’s a good game, a simpler game, and one that you can play faster and with more people than some because it an easier game to pick up.

Image Source: Polygon

4 – Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon
When Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table came to the lands of Avalon, they were wild and untamed and the Wyrdness and Foredwellers twisted the land, but they forced it to their will, creating Menhir, but now that was long ago, and the Menhir are starting to go out and the Wyrdness is coming back over the lands. You and your fellow adventurers are only going out because those who were supposed to have saved you and your village have gone out and not come back. Can you survive the twisted lands of Avalon? This game works really well as it’s a very tough game where survival is the goal but not a guarantee, and you spend so much time exploring and discovering new things about Avalon and you might not have wanted to know. Then you go from the exploration piece of the game and jump into combat which can be tough as monsters aren’t always meant to be beaten and diplomatic encounters can turn violent if you’re not careful. There are chunks of the game that are pretty well split up where you can do daily actions separately or explore while someone else fights, but this is a grand free flowing game that tells an interesting story.

3 – Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
You, and your fellow paranormal investigators have been called to a mansion to explore some unnatural goings on. This might be a crazed cultist leading a band of cultists and trying to summon a deep old one. It could be you’ve made it to late and a town has been overrun with Deep Ones and you need to figure out how to escape. You and your fellow investigators could get split up in two different timelines and need to work together to solve the mystery and get the one who time traveled back. There are a lot of different scenarios, and an app that helps you keep track of everything. The game is set in the Lovecraft Mythos, but it has more of an investigative feel to it, than leaning into as much horror. If you want a game that is fairly big but doesn’t feel as daunting as some dungeon crawlers, Mansions of Madness is a good option.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

2 – Marvel Champions: The Card Game
This game has made it on a lost of lists and it’s working it’s way up to being one of my favorite games of all time. The game just feels like you’re in a comic fighting a villain. And you get the full comic feeling as you can team up superheroes as well as flip back and forth between an alter-ego and superhero side in order to rest and recover if the villain knocks you around to me. The game does a lot of clever things, and you can create the team-ups that you always wanted, or at least some of them, eventually Fantasy Flight will come out with more heroes so you can create any team-up you want. And they’ve managed to make the villains feel different as well as the heroes, so you can get a lot of unique games.

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

1 – Gloomhaven
No surprise here, though there are some slight semi-cooperative elements of the game, mainly having specific goals that you need to do in a given scenario depending off of some card draw, but for the most part it’s working together, and those goals are just perks and don’t make or break the game if you don’t get them. Gloomhaven is an epic dungeon crawling and character leveling game where you and a group of fellow mercenary adventurers go through and try and figure out what strange things are happening in Gloomhaven and the surrounding areas. The story is fun but it really shines with a puzzly sort of card based combat that makes everything work together. And it feels like there’s always more to explore in the game.

I think that one thing I really like about cooperative games is that you get so many great shared stories out of them. Even the ones that aren’t just storytelling heavy can still have great moments in them as you roll the right number to get what you needed or draw the right card. It’s such a shared victory and moment that they often stick out to me. And I know that I have so many more cooperative games sitting on my shelf that I like and that are waiting to be played again or for the first time. What are some of your favorite cooperative games or cooperative gaming experiences?

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