Hey hey folks! Welcome back! This week I'm taking a look at my top 10 favourite cooperative games. Myself and crew from Game Kings are big fans of these titles so I hope you'll find something here that floats your boat! Brian taught be that expression, but I'm not entirely sure what it means... Anyway, take a look and I'll see you again at the bottom of the list!
10. The Mind
Are you psychic? Haha, I’m kidding, of course you’re not, we foxes believe in instinct! Unless you knew I was going to say that, in which case we need to talk. But if you trust your powers of insight and intuition, then perhaps The Mind is for you. The Mind tasks your group with playing numbered cards in ascending order without speaking or communicating in any way, which means no talking, whispering, mumbling, no hand signals or any other verbal or somatic forms of communication, you simply have to wait and “feel” when the time is right to play your card. If someone plays a card higher than one you have in your hand, you simply say ‘stop’ without revealing any other information. Your group then loses one life, depicted by a bunny card, and the game continues. There are other mechanisms in play, but at its heart, The Mind is a game of group feelings and intuition and can make for some hilarious moments if a group isn’t coming together, or elation when your group just seems to nail it and for a moment you wonder if maybe for a flickering instant, you came close to a true psychic experience (you probably didn’t).
9. Adventure Tactics: Domiannes Tower
If you’re looking for a game with a lighthearted theme, filled with action, adventure and character progression then I can’t recommend Adventure Tactics: Domiannes Tower strongly enough. This game has all that and more in spades! A cooperative tactical combat game with an ongoing campaign, characters each get their own skills and abilities and can choose new branching paths of advancement throughout the game, so for example, a wizard could take a level of fighter to make herself more robust in combat. Characters can work together when levelling up to make the most of their skill by complementing one another’s abilities, eventually creating a well balanced force to be reckoned with! Every game results in some form of advancement for the players, so even if you weren’t particularly successful you can rest easy knowing the game wasn’t all for nothing. There are seemingly endless options for character development and customisation. Working together with other players and knowing that the choices you made for your character directly contributed to any victory will leave you with a smile on your face!
8. 5-Minute Dungeon
5-Minute Dungeon is a fast paced cooperative card game in which each player takes on the role of a fantasy hero, a barbarian, a wizard etc and uses their own coloured deck of cards to battle monsters as you traverse a dungeon to face off against the final boss. The trick is to contribute the coloured symbols needed to overcome each threat or obstacle in order to progress through the dungeon deck to the end boss. For example, a monster might require two red swords, a blue scroll and a green arrow to defeat. Players then scramble and shout to play the cards that fulfil those conditions without overplaying and wasting their precious cards. All of this happens while a 5 minute timer counts down in the background, so there’s no time to waste bickering and debating, and there will be times where players lose track and find they’ve burned through too many cards by the time they face their final nemesis, but that’s part of the fun. Sort the cards, shuffle the dungeon deck, and reset the timer for the next game!
The classic monsters of Universal don’t get much love these days outside of shonky reimaginings or subpar remakes, so it was nice to see the creatures that launched so many franchises return to their roots, in a manner of speaking. Horrified is a cooperative board game in which heroes work together to overcome the machinations of various monsters from the movies of old. Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Wolfman are just some of the well known faces to be found in this ominous game by Ravensburger. The monsters are terrorising a small town and the heroes must rescue the townsfolk while attempting to defeat a multitude of enemies. The number of monsters faced depends on the difficulty level players choose to play with 2 monsters for novices, 3 for a medium level of threat and 4 for a real life or death challenge. Each creature has a unique play style and requires an appropriate response in order to put it down. Heroes are aided by having special abilities of their own and can find items around the town to aid them in their efforts. A spooky game dripping with theme, Horrified is a great way to spend a cold evening with friends in your den, or wherever humans live.
6. Spirit Island
Spirit Island turns the conquering invader theme on its head, having players take on the roles of different spirits trying to defend their island and its population of peaceful inhabitants from the encroaching blight of foreign invasion. Each round the threat gradually escalates with more invaders entering the fray, meaning players will have to work together and coordinate their powers and efforts to repel the threat to the islanders. Play continues and escalates until either the spirits have destroyed every settlement on the island, resulting in victory to the players, or if the invader deck is depleted or on spirit falls, the game is over and the invaders have conquered the island. Colourful, imaginative and challenging, Spirit Island presents enough gameplay to keep groups busy for multiple game sessions!
5. The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine
The Crew is a cooperative trick-taking game where players are astronauts traversing space on a dangerous adventure. The concept and gameplay are both simple and effective. Players play cards from their hands numbered 1-9 of four coloured suits, if you played the highest card of the selected suit that round, you win the trick and take the cards into your hand. I told you it was simple! And if you think there’s a mid-paragraph turn around where I say, but it’s actually very complex, well, no, not really. There are layers to how the game is played, but at its core the game remains a slick and effective trick taking game. One key feature is the 50 mission campaign that players work their way through, one game at a time. Ensuring the win condition of each mission are met is the biggest challenge and encourages players to remember that this is in fact a cooperative game and to plan their plays accordingly. Communication is strictly limited, with only a simple token being used to clue other players into a player’s strategy. Do you have what it takes to fulfil the mission?
Nemesis has proven to be a popular title since its release, so much so that a follow up, Nemesis: Lockdown is due out next year. Strictly speaking, Nemesis is semi-cooperative rather than a true co-op, but that’s part of its appeal. Taking its cues from a multitude of sci-fi horror properties, some more obvious than others, Nemesis captures the feeling of being stranded in deep space on a darkly terrifying spacecraft with no immediate means of escape and the sounds of horrors crawling in the air ducts around you. The game starts out friendly enough, people split off and begin making their way through the ship, one player volunteers to check that the engines are functioning, while another heads to the bridge to ensure the ship is still on course for Earth, another offers to find the escape pods in case evacuation is required. Then things change. What if the person checking the engines doesn’t want the ship to survive? What if the player headed to the bridge actually wants to divert the ship to a secret facility on Mars instead? What if the crew member searching for the escape pods is actually looking for something more sinister. Wait? What was that sound? Something’s crawling its way out of the ventilation system! Help!!!
3. Pandemic Legacy - Season 0
The Pandemic series of games has become ubiquitous with modern board gaming, to the point where there’s scarcely a casual gamer out there who hasn’t at least heard of the original Pandemic game. After dipping one’s toes in the board game space with Pandemic, where do you go next? Pandemic Legacy - Season 0 is an ideal platform to take things to the next level. Utilising familiar mechanics from the standard game, Legacy - Season 0 instead takes place in the cold war era and instead of putting down outbreaks of diseases, players are instead uncovering and preventing communist spies from going about their work. The game adds a great many more elements gradually doled out over a campaign, that allow players to progressively modify their game, adding new levels of complexity, modifying their passports and making permanent changes to the story. If you’ve never played a legacy game before, this one would be a great place to begin!
2. Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
When it comes to cooperative games, few can hold a candle to this powerhouse, or is it powermansion? Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition has become something of a household name in recent years, with several solid expansions adding richer content to the game and an excellent app which streamlines what would otherwise be an admin-heavy affair. Players are investigators exploring the darkened halls and foggy streets of Arkham and its surroundings in an effort to subvert the machinations of the Great Old Ones, the ancient looming threat in the world of Cthulhu. Each investigator has a unique ability and a couple of starting items, relying on their investigations to uncover further equipment or clues to aid them in their mission. The app directs players to place tiles, search tokens and other points of interest on the board and provides music and ambiance to enhance the experience and set the mood. As players are tasked to work cooperatively, the inclusion of the sanity mechanic can result in some unexpected outcomes in the mid to late game as any player that becomes insane due to the horrors they’ve witnessed may no longer be working in the best interests of the group. All in all Mansions of Madness is a fantastic, horror-themed dungeon crawler with high replayability and a few clever twists to keep the tension high.
1. Sleeping Gods
I always loved the Pick-A-Path and Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a pup. So when I heard about Sleeping Gods and saw it played I knew immediately I was going to love it as it’s essentially a fully realised, cooperative board game version of those classic books. In Sleeping Gods, the players are the crew of the Manticore, a seafaring vessel from 1920’s Earth which finds itself traversing the unknown seas of a mysterious other world. To return home, players must travel isles, embark on quests, speak to NPCs, fight fantastic creatures all in the effort to secure the elusive totems that will awaken the gods whom they hope will send them home. While it’s a fantastic solo game, Sleeping Gods is even better as a cooperative experience, planning your next move together, making ambiguous moral choices with no knowledge of the consequences, and supporting one another when injured or exhausted is a ton of fun. So don’t let those Sleeping Gods lay, get out there and see what lies just over the horizon!
Hey again, so, what did you think? Anything there you've played that we agree on? Or do you have some amazing picks of your own you'd like to share with me? If so, let me know in the comments below. Until next time, have fun and keep warm!