It really is the golden age of board games. Whether you're looking at the latest release from a beloved designer or the newest monster box on Kickstarter, there are options for every type of gamer. Pick from deck-building games, story-driven games, legacy games, and games with miniatures. Amidst the deluge of releases, though, is an enduring genre that keeps players coming back to the table.
Cooperative games bring the group together with the mission of surviving whatever terrible scenarios are laid out in the box. They scale back the competitive nature and focus everyone on a singular purpose. These are some of the best ones out there for your group to try next.
We've found 10 of the best co-op tabletop games for you to play with friends and family. Check out our definitive ranked list for some inspiration.
10 Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Many games from the Lovecraftian universe could be on this list. They almost exclusively require teamwork, and there aren't any betrayal mechanics that could sour the mood. We picked Mansions of Madness, though, because it's imbued with all the best elements of the Fantasy Flight series.
You play as a group of investigators who must untangle the sinister goings-on with a supernatural or evil bent.
One thing to know before diving in. The game is brutally hard. It can be a real challenge to make it out alive with the objective complete. Play at your own peril.
If you admire the detective work of Sherlock Holmes and you want an immersive game where you solve modern crimes, then Detective is in your wheelhouse.
As Antares investigators, you will work through multiple crimes using your deductive reasoning, your characters' skills, and other resources like the Antares database that you access with an actual computer.
The game really draws you in, and it presents a challenge to uncover the underlying mysteries that shroud the cases. Prepare for a long game and a good time.
8 Dead of Winter
Dodging zombies and averting crises has never been so nerve-wracking. If The Walking Dead was adapted into a board game that was just as punishing yet engrossing, then the Dead of Winter masterpiece would be it.
There are now two expansions that can extend gameplay in unique ways, but the main game is still the best experience. There are multiple different scenarios that demand your attention and any of them will test you and your companions.
The possibility of a betrayer always lurks in the back of your head, though the simple conditions of winning the game often prove enough of a challenge.
A game where communication is limited (extremely limited), Hanabi will make you sweat as you try to decipher what move will keep your team alive. Few games will make you consider what is cheating versus what is outsmarting the rules but this will.
Players must place down the cards in their hand, but the order in which the cards are placed and the groups in which they must be stacked are specific. Fans have posted methods of communication online and strategies exist to implement while playing, but just start off with the chaos.
6 Betrayal at House on The Hill
By now a classic in the genre, Betrayal is a staple in many people's board game closet. The exciting game features a lot of replay as fifty different haunts (more if you have the expansion) send the players in a mad dash through a spooky house.
The tile-laying experience pits the players against the house. Then, once the Haunt happens, one of those players twists into the evil betrayer, and the rest of the group must band together to survive.
We recommend playing with all the lights turned off, some candles lit, and eerie music playing in the background.
Someone has died and the ghost is the only one who can show us what happened! Mysterium is a great choice when people in the group are not accustomed to lengthy or difficult board games.
One member of the group is selected to play as the ghost, who must communicate with the rest of the players using picture cards. They represent who the killer is, where the murder took place, and the weapon used. Those trying to interpret the mind of the ghost must figure out what in the pictures relates to the murder.
It's a fun game with less tension than many other games on the list.
4 Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
We hope you like to read. A lot. Because that's essential for this game. If you do like to read, however, and you enjoy detective games, then this is a wonderful experience.
Players act as investigators who are tracking down leads to a recent murder. Their goal: to beat Sherlock Holmes in the speed of his investigation and the accuracy of his findings.
You will likely not beat Sherlock Holmes but you will dive deep into 19th-century London for a riveting experience. Figuring out the solution to a mystery is deeply satisfying.
3 Captain Sonar
There is no other game like Captain Sonar. The game suggests 2-8 players but the only real option is to play with eight players because that ensures the chaotic mess which makes this game remarkable.
Players split up into two teams who control different parts of a submarine. Hunt for the other team while staying alive. Orders are shouted across the table while desperate instructions are shared between the team. It's a beautiful disaster.
This game might try your patience and friendships more than the others, but Captain Sonar is a one-of-a-kind cooperative experience.
2 Pandemic Legacy
Pandemic is one of the most popular board games in existence, and multiple expansions give it additional content to pacify the more finicky gamers. With some players, though, it can't hold their attention after being introduced to more strategic or complex games.
Pandemic Legacy adjusts the traditional play into an extended campaign. Participants journey through between 12 and 24 sessions, and each game informs the next. Cards are ripped up. Stickers are stuck on the board. Diseases run rampant. It's the best version of Pandemic, and it will keep you rooted to your seat for hours.
You can't really talk about cooperative games without talking about Gloomhaven. The monstrous campaign-in-a-box gives everything that gamers want.
There are detailed miniatures. There are dungeons. There are massive storylines. There are hours and hours and hours of gameplay. Gloomhaven has taken the tabletop world by storm, and it hasn't relinquished its spot at the top of the pyramid yet.
The expensive, heavy game has eluded many players, but those that have experienced it speak of little but its virtues. When you sink below the surface of this sprawling giant, remember to come up for air.