Great Cooperative Games

Great Cooperative Games

I LOVE cooperative board games. Working together, collaborating, discussing, debating, and being able to cooperate towards a shared goal is one of my great joys, on or off the board. My earliest games were the usual suspects; Monopoly (Star Wars in my case!), Hungry Hippos with my cousins (missing a ball or two), traditional card games, and these distinctly uncooperative games. As I grew up it dawned on me that the conflict between players, even friendly banter, triggered strong anxiety. Was I about to get crushed? What if someone gets angry if I beat them? What if I’m not fast enough at punching the hippo button? Why are they looking at me like that…? 

As an adult (and educator) I am conscious that building resilience is important, and play based learning can teach some of the strongest lessons in a manner that engages and lasts. Learning how to lose, how to gracefully deal with a stronger opponent, how to be that graceful stronger opponent, are part of growing into a functioning, emotionally intelligent adult. But you know what…? Sometimes we just want to play together and enjoy a shared goal.

Here are a great mix of cooperative games that range from quiet exploration, to time pressure silence, to engaging in an evolving story. 

Zombie Kidz Evolution

Zombie Kids Evolution Let’s start with something for the kids. And the zombies (so cute). Zombie Kidz Evolution has a bunch of kids (the players) protecting their school against the rampaging zombie hordes outside. Your goal is to lock the doors, keep the zombies out, and win! Easy as. Five to fifteen minutes of fun. BUT… you also achieve goals and depending on the conditions you stick stickers onto cards and get to open up those mysterious envelopes inside the box… Zombie Kidz Evolution could also be considered a ‘My First Legacy Game’, where aspects of the play change from game to game as stickers and rules are added and is seriously addictive to ‘just play one more to see if we can get the…’


Micromacro & Micromacro Full House

micromacro crime city

Cooperating to solve crimes we have MicroMacro: Crime City and its sequel MicroMacro: Crime City Full House. The former won the Spiel des Jahres in 2021, and the sequel included feedback for indicating age appropriate material. I mean, sure, you’re dealing with murder and infidelity but the pictures are so cute that playing the game is worth having to explain/lie about what is happening if you have kids playing. Either way they are both AMAZING. It is Where’s Wally meets Cluedo where everyone is pouring over a huge map finding clues and paths and exclamations of THERE’S THE THING! keep happening. So good. 

Magic Maze

Magic Maze Boardgame

From shouting kids to silent kids? Magic Maze has your adventuring party stealing equipment for their next venture… from a magical supermarket. The aim is for each adventurer to steal the object they need and then escape. Everyone can control all pieces, but each player controls only one aspect of movement. Perhaps only I can move anyone west and north, whereas you can move the adventurers up escalators and east, and someone else moves adventurers south and teleport. Great! Now do all this without talking, and do it before the sand timer runs out. Silent mayhem and wild gesticulation abound. 


The Mind & The Mind Extreme

the mind card gameStaying silent we have The Mind and The Mind Extreme. You need to order cards from lowest to highest in a series of increasingly challenging levels. Level 1 each player is dealt one single card and everyone now needs to put them in numerical order… Fine. Is this even a game? Do this with no communication allowed. No signals, no subtle wink. Nothing. You play when you feel you should play. You lose a life if the order is messed up. Level 2 each player is dealt two cards each. Level 3, three cards and so on.The Mind Extreme takes this one step further by having an ascending pile and a descending pile to complete…



The Crew: the Quest for Planet 9 & The Crew: Mission Deep Sea

the crew the quest for planet nine
the crew mission deep sea

Less silent, but more about subtle communication, The Crew: The Quest for Planet 9 and The Crew: Mission Deep Sea are fantastic cooperative trick taking games - the former won the prestigious Kennerspiel des Jahres for 2020, and the latter won 2021’s Golden Geek Award. Anyone familiar with the classic card game ‘500’ will certainly enjoy this as players are looking to complete missions by getting the right trick to the right player. Frankie needs a 2 of squares and you need the 6 of circles? Mission one done. Each of these games steps through a series of missions that get progressively harder needing multiple tricks needing to be completed in specific ways. With a loose narrative that ties the missions together this easily becomes ‘just one more game’...

Exit: The Game 

exit the game lord of the rings shadows over middle earthHard left into the Exit: The Game series - cooperative escape room style games in a box. There is plenty of variety in the Exit range, and they can range from "we got this!" to downright bonkers hard ("we don't go this!"). Each one has a different theme (Lord of the Rings themed box and award winning The Abandoned Cabin shown here) and each approaches puzzle solving slightly differently, stemming from multiple designers being let loose on these tiny boxes.
exit the game abandoned cabin award winning
Utilising box art work to props to folding to cutting to standing on one leg whilst whistling the theme to an obscure 80’s cartoon (well… maybe not) each has a story that throws some serious challenges to the direction of your gaming group (or just yourself on a quiet night away from the screen). If used as intended they are
one use only as you can be cutting and folding, but with a little inventiveness you could get around this. Or buy another one.


The Adventures of Robin Hood

the adventures of robin hood the board game

If you like narrative in a game, then this next one is the game for you. The Adventures of Robin Hood comes with a literal book that you open up and start reading. As you read it teaches you the game, and instructs you to cast your eyes at the stunning game board. Full art forest and castle with heaps of advent calendar style flaps will reveal story twists and goals as you move your pieces in shadows (to keep away from the Sheriff’s guard) or simply all out attack as you draw from the bag.

The adventures of robin hood set up

Unlike many legacy games, The Adventures of Robin Hood is resettable stories meaning it can be replayed with different outcomes without the destruction of any components. Choose your own adventure meets advent calendar meets a classic story.


pandemic the board gameSpeaking of classics, we end with the classic of cooperative gaming, Pandemic. Despite being a little on the nose with regards to global events, this game is largely considered the grandparent of cooperative gaming, and has been going strong for 15 years, sparking plenty of spin off versions using its elegant game mechanics. You are flying, running, driving all around the world using sets of cards to cure each disease. Ingeniously simple card play means you will need to make hard decisions about where outbreaks can be left to run, and where your attention needs to be focussed to get that last piece in place. Often coming down to the final turns before the deck runs out, this game has stood the test of time for a reason.
Back to blog