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What’s the deal with Cooperative Games?

Posted Monday, 23-Nov-2015

Competition is exciting, but sometimes you want to be on the same side as your friends, and that’s where cooperative games come in.


Contributed by Andrew Knighton


One of the great appeals of board games is the sense of competition. But once in a while it’s nice to be on the same side as your friends, not competing against them. Cooperative games let you have your cake and eat it.

There are a whole range of games in which players compete against the board, not each other. Some of them even allow for themes that might not work in other games.


Exploring with Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert

Making a game that works against the players might sound like it’s going to be a nightmare of tangled rules. But Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert show just how simple and fun these games can be.


Forbidden Island
Forbidden Island


In both, the players are cooperating to find treasure while surviving in a hostile environment. Whether it’s trying to get off the island before it sinks, or to escape the desert before you die of dehydration, you all win or lose together. Different character skills mean you all have different roles.


Forbidden Desert
Forbidden Desert


If that sounds a little dry, then check out the video of the game on the Tabletop YouTube channel, in which actors Alan Tudyk and Wil Wheaton show just how much fun you can have struggling against the odds:





Save the World with Pandemic

It’s hard to make an exciting game about health care. Keeping people alive is a long slow process, without the action and drama of wars or politics. But Pandemic makes fighting disease tense and exciting.


Cooperate in saving the world from disease in Pandemic
Cooperate in saving the world from disease in Pandemic


You play doctors and research scientists looking to save the world from a deadly disease. But for each move you make the disease keeps spreading. Can you counter it before humankind is wiped out?

Part of the appeal of Pandemic and expansions such as Contagion is that they connect to things we see in the news. Outbreaks of disease are a real threat, and it’s great to see a game celebrating those who counter them.


Facing the Unstoppable in Arkham Horror

For a really challenging cooperative game, look no further than Arkham Horror and its expansions such as The King in Yellow. These games turn the players into investigators battling the monstrosities of H. P. Lovecraft’s horrifying Cthulhu mythos.


Arkham Horror has over 700 different pieces.
Arkham Horror has over 700 different pieces.


These games play like complex puzzles, in which the players are always missing one part. No game can ever capture the disempowerment and creeping horror of Lovecraft’s work, but Arkham Horror captures something else from the stories – a sense of battling against the odds. The difficulty of the game adds to the sense of triumph if you win.


Arthurian Adventure in Shadows Over Camelot

Shadows over Camelot was one of the first games to add treachery to the cooperative mix. You play knights at King Arthur’s court, completing heroic quests and fending off invaders. But just like in the legends, one of you is a traitor, trying to bring ruin from the inside.


Shadows Over Camelot
Shadows Over Camelot


With its beautiful board and plastic invaders, Shadows Over Camelot has the aesthetic appeal of other big box games. And with expansions such as Merlin’s Company, it lets you keep playing in different ways. As for cooperation, the traitor just forces the other players to work better together.

There are many different cooperative board games. So if you’re getting tired of fighting with your friends every game night, why not try working together on one of these?

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

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