Best Cooperative Games for Teens and Adults -Bring People to the Gaming Table
International Taletop Day is coming up! I found that these Cooperative Games For Teens and Adults are a great way to introduce people to the fun of Board Games! You don’t need to be an experienced Board Gamer to enjoy them… and because everyone plays together against the game, you can help your companions along the way. These are games that don’t have an intimidating 2 inch thick rule book, or so many moving parts that you need a degree in engineering to keep things straight. Cooperative Board Games are perfect for Board Game night, because they encourage discussion, and keep everyone on the same team!
Note- These games are for Teens and Adults because of their complexity, not because they are of a “mature” nature… If you have tweens in your world who love board games, you can certainly include them when playing these cooperatives.
What Is a Cooperative Board Game
In Cooperative Board Games, all players work together as a group to achieve a goal. Either everyone wins, or Everyone loses… but you work together. This means that players discuss strategies and help each other make the best moves. Competition is against the game itself.
Some Cooperative Board Games will allow for an ultimate winner. Basically, everyone works together to achieve the goal, but points may be tallied up after the team wins to determine who is the supreme winner. Note- these are the only cooperative games my older daughter likes to play… but her sense of competition is VERY deeply ingrained…
Best Cooperative Board Games for Teens and Adults
These are games that we own, and enjoy playing in our home. Each game has successfully turned a non-gamer into a person who looks forward to game night.
The game Forbidden Desert takes place in a desert wasteland… think the Namib…. You and your fellow Steampunk Airship crewmen have crashed into the shifting sands, and must now work together to find all of the pieces of your craft, reassemble it, and fly off before the sun bakes you to death. Sound fun? It really is. The Game Board is actually a layout of tiles that shift and are covered in sand. You all need to move to new tiles, dig through sand if needed, and find the tiles that lead you to the pieces. Each person has a special ability that will help them in the task. You also carry a stash of water, that diminishes whenever the sun gets hotter.
There are more ways to die than to live in Forbidden Dessert… but the fun, and replay value of this game make it totally worth trying! This is a true Cooperative Board Game… Everyone wins, or Everyone Dies. And truly, the only way to win is to work together.
Yes, Forbidden Island is similar to Forbidden Desert, the games use similar mechanics (and were both designed by Matt Leacock)… however, it’s not the same game. In Forbidden Island, you and your companions are searching for treasures … collect all four, get to the helipad, and head for home. But while you are gathering cards Treasure Cards, the island is sinking beneath your feet. Make moves, reinforce island, make trades with other players, and the hope for the best. Flood cards are drawn after each turn, so beware of drowning…
Forbidden Island is another true Cooperative game… everyone wins, or everyone drowns. You have to work together to collect and trade cards, then get everyone off the island before it sinks into the sea for good.
We own both games in our home, and truly enjoy both.
When playing Castle Panic, everyone works together to protect the tower from invading Orcs, Goblins and Trolls. The board is set up in concentric rings, with the Castle in the center. Monsters enter from the edge ring, and work their way in. Players are given cards with different colored knights, swordsmen and archers on them. Each card specifies where the attack can be made (ie. Red Swordsman Ring or Blue Knight Ring). For the most effective strategy, players trade cards with each other to insure they have cards that will be effective on their turn. Some cards attack, others reinforce walls, and others push monsters back to the outside track. When a monster is hit, it rotates down a hit point. Once the monster is out of hit points, the last person who hit it, gets to keep it. HOWEVER… if the monster hits the tower wall… there is panic to keep the rest of the walls reinforced, or the castle may fall!
Castle Panic is a Cooperative Board Game, because everyone has to work together… however… because each player gets to keep the monster they killed, points can be added up at the end of a successful campaign to see who is the Supreme Winner. So, the game is good for people who like a bit of competition and bragging rights. The basic Castle Panic game is a good Gateway Game, that is, it’s a good entry level game. Add the Wizard Tower or Dark Titan expansions to make it more interesting for experienced players.
Pandemic and Expansions
Pandemic is not a sweetness and light, “dancing with the fairies through the meadows” type game. NOPE. You and your team (fellow players) work for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to contain, and hopefully CURE disease in order to prevent world wide Pandemic. Each player is given a specific job with a skill set that helps with either curing the disease, or working on a support team (ie. Building Laboratories or Piloting Fellow Team Members to crucial locations). In order to cure disease, colored cards must be collected and turned in… while this is happening, disease is spreading (by way of colored cubes) across the globe. Pull an epidemic card… and the disease can spread like wildfire!
This is a true cooperative game, everyone works together or everyone succumbs to the cube disease…. and really really, I am always amazed JUST how tense things get when those cubes start to pile up. Honestly, I get the sweats from worry! (In our house we give the cube diseases horrible names… just to make it more frightening). As with most cooperatives, there are more ways to lose than to win… too many outbreaks, too many epidemics, failing to work together…. and suddenly all is lost. Winning though, feels darn amazing.
Pandemic itself has great replay value, but adding Pandemic Expansions makes the game even more fun… New card, new jobs, and exiting new Disease (ooohhhh purple!).
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is a newer game on our shelves, but as an old fan of HP Lovecraft I absolutely adore it. How could you not? Instead of disease, the group works together to dispatch cultists, and insure that the Shoggoths don’t get out of hand… or worse! You must prevent the Evil Ones from wrecking havoc on earth! Fabulous. There is even a strong chance that you will go insane! (no worries, insanity doesn’t kill you, immediately, it does change your abilities….).
What’s great about this game is that it takes the Pandemic game mechanism, but twists it a bit. You really have a lot more to worry about… but, you don’t have to travel so far. This game is a worth addition to your game night, and would be great for teens who love to be scared of what’s in the dark….
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
While it is not a typical Cooperative Game, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is played like one. Players work together, building up a deck of Superhero cards to defeat Comic Book Villains and Henchmen. Deck building games have an interesting mechanic… you use a starter hand of cards to “recruit” Superhero cards to your hand… and then you also use these Superheros, along with Shield Heros to fight and hopefully defeat Villains and other nasties as they work their way through the city. Each card has Cost “recruit value” for bringing them into your hand. Superheros all have different abilities… can be used to attack, heal wounds, save bystanders or recruit new cards. Defeated Villains equal victory points.
While each player does play their own hand, and ultimately, points are scored by how many Victory Points they’ve accumulated, there is a common goal of defeating the Villains. Players must work together to create a good strategy, or all will fail. Some attack effects will affect all players… regardless of whose turn it is. And any escaped Villains or lost Bystanders count as negative for everyone. Think of it as a real Avengers or X Men mission… some heros may hit harder, others use more unusual powers, but ultimately, you work together, or the team fails.
Note- Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is legendary (see how I did that) for having a LOT of cards… and they aren’t sorted particularly well. Before you bring a new player into the game, I suggest you take the time to set up the game with heros and villains already chosen (you will save frustration, I promise). New players don’t want to see the fussing around and setting it up part. The game is played on a board, so once the initial sorting is done, the game flows very well.
Find all of these Cooperative Games on Amazon