The Best Co-operative Games
Tony Ackroyd
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Brighton
E Sussex
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Like Space Games we have been treated to a pile of great co-op games in the last couple of years. Battlestar Galactica, Pandemic, Red November, Ghost Stories, Space Alert, Last Night on Earth....

This list contains the best Co-operative games I could find on BGG. There seem to be a few main types of Co-ops:
- All vs. the Game
- All vs. One
- All vs. Traitor
I've tried to classify the games in this list. I may have some wrong as I haven't played a lot of these games plus some of them don't neatly fit into one of the above categories. Hopefully it will be a guide for those who don't like all vs. one or games with a traitor. I have excluded straightforward Team vs. Team games.
Feel free to add if you think I have missed a great game

I've added some useful information on game: best number of players, how popular they are (number of plays) and whether they are Free. I've also included a comment (or two) from a fan of the game.

I have sorted them based on a Combined rating. Points are awarded for 3 categories: Rating, Ranking and #Plays. Points are awarded based on where that game comes after sorting all the games on this list by each of those scores. Finally a bonus was awarded for Print n Play games (as they are freely available and free/cheap). Low points are good and the games were then be sorted by their TOTAL points. You'll get the idea.
If any new games are added to the list I will score them relative to the other games on the list and sort them on that basis.

Other lists in this series:
The Best Space Games
The Best Alternatives to "Risk"
The Best Party Games
The Best Dexterity Games (or 48 dexterity games that are better than Jenga)

And my full reference geeklist for choosing games:
The Which Game to Play/Buy Metalist
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26. Board Game: Aliens [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:2061]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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(Not best with any number)
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4, 9 players

Total Plays: 270

Team vs. One

relic 10: "The most enjoyable game I have ever played. The only reason it doesn't get a 10 is because of the paper board. Best played with only 2-3 players, each controlling a handful of marines; otherwise players will have nothing to do when their marines start dropping like flies. The feel is very true to the battle scenes in the movie, and the battle mechanics are amazing: intricate but not mind-boggling, with endless options and very fun. I would imagine that only big fans of the movie will enjoy this game as much as I do."

Rating Pts: 14
Rank Pts: 25
Plays Pts: 30
TOTAL: 69
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27. Board Game: Shadow Hunters [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:815]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Best with 8 players
Recommended with 5, 6, 7, 8, more than 8 players

Total Plays: 1362

Traitor (Secret Teams)

Threnody: "What a fun group game!!! Very fast, simple to learn and play, has good elements of strategy/deduction, low downtime, great interaction. A group of six played this game a good 15+ times in the last three days. The only reason it doesn't get a 10 is because we implemented some simple errata of our own to balance the roles - for example making Daniel only 8 hit points (it's amazing how much more relevant he becomes), making Emi/Unknown have 14 to offset their weak powers, and reducing the HP of other high-power characters. With our errata we have found it to be quite balanced and incredibly fun. Easily my favorite "party" type game and the only one that everyone jumps to play."

Rating Pts: 24
Rank Pts: 29
Plays Pts: 17
TOTAL: 70

Suggested by Moviebuffs
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28. Board Game: Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:1911]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Best with 5 players
Recommended with 5 players

Total Plays: 287

Team vs. One

Gregol: "This is one of my favorite games! The player interaction is fantastic! The pieces are very nice. Playing a campain game with 5 players is the best. The missions are very varied, and challenging. My only change to the game is to add more turns to the time limits. Other than that the game is near perfection. It's an absolute outrage that Doom and Descent are rated higher then this game. It is superior to them in every fashion. Cleaner, faster, more fun!"

Rating Pts: 20
Rank Pts: 22
Plays Pts: 29
TOTAL: 71
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29. Board Game: Red November [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:1635]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Best with 4 players
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 players

Total Plays: 1145

Team vs. Game

alkaiser: "Another great co-op game for 2008. I like that it handles more than 4 players, unlike Pandemic and Ghost Stories, although when you get up around 7 or 8 players the game might drag a bit much for most people's liking. Then again, if you are consuming enough grog you shouldn't be caring how long the game takes! But it is nice that 7 and 8 players is at least an option since I can see this game being a hit at family gatherings and such.
While many have complained about the small size of the box I haven't found it to be a huge problem and it has the added bonus of making the game cheaper AND saving shelf space on my already packed gaming shelves. We did move the time markers off the board next to the track (but don't bump the board!). I've also started keeping the ghost marker in place as a marker of the original position of the players time marker and then just moving the player marker along the track. Seems like a much more efficient way of doing things that is less prone to errors.
All in all another winner IMO. I'd give this one a slight nod over Pandemic and Ghost Stories because I like the silly theme and the accompanying crazy situations a bit more. It seems to be a much more brutal game with gnomes dying frequently if there are enough of them on the board so be sure to play with the 'Less Deadly Dying' option."

Rating Pts: 26
Rank Pts: 26
Plays Pts: 19
TOTAL: 71
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30. Board Game: Scotland Yard [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1169]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Best with 2 players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 players

Total Plays: 2528

Team vs. One

jpact: "Discovered this back when I was in high school and enjoyed it well then. Only recently have I pulled it back out and begun to appreciate how brilliant it is. When all players are competent, the balance is perfect. There are many tense moments for both Mr. X and the Yard, and the tight escapes are exhiliarating. If you've spent any time in London, just pulling out the board puts you in a good mood. The theme works perfectly. Win or lose it's always a great time, and you always have a story you want to tell. This is the most satisfying cooperative game on my shelf."

Rating Pts: 34
Rank Pts: 28
Plays Pts: 13
TOTAL: 75
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31. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:69] [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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(Not best with any number)
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 players

Total Plays: 220

Team vs. Game

tophergopher: "The game is great. Great atmosphere, unique mechanics, suspense, and even though it is a little longer you can put it aside for a while and come back to the case you were working on. It's just hard to get people to play it. Also, it's hard to imagine ever getting a score that beats Sherlock Holmes, but since he's such a super-genius that's the way it should be."

Rating Pts: 24
Rank Pts: 21
Plays Pts: 32
TOTAL: 77
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32. Board Game: The Castle of the Devil [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:1962]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Best with 6 players
Recommended with 5, 6, 7, 8 players

Total Plays: 1214

Traitor - kind of - Team vs Team

This is one of my very favourite games. You can play it with 3 up to 10 players teaming up into two factions. None of the players knows though who his team mates are. Now the game mechanicas is the great thing about this game, if you win a fight you can peek at the attacked players faction card, and all other players now start speculating according to your behaviour towards that player. So this game is all about givin secret clues to your teammates when you know they are but they don't know that you are. And it is all about reading players' behaviour. your start to triangulate player behaviours to figue out who's who, and that is when the fights get ever more tricky, with players suporting each other, using items, to favour the outcome, and then another pulls out a great job abillity and finishes the fight off with an unexpected outturn. The cards look fantastic and the game fits the theme like a glove. All this in a tiny deck of cards for a great price. I even bought myself a second copy since I accidentaly drove over my first one and totally tore the box... mysteriously though, the cards are still in superb conditions. EXCELLENT GAME!!

Rating Pts: 29
Rank Pts: 30
Plays Pts: 18
TOTAL: 77
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33. Board Game: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Game [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1883]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Best with 5 players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4, 5 players

Total Plays: 643

Team vs. One

ubarose: "Favorite Quick Dungeon Crawl I cuss a lot when we play this. I have NEVER won. I still love it. A good choice when you just feel like kicking vampires in the head for about 45 minutes. Our best game was when Buffy and the Judge spent the entire game in Giles' apartment pounding on each other. We totally trashed Giles' apartment."

Rating Pts: 30
Rank Pts: 29
Plays Pts: 23
TOTAL: 82
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34. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Queen's Park Affair [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Mfg suggested # of Players: 1 - 6 players
User suggested # of Players: (no votes yet)

Total Plays: 4

Team vs. Game

jens_hoppe: "Expansion for Consulting Detective, this adds just one new case, but it's a big one, taking place over several days (and consequently adding a time factor to your investigation). As far as I remember, the case was insanely difficult compared to the cases in the basic game, but trying to hang on was fun all the same."

Rating Pts: 18
Rank Pts: 35
Plays Pts: 35
TOTAL: 88
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35. Board Game: Fortress America [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1496]
Peter Millen
United Kingdom
Greyabbey
Northern Ireland
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If you are including team v 1 games, the king of AT is a must.
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36. Board Game: Space Crusade [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1147]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Best with 4 players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4 players

Total Plays: 463

Team vs. One

smithnewz: "A terrific game of space marines vs. aliens on a space hulk! Real simple (and mostly intuitive) rules make it easy to learn, teach and play. More straightforward fun and less tedious than WH40K (not a million rules, dice and tapemeasures) - but you can add expansions, new rules, and even (if you want to, which we did) turn it into a full tabletop game with vehicles etc. You are able to enjoy refreshments, talk with your friends, and still have a great (and sometimes tense and exciting) time stalking the aliens/shredding the marines. ... Feel the fear as a door slides open ... curse when the Genestealer drops down next to your assault cannon marine ... hear the crowd cheer when the Commander takes out the Dreadnought in hand-to-hand combat - it's Space Crusade! Thanks Milton Bradley (and Games Workshop)."

Rating Pts: 31
Rank Pts: 31
Plays Pts: 27
TOTAL: 89
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37. Board Game: Castle Knights [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:5095]
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Burg-Ritter is a dexterity game intended for children, and it's good with mixed ages. It can work for occasional play without kids as a team v. team competition. Unlike other true co-op games, playing this solo would require use of your toes!

All v. Game
2-4 players, best with 4.

Rating: 7.08
Rank: 2068
Plays: 102

chaddyboy_2000 wrote:
Not much interest for a group of adults, but an outstanding coop game to play with kids!
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38. Board Game: Garibaldi: The Escape [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:3882]
Jeff
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Team vs. One

Garibaldi is somewhere between Scotland Yard and the Fury of Dracula.

It differs from Scotland Yard in that Garibaldi uses closed hands of cards instead of open hands of tokens for movement. Some people dislike Scotland Yard because the game can turn into a competition for the detectives to see who can impose their will on everyone else. This problem makes it seem as though Scotland Yard is really meant to be a 2 player game. It is more difficult for this to happen in Garibaldi because the Austrian players do not know what type of movement options the other players have. This way every Austrian player can decide for themselves which way they want to go without being criticized for making a possible bad decision. Of course if an Austrian player does want advise, they can always tell the other players what movement options they have available for themselves. That is not too revealing because every player is able to discard at the end of their turn. If a player discards anything, then no one knows for sure what anyone has. Another difference from Scotland Yard is that Garibaldi has some event cards shuffled into the Movement card deck.

A criticism of Garibaldi is that because there is not a discard limit, the Austrian players are able to cycle through the deck quickly to find optimal cards. That could make the game very difficult for an inexperienced Garibaldi player. However, I believe the advanced rules resolve this problem by using a table to determine, based on the number of players, an Austrian hand limit and discard limit.

Anyone who likes deduction and cooperative play should try playing Garibaldi. Anyone who likes Scotland Yard or the Fury of Dracula should definitely give Garibaldi a try.
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39. Board Game: Cranium Hoopla [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:3503]
Michael Broadway

Mt. Pleasant
South Carolina
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All vs. the Timer.
Best with fewer than 8 more than 4.

I admit it is a light cooperative game, but it is not very threating to my "non-gamer " friends. I would be interested in more games that fit this description where cooperation was key but the mechanics are not overwhelming. Cooperative play is an excellent mechanic to introduce to people who don't like board games because they think Monopoly "is board games". (It is wrong to hate them, we must teach them).
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40. Board Game: Max [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:4166]
Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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Children's Game

Team vs. No one, though you may say "vs. Game" (the only truly cooperative game style)

Rating: 6.76
Rank: 1484
Plays: 376

This is just one of dozens of truly cooperative games from Family Pasttimes (no winner, not even as a team--you just play to see how you do and discuss where things worked and where they went wrong).

[Calicat] "Great coop game for 4 or 5 year olds. Demands a light level of strategy and the ability to see ahead to the next move. The theme makes for a more powerful experience, and my daughter definitely gets into it in a light role-playing kind of way."
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41. Board Game: Clue: The Great Museum Caper [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1814]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Best with 4 players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4 players

Total Plays: 416

Team vs. One

LittleMisfit: "This is a great game. Unfortunately, it's no longer in print. It's pretty easy to find on e-bay though. I got mine for only $1.50 plus shipping. The game has absolutely no resemblance to the original Clue game. It's similar to Scotland Yard, but much better. I think it would appeal to both casual gamers and hardcore ones. It can get a little tense, especially if you are the thief and the detectives are closing in. Being the thief is definitely more fun than being a detective, so be sure to take turns. I highly recommend this game. It lots of fun, the quality of the game board is the best I've seen in a game, and it's not overly complicated."

Rating Pts: 33
Rank Pts: 32
Plays Pts: 28
TOTAL: 93
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42. Board Game: Orchard [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:3459]
Bruce Miller
United States
Grand Rapids
Michigan
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(Not best with any number)
Recommended with 4 players

Total Plays: 379

Team vs. Game

In Orchard players try to harvest the fruit before the raven arrives.

On your turn you roll the and do what it says, either pick a specific fruit, choose any two fruits, or place a piece in the raven puzzle. Th game has just enough choice to make it fun, and it normal lasts only 15 minutes.

This game also has a mini version.
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43. Board Game: Escape from Colditz [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1546]
Lindsay Thomas
United Kingdom
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Best with 4 players
Recommended 3,4,5,6
Total plays 392
Team (POW's) v one (Kommandant)

If you play with a comprehensive, cohesive and pre-agreed set of house rules (the original rules were hopelessly vague). If you set and stick to a strict time limit of 90 or 120 minutes. If you have the right player as the Kommandant. If the POW players can roll and move quickly. Then this game can be a lot of fun. Otherwise it's a tedious, shambling mess.

The ability to roll doubles, or 3, 7 and 11 are useful "skills" to winning this game.
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44. Board Game: Break the Safe [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:4860]
Tom Decker
United States
Foothill Ranch
California
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Best with: 4 players
Recommended with: 2, 3, 4 players
Total Plays: 545
Team vs. Game

Just wanted to add my favorite co-op game.

I guess it gets overlooked because it has bad box art, looks like a kids game, and is a roll-and-move game for its core mechanic. But it's very tense, has a live timer counting down, and you're all working together as spies trying to disarm booby traps, find hidden keys and get out together. It would benefit from more clearly written rules, but as long as you agree how you're going to play it ahead of time, it's very fun.

It can start out really slow and seem very easy, but then the guard and the dog get out and people are in jail and timer keeps going and it can get very tense. There's nothing better than barely getting that last person out as the timer ticks down its final seconds for the win.
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45. Board Game: Yin Yang [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
Nello Cozzolino
United Kingdom
London
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Brascogames London U.K. www.brascogames.webs.com
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46. Board Game: Vanished Planet [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:6876]
Baki
Germany
Bremen
Bremen
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"I start to think, and then I sink / Into the paper like I was ink / When I'm writing, I'm trapped in between the lines / I escape when I finish the rhyme." Rakim
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Best with 6 players
Recommended with 3, 4, 5, 6 players

Players vs. Game

Good cooperative game, usually willing to play.
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47. Board Game: Intruder [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:5264]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Best with 2, more than 2 players
Recommended with 1, 2, more than 2 players

Total Plays: 41

Team vs. Game

oldmanrivah: "Excellent! Probably the greatest unacknowledged ripoff of a major franchise (ALIEN) ever made."

Rating Pts: 35
Rank Pts: 34
Plays Pts: 34
TOTAL: 103
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48. Board Game: Ghost Chase [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:4797]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
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A cooperative game for kids, in the format of one player versus the rest. This one is often compared to Scotland Yard.

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49. Board Game: Innsmouth Escape [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:12529]
United States
Dayton
NV
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Players vs one (or 1 vs 1).

Although this is far from a "best" in the genre.
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50. Board Game: Minion Hunter [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:7814]
Matthew M
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Best with 5 players
Recommended with 4 or 5 players

Total Plays: 93

Team vs. Game

Co-op game from the early 90s based on an RPG. Tons of luck, but also tons of fun,
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