Board games aren’t just about crushing your opponents (seriously, Kyle, they’re not.) For those of us who enjoy working together with our friends (instead of backstabbing them on your merry way to victory), we have a whole genre of co-operative games.
The most well-known modern game in the co-op genre is Pandemic, designed by Matt Leacock. In Pandemic you and another 1-3 of your friends must work together to save the world from an outbreak of four virulent diseases. You can increase or decrease the difficulty of the challenge, which is a great feature for people who are new to board games.
If medical thrillers aren’t your favourite flavour, that’s OK, we’ve got you covered! Matt Leacock has published several other co-ops, all with a different theme and with a slightly different feel. Forbidden Island, the simplest of this set of co-op games, puts you on a sinking island full of wondrous locations, and you must rescue the four treasures before you can escape in your plane. Forbidden Desert has you stuck in the middle of a sandstorm, where you have to explore and dig to find all four pieces of a mysterious flying craft that you can use to make your escape, providing you don’t run out of water first.
If you’re a science fiction fan you might consider trying your hand at The Captain is Dead. In this tense game you take on the role of an officer aboard a ship that isn’t quite the Enterprise but might well remind you of it. The aliens are attacking and systems are rapidly breaking down, and you must work together to get the Jump Core back online so you can escape before you are overwhelmed with alien boarders. Just try getting through this game without at some point shouting, “The engines, they canna take the strain!!” in your best Scottish accent.
While I could go on for several more paragraphs about all the great co-operative games available, in a multitude of themes and complexities, I’ll just assure you there’s lots of choice for those who want to experience the thrill of camaraderie in the face of cardboard danger. Imagine yourself as Robinson Crusoe, or in the middle of some scary Ghost Stories, or crafting a fireworks display in Hanabi, or (one of my recent faves) a young wizard in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. If you enjoy working together for shared victory, I guarantee there is a board game that will be just right for you.