nealkfrank

Best Coop Games - Not Pandemic or Spirit Island

Hey all, I need some help. This weekend my wife and I played #Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu and I learned something. My wife absolutely loves Cooperative games. The problem is I do not love Pandemic in general...it feels swingy, you can lose a game in a single turn after doing nothing, totally out your hands (this happened to us this weekend, so maddening). Having a common goal is super enticing for her, so I would like to capitalize on this while also finding a game that I enjoy!!

So...I am asking for some suggestions of additional coop games that are not quite as random and swingy! I have played Spirit Island...too complex for my wife. #Aeon's End: Legacy is a game that has potential. #Robinson Crusoe Adventures on the Cursed Island is a game I want to look into, but it may be too complex. The most complex game (in terms of BGG weight rating) ithat she has played and enjoyed is either #Concordia or #The Castles of Burgundy, both of which she said "I would need to be in the mood to play that again".

At this point I am open to any and all suggestions!

3 points by nealkfrank - updated 11 days ago | 73 comments | report | subscribe

Skurvy5 Supporter14 days ago | 3 points[-]

#Gloomhaven

Mic drop. 

Marshwiggle92 Supporter14 days ago | 2 points[-]

True to form. 

Skurvy5 Supporter14 days ago | 2 points[-]

It’s a tough job. But someone’s gotta do it. 

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

We got you in a box, at least it is a big box. 

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

I was just waiting for this comment lol. I would not be opposed to it, I am not sure how my wife would receive it. We may be good candidates for Jaws of the Lion!

Skurvy5 Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yes, I would definitely think so. 

MitchResk 12 days ago | 1 point[-]

The Game (placing cards from 1-100 and 100-1 together with very restricted communication,and  Forbidden Island (collect all treasures and escape together before the island sinks). Very light games, yet fun, strategic, and very replayable

MitchResk 12 days ago | 1 point[-]

Also, keep an eye on this! https://www.zmangames.com/en/news/2020/3/10/announcing-infinity-gauntlet-a-love-letter-game/

nealkfrank 12 days ago | 1 point[-]

This looks pretty neat! I have not really looked much into Love Letter at all but this may push me to do some research!

fred_131 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I recommend #Flash Point: Fire Rescue. To me it actually captures the theme of trying to rescue people from a burning building. The game has two versions a more simplistic family version and a challenging version with variable roles. 

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Ooooo I like the unique theme and concept. I will need to research this more. Thanks for the suggestion!

paulspo 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Check out 'Atlantis Rising (Second Edition)'.  Has enough variability to make it interesting.  Avoids the Alpha player problem pretty well.  Plus it's fun and tough to beat on any other than the simplest level.  VERY well made!

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I saw @philryuh did a write up on this as well! I will need to look more into it!

horseloverfat 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

If you like Cthulhu themed games there is #Arkham Horror: The Card Game but caveat emptor LCGs can get expensive. 

#Eldritch Horror is another one but ensure you get the #Eldritch Horror: Forsaken Lore Expansion too

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Ya I am not sure an LCG is the way I would want to go. Feels like a money pit lol. 

What does the expansion add?

wieczorek 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Maybe something really light lik #The Mind would work for you? Definitely avoid #Robinson Crusoe Adventures on the Cursed Island - it is quite complex, has a terrible rulebook and can be very swingy (even though I really like the game).

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 2 points[-]

We have the Mind, and it is not super well liked. I cannot really pinpoint why!

Ya I started looking more into Robinson Crusoe and realized it would not be a fit. 

Carighan 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

My favorite ones:

  • The weirdest one right away, The Ravens of Thri Sahashri. It's this incredibly unique 2 player asymmetric card-placement game where you cannot communicate properly. Love playing it as something to do while chatting.
  • Always up for some #Magic Maze! The only stressful real-time game other than Captain Sonar that I didn't hate so far. I would definitely use the expansion though, I don't get why they even sold it separately.
  • Finally, I recently got Yggdrasil Chronicles. It has flaws, that's for sure. But the mix of the utterly unique presentation with that 3D tree on the table, the way it saves table space and becomes easy to manage, the way the game can explode in tightness similarly to how Spirit Island immediately goes from "all fine" to "omg everything is one fire!" and the clever design in that us, being the asgardians, always succeed at challenges (we just might take a beating in the process), it comes together well. It's not the best game around but I love to play it anyways!

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I have seen a lot of Magic Maze suggestions out on the interwebs, I may need to look more into that one for sure! thank you for the suggestions and the write ups!

Courageous Bob 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

My family really enjoy Co-op games so we have made our way through a whole bunch over the years, I am working on the assumption these are for playing at two players? I will list them in increasing complexity:

#The Grizzled is a great filler game, it's not as good with two but still a good time and plays up to 5.

#Escape: Zombie City is a real-time dice rolling game, it is manic and relatively simple, does a good job of negating quarter-backing as you are forced to focus on your own tasks. Very silly and light but very fun.

#Burgle Bros. A wonderfully thematic heist game, relatively light (very simple ruleset) and you can vary the difficulty quite drastically but in a way that really shakes up the game (it's not just tougher enemies or more bad things, but the design of the map that makes it easier/harder). 

#Eldritch Horror is a medium weight game, one of my favourite games (co-op and competitive) the rules themselves are quite straightforward although the strategy is a little more thinky. But it does a great job of making you care for your character (who can die) and we always play that some else reads the  encounter card to the active player which really helps build the tension and bring the story to life.

I have also just had #The Fox in the Forest Duet arrive, have yet to try it but have heard good things

Also if you are planning on playing with 3-4 (ideally 4) I would recommend #XCOM: The Board Game, it is great fun.

Skurvy5 Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

XCOM is awesome with 4. 

Courageous Bob 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Absolutely, it is very much designed for 4 players, I imagine it would be almost impossible with 2!

Skurvy5 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Some people play it solo! I can’t imagine. 

Courageous Bob 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Oh wow, I wouldn't even know where to start. The fate of the world should definitely not rest solely on my shoulders

Marshwiggle92 Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Do you play #The Grizzled with or without the expansion? 

Courageous Bob 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Unfortunately I do not have the expansion so without, would you recommend it?

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I haven't ever played The Grizzled. But, I think that the #The Grizzled: At Your Orders! Expansion allows for solo play, so I thought it might make a better two player game as well. 

Courageous Bob 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Ah, I have no idea, I wouldn't say it is bad at two players, and in fact in many ways becomes a lot more tactical. I think thematically it just works much better at 4-5, there are all these unknowns and attempts at teamwork with incomplete information that makes it feel much more like you are this poor french soldier stuck in a trench with no idea what's going on.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Makes sense.

Courageous Bob 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I would absolutely recommend picking it up if you get the opportunity. I got mine very cheap off eBay as the seller had mislabeled it as 'the guzzled' so no one else bid on it :D

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I am interested in it. That is a great story. 

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I really like the art style of this! It is not the most expensive game so you must have gotten a killer price!

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yes, the art is great. This game really took off when it came out, partly because of the art. Unfortunately, shortly before the game came out, the artist was killed in a terrorist attack in France. I think it was the Charlie Hebdo shootings if I remember right. So, that very positively affected sales of the game in the first months after release. 

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Oh wow, that is very interesting. I had no clue! 

Courageous Bob 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yeah, it was like £2.50 or something like that. Very much a bargain!

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Holy moly!! That is silly cheap!

Courageous Bob 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Indeed, quite a few of my games have come via odd deals on eBay or lucky finds at charity shops: you don't get to choose the game but it lets you play games you wouldn't normally hear about and even if it isn't superb, if I get a few fun evenings out of one of these games it is worth it.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter12 days ago | 1 point[-]

What's your favorite find so far?

Courageous Bob 12 days ago | 1 point[-]

I found an almost unused copy of king of Tokyo which I have gotten a lot of mileage out of with my less game inclined friends, and is one I would never have bought for myself. I also found two copies of war on terror (one of which was a nice gift for the family) and has led to some hilarious nights. 


The grizzled still stands as my best eBay deal

Marshwiggle92 Supporter12 days ago | 1 point[-]

I have played #War on Terror a few times. Not I haven't met many other people who have. 

Courageous Bob 12 days ago | 1 point[-]

It's not my favourite game by any stretch but it is pleasantly satirical and I enjoy that you are never out of the game as as soon as you feel you can't win you just switch sides :D

Marshwiggle92 Supporter11 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yep. That's pretty much how I feel about it. 

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I have thought about going around to some thrift stores looking for some hidden gems. I have heard #Acquire can be found pretty regularly at thrift shops!

Courageous Bob 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

It can take quite a lot of patience for something good to pop up. We get a lot of our other bits and pieces from charity shops anyway so spend a fair amount of time in them. I would reckon I find a game once in every 50 visits. But there is a really fun feeling of accomplishment when you do come away with something!

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Oh my, that would need to be like a weekend regular activity then!

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Wow! Thank you for the write up and the suggestions!! I will need to dig into a couple of these for sure!

Courageous Bob 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

You are welcome! Always happy to help, I also have some of the #unlock! series (escape room in a box) sat on my shelf that I picked up on the cheap but haven't found occasion to crack them open. But there are a lot of puzzley/mystery games out there at the moment that could make for a good cooperative evening if you think you partner would be into that sort of thing :)

philryuh Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

I haven't played any of these. And I noted the weight rating for reference. I believe they're all very solid games though, at least based on everything I've heard and how often they're mentioned.

  • #Mechs vs. Minions (2.4) - This is very different from the others but how do you feel about programming games? It should be easy to grasp (I heard the play to learn is done very well) and fun depending on you and your wife's preferences. I always wondered if it might be too light or random but it's interesting to me that it's rated so highly and praised by so many people again and again. I thought about getting it about 2-3 months ago but never went for it. 
  • #The Captain is Dead: Dangerous Planet (3.0, but with only two ratings)- Seemed fun when I saw @3MBG's review. Not sure which game in the line is the best though.
  • #Burgle Bros. (2.3) - Lighter, heist game

Courageous Bob 14 days ago | 2 points[-]

#The Captain is Dead is a bunch of fun, especially if you enjoy star trek. Although have never tried it with two, only at 4 players

philryuh Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

When I watched the review, it definitely gave me the sense that I'll like it more than Pandemic-esque co-ops

Courageous Bob 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

It has much of the same DNA as pandemic: there is a problem here, go fix it while also trying to achieve an overall goal. But it has a lot of extra quirks to it that give it a bit more life:  Equipment and abilities and ship upgrades etc.. Also the characters are more asymmetric and there are so many more than in pandemic so you get to do some interesting things on your turn.

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 2 points[-]

Great suggestions Phil! I just looked into Mechs vs. Minions and had no idea how big of a game that is! Looks neat though. 

philryuh Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

They went all out on production for that game at a relatively affordable price haha. I think it was just a one time thing from them though. Hope you find something that works in this thread! :D

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 3 points[-]

Right now, the leaders in the clubhouse are #Horrified (suggested by @theDL) and #Aeon's End: Legacy (suggested by myself lol). 

Skurvy5 Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Good thing you have yourself to make thoughtful suggestions!

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

HAHA always...

philryuh Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Lol Aeon's End (I still don't know which game I'd go for) is still my list as well. It's a likely purchase for me next year.

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

I have a friend who bought it, have not played it but I like the gameplay and design. Still need to do some more research though!

popatot 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

My wife, who is not into board games quite enjoyed #Forbidden Desert even though she would admit it. 😂

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks for the suggestion!

theDL 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

The only co-op game we own is #Horrified, but it's a lot of fun! It's fairly light, but I've seen it referred to as a "Pandemic killer." I've never played Pandemic, so I cannot comment on that statement. I do know that the theme is more fun than the theme of Pandemic, at least to us. You can also tailor it to your group fairly well by changing the number and selection of monsters you're facing.

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

This is one that does appeal to me. The biggest issue I have with Pandemic is that you can lose soooo fast if you draw the wrong cards or the right situation happens. Does that happen in Horrified?

theDL 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

We haven't lost yet, haha. Though we've only played 3 or 4 times. But no, there are things that can happen that increase the "terror level," and when that reaches a certain point, you lose. Most of the time, there are ways to at least attempt to avoid raising the terror level. Of course, the more monsters you are facing, the riskier it gets.

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

How much card drawing is there? I do not remember there being much?

theDL 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

You draw a card from the villain deck every villain turn. This happens after every Hero (player) turn. These dictate how many new items get placed, which villagers get placed on the board and where, which monsters move and how far, and how many times they attack (how many attack dice they roll). If it specifies a monster that's not in play, nothing happens. And if the monsters are not in a space with a villager or player, they don't attack. So the villain turns don't always result in bad effects for the players.

There's also item cards (I forget the name) that you get when you take a villager to their safe location, which can be used at any point during the game to help you. They have pretty useful effects. These are positive cards for the players.

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

That seems fairly manageable as far as uncontrollable chaos goes lol. 

patrickdemooij9 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Maybe she will enjoy Marvel Champions. In my opinion a very fun co-op game that you can also play alone if she doesn't feel like it.

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

I think this would be a good option if I prepped a deck for her! I will look into it more!

patrickdemooij9 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Game does start with 2 starting decks. And https://marvelcdb.com/ is filled with decks that you can easily put together

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Nice! Thanks for the info!

Marshwiggle92 Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

You didn't actually say it couldn't be complex... So, #Star Trek: Frontiers.... LOL

For me the sweet spot is coop games that are short enough it doesn't matter. I love the #Forbidden Island. It has the same problem as #pandemic. But, it is short enough it doesn't feel like it matters as much if you lose. This is from the perspective of a guy who prefers non cooperative games. 

nealkfrank 14 days ago | 1 point[-]

I tend to prefer non-coop games too, but if I can get a game that my wife and I both enjoy that is coop, I am sure more gaming will commence. 

Marshwiggle92 Supporter14 days ago | 1 point[-]

Makes perfect sense.