The 8 Best Cooperative Games to Promote Teamwork

Asmodee's Mysterium is our favorite pick

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Cooperative games promote teamwork and appeal to a wide range of players, from preschoolers learning deductive reasoning, to adults looking for their next game night favorite.

To help find the best cooperative game for your group, we researched dozens of choices that range in varying age recommendations, themes, and duration. Our best overall pick, Asmodee's Mysterium, takes players through a spooky mystery to solve a murder. With expansion packs available and a two-player option, Mysterium is the perfect versatile game to bring friends and family together.

Here, the best cooperative board games that require teamwork to win.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Asmodee Mysterium

4.7
Asmodee Mysterium

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Fun and engaging theme

  • High-quality board and components

  • Suitable for various ages

What We Don't Like
  • Takes a while to set up

Who else recommends it? PC Gamer also picked Asmodee's Mysterium.

What do buyers say? 94% of 4,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Mysterium's premise: A murder has been committed at a mansion called Warwick Manor. The players are psychic investigators trying to determine what happened with one person acting as the ghost, trying to lead them to the answer. The ghost can only communicate through visions (depicted by cards), and the others, using intuition and the clues they've been given, must work together to figure out the weapon, location, and killer.

Because there are so many different options for weapons and locations, the game can be enjoyed over and over. Plus, there are also a handful of expansion packs available. Each round takes about 45 minutes, making it ideal for family game nights. It can be played as a two-person game as well, with one player taking on the role of two psychics, while the other is the ghost.

The versatility and awesome storytelling of this game earns it our top spot. One thing to note—setup can take a while, so prepare to set some time aside to truly enjoy this game to its full potential.

Number of Players: 2-7 | Duration: 45 minutes | Recommended Age: 10 years and up

Best for Two Players: Czech Games Codenames: Duet The Two Player Word Deduction Game

4.4
Codenames: Duet

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to learn

  • Fast-paced and engaging

  • High replay value

What We Don't Like
  • Can be a bit difficult for younger players

In this game, you and your partner are on a secret mission and need to make contact with certain agents, while avoiding dangerous ones (assassins, yikes). But like all worthy games, there's a catch: You know only the agents that are safe for your partner, and vice versa, so you need to give each other simple, one-word clues. It's quite fun for date nights, because it feels like solving a puzzle together, and you can try to tailor your clues based on what you know about how your partner thinks.

You don't need to own the original Codenames to play this one, but if you do, you'll be happy to know that there are 400 new words that are compatible with that version.

Number of Players: 2+ | Duration: 15 minutes | Recommended Age: 11 years and up

Codenames Duet
The Spruce / Sage McHugh

"Since each round only takes about 15 minutes, the game is fast-paced and engaging. We liked the cooperative aspect of Codenames: Duet—players work together, rather than against one another, to win the game. With 200 double-sided word cards (400 words in total), the game has great replayability." — Sage McHugh, Product Tester

Best for Families: Fireside Games Castle Panic

Fireside Games Castle Panic

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to learn and teach

  • Expansion packs available

  • Promotes strategic thinking

What We Don't Like
  • Lengthy play times can get tiring after a while for young players

Castle Panic is a great introduction to board games (or in some cases, a reintroduction, if you're an adult who hasn't played in a while). To play, everyone works together to defend the castle from monsters like goblins, orcs, or trolls. You'll need to fight and slay them (using cards), and also plan ahead to make sure your fortress stays protected.

Younger kids can also play with a little patience and assistance, and you can choose to add one slightly competitive element: Although you win or lose as a team, the person who earns the most Victory points is named Master Slayer. As the name suggests, there are definitely moments of suspense, so it's a good way to get video game-loving kids interested in off-screen family time.

Number of Players: 1-6 | Duration: 60 minutes | Recommended Age: 10 years and up

Best for Kids: Gamewright Outfoxed! Game

Gameright Outfoxed!

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Great introduction to board games

  • Teaches strategy and deductive reasoning

  • Includes element of luck

What We Don't Like
  • Can get repetitive for older kids

You want to teach your kids how to win and lose gracefully, but sometimes, especially in the case of squabbling siblings, you just need a game they can play together peacefully. In Outfoxed, a prized pot pie has been stolen. Using evidence, players must work together to suss out the suspect—using clues and an evidence scanner—before the fox escapes. 

Outfoxed gives children a chance to practice several important skills: deductive reasoning, memory, and cooperation. Some parents also make the game a little trickier for older kids by creating new rules, such as increasing the fox's range and not allowing clue spots to be visited more than once.

Number of Players: 2-4 | Duration: 20 minutes | Recommended Age: 6 years and up

Best for Preschoolers: Peaceable Kingdom Friends and Neighbors—The Helping Game

Peaceable Kingdom Friends and Neighbors: The Helping Game

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Promotes social-emotional learning

  • Can play multiple rounds in one sitting

  • Great for practicing communication

What We Don't Like
  • May be too slow for children over 4 years old

With themes that revolve around social-emotional learning, this game was created to help younger kids practice their empathy skills. Additionally, each game lasts about 10 minutes—perfect for those short attention spans.

The game boards in this pick depict certain situations, like a child who is afraid of the dark or a cat who is stuck in a tree. Players reach into the bag of "helping tokens" and try to make a match—like a teddy bear or a ladder. When parents or caregivers play one-on-one with a child, it can lead to some interesting conversations, which is the true magic of the game.

Because while it's fun to make the matches, what's even more fulfilling is the chance to talk to your little one about how these situations might relate to their own life.

Number of Players: 2-4 | Duration: 20 minutes | Recommended Age: 6 years and up

Best Nostalgic: Asmodee Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures Strategy Board Game

Asmodee Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective - Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures Board Game

Asmodee

What We Like
  • Long playtime option

  • Great writing and storytelling

  • Expansions and other cases available

What We Don't Like
  • May be confused if not familiar with the culture

This beloved game was created in the 1980s and then brought back for today's Baker Street fans. Players work together to attempt to solve some of Sherlock Holmes's most famous mysteries surrounding the infamous Jack the Ripper, with newspapers, a map of London, and other clues. There are six cases total—each one comes with its own file that has a newspaper, a directory, a map, and the instructions, which also have experts you're supposed to contact.

The cases are meant to be played in order, since clues from the earlier ones will help you solve the later ones. But due to the mystery factor, this game doesn't have a ton of replay value. To keep the game moving, some players find it helps to impose time limits on how long it takes to guess.

Number of Players: 1-8 | Duration: 90 minutes | Recommended Age: 12 years and up

Best Strategy Game: Fabled Nexus Greater Than Games Spirit Island

Greater Than Games Spirit Island Core Board Game

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Engaging premise

  • Promotes communication while playing

  • High-quality board and components

What We Don't Like
  • Complicated rules

Warning: This cooperative game can be complicated to learn and takes a while for each round. But its fans say the investment in time is worth it, and praise the rich details as well as the fact that each player also works independently to manage their own character.

The premise is that each person represents a spirit with their own distinct powers, and the goal is to defend the land from colonist invaders. For many, this is a refreshing twist, because often board games are set up so the players represent the invaders trying to take over new territory.

Because there are so many different spirit characters and ways to play (no two games are identical), the replay value of the game is quite high, and there are expansion packs available as well. The game also encourages lots of table talk among players, because you're working towards a common goal and you need to plan ahead, strategize, and figure out the best ways to divide your strengths.

Number of Players: 1-4 | Duration: 90-120 minutes | Recommended Age: 14 years and up

Best Fast-Paced: Z-Man Games Pandemic: Rapid Response

Z-Man Games Pandemic: Rapid Response

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • High replay value

  • Strategy-based

  • Can play multiple rounds in one sitting

What We Don't Like
  • Can take a few rounds to understand the game

The dice version of the popular Pandemic board game is for players who want something fast-paced, as each round takes 20 minutes. It works well on game nights when you may have people dropping by at different times, since they can jump into the action right away, rather than waiting for a long game to end.

With the tagline "Can you save humanity in time?", the basic idea involves setting the timer for 20 minutes, rolling the dice, and trying to deliver crucial supplies before the game ends. All players are part of a squad that's working together (there are seven specific roles, such as engineer and analyst) and you can add Crisis Cards (such as supply spills or extreme winds) to make things even more challenging.

Number of Players: 2-4 | Duration: 20 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

Final Verdict

The engaging theme, simple rules, and high-quality components make Asmodee's Mysterium our best overall pick. The spooky elements add interest for all players from tweens to adults, but the game isn't too overwhelming for younger kids. For a game that's perfect for two players, we love Czech Games' Codename: Duet. The word deduction game proves to be fast-paced and engaging with a high-replay value.

What to Look for in a Cooperative Game

Age Range

Always check the manufacturer's suggested age range, but keep in mind that even if a child is slightly younger, they might be able to play with simplified rules or on a team with a grown-up—especially for cooperative games where everyone's working together. Consider your kid's attention span, interest, and ability to remain patient when choosing a game.

Theme

Geography, history, battle defense, mystery, and horror are just a few popular board game themes. If you have tweens and teens in the mix, choosing something that reflects their interests might make them more likely to put down their phones and engage with the game.

Length

For younger children with shorter attention spans, 10 to 30 minutes for each round make for an ideal playing time. When you're playing with just your own family, you can experiment with longer games that might spread out over a few weekend days—just make sure to tell the players in advance. Shorter games, on the other hand, work well for game nights with groups of friends who might be stopping by at different times.

FAQ
  • What are cooperative games?

    Cooperative games are designed for small groups of two or more players. While different games have different premises and rules, the general goal of a cooperative game is to foster teamwork rather than competition.  There are cooperative board games for kids and adults of all ages. 

  • How do cooperative games work?

    Unlike competitive board games that emphasize a zero sum, winner-take-all mentality, cooperative games are based on the pursuit of shared goals. In a cooperative game, teams win or lose together, which fosters teamwork, camaraderie, and communication.

  • Does playing cooperative games help kids?

    Different cooperative games emphasize different skill sets, but in general playing cooperative games can help teach kids the value of teamwork. Cooperative games may also help children develop empathy, communication skills, deductive reasoning, problem-solving, and social-emotional learning skills. 

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Lexi Dwyer, who has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019 and has written about family games, board games, and trivia games many times. Additional reporting was done by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce, covering toys, gifts, and the holidays. She's also covered similar topics in other roles, including toy reviews, product round-ups, expert-focused articles, and more.

Updated by
Julia Fields
Julia Fields The Spruce
Julia is the Assistant Editor at The Spruce, covering all things toys, gifts, and holiday. 
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  1. The best cooperative board games. PC Gamer. https://www.pcgamer.com/the-best-co-op-board-games/