Top Ten Cooperative or Solo Board Games - Summer 2012

Last January, I decided to start doing an occasional top ten list.  They're fun to write, and they can start interesting discussions!  Now, please keep in mind that this list is completely my own opinion, and that means that it only contains games that I've personally played.  If you think that I'm missing anything, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Most of these games I've reviewed, but a few of them I haven't yet.  If I've reviewed it, then I'll give you a link to my review.  With all that said, here come my

Top Ten Cooperative and/or Solo Games!!


10. Yggdrasil

You can tell that this is a list of amazing games when Yggdrasil only comes in at #10! Players take on the role of Norse gods protecting the holy tree by fighting off ice giants and all kinds of other mythical monsters.

9. Shadows Over Camelot

Shadows Over Camelot was a lot higher on my original list until I realized that it was cheating. I absolutely love this game, but only when playing with the possibility of a traitor. This dropped it down this far on the list - but it is definitely a highly recommended game!

8. Wok Star

Z-Man Games has promised to do a large print run of Wok Star for a few years, and having played the original Gabob version, I think that they would make a lot of money if they did so! This co-operative game uses real-time elements to force players to work together to ensure that everything happens before the timer runs out!

7. Space Alert

Another unique title, Space Alert forces the players to coordinate the defense of their space station.  But... it has a sound track!  How many games can claim that?  Each of the games only lasts about 10 minutes - but those 10 minutes are frantic as everyone tries to program his character's movement (and double check them to make sure he isn't the weak link on the team). This game really works a lot better than I was initially expecting, and gives a pleasantly stressful gameplay experience!

6. Hanabi

A game that I'm still looking to add to my collection, Hanabi refutes the claim that "all cooperative games can be played solo." Hanabi is all about trying to figure out how to communicate effectively with other players so that they know what they have available to play. The theme (shooting off fireworks) is a bit cheesy, but the mechanics help this game score highly on my list.

5. Lord of the Rings (Knizia Version)

Ok, so "Lord of the Rings" isn't an uncommon name for board games, but this is the co-op that Reiner Knizia created around 2003. This game seems to be one of the originators of this genre, and is still fun to play and sports a different feel than the other titles on this list. I have all of the (now out of print) expansions in my closet, regularly begging me to play them.

4. Flash Point: Fire Rescue

Ok, now we're getting down to some tough decisions. This game jumped up to the top of my list very, very quickly. I really debated placing it as high as #2 on this list! The theme really makes this game beautiful, but some slight fiddliness keeps it from cracking the top 3.

3. Pandemic

This game might not deserve a place quite this high on the list, but it is the game that introduced me to the genre - and made me fall in love with it. I know many people have claimed that they have "mastered" Pandemic - but, I'd imagine that they've played it dozens of times (and still occasionally lose). Shouldn't a game that calls you back dozens of times land pretty high on a top ten list? I think it should.

2. Friday

Ok, now to get more controversial - Friday is the only truly solo game on this list. However, after trying out Friday, I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you ever travel for business, I recommend that you invest the roughly $20 that it costs to throw a copy of Friday in your carry-on. It's brilliant.

1. Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game

If you've been following my site for a while, Lord of the Rings: LCG coming it at #1 probably doesn't surprise you. I think that this game is amazing - plus, with the continual release of new adventures, the gameplay is constantly shifting. More than any others on this list, I can see people investing hours upon hours in Lord of the Rings, and I can see their interest stay strong for years to come.

Honorable Mentions

It amazes me that some of these titles didn't make it. However, other very solid co-operative games include Defenders of the Realm, Legend of Drizzt, Castle Panic, Sentinels of the Multiverse, and Forbidden Island. There's also a little game called Ghost Stories - I need to play this game at some point to see if it should be on the list next time!

So, what do you think?  Anything that I missed?  Any "oh my goodness, how did he rank that so high (or low)?"  Feel free to let me know in the comments!


  1. Awesome list. I have not heard of most of these games, but I will have to check them out, especially the ones that can be played solo. I love Forbidden Island.

  2. You forgot the best one: ARKHAM HORROR.

  3. @Ricki - glad I could help. Yeah, I think that Forbidden Island is a solid game, and if you like it, you'll probably like a lot of these.

    @Wostry - forgot.... hmmm... well, I probably should have mentioned it in some form or fashion, but, though I know that it is insanely popular (hence I should have mentioned it), it's rightfully not in my top ten.

  4. It's a good list. I love coop games, of course, but there's actualy a few there that I haven't had the chance to play (Yggdrasil, Hanabi, and Friday), even though I'd love the chance.

    I doubt that the Knizia LotR game would be on my top 10. It was certainly a seminal game for the whole coop idea, but it's a little clunky and dated now, and I've never found it to be all that much fun.

    Wok Star is pretty fun, but it's also a little bit too repetitive and can seem like work. I really hope that the Z-Man version (assuming it ever actually happens) will have a few tweaks.

    Sentinels of the Multiverse would definitely be on my list, as weould Forbidden Island most likely. Games I might consider that you didn't mention would probably also include Ghost Stories, Star Trek: Expeditions, and maybe Space Hulk: Death Angel.

  5. Oh, and Elder Sign... I almost forgot that, but it's a lot of fun (especially on iOS), and certainly better than it's bigger brother (Arkham Horror).

  6. Sentinels of the Multiverse didn't make it because, though it's got some awesome stuff, you can also get obliterated by bad draws, worse than I've seen in any other games, and it sucks the fun out of the game (you can't play cards, and you have to discard, and you can't draw - it's like being imprisoned and watching the super villain win.) Expeditions I wasn't terribly impressed by; it just seemed boring to me. But Death Angel is one that I've been wanting to try, and I forgot about Elder Sign - it's another that I should try out at some point. Thanks for the suggestions!

  7. Yeah, the first edition SotM definitely had some balance issues, but I don't know that the "bad draw" problem ever really that bad for me. Rook City and (I assume) the 2nd edition will probably be even better.

    It's sort of strange, but I almost feel like the Expeditions I've experienced is a completely different game than what other people have played. I'll agree that it's certainly on the "mathy" side, but I still find it to be pretty thematic as well in invoking an old-school Star Trek feel.

    Death Angel isn't a stellar game, but it does work well solo, and is worth an occasional play with others as well.

  8. I'm not a big fan of co-ops really but I did play Hanabi last night and it was quite a revelation. Really neat mechanic, gets around the alpha-geek issue of co-ops and (most intriguing for me personally) makes the head hurt in a delightful way.

  9. We played Pandemic: On the Brink this weekend and remembered why it's such a great game - solid teamwork. It has sat on the shelf too long un-played and will definitely get more cycles again.

    We played with the Bio-Terrorist and in the end barely lost the game by not getting a final cure in time. Guess that's what happens when you spend so much time chasing him down.

  10. Interesting list. I haven't heard of a few of them. I have, however, heard many good things about Pandemic. I have wanted to try that game out for a long time now. I have a background in biology, and have always found disease spread to be fascinating. I would love to play that game.

  11. Hold on! did i miss something or Mage knight is not present on this list? It is by far better than LOTR LCD

  12. I have actually not tried Mage Knight. I had heard that there was a co-operative version of it, but I thought the basic game was competitive. Was I mistaken on this?

  13. Well it can be played either way but i guess most of the people play co-op and would be included in my list :) This is just my point of view especiallt that it is by far better expierience that LOTR LCG. Since i own MK , LOTR has been gathering the dust

  14. One of the guys in my gaming group brings Mage Knight most every week, so I guess I may need to make a point of trying it sometime. Thanks for your thoughts.

  15. I think your list is great. I got Lord of the Rings the Card Game a week ago, and I really like it, though I think it won't be played as often as it should for me because I usually don't have many people to play it with. I really think you should try out a game called Thurn and Taxis. I got it a while ago and I love it. And I've been wondering about Dungeon Quest as well, though I haven't played it.

  16. Battlestar galactica the board game is really well thought, you will find a traitor mechanic in there, that is so well implemented

  17. I absolutely LOVE Battlestar Galactica. It's one of my favorite games! I didn't include it on this list because I consider it hidden identity/teams instead of cooperative, since you can't play it without the traitor (like Shadows Over Camelot).

  18. Yeah, Battlestar Galactica and Shadows over Camelot are really not solo games. You have to have more than one so that someone can be a traitor. Make Knight is probably the best solo or cooperative game I have. Mice and Mystics, The Wrath of Ashardalon and Elder Signs are very good too and much better than the games mentioned here.
    Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island is another amazing co-op and solo.

  19. Shadows Over Camelot can actually be played without the traitor element, as it is optional. Thanks for your opinion, and it's a great example of how all of these lists are opinions. I haven't played Elder Signs, but I've played the D&D campaign games, and Mice and Mystics, and I'd rather play the games on this list than those (and, I'm not sure it M&M was out when I published this list).

    Robinson Crusoe is one that I'm still hoping to try!

  20. Great List ! Love Yggdrasil too, but I am surprised not to find Ghost Stories here - Coop and SOLO ! White Moon expansions adds too :)


    1. Well, the main reason you don't find Ghost Stories on here is that I hadn't tried it when this list was compiled! (That's also one of the reasons that I date these - so you can see if certain games were out yet.) Since then, I've tried Ghost Stories; it's not my favorite, but it would probably make honorable mention if I were to re-do this list now.

  21. Just found your site while looking around for interesting board games. My friends and I recently tested Pandemic and were completely taken over. I think we played it five times in a row one night. Great game! I'll make sure to use this list when we'll be deciding the next game to play. Cheers!

  22. To those who mentioned Mage Knight and Robinson Crusoe those are my #1 and #2 solo games. I recommend them highly!