Cooperative Board Games


Peace on Earth!

Cooperative Board Games under the Christmas Tree

By Kathleen Bretton

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Board games are a great way to spend time together as a family, but it can be hard to find a game that makes children of various ages happy. With many games, your 14-year-old is bored with its simplicity and your 5-year-old is frustrated with always losing. One great solution is cooperative board games.


In a cooperative board game, all players collaborate to beat the game. Each player is an individual who controls a single pawn, deck and/or other resource(s). But, all players discuss how to achieve their common goal(s) and coordinate their actions accordingly. For instance, I may give you a card I’ve collected so you can make a complete set.


Below, I’ve put together an overview of some games in this genre for you. Some of these indicate a maximum of four players, but, as everyone is cooperating anyway, it’s not too much of a stretch to have a couple of children play the same character.


Also, some indicate minimum ages that are a bit inflated in my opinion because they can be played by younger children. If your child plays a lot of games, is especially smart or reads above their grade-level, then you could push down these ages by at least a couple of years.


Also, in a cooperative board game older players will be very involved in helping direct the actions of the younger players, so they can play a more difficult game than they might otherwise be able to.


Forbidden Island
Theme We must keep an island from sinking long enough to gather all four treasures and leave.
Reading Cards flipped over have to be matched to tiles on the island. This can be done by matching pictures or haivng other players flip the tiles. There are a few different action cards mixed in the deck, but, as this is a cooperative, they can have help reading their text. Once they’ve played a few times, they will know the cards by their pictures.
Notes This title is probably the easiest to learn if you haven’t ever played a hobby board game. It’s also readily available at many local stores, including Walgreens!
Players 2-4
Ages 10+
Time 30 minutes
Cost $12 – $20

Theme We must find the cure to four diseases that are spreading throughout the world while tending to those already sick.
Reading Both decks of cards have city names that must be matched to the board. Non-readers can be helped by fellow players, though it may be frustrating for them as finding the cities is a big part of making each move.
Notes Created by the same designer as Forbidden Island, Pandemic is very similar, though a bit more complex. This title has been popular for years and is even sold at ShopKo.
Players 2-4 (5 with On the Brink expansion)
Ages 8+
Time 45 minutes
Cost $22 – $40

Flash Point: Fire Rescue
Theme We must fight a fire spreading throughout a house as we try to rescue seven victims within the house.
Reading None.
Notes A two-sided board and two-levels of play help this game stay fresh through many plays. Several expansions are available as well.
Players 1-6
Ages 10+
Time 45 minutes
Cost $27 – $30

Castle Panic
Theme We must fight off advancing hordes of monsters to prevent our castle keep from falling.
Reading Some reading, but doable with help from teammates.
Notes Fantasy theme with some references to magic.
Players 1-6
Ages 10+
Time 60 minutes
Cost $19 – $30

Scotland Yard
Theme We are trying to corner bad guy Mr. X (played by one of us!) on a map of London.
Reading None.
Notes As Mr. X is a character played by someone, this is a great opportunity for Dad or the oldest sibling to pit themselves against the rest of the family. Sometimes, in cooperatives, a big personality can control the game too much. That’s who gets to be Mr. X in Scotland Yard.
Players 3-6
Ages 10+
Time 45 minutes
Cost $21 – $40


Kathleen Bretton lives in Boise, Idaho and has been homeschooling for seven years. When not homeschooling, Kathleen can be found playing board games, camping, cooking, skiing, researching genealogy, traveling or pursuing some other random hobby. Her mission is to infect the homeschooling community with the board gaming bug.

Committed to helping parents fulfill their God-given right and responsibility to educate their own children.