Cooperative Games and Why We Love Them

*Disclosure: Affiliate links may be included. All opinions are my own.*

In order to make a game work for all of us and have it be a pretty equal playing field doesn’t always work out. Too much strategy and my nine-year-old can’t play at the same level. Too time consuming between turns and he loses interest. My thirteen-year-old will play anything but loves strategy games. My eleven-year-old requires just the right combination of things to want to play any game. This is where cooperative games are such a win for us.

You may be wondering – what is a cooperative game – right? Let’s start there. A cooperative game is a game where the players work together towards a common goal. We have a few that we love: Hoot Owl, Hoot; Forbidden Island; The Crew; Castle Panic; and Chronicles of Avel just to name a few. Not all cooperative games are created equal. For example, Hoot Owl, Hoot is a fantastic game for younger children. It’s quick and easy to play, they just need to know their colors. The rest I mentioned have a differing level of difficulty. Forbidden Island is one my thirteen-year-old daughter has taught all of her friends and has gotten a lot of table time. The Crew is more of an adult game. I say that simply because of the complex thought that goes into the game. My daughter is strategic but this one is a bit much for her. It’s also one of my personal favorites – one that has kept a few of us up until…ahem…3 am because we just couldn’t quit playing.

While it may sound like there’s not challenge to these games, you are racing against some sort of time restraint or challenge that needs to be completed or you lose. The concept took me awhile to get on board with because…I really love strategy and winning and let’s not forget, a little friendly smack talk. However, these are the perfect games for families with younger kids who want to play but just can’t quite do it on their own. Because you are all working together, you can help or coach them to decide what to play {except in The Crew – no discussing the play}. If you are looking to work on teamwork skills, these games are a great way to do it. Cooperative games are also fun to play together with a group of adults, so not just for kids.

I’m including a list and some links for cooperative games. Some I will be reviewing over the next few months for a more in depth look at the games.

Hoot Owl Hoot!

Players work together to move all of the owls into the nest in the center.  Ages 4-8


Players work together to collect berries to bring back to Grandma’s house.  As they go, they will have ailments and have to find the right herbal remedy to heal it.  Ages 4+.  

The Crew and The Crew Mission Deep Space

This is hands down my favorite trick-taking game.  You work together to complete certain goals by each player taking specific tricks each round.  The nice part is you can play only a few hands for a short game or more rounds for a longer game.  Each round gets more difficult to complete.  This is probably my very favorite game ever to be totally honest with you.  Ages 10+ but I would definitely suggest more teen to adult.

Castle Panic

We play this game pretty often.  It’s easy to set up and the kids can do it themselves.  Players all work together to protect the castle from being attacked.  Being able to effectively use each part of your turn really affects the outcome of the game.  Ages 8+ and this game can be played solo.

Chronicles of Avel

This game gets played regularly also.  The expansion really adds a ton to the game!  We still haven’t played all of the versions that are in the expansion.  This one – after the first few plays, we really knew what we had to focus on to succeed yet it’s still challenging every time and we lose plenty!  Ages 8+

Forbidden Island

In this game, each player has a different skill set that allows them to do certain things that help you or other players out during the game.  We’ve played this a ton!  There are also a few other versions, Forbidden Sky, Forbidden Desert and now Forbidden Jungle.  I haven’t played Jungle yet but Island has been our favorite of the others.  It says ages 10+ but my 8 year old has been playing it since he was 6 or 7, he just needed a little more talking through what to do then.  


Four diseases threaten the world, and your elite team of specialists must find a cure for each of them before it’s too late. Everyone must work together applying their unique character skills to benefit the team—and the world.  Ages 8+  We haven’t played this one yet but we have it.  


In Cahoots, players work together playing one card at a time on one of the four piles of cards matching either number or color.  Sounds easy enough, right?!  Kind of.  However, as you add cards, you are working together to complete a set number of challenges before running out of cards.  Can you work together to get it done?  We play this one pretty regularly and have fun with it.  


Outnumbered:  Improbable Heroes

I forgot to add this one to the pictures but we play this pretty often.  My nine-year-old loves it even though he needs help to play it.  It involves shaking 3 dice and trying to make them work by solving math problems with those numbers or squaring numbers or using your individual super power to eliminate the villains on the game board.  You can make it harder by using the larger numbers.  Working together you have to eliminate the villains before they destroy you.  



Have you played cooperative games before? Let me know in the comments below which games are your favorite cooperative games. 

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