Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games of 2018

It’s already been another year! 2017 was a great year (with a good top 10 cooperative games).  RICHIECon 2018 came and went …

2018 was an interesting year: it felt like most of the new cooperative games I played came out near the end of the year!  So, there are a few I didn’t play that are still on my pile!  (Notably, Detective, Direwild, Metal Dawn and a few others)  But, this was still a pretty awesome year!  There were a lot of Superhero games (which isn’t surprising if you know me).

As usual, we will invoke Saunders’ Law: (Does the cooperative game have a viable solo mode?) when we discuss this year’s top 10 cooperative games!

Honorable Mention: The 7th Continent

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Playable Solo? Yes, you can play solo easily.

Strictly speaking, The 7th Continent came out LAST year.  But it never hit retail.  It was ONLY available on Kickstarter!  So, I missed out on the first printing.  Well, it turns out they had a 2nd Kickstarter in 2018, which is “arguably” a 2018 release?  Strictly speaking, it’s not a 2018 release, which is why it is an Honorable Mention for 2018.

This is a great adventure game with a lot of content: very choose your own adventure as you explore an evolving landscape.  Very fun!  This would have ended up in the top 3 if I were allowed to put it in this year’s list …

10. Batman: The Animated Series – Gotham City Under Siege

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Playable Solo? Yes, it plays solo, but you have to play two characters.

This game has a lot going for it: it’s a Richard Lanius game, it has Batman, and you get to play SuperHeroes!  Batman, Robin, the Commissioner, and CatWoman!  I must admit, I was very nervous when I first played this game!  It looked a LOT like my own game Sidekick Saga,  but it turns it was very different.   This is a dice game, where you all work together to keep the City of Gotham from being destroyed by all the Villains in the Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery!  Each Superhero has his own way of mitigating/enhancing the dice roles, so each character plays very differently.  It’s not super deep (no pun intended), as you role dice and do the best you can to stop the Villains.  It’s a fun, medium filler!  (The rulebook could have used a little more work, but it was good enough).  Check it out!

9. Forbidden Sky

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Playable Solo?  No! There’s no mention you can play it solo, although if you take 2 characters, you can play it solo.  It works well enough that way.

Forbidden Sky is the third in the “Forbidden” series, with Forbidden Island being the first (a good entry cooperative, especially for kids), and  Forbidden Desert being the second (an excellent medium-weight cooperative game).  In this game, the players collectively build a skyramp (see picture on box), trying to collect the lightning so they can launch their spaceship!  The players have to avoid high winds, the self-same lightning, all while trying to build this circuit to launch their spaceship.  Now, here’s the cool part: you actually build a real-life circuit where real electricity flows!  When you complete the physical circuit (which is on the game board), the rocket “launches”!  Well, it makes real-life noises pretending to launch!  It’s cheesy, but pretty cool.

I think Forbidden Desert is still my favorite of the series, but Forbidden Sky has high “coolness” factor building a real circuit, and it’s a fun game!

8.Robit Riddle: Storybook Adventures

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Playable Solo? Yes, but the game doesn’t work well until about 3 players.

See my full review here: This was a Kickstarter that delivered in 2018.  It’s a fairly fun reading/storytelling game, aimed at a younger audience, but I find that I enjoyed it.   It has a lot of educational value (I know, usually the kiss of death), but it was fun.

7. 5-Minute Marvel

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Playable Solo? No, not really.  You could kinda fake it with 2 characters, but this game is all about the interaction with multiple players.

So, my friend Sean brought this game over to one of our game nights.  We played it all the way through AND HAD A BLAST!  I picked it up myself soon after that! It’s a very lightweight filler game, but you can make it last as long you want!   Each session last 5 minutes, as all the players collectively and simultaneously play cards to defeat the bad guys.   If you continue to play, the bad guys get harder and harder!  It is a realtime cooperative card game, which I usually hate, but this one was fun!  Thanks Sean!   I think the Superhero nature of the game pumped my enjoyment a little …

6.  Renegade

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Playable Solo?  Absolutely: A great solo mode where you play just one character!

This one was a surprise to me!  I almost backed the Kickstarter, but didn’t.  I got it later from a friendly retailer.   If I am in a bad mood, I was describe this as “fiddly Pandemic meets Hacker”.  BUT, I think a better description is “Dynamic Pandemic meets Hacker!”

Hacker is a old Steve Jackson game where you build a network of computers and work competitively to take over the most machines.    Renegade takes this premise and makes it cooperative as you all fight against the SMC!  (A Big Bad!)  It has a Pandemic-like mechanism as sparks collect, and three sparks cause a Guardian.  And sparks and guardians “collect” on your servers and partitions (instead of cities and countries of Pandemic), and if too many come out, you lose!

There’s a lot of rules to this game!  It’s very thematic, with neural nets and viruses for battling sparks, but there are a lot of rules!  I almost gave up on this game because the game seems sooo fiddly.  It could really use a player summary card.  BUT once I got into it, it was fun, challenging and very interesting!  Give it a whirl if you are looking for a more “complicated” Pandemic!

5.Sentinels of the Multiverse: OblivAeon

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Playable Solo?  Inasmuch as Sentinels of the Multiverse plays solo.  See my post here on how to play Sentinels solo. You can apply that here.

It took quite a while (2+ years?) to go from Kickstarter to delivery.  But the game finally arrived in 2018!  This is more than just an expansion for Sentinels of the Multiverse, this is a very different way to play the game!  See my reviews here and here!  This is a VERY fun Superhero romp!  It’s EPIC!   It’s CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS … I mean multiverse, as you are trying to stop THANOS … I mean OblivAeon from destroying the multiverse!!!

It’s a very long and fiddly game.  3+ hours and lots of rules to wade through.  BUT, it is the most EPIC SuperHero game you will ever play!   But, whatever you do, DO NOT play this until you have mastered the base Sentinels of the Multiverse game!  There’s just too much until you know the game.

It’s a fun game, as your heroes die (!), you move back and forth between realities and fight SO MANY BAD GUYS!  Fun.

4. Unlock! The Adventurers of Oz

Playable Solo?  Strictly speaking yes, but these games go SO MUCH better with a few people!

One of my favorite experiences of 2018 was playing this Unlock adventure with Delia and Sam at RICHIECon!  It’s one of the more intricate Unlock games, as you play all the 4 characters from the Wizard of OZ.  And without giving away too much, it has a really cool little cardboard device you use throughout the game.

Probably not a good Unlock game to start with, but once you kind of know how the Unlock games work, this one is fantastic.  Yes, I would play it again.

3.Heroes of Terrinoth

Playable Solo? Yes, but you have to play 2 characters at once (alternating)!  The game is balanced so that the Heroes always get 4 actions per turn, regardless of player count.
So, this game is a reskin of Warhammer Quest: the Adventure card game!
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Unfortunately, Fantasy Flight and the Warhammer people (Games Workshop) “broke up” about a year ago, which meant Fantasy Flight couldn’t use the Warhammer IP anymore.
Which means NO MORE expansions and NO MORE game!  (The Warhammer game had two very minor expansions by adding two new characters, but that’s it).
This is a great game system!  It’s simple, as each player only has to manage 4 cards.  Each card is “tapped” after you use the ability, and you have to do a “heal” or “rest” action to get all your cards back.  A very simple mechanism as you explore dungeons!
This is pretty much the same game.  You are just in the Terrinoth universe instead of the Warhammer universe.  There are minor differences, but it’s the same game.  It’s a great game!  The main problem with the original game was that there were ONLY 5 scenarios with the game!   It CRIED for expansions!  Now, with Fantasy Flight owning all the IP for  Terrinoth, maybe we will get some …

2. Chronicles of Crime

Playable Solo? Yes, absolutely!
If I had to characterize this game, I’d say it’s an old text-style adventure game!  What?  In the old adventure games, you could only “manipulate” the items on screen on in your inventory.  “Get light”, “Drop light”, “talk man”, “ask guard about skull” and so on.  In this game, all your items are on cards in front of you!  When you want to interact with the items, you use your smart phone to scan a code on some cards!  So, if you want to “ask guard about skull”, you’d scan the code on the Guard card, then scan the code on Skull card!  And the phone would tell you what he said!
This interaction is great!  Except, you are trying to solve a crime by interacting with the world in front of you!  Really, really fun!   You move around from location to location, physically LOOKING at animations at locations (really!), and then scan cards.  (“I think there’s a shovel here at this location … Um … Oh! There’s a ‘gardening tools’ card!  Scan that!”)
Surprisingly fun, amazing graphics (you HAVE to have a smart phone to play), but a lot of content!  It’s also easy to play!  A GREAT game!

1. The Reckoners

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Playable Solo?  Yes, very well.
It shouldn’t shock you that my favorite game is a Superhero game.  What should shock you is that it’s basically a DICE GAME!   I usually don’t like dice games that much.  But this one was fun fun fun!
This game is a surprise on so many levels!  It was a Kickstarter that delivered ON TIME!  The components are absolutely amazing!  (See my review/unboxing here)  The gameplay is interesting and uses Player Selected Turn Order (one of my favorite cooperative game mechanics)!  The game is hard!  But, there are so many interesting decisions  even if it is really just a dice game.
This game also introduced me to Superhero world of the Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson.
This was my favorite cooperative game of the year 2018, and it shocked me too.
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