I was inspired by a recent Dice Tower Top 10 List (Top 10 Fantasy Flight Games) for this list. My initial list had 9 cooperative games and only 1 game that WAS NOT cooperative (see below), so with just a minor tweak, this became a top 10 list of cooperative games … from Fantasy Flight. Caveat Emptor: this is my opinion.
This was the only FF game that wasn’t cooperative. Ingenious is an abstract, competitive, tile-laying game. It’s an older game, but it hit all my gaming groups by storm. I know, it’s not cooperative, it’s not even published by Fantasy Flight anymore (Kosmos)! Ingenious is a great game that probably should have won the Spiel Des Jahres (2004), but it had the misfortune of being up against Ticket To Ride (the winner that year). In any other year, Ingenious probably would have won.
On to the top 10 cooperative Fantasy Flight games!
10. Runebound 3rd Edition (with Unbreakable Bonds Cooperative Expansion)
This is a relatively new game for me: I just recently broke it out of shrink and have been playing it. This is a fantasy questing game, where players quest around the world of Terrinoth (you’ll see that world a lot on this list). The players are buffing themselves up to fight the final boss monster. My first few plays were of the base game, which is nominally competitive, but my experience was that this game could easily be cooperative (and it it, with the Unbreakable Bonds expansion).
This expansion adds some new decks, replaces the competitive quest cards from the base game with new cooperative quest cards (adding two new ones, and replacing two from the base game and 1 from the Caught In A Web expansion). The main change is that each “foe” has his own combat board (instead of having another player run him). Overall, very fun.
The only problem? The cooperative expansion is almost impossible to get a hold of.
9. Elder Sign
This is a dice game. You chuck dice on “adventures”, trying to crack a challenge on some card (with appropriate benefits/losses). There are ways to mitigate the dice (spell and items help you reroll), but it’s all about the dice chucking. The theme is a little lacking in the first base game, but the later expansions really ratchet up the theme, giving it more direction.
For a lot of people, the app on iOS/Android has replaced the physical version (I actually learned itfrom the app), but there’s something fun about throwing dice (especially when you are angry) trying to win. But, at the end of the day, it is just a dice game.
7. Lord of the Rings (The Cooperative Renier Knizia version)
This is called getting killed by Sauron by my gaming groups: I think we’ve only won this game once.
Many people attribute this Knizia version of Lord of The Rings to be the first modern cooperative board game! LOTR (or getting killed by Sauron) is a epic game spanning so many double-sided boards! Each board is major location from the book (Morder being the last board, see below), and the object is to work together to get all the way to Morder (by traveling through each board) so you can thrown the Ring into Mount Doom.
The game is weirdly abstract: the events on the left side (see board above) have to be mitigated so you don’t take “too much bad news”, but you have to balance that with getting off the board (among other things) so you can make it to Mordor with the Ring. The events are in line with the book, but their representation seems very abstract. Nonetheless, this game still comes out in my game groups: “Who wants to get killed by Sauron?”
7. Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game
This is a small card that fits into a fairly small box. But it’s actually quite a big game! Each player takes the role of platoon of Space Marines (each platoon has it’s own special abilities) and works with the other platoons to take out the Aliens. (Well, there are obviously the Aliens from the Alien/Aliens movies, but they don’t have the rights to them, so they are legally distinct, but we all know what they are).
The game has a lot of rules and set-up (it took me a while to get going), but once you get going, the games flows well. Each platoon plays one of it’s three cards (the only rule being you can’t play the same card as last turn) and tries to take out Aliens to get to the end Location so they can escape. Combat is simple with a single die, and there is quite a lot of push your luck (with some mitigation mechanics with a SUPPORT token you can give your compatriots).
Death Angel is small, simple (once you get into), and fun. The only problem with this game: it’s hard to get a hold of right now.
6. Mansions of Madness (Second Edition)
This one is a little odd for me: I didn’t like it at first. I hated the First Edition: I played it with my friends and we hated the 1-vs-many nature. The Second Edition makes the game fully cooperative, so I was willing to give it a second try. But then I played my first game of Second Edition right after a very long trip (from the USA to Australia), and I think that did the game a disservice. Recently, I have picked it up again and replayed it. You know what? That was fun!
There’s quite a bit of plastic and cards and the game’s components are very thematic. The app (which is required) really stepped up the theme. Now, at first, I didn’t like the app! “Where do I draw the line between what I do and the app does?” I think my expectations were set wrong: once I dialed that back, I was able to see the lines clearly and be able to just play the game.
This is a fun, thematic game. If you are like me, you need to give it a try a few times to make sure you “get” how it all fits together (it needs to “seep” into you). Once it seeps into your soul, it’s a fun cooperative game of movement, exploration and fighting for 1-5 players with very thematic music and an immersive app.
5. Legacy of Dragonholt
This game was a big hit in my gaming circles when it first came out! I was able to play in the very first adventure, but then my friends played without me (to be fair, I lived in a different city than that game group). They all seemed to love it at first, but had trouble finishing it. I recently picked up the game as a solo player and loved the heck out of it. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure meets a simpler Dungeons and Dragons game. Each player creates a character with stats (like Dungeons and Dragons). These characters then adventure in the world of Terrinoth. The adventure flows out of books of text with decision points (much like Choose Your Own Adventure games). It’s simpler than Dungeons and Dragons, but substantially more complex than Choose Your Own Adventure, as you have to do some maintenance as you play.
At the end of the day, it was quite fun, but it may not be your cup of tea. There is a LOT of reading. But, if you like the idea of reading and interacting with a fantasy book (with tons of content), this would be for you. I loved playing it solo, but you can play it cooperatively (as my game group did) by “passing” the reading/choosing responsibility around the group.
4. Marvel Champions
This game is supposedly a re-implementation of Fantasy Flight’s Lord of the Rings LCG. It’s different enough that the game stands on it’s own. Players play 1-4 Superheroes (Spiderman, She-Hulk, Black Panther, Iron Man, Captain Marvel are in the base game) taking on some bad guys (Ultron, Klaw, and Rhino are in the base game). Players build decks with different “aspects” (Justice, Defense, etc), but honestly the base game suggests perfectly valid decks to play.
The game is a fun as you attack the Bad Guys, go back and forth between Superhero form and Secret Id form, and work together to take down the Bad Guys scheme.
It’s a good game: not too complex, not too simple. They are making tons of expansions: new Heroes (Spider Woman is on the way, Thor and Captain America are extra decks already available) and new Bad Guys (Green Goblin and the Wrecking Crew are also available). Fun game with a Superhero theme.
3. Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game
Fantasy Flight and Games Workshop entered into some kind of partnership in the early 2000s that allowed them to share Intellectual Property. One of these joint ventures gave us Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game! This cooperative fantasy card game (by the Sadler brothers) had a very simple mechanism for actions: each player has four cards with actions. A card is tapped to activate its action (and one of those four actions was to heal all 4). One of the four actions was to help your compatriots, so it really encouraged cooperation!
Players went on quests, fought monsters, and levelled up as they played. It was quite fun and straight-forward fantasy game. There was the promise of expansion (and there were two very small new character expansions), but the game ultimately was abandoned. Why? See Number 2 (below).
2. Heroes of Terrinoth
This game is a re-implementation of Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game (WHQTACG) (see above). When Fantasy Flight and Games Workshop dissolved their games partnership in 2017, Fantasy Flight lost the rights to the Intellectual Property of WQTACG and thus could no longer publish that game. They went ahead and re-themed the WHQTACG game engine in the world of Terrinoth (we’ve seen this world many times on their list) to give us Heroes of Terrinoth!
Heroes of Terrinoth is almost exactly the same game as WHQTACG, but with slightly different theming (more lighter Terrinoth fantasy than darker Warhammer fantasy). The rulebook of Heroes of Terrinoth is better than WHQTACG and perhaps a little more accessible. My hope was that we’d see some expansions for Heroes of Terrinoth, but as of the time of this writing, there hasn’t been any.
Which game do you want? it depends on what you can find! If you see WHQTACG for cheap somewhere, pick it up! It’s a good game and almost the same as Heroes of Terrinoth.
1. Arkham Horror (Second Edition)
To be clear: this is the 2nd Edition of the game (not the 3rd). This game shows its age a little (it’s a little long, and it’s structure is a little dated: see this blog entry), but it is a favorite of mine and a lot of my friends! We still play it every Halloween!!! I think we like it so much because it gives us the RPG flavor (as each player takes the role of an Arkham character) without needing a Dungeon Master to run an adventure! All players have to work together to explore the city, fight monsters, close gates, and (ultimately) defeat the final big bad Cthulu monster. There’s multiple paths to victory (close gates or fight monster?), coordinated choices (“I’ll kill the monster so you can get to the Clue”), and even lots of flavor text in each of the challenges at Locations.
We played this game to death over the years (it’s about 15 years old). Arkham Horror has tons of expansion (both big box and card only). This is probably one of the games I have played the most in my life. I love the game, I love the choices, I love the cooperative nature, I love the memories (We played it for my bachelor party). This is easily my favorite Fantasy Flight game.
Appendix. Where’s XXX?
There are some quite a number of Fantasy Flight cooperative games. If your favorite isn’t on here, it’s likely I haven’t played it yet or I didn’t like it, but here’s some comments about a few I didn’t mention.
- Where’s Arkham Horror LCG? I played Arkham Horror LCG: It wasn’t for me (see my review here). I know a lot of people love it. It’s just not for me.
- Where’s Eldritch Horror? I haven’t played it yet. It “promises” a shorter, stream-lined Arkham Horror 2nd Ed (AH2E) game, but every game I’ve seen of Eldritch Horror lasts just as long as AH2E, and it seems to have streamlined the game too much for me. I’d rather just play AH2E (but I will play Eldritch Horror someday).
- Where’s Arkham Horror 3rd Edition? I have it, but I haven’t played it yet: it’s still in shrink. I haven’t heard great things about it.