Top 10 Cooperative Dice Games

What Will Become of Scotland's Moors?

It turns out me and my family have been cursed by the Sea Hag of the Scottish moors, so we can’t roll well on dice.  If you want to make money on this, you should bet against me in Vegas.   I have noticed, recently, that I have been doing better at dice games lately (or perhaps that’s part of the curse?), so perhaps the curse is fading ?  Either way, I have been enjoying a lot of cooperative dice games lately: these are cooperative games where dice are the major component of the game.  (Maybe this is why the curse has lessened, I am playing cooperative dice games WITH MY FRIENDS rather than against them?)

Here’s my top 10 fully cooperative dice games.

10. Pulp Detective

Box cover

Plays Solo?  Yes.  This is 1 or 2-Player game only.
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below), but they are a little generic.
Real-time? No

Save up for that final boss…

The dice are the driving force to the game as you roll and re-roll the dice every turn.

This is a small cooperative dice game which has a lot of play for such a little box.   You are solving one of the “mysteries” by rolling dice and placing cards.  My favorite part of the game is the the card placement:  the physical way that you play cards (next to previous cards) can trigger special things.  This is a very small game, but I liked it.

Pulp Detective on Tabletopia

9. Pandemic: Rapid Response

Pandemic: Rapid Response Cover

Plays Solo?  No.  I have played solo my playing two positions, but it doesn’t work well.
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below) and they are colorful!
Real-time? Yes

Spectacular dice

This is real-time dice game, which I usually don’t like too much, but this one is fun and the components really are nice.

Portion of the game board

Players move around the globe (see track on the outside), working together on a “rapid response” to the Pandemic: this is a real-time game that puts the “rapid” in Rapid Response.   This is available at Target and has a mass-market feel, but the dice are pretty awesome.

8. The Masters’ Trials: Wrath of Magmaroth

The Masters' Trials: Wrath of Magmaroth - Cover

Plays Solo?  Yes.  By default, plays co-op 2-4, with some mods for solo play (it works well solo).
Custom Dice? No.  Just some colorful plain 6-sided with pips.
Real-time? No

My board set up

This is a bargain bin find. I got this for pretty cheap (and it seems to be cheap everywhere I look).  The thing is: I liked it.  It played well solo.  The dice crafting idea is interesting, but it’s more implemented “abstractly” by changing cards, rather than actually changing the actual physical dice (like you would do in Dice City).

2 player coop!

I think the reason this game didn’t do better is that there isn’t a lot of replayability: there’s like one boss at the end.  But, the art is great and I had fun!

7. Elder Sign

Front Cover, English Edition, Actual production copy, High Quality

Plays Solo?  Yes.  Plays up to 6!
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below). Not super colorful dice.
Real-time? No

Elder Sign : make sure the Ancient One is sealed away! – The ...

Players take the roll of character(s), and roll dice at Locations to “explore” said Location at the museum.  If you successfully explore a Location, you gather resources … if you fail, evil things happen to you!  You gather resources over time,  hoping to collect what you need to to defeat a big Cthulu type monster.  There’s a lot of different monsters and a lot of different characters the players can choose from (and tons of expansions). It’s really just a dice rolling game, but it’s quite thematic. 

Our game night on 02-10-2012.

I think I would like this game more, but it’s quite lucky.  There’s some dice mitigation (using spells and items) but they get used up pretty quickly.  I sometimes get very frustrated when the dice just do not go my way.  You can lose very easily if you have a bad night, but yet, I still do like it a lot.  It’s so thematic and pretty.

This game made my Top 10 Cooperative Fantasy Flight Games.

6. Kung Fu Panda: The Board Game

Kung Fu Panda: The Board Game, Modiphius Entertainment, 2019 — front cover

Plays Solo?  No: there are no solo rules.  I have played solo by playing two characters and doubling the time limits.
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below). Not super colorful dice.
Real-time? Yes

THE DICE SHOWING ALL SIDES

This game centers on dice because you are constantly rolling and re-rolling your dice in real-time as you explore the universe of Kung Fu Panda.

This game alternates between #5 and #6 for me.  If I want a brainless real-time game, #5 (see next entry) is a better game.  But if I want a few more choices (but have to remember some more stuff), Kung Fu Panda is a better choice.Four Player board render

The production on this game is really great.  There are tons tiles to explore, and TONS of miniatures! Each play has special powers (playing one of the characters from the movie), and the game really embraces the Kung Fu Panda Universe.

BOX BACK

Here’s the thing: there’s a lot to remember in this game for a real-time game!!!   But this gives the game has a real nice decision space (granted, you have to make those decisions in real-time).  So, it’s a trade-off: do you want a real-time dice game with exploration that’s easy?  … then see Entry #5 (below).  Do you want a real-time dice game with exploration with a little more meat?  .. then Kung Fu Panda is for you.

5. Escape! The Curse of the Temple

Front Of Box

Plays Solo?  No.  Too easy to get stuck if you play alone!
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below). Not super colorful dice.
Real-time? Yes

Close up of every side of the die

This game centers on dice because you are constantly rolling and re-rolling your dice in real-time as you explore the temple.

This is a dumb, silly, real-time game exploring a temple.  There’s a not a lot to teach or to remember to play: you can usually just jump right into the game.  Of all the games on this list, this is probably the easiest to explain and play.

Essen 2012 - Escape on display.

Each player has some dice, and they have to roll certain combos to find things and explore.  Sometimes, your dice get locked (the black side) and you have to unlock it (with the gold side).  In the worst case, you have your friend unlock your dice when ALL of yours get unlock!   This is why you need multiple players!!!  It’s too easy to get completely locked!!

Players explore trying to find their way out together.  This is the only game I don’t actually have because a lot of my friends already have it!  (And it’s also hard to get right now?)  A silly, real-time roll-as-much-as-you-like same for multiple people.

4. Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War

BOX FRONT (MUCH LARGER)

Plays Solo?  No.  You might be able to if you take 2 positions.
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below)
Real-time? No

THE DICE SHOWING MOST SIDES

This is a fun game where players roll dice and try to stop Thanos from getting all the Infinity stones!  The components are pretty cool, with custom dice, cool cards, and a Thanos in the middle changing where he looks!

The final two, I had 11 dice to roll with tokens, tripped two enemies... it was great... poor Thanos, not this time

Players role dice to recruit new heroes (and activate abilities) to help them defeat Villains.  The players win if they defeat 7 Villains before Thanos collects all the Infinity Stones (or they die, or too many heroes die).  It’s a fun game, if a bit lucky.

If you don’t like the Thanos theme, this has been rethemed for Harry Potter: Death Eaters Rising (in a Harry Potter universe with Voldemort as the big bad) or Dark Side: Rising (in a Star Wars Universe: not available in the USA?).

This game made my Top 10 Cooperative Games of 2018 and my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero Games.

3. Set A Watch

Plays Solo?  … yes.  Sorta.  It’s not great, because you have to play 4 characters, but it works well enough.
Custom Dice? Not really: You have standard colored 6 and 8-sided dice.  My version has numbers on all dice faces (rather than the pips below).
Real-time? No

components

This game has worked shockingly well in many different types of gaming groups: My heavy, medium, and light gaming groups have all embraced and enjoyed the game.  Players each take the roll of adventurers trying to travel back to the city: each round, one adventurer stays back tending the campfire, and the rest protect the camp by taking out monsters in the night.  Dice can be used directly to defeat monsters (by beating the HP value of the monster) or you can just a die to activate special powers!  Each player has 3 special powers!   Players work together really well, strategizing how to defeat all the monsters with the dice and player powers.

The reason I think this game works so well: your dice can be used for multiple things! Either: One of three powers, or the actual number rolled.  Players feel engaged as they make decisions.

This game also made my Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games of 2019.

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

Plays Solo? Yes, rules included, and it plays well  (you play two characters)
Custom Dice? No. They are kind of small, plain 6 sided dice, but they are pretty colors
Real-time? No

Full Game

Those of you paying attention will notice that Batman has (ironically) risen above Thanos Rising (number 4 previously on this list).   In my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero Board and Card Games, Thanos Rising is above Batman in the rankings.  What’s changed?   Very simply, Batman allows solo play and it gets to the table more so I have really been enjoying.   It’s a lighter game, but it seems like you can “usually” do stuff with the dice you roll.

Players take on the roll of Batman, Robin, Batgirl, or the Commissioner and roll dice fighting crime.   You assign dice to abilities on your card, which allow you to do special things.  Really fun, if a little lucky.

This game also made my Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games of 2018  and my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero games.

1. Reckoners

Reckoners Box Cover Front

Plays Solo? Yes, rules included, and it plays well
Custom Dice? Yes! The nicest dice of any game on this list!
Real-time? No

IMG_4476
The dice: this is really just a Yahtzee game, but the dice are SO nice!

I picked this up because it was a SuperHero game, but I was skeptical it would be good.  It was fantastic!

There was no question what game would be number 1 on my cooperative dice games list.  This game is fun, it’s full of interesting decisions, and the components are stellar: the best on this list.  But the main reason this is number 1: all your dice do something!  A lot of dice game require a threshold (“roll over 4”), roll an exact number (“roll a 1 to activate”), or have some dice that do nothing.  Every single side of the dice will do something good for you!  You roll your dice a few times, keeping what you want and rerolling the others (ala Yatzee!).  You may not get exactly what you want, but every dice face will give you something GOOD the in the game.  Even if it’s not relevant, you can use a “unused” face for movement (to move around the city).  So, every turn, you do good: literally.

IMG_4505
The Stellar components of the Reckoners!

This game surprised how good it was.  The gameplay was rich, the components amazing, and a lot of depth for a game based on rolling dice.  This is easily by favorite cooperative dice game!

This was my top game of 2018! Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games of 2018  and it was very high on my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero Games!

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Cooperative Dice Games

  1. Hmmm… I find Elder Sign rarely hits the table anymore and the rest of these I haven’t played. Dice rolling as a primary mechanic is probably my least favorite aspect of any game. Too luck based. On the other hand, I *do* like Sagrada, which is a dice rolling game but since it’s only one thing to keep track of, it takes a back seat to placement strategies. Of course, it’s not coop.

    Like

    1. I think the Reckoners is good enough that you would still like it despite the dice rolling being center stage. There’s a lot of strategy in how you use those dice!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s