I miss last month, when my first thought on hearing the word “pandemic” was the board game. As we all start to reduce our social activities, board games are a great way to spend time with anyone you happen to be cooped up with. But some games can get very competitive and lead to strained relationships, which is not ideal when you’re spending so much time around them. So here’s a list of my favourite co-op board games to help keep us entertained and working together in these trying times.
Play time: 45 min
In this game, you work together to contain the spread of deadly viruses. Travel the world, from hot spot to hot spot, to control the spread and work towards a cure. Players can choose from a variety of different roles with unique skillsets to help fight the four diseases rampaging across the world. This game is fun and stressful; you must strategize and cooperate to choose how to develop cures and prevent disease outbreaks.
Play time: 30 min
You novice firework crafters have mixed up all the fireworks right before the big festival. Can you get them sorted out before it’s time for the finale? Your communication skills are tested in this card game, as each player can only see the hands of the other players, and not their own. You must advise your teammates into playing the right cards at the right time, or everything will go up in flames.
Play time: 2-4 hrs
Fight Eldritch beasts of horrifying origins as you and your teammates work to unravel the mysteries of Arkham without losing your sanity. Explore the city and try to close the mysterious portals appearing around Arkham before the Ancient One awakens and destroys you all. This game is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Buckle in for an epic and gritty RPG adventure, as games will last upwards of two hours, and when you’re starting out, expect closer to four or five.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Play time: 30 min to 2 hrs, depending on the game
Travel through the years of Harry Potter’s adventures in Hogwarts in this evolving deck building game. Play as Harry, Ron, Hermione, or Neville, as you develop the skills to defeat Voldemort and his allies, who grow stronger every year. Gain the spells, allies, and equipment to fight against the forces of the Dark Lord. This game is actually seven variations of a deck building game, with new rules and cards added for every year of Harry’s adventure.
5 Minute Dungeon
Play time: 5 min
In this fast-paced card game, you and your friends must work together to face all the challenges of a dungeon adventure. At its essence, this is a picture matching game; you must assemble the right cards to defeat the enemy before you as quickly as possible in a hectic, turn-less free for all. Download the 5-Minute Dungeon app to be narrated along by a variety of game masters. There are five different dungeons for you to face, each getting progressively more difficult. But all must be done in five minutes or less.
Play time: 45 min
Your team of adventurers have crash-landed in the middle of a vast desert. Your only hope for survival is to explore the ancient city hidden beneath the dunes to find and assemble an ancient legendary flying machine. Excavate and explore the ruins while struggling to endure the vicious and unrelenting storm that threatens your team and hinders your progress. Each adventurer has different skills and a limited water supply. As a team, you win and lose together in this thrilling game of survival on a constantly changing board.
Play time: 20 min+
You can probably tell from this list that I favour RPGs, but Concept is an excellent exception. In this variation of Charades, you must try and describe a word or phrase by placing tokens on different icons. Other players try to guess your intention of each token to determine what you are describing. Are you using the mouth icon to mean mouth, flavour, or eat? This is a great game to play to see who understands how you think. Though this game technically works by a points system, the editors note in the rules that they don’t even use that aspect of it anymore, as the greatest enjoyment is just in guessing and being guessed. This is a great, flexible game that can be played by as many people as you like, for as long as you like, to great enjoyment.