I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t think that I can ever play another round of Candy Land. The game has its merits, like being a great way to introduce your preschooler to taking turns and gameplay, but at its core, it is a pure game of chance involving no skill.

The other problem with games like Candy Land is that they breed competitiveness. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m not thrilled with the idea of every play interaction requiring competition. Yes, I want my kids to build a strong sense of frustration tolerance. That level of resilience is good for them, but there are plenty of other places that will help them develop that.

Deep into the pandemic, we went deep into the game closet and pulled out a game that we hadn’t played much of when we got it. Unlike a lot of other games, this game wasn’t about one person winning or losing. It was whether we all won or lost.

What Are Cooperative Board Games

Cooperative board games are a little different from the games like Sorry, Monopoly, or Clue that you might have played when you were younger. The goal of the game is to work collaboratively to achieve a goal. You “win” by working well with your teammates and contributing to the overall goal.

Good cooperative board games help players practice a wide variety of social skills through experiential learning. Enjoyment comes from your interaction with each other, not from trying to “beat the snot” out of the other player. And, many of them are just as engaging and entertaining as competition-based board games. Plus, these games can also promote executive functioning, just like traditional board games.

Cooperative Board Games to Try Out

Here are a few cooperative board games to add to your game closet.

Hoot Owl Hoot

Peaceable Kingdom Hoot Owl Hoot - Cooperative Matching Game For Kids

This was our entry cooperative board game. The rules are basic- get your owls home before sunrise.

Number of players – 2-4

Recommended ages – 4-8

The Fairy Game

Published by the same company as Hoot Owl Hoot, this game has players working to match fairy cards with hidden gems before winter arrives.

Number of players – 2-4

Recommended ages – 5 and up

Freedom: The Underground Railroad

As someone who grew up playing Oregon Trail, I loved the idea of a game being based upon history. Your goal is to help free the slaves and guide them to freedom.

Number of players – 1-4

Recommended ages – 13+

Dungeons & Dragons: Adventure Begin

If you have kids hooked on Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, this is a good game to jump into. Yes, it is the same D&D, but in board game format that is much easier to engage with than the classic role-playing game.

Number of players – 2-4

Recommended ages – 10+

Forbidden Island

The island is sinking and it is up to the players to stop it. This game has some truly beautifully designed game pieces and artwork as part of it.

Number of players – 2-4

Recommended ages – 8+

Cauldron Quest

Everyone helps make a magic potion, but with no mess in the kitchen! Play as wizards trying to save the kingdom from dark magic.

Number of players – 2-4

Recommended ages – 6+

Marvel Champions: The Card Game

Just like in the Avengers, you are a superhero team battling a collection of Marvel’s most famous bad guys. Together you can triumph!

Number of players – 1-4

Recommended ages – 14+