Cool Cooperative Games with Killer Components

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Cooperative games make for incredible gaming experiences. There’s something truly satisfying about sharing a social experience with friends, around a table and working towards the same goal, regardless of success. Games that are designed for cooperative experiences also tend to skew towards being much more challenging, but if the game is well designed, wanting to reset and try again is typically an easy decision for the entire group.

I tend to gravitate towards games that have cool components because I love to paint minis and am a sucker for quirky mechanics, which typically involve unique components. Within these parameters, here’s a few interesting cooperative games to check out:


Photo Credit: Teri Litorco

If you’ve ever thought about what surviving the zombie apocalypse with your gaming group would be like, this is the game for you. Players control survivors who have special abilities to help them survive the apocalypse and whose skills level up as they gain the experience of killing zombies.

Zombies spawn after players each have a turn and work on a basic algorithm to determine their movement and attack logic based on the type of zombie they are. Zombies are the perfect enemy to take advantage of a non-player controlled algorithm to allow for a true cooperative gaming experience. Zombies aren’t strategic, but they will overwhelm with numbers, if you let them.

Early editions had an elimination mechanic, where players that died were eliminated from play, but later expansions have corrected that and created a mechanic for slain survivors to play on as zombivors, as death and infection can’t turn a true hero into a monster.

Further, the minis in each season and expansion of Zombicide are truly killer in that they’re high quality components that enrich the gaming experience.



Photo Credit: Teri Litorco

A truly great game for Star Trek fans, Space Cadets lets you experience what it would be like to serve as a bridge officer alongside your gaming group.

Each player is given a station (or two) on the bridge including: weapons, shields, sensors, engineering, navigation and the station of captain.

Every station has a minigame that each player must execute in order to complete the mission. Moreover, these minigames are timed rounds of 30 seconds. With the tight timetables, the game perfectly captures the sense of dread and stress of dire situations on the bridge of a starship.

As an example, the weapons officer is tasked to load torpedoes in one round and fire them successfully in another round. The minigame used to load torpedoes is akin to Tetris, where the accuracy and damage their fired torpedoes do is determined by their success in a game of mini shuffleboard.

As soon as players feel comfortable in their station and tasks, damage to the ship caused by stray space debris can turn the mission awry quickly, forcing two or more players to switch stations or worse yet, cause the entire crew to deal with a warp core breach which could destroy the ship.

Space Cadets is more than a cooperative game; it is truly a cooperative gaming experience.


Photo Credit: Teri Litorco

The most recent iteration of Super Dungeon Explore moved beyond their classic mode, where one player acted as GM for the game, managing all enemy models and offered a new option of play, a truly cooperative experience, where enemy actions are determined by random draw of a deck.

Simulating the experience of a Japanese style video game (complete with chibi-anime styled heroes and enemies), players control various heroes with unique abilities and a set number of hit points. The dungeon drops items including potions (which give players access to a super  ability, Gauntlet-style) and equipment, which can improve the heroes’ stats when equipped or imbue them with other unique abilities.

The new arcade mode in SDE: Forgotten King introduces the Wrath mechanic which attracts enemy models to attack a player who has earned their aggression the most (by doing things like healing teammates and killing enemies).

It plays furiously – spawns seem relentless, enemies upgrade, mini bosses are innumerable and the level boss is always a challenge to overcome, provided you get there. With the Japanese-anime inspiration, the game’s minis are highly stylized chibi minis that also make the game as fun to paint as it is to play; it’s a great set to invest the time in all around.

What are your favourite cooperative games? How about games with remarkable components? Share them in the comments below!

Header Photo Credit: Teri Litorco

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