In Meeples Together, we included a number of “top” co-op lists (all in Appendix V: pp. 334-364). Those lists were put together in summer 2018 from our play records and from top lists at BGG. One year later, here’s an update to those lists; it was put together in fall 2019, and released today, just in time for consideration of any lucre you got over the holidays.
These lists have, perhaps, not changed too much in the last 15 months, but nonetheless, they’re an interesting snapshot for the changes we expect to see over time.
BGG: Top Ranked Co-ops
- Gloomhaven (8.87)
- Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (8.63)
- Spirit Island (8.34) [+6]
- The 7th Continent (8.41) [-1]
- Arkham Horror: The Card Game (8.21) [-1]
- Mansions of Madness 2e (8.13) [-1]
- Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 (8.23)
- Kingdom Death: Monster (8.75) [new]
- Mechs vs. Minions (8.11) [-3]
- Robinson Crusoe (7.89) [-2]
A reader of Meeples Together asked why Spirit Island (2017) wasn;t included in the book. It was all a question of timing: Spirit Island came out in late 2017. We did pick up one last batch of co-ops to play around that time, but we didn’t know that Spirit Island would become so popular so quickly, so we passed it by for others. And it’s obvious that the game is continuing to rise: it was #9 on this list in 2018 and is #3 in 2019.
More generally, it’s surprising that this list has changed so little in 15 months time. The ratings have all decayed a little, which seems to be how BGG’s algorithms work, but there’s no big new games from 2018 or 2019 on this list. No Betrayal Legacy (2018), no Arkham Horror 3e (2018). There isn’t even a lot of variance in ordering: Spirit Island rose dramatically and Mechs vs. Minions dropped a bit.
There is one new game on this list: Kingdom Death Monster (2015) is an older game that’s managed to push its way into the top ten, displacing Eldritch Horror (2013). But, that was the most notable change from 2018 to 2019.
BGG: Most Owned Co-ops
- Pandemic (129,000)
- Forbidden Island (62,000)
- Hanabi (55,000)
- Pandemic Legacy Season 1 (53,000) [+1]
- Dead of Winter (46,000) [new]
- Gloomhaven (46,000) [new]
- Arkham Horror 2e (43,000) [-3]
- Robinson Crusoe (43,000) [-1]
- Mysterium (38,000) [new]
- Forbidden Desert (38,000) [-2]
If the BGG “Top Ranked” list is a measure of current hotness, the “Most Owned” list is a an all-time hall of fame, for those games that have stood up to the test of time. It’s no surprise to see Pandemic still at the top of the co-op list, but what is surprising is that 20,000 new ownerships were marked on BGG on the last 15 months; that’s a game that’s not resting on its laurels.
Meanwhile, some of the other classics are being swept from the list: Arkham Horror 2e only toted up 1,000 new ownerships in the run up to the 3e release, while Eldritch Horror slipped off the list entirely, suggesting that FFG’s Lovecraftian dynasty may be fading before the overwhelming wave of new releases. Battlestar Galactica was another oldie-but-goodie that disappeared.
The new kids on the block? Dead of Winter (2014), Gloomhaven (2017), and Mysterium (2015), which is a pretty good list of new co-op hits from the mid ’10s. (It’s possible that Dead of Winter should have been on the previous list and was missed because of its unique space between co-op, individual, and traitor play.)
Gamepur: Best Co-ops
- The Dresden File Cooperative Card Game
- Aeon’s End
- Dead of Winter
We’re always happy to see top lists from gaming sites, including this one from Gamepur. It includes a mixture of top co-ops past and present, plus two that haven’t made BGG’s lists (including top ranked Gloomhaven, top owned Pandemic and the popular Dead of Winter).
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game (2017) is also one of Shannon’s favorites (and makes his most-played list), in part for its quick and thoughtful resource-management play, and in part for its great theming.
Aeon’s End on the other hand is a game that’s just barely mentioned in Meeples Together. It’s another deckbuilder co-op (which is the only reason that it gets attention in Meeples Together), and one that really deserves a play and case study from us.
Shannon’s Most Played Co-ops
- Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (173)
- The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game (26)
- Pandemic Legacies (22) [+2]
- Between Two Cities (18) [-1]
- Shadows over Camelot (13) [-1]
- Pandemic (12) [+1]
- T.I.M.E Stories (12) [new]
- Space Alert (11) [-2]
- Descent: Journeys in the Dark (9) [-1]
- Lord of the Rings (9) [-1]
- Arkham Horror 2e (8) [-1]
- Codenames (8) [-1]
- Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System games (8) [-1]
- Bang! + Samurai Sword (7) [-1]
- Betrayal Legacy (7) [new]
- The Game (7) [-2]
- Battlestar Galactica (6) [-2]
- Orléans: Invasion! (6) [-2]
- Hanabi (5) [-2]
- Saboteur (5) [-2]
Two new games made it onto Shannon’s five and dime list of co-ops: T.I.M.E Stories (2015) and Betrayal Legacy (2018). However, when also considering additional plays over the lats 15 months, including 50 more plays of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (!), four of The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game, and eleven of Pandemic Legacy Season Two (2017), the overall messaging is obvious. For our group at least, the most successful co-ops are those with long-term play, whether it be the individual scenarios of T.I.M.E. Stories and The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game, the Legacy play of Betrayal and Pandemic, or the ongoing campaign of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.
And that’s the state of the top co-op games in 2019; see you in a year!