If you have teens in your household you may have challenges tearing them away from a screen for a little while so you can have a meaningful conversation. Finding interesting things you can do together to reconnect can be really challenging but it is so important. One of the things my teen and I have really enjoyed together is teaming up to tackle a cooperative board game. If you have a teen and are looking for some teen-friendly cooperative board games to try out, we have some great ones here that we love playing.
What are the benefits of playing cooperative games?
There are many benefits to playing cooperative games with your teen:
- They can teach teamwork and communication skills
- They enhance problem solving skills
- They can help to unplug your teen from a screen
- They can create great bonding moments as you work together. There’s nothing quite like overcoming a challenge together
- They are also great to help teens who struggle to deal with losing. When you lose together it’s a great opportunity to role model some of the right behaviours.
How we picked our games
These are the games that I found really resonated for my teen and had the most success in tearing him away from a screen. These games have stood the test of time and we still enjoy them even after owning them for several years.
So in no particular order these are our top five cooperative board games. Why aren’t we ranking these? Well on any given week or day my son will have a different preference depending on what he feels like and how much time he is willing to invest.
Our list of best Cooperative Board Games for Teens
- Descent Journeys in the Dark Second Edition
- Aeon’s End
- Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
- The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
- 5 Minute Dungeon
Descent Journeys in the Dark Second Edition
Play Time: 120 Min / Players: 1-5 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 14+ we think 11+ / Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games / Designer: Adam Sadler, Corey Konieczka, Daniel Clark
- Immersive theme
- Great replay value with around 20 hours of play in the campaign
- The game components look fantastic
- The companion app does a great job of minimising admin without taking over
- Each hero is unique and grants you different upgrade pathways depending on class.
- Can take a while to set up
- Some quests don’t feel well balanced and can feel too easy or too hard.
Update for January 2022: There is now a newer implementation of Descent Journeys in the Dark called Descent Legends of the Dark which has vastly improved components and now requires use of a companion app. The latest game now boasts 3D multi-layered environments which look just stunning. If you are interested in the newer version Descent Legends of the Dark, the link is below:
If you have time on your hands and someone in your family who loves the dungeon crawling theme, Descent Journeys in the Dark Second Edition is a great cooperative game teens will love. It can be played cooperatively via the companion app which takes the role of the dungeon master and is free or you can play with a person as the dungeon master (this would make it competitive though).
In Descent Journeys in the Dark each player selects from a range of unique heroes on offer and embark on a quest. The game can be played as a full campaign which strings many quests together or as one-off quests. Each quest can take two hours or so to complete and has unique objectives. The campaign will keep you occupied for numerous play sessions and can take around 20 hours to complete.
We love the companion app for this game, it comes with campaigns based on the amount of content you own so enables you to explore more campaigns as you grow your collection. It does a great job of taking care of the dungeon master role and telling the story without feeling like it gets in the way.
The figures are gorgeous as are the rest of the components. My son would look forward to seeing certain monsters come out in the game just because of how cool they looked. The look of delight when we used a dragon for the first time was priceless. A great pick for anyone wanting to invest in a dungeon crawling game.
What my teen thinks: ” A very challenging long term game, where you are trying to beat the dungeon and it’s monsters. I like the special abilities and weapons you can equip.”
Play Time: 45 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 10+ / Publisher: Z-Man Games / Designer: Matt Leacock
- Game feels tense and exciting
- Provides a great challenge
- Great replay value
- Simple component design keeps this game affordable
- Simple ruleset makes it easy to learn but hard to master.
- Some may find this game too challenging
- The theme may not appeal to some.
Our next teen-friendly co-op board game is Pandemic. Pandemic is a bit of a classic when it comes to cooperative board games and is a very popular pick. It’s easy to learn, it has a theme with broad appeal, and it has a lot of depth and replay value.
Pandemic may not be a hard game to learn but it is a hard game to get good at. The strategy requires a lot of forward thinking, teamwork and planning.
The goal of the game is to cure four different diseases before any of the loss conditions are triggered. You can lose by running out your deck of player cards, having too many outbreaks or running out of disease cubes. This means there are several built in timers to keep the game from outstaying its welcome.
The different roles and difficulty levels make this a game that is hard to master and worth coming back to over the long term. We have had this game for almost two years and still don’t feel like we need any expansions.
What my teen thinks: “This is an incredibly challenging game and every game feels different as you never quite know where each disease will spread.”
Check out our Pandemic full review.
Play Time: 60 Min / Players: 1-4 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 14+ we think 12+ / Publisher: Indie Boards & Cards / Designer: Kevin Riley
- Challenging and interesting gameplay
- Wide variety of strategies to explore
- Great replay value due to diverse mages, supply cards and nemeses
- High degree of player interaction
- Great approach to premade decks for first game makes learning the game easy
- Wonderful back story and theme effectively incorporated into the game.
- We can’t fault this game other than the insert, but that’s nit picking really.
If your teen loves a challenge this next cooperative board game will really test their skill. Aeon’s End is probably the most challenging game on this list and has a lot of strategic depth to it. My son and I love this game and I have introduced this to adults as well who have had so much fun playing. I think it’s because this game has a lot of player interaction to keep things social.
In Aeon’s End each player selects a unique mage and together you battle a powerful nemesis and their minions. The catch is you are the last line of defence between these beasts and earths last surviving city – Gravehold.
Deck building is a big part of this game and there are numerous expansions to keep you interested if this is a hit in your household. Between the different mages, nemesis and loads of market cards there is a lot of replay value in the core box.
The player interaction is high because the game has so many abilities and cards that involve other players around the table. This leads to a lot of interaction, collective decision making and real teamwork.
If you like a challenge, lots of player interaction and a good deck builder Aeon’s End is an exceptional option. Due to the deep strategy here we think this game is suitable for ages 12 and up.
What my teen thinks: “Each mage plays very differently and is better suited to different strategies. There are so many combinations of mages, market cards and nemesis it always feels interesting.”
Check out our Aeon’s End full review.
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
Play Time: 30-60 Min / Players: 1-5 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 14+ we think 11+ / Publisher: Upper Deck Entertainment / Designer: Devin Low
- Lots of replay value through varying combinations of schemes, masterminds, and heroes
- Very satisfying discovering different card synergies
- Card abilities are well thought out and work well to differentiate each hero deck
- Has a very solid solo mode
- Implements marvel theme very well.
- Base game content may not be challenging enough at lower player counts however at 5 players the difficulty level ramps up a lot.
If your teen loves super heroes our next cooperative board game for teens is likely to be right up their alley. In Legendary: Marvel you take on the role of a team of Marvel superheroes battling it out against an evil mastermind from the Marvel universe. To win you must successfully defeat the mastermind before they have achieved their scheme victory conditions. Conversely you lose the game if the mastermind can complete the stated scheme objectives before they are defeated. Every scheme is unique, and the base game comes with 8 schemes. The base game will keep you occupied for a good while. If you like a challenge we recommend getting the excellent X-Men expansion as the core box can be a little easy once you have a few games under your belt.
On a side note, I have also played this with adult non-gamers before and it’s been a hit every single time. It’s easy to pick up and the theme is familiar to most people.
For those that aren’t fans of the Marvel theme, don’t worry Legendary comes in numerous different themes so It’s likely there will be one that will appeal. James Bond, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the X-Files and even Aliens have all been converted to the Legendary format so there are plenty of options out there.
What my teen thinks: “finding synergies between superheroes is really cool. It’s a lot of fun trying to recreate some of our favourite Marvel movies in a game.”
Check out our Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game full review.
The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
Play Time: 20 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ / Publisher: Kosmos / Designer: Thomas Sing
- Games can be set up and played in 10-15 minutes
- 2 player variant works very well
- Wide variety of task cards and increasing mission difficulty keep each game interesting and fresh
- Limited communication prevents one person dominating decisions which can be an issue in some cooperative games.
- Although there is a story weaved into the missions it doesn’t feel particularly thematic
- If you really don’t like trick taking games this is unlikely to change your mind.
Our next cooperative game for teens is great because it has limited communication which means each player will have the space to be able to make their own decisions without one player dominating. The Crew: The Mission Deep Sea is a cooperative trick taking game where your team will work its way through 32 undersea themed missions.
Each mission will require completion of a certain number of tasks and will progressively get more challenging as you make your way through the mission logbook. There is a ton of variety in the missions which keeps the game fresh and interesting each mission. My son and I really enjoy the variety here and each game only takes 10-15 minutes to play which makes it easy to get to the table when you’re short on time. The gameplay here is excellent but just don’t expect an immersive theme, while there are some nice back stories for each mission it is hard to make a trick taking game feel thematic.
What my teen thinks: “Lots of fun, quick to play and the missions offer a lot of variety. Not being able to communicate anything about your cards makes the game really interesting as you have to really pay attention to the non-verbal information available.”
Check out our The Crew: Mission Deep Sea review.
5 Minute Dungeon
Play Time: 5-10 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Spin Master / Designer: Connor Reid
- Packs a lot of fun into 5 minutes
- Good variety of 10 heroes chose from
- Each of the five bosses poses a different level of difficulty to keep you challenged
- The app is well done but doesn’t distract from the game
- The artwork and component quality are very good.
- Some younger kids will struggle with the frantic pace
- Not a huge amount of depth or strategy here so replay value will be limited.
Our final teen-friendly co-op board game is perfect for when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands. If you are looking for a game that plays quickly and caters to those that have a short attention span, you should check out 5 Minute Dungeon.
In 5 Minute Dungeon you select one of 10 heroes to battle a dungeon full of monsters and obstacles, represented by a dungeon deck. This game is frantic and requires you to think quickly which is great for teaching kids how to make decisions under pressure.
Player interaction here is high and will generate a lot of laughs as you frantically work with your team mates to play the right card combinations to defeat the next dungeon card.
The different heroes and associated decks, along with variable difficulty modes make for good replay value.
There is also a companion app, which takes care of the counter, and has some fun voice options to pick from to keep things interesting.
What my teen thinks: “Good, fast game, with a great app. The voices on the app make the game more entertaining.”
Check out our 5 Minute Dungeon full review.
How do I get the most out of game time with my teen?
It has really been a joy exploring cooperative games with my teen. Some of my fondest moments are when we have been able to pull through with a win by the narrowest of margins. Playing these games with my son is not just about having fun but also about building his confidence and strengthening our relationship. Some strategies I have found help get the most out of the experience are listed below:
- Let your teen take the lead for a change. Often as parents we end up telling our kids what they can and can’t do (usually for their own good). Cooperative games are a chance for your teen to take the lead and flex their decision making muscle in a safe way
- Use it as an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation. When my son is relaxed and having fun, I find out so much more about what’s happening in his world. Once you have been playing for a bit, check in with your teen about how things are going more generally, you may be surprised how much you find out
- Ask your teen for advice. I will often ask my son for his opinion when we are playing a cooperative game. It’s a great way to build up their self esteem and also get them to practice explaining their ideas and perspectives.
Now that you are equipped with a list of great games and some advice for making the most of them with your teen we are at the end of our article. I really hope this helps create some great bonding opportunities for you and your teen. Good luck and happy gaming.
About the Authors
We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time.