Cooperative games remain as popular as ever, and 2019 saw a wealth of boundary-pushing titles that offer new challenges for even the most experienced game group. Which of these gave your crew a run for their money?
Don’t forget to cast your ballot in our 2019 Fan Favorite voting.
We’ll be announcing the rest of the nominees over the next few weeks; then check back on Friday, January 17th when we announce the winners of the 2nd Annual Diamond Climber Awards.
Adventure Games: The Dungeon
From the company who brought you the EXIT: The Game series of escape games, and celebrated designer Phil Walker-Harding, comes the evolution of escape room board games. The Adventure Games series is both puzzle, and campaign; co-op and legacy, and all “choose your own adventure”. Solve puzzles using a unique card-based system where the entire table is your game board. Play straight through in one marathon session, or break The Dungeon down into 3 built in mini-campaigns. Adventure Games: The Dungeon plays 1-4 players, and you and your friends and family will love it.
Designer(s): Matthew Dunstan, Phil Walker-Harding
Artist(s): Martin Hoffmann
Read our review of Adventure Games: The Dungeon.
Cthulhu: Death May Die
Inspired by the writings of Lovecraft and Derleth, players of Cthulhu: Death May Die portray 1920s investigators who are trying to summon the Elder Gods of the Cthulhu mythos to put a stop to them permanently. Players begin the game insane and it goes downhill from there. Cthulhu: Death May Die is broken into multiple episodes, each of them with a similar structure: two acts; before and after a summoning. The episodes are all standalone and not contingent on being played in a certain order or with the same players.
Publisher(s): CMON Limited
Designer(s): Rob Daviau, Eric M. Lang
Artist(s): Karl Kopinski, Edgar Skomorowski, Adrian Smith
Receiving it’s debut at Gen Con 2019, Horrified smashed it’s way onto the gaming scene and into people’s hearts. Unfairly categorized as “Pandemic with monsters”, Horrified is a smart, thematic, and gorgeously illustrated cooperative game for 1-5 players. Fight your way through classic Hollywood monsters in an effort to save your sleepy village.
Dracula, The Invisible Man, The Wolfman, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankstein’s Monster and his Bride all make appearances, and each of them has different setup, win conditions, and ways to make you lose the game. Don’t be afraid of Horrified!
Publisher(s): Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH
Designer(s): Prospero Hall
Artist(s): Prospero Hall
Described as “Scrabble meets Hanabi” this thinky word game has players working together to try to figure out each player’s hidden words using clues provided by the other players. Letter Jam is an extremely challenging puzzle that constantly keeps you on your toes. The real hallmark of Letter Jam, though, is that regardless of which ending you get, you always want to go back and do it some more.
Publisher(s): Czech Games Edition
Designer(s): Ondra Skoupý
Artist(s): Dávid Jablonovský, František Sedláček, Lukáš Vodička, Michaela Zaoralová
Read our review of Letter Jam.
Marvel Champions: The Card Game
Like an 800 pound gorilla, Marvel Champions landed in the gaming world with a roar, grabbing the collective conscience in an iron grip. What if Black Panther and Iron Man teamed up to prevent Rhino from a full scale rampage through Manhattan, or Spider-Man and Captain Marvel stopped Ultron cold to prevent global annihilation? Marvel Champions: The Card Game, a cooperative Living Card Game for one to four [super] players.
Publisher(s): Fantasy Flight Games
Designer(s): Michael Boggs
Zombie Kidz Evolution
The original Zombie Kidz was a delightful cooperative game for the whole family. Players had to work together to clear a cemetary of zombies in order to win the game. Zomebie Kidz Evolution ramps up the excitement by adding all new artwork, improved gameplay, and a lightweight envelope-based legacy system. As you play each game you’ll be able to indicate your progress on the included Zombie Hunters Guide book, which also offers achievements to shoot for.
Publisher(s): IELLO, Le Scorpion Masqué
Designer(s): Annick Lobet
Read our review of Zombie Kidz Evolution.
Editor’s note: After an internal discussion, the Meeple Mountain staff has agreed that popular co-op title Just One is not eligible for these awards as it became available in the US in December of 2018. Since it just missed the Diamond Climber cut off last year, this means that Just One will have to settle for only winning a Spiel des Jahres award.