The best co-op board games for two players

From Mansions of Madness to Horrified and Robin Hood, these are the best two player co-op board games around.
horrified co op board game

Board games are a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. They can frighten you with silly scares, challenge you with complex puzzles, or send you on a grand adventure through space and time. While you can play board games any way you like, the best experiences are often shared – and co-op board games are no exception. Grab a friend, and you can have a blast playing through grand romps together.

Whether you’re journeying through a dark castle, or attempting to fight off evil villains in a haunted mansion, there are plenty of spectacular co-op board games perfect for those quieter, two-player sessions.

From monster romp Horrified to Cthulian classic Mansions of Madness, these are the best co-op board games for a great two-player experience.

Escape The Dark Castle

best co-op board games two players
Image: Themeborne

Escape The Dark Castle is a co-op board game that opens with players in a dark and cavernous dungeon ruled by monsters. As escapees from a strange prison, it’s your job to conquer a deck of villains as you walk through each dungeon floor and discover new dangers around every corner.

The whole game takes around 20 to 30 minutes to complete, making your romp through the dungeon a quick and brutal adventure. You may not make it to the end, but being able to discover new cards with every turn is a real joy — and sometimes, if you get lucky with your dice rolls, you may even see what happens when you finally ‘complete’ the game.

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Escape The Dark Castle can be played solo, but it’s a perfect two-player co-op adventure that’s quick to learn, constantly surprising, and a real blast to conquer as a team. It can be frustrating when your third and fourth run-through still don’t yield victories, but the enjoyment here is in the chase.

The Adventures of Robin Hood

co-op board games robin hood
Image: Kosmos

The Adventures of Robin Hood is a multimedia board game that includes a ‘hidden door’ adventure map alongside a novel-length book that guides you along the way. In this co-op journey, you’ll embody Robin Hood and his Merry Men on a wild path through Sherwood Forest, with every outcome determined by your choices. No two games are played the same, and you’ll need to make important group decisions as you encounter enemies and deadly puzzles along the way.

This is a game that requires a longer time investment, so you won’t be able to dip in and play it with just anyone (the game remembers your choices with each chapter) but for those looking for a Dungeons & Dragons-style experience in a board game box, you won’t find much better than The Adventure of Robin Hood.

Making each turn is a real joy, and the game itself is a stunner filled with gorgeous art, and unique character-driven tales. Anyone who enjoys a well-told story or a board game with innovative ideas should give this one a go.

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition

Image: Fantasy Flight Games

Mansions of Madness is a hybrid digital-physical co-op board game experience where the action takes place on spooky tiles, and also on an app. When you load up the app, you’re given a horror-inspired story, and told exactly where to place tiles, and how your characters can interact with the world. There are secrets underneath every token, monsters to fight in frantic, deadly battles, and plenty of new worlds to explore with every creepy tale.

The horror themes of Mansion of Madness may turn some off (it includes references to gruesome injuries and terrifying Lovecraft-inspired beasts), but the gameplay here is incredible, and works well on all fronts. The app provides a great deal of atmosphere, and the art of the physical game is delightfully gross. As one of the best co-op board games on the market, Mansions of Madness deserves your attention.

If the horror themes prove to be a bit too much for you and your player two, you can also check out Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, which uses the same hybrid digital engine.


horrified co-op board game
Image: Ravensburger

In Horrified, you and your team are tasked with an impossible quest: defeating a slew of classic Universal Monsters before they completely terrorise and destroy your town. Working in co-op, you and your fellow players will be required to strategise and plan the best ways to kill each monster, analysing their weaknesses and working to thwart their plans.

Each monster moves differently around the map, and has their own nefarious goals, so this is one game you can play and replay, with different outcomes every time. You won’t always save the town, but you will always be taken on a ride.

While Horrified does look fairly complicated, it’s actually got a simple game system that’s easy to understand, and minimal messing around with tokens and cards. It’s just you, your goals, and one doomed town in this frightful experience. With the likes of Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Mummy and The Invisible Man bearing down on you, bringing a friend is strongly recommended for success.

Unlock! Adventures

co-op board games adventure unlock!
Image: Leah J. Williams

The Unlock! adventure co-op board games are based around the ‘escape room’ concept: you get cards featuring a variety of mystery items, and it’s your job to combine them to solve complex puzzles and ‘escape’ your in-story location before the time runs out.

There’s a bunch of themed adventures in the series already, including a cowboy tale (pictured above), a Star Wars series of escapes, a story set in Ancient Greece, and a bunch of original romps, too.

Each adventure features a number of puzzles, some of which are very complicated — and that’s where your chosen buddy comes in. You can easily play these games solo, but you may find yourself getting stuck on certain puzzles. Some are fairly straightforward: combine flour, eggs and milk to create a cake. Others are wildly obtuse, and require lateral thinking that always works better with two heads.

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No matter which way you play these games they’re a bunch of fun, but they are best with two players.

Fallout: The Board Game

Image: Fantasy Flight Games

Fallout: The Board Game is a really interesting translation of the Fallout video games, and introduces modular, exploration-based gameplay to your tabletop nights. You and your co-op teammate will start this board game as lonely Vault Dwellers in a hostile land filled with secrets. As you travel, you’ll flip each game tile to reveal new locations, discover quests, and battle trademark Fallout creatures like ghouls and supermutants.

There is an element of chance in what you find in the game, but that’s what makes the whole experience so engaging. Some tiles will yield nothing, while others may flip to reveal a powerful Deathclaw enemy, or even a coveted weapon that can help you conquer quests faster and level up your character.

This board game comes incredibly close to replicating the true Fallout experience through its exploration mechanics, and while there is some clunk in learning the rules (you’ll need to set aside a good half hour to learn the game), it’s still fantastic to play with mates.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island

Image: Portal Games

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is a dense game that requires a stubborn and/or patient group of players to really get into — but once you’re over the game’s steep learning curve, you’ll find a brilliant, exploration-oriented adventure. Even from the name of the game, you can understand what it’s about: you and your teammates are shipwrecked on a deserted island, and will need to survive (and thrive) under hostile circumstances.

Part survival-sim, part adventure story, the Robinson Crusoe board game sends players off into the world with mini-tasks to first establish a campsite, then build habitats and weapons, and eventually set off for adventure across the mysterious island.

Like Fallout, it uses tile-based exploration, and every mission here has the potential of yielding special rewards, or certain doom. It’s a difficult game to learn and master, but it’s incredibly rich once you know what you’re doing. With every turn there’s new events and items to discover, and plenty of well-earned treasure waiting just over the horizon.

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

Image: Cephalofair Games

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a pared-back version of Gloomhaven, the massive co-op fantasy board game adventure filled with magic, mystery and mayhem. While the original version of the game is a genuinely whopping box filled with more tokens and papers than you can keep track of, Jaws of the Lion is much simpler and easier to learn.

It’ll still take some getting used to, particularly for players who are unfamiliar with board game mechanics or the world of high fantasy, but it’s absolutely worthwhile diving into Gloomhaven, and this is the best way to go about it.

Here, players will be able to choose from four unique characters, and set off on a hairy journey through taverns, forests and deep dungeons. The action is controlled by a flip-book, which features each locale players visit, and makes traversal a much easier task.

For a fully-immersive fantasy adventure with minimal complications, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a co-op board game option.

While there are plenty more great co-op board games around, these titles are a great starting point, no matter how experienced you are with tabletop gaming. The best thing about modern board games is there’s something for everyone, and you’re sure to find something that works for you here.

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Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.