Cooperative boardgames require some mental readjustment. Your fellow players aren't your opponents; they're on your team! Either you all beat the game, or you all lose!
Lord of the Rings: The Board Game
Designed by Reiner Knizia
Players: 2–5 | Age: 12+ Duration: 60 minutes
Each player takes on the role of one of five hobbits; the object of the game is to destroy the One Ring before the ring-bearer is captured by Sauron. During each turn, a player must flip Event Tiles—some of which cause bad events to happen to the hobbits, others of which cause good events to happen. Not to be confused with the children's game of the same name.
Shadows Over Camelot
Designed by Bruno Cathala and Serge Laget
Players: 3–7 | Age: 10+ Duration: 90 minutes
Each player is one of the knights of Camelot (or King Arthur himself ), and together you defend ancient Britain from the forces of evil. The knights must defeat the Black Knight, search for Excalibur and the Holy Grail, and more. Meanwhile, catapults are surrounding Camelot.
Designed by Matt Leacock
Players: 2–4 | Age: 8+ Duration: 60 minutes
Diseases are breaking out around the world, and the game's players—each of whom is a disease-fighting specialist, such as an Operations Expert or a Scientist— must work closely together to eradicate them. Players travel around the world, from outbreak to outbreak.
Designed by Matt Leacock
Players: 2–4 | Age: 10+ Duration: 30 minutes.
As adventurers move around an island—constructed from game tiles, in a different arrangement each time you play—it slowly sinks! You're on a mission to retrieve four treasures from the island before it vanishes beneath the waves. Each character has a special ability, so on your turn you'll want to consult with your teammates about what your best course of action might be.
Max the Cat
Designed by Jim Deacove
Players: 1–8 | Age: 4+ Duration: 20 minutes
Since 1972, Family Pastimes has designed games in which people play together and not against each other. Some favorite games include Amazing Illusions (a team of magicians performs illusions — and tries not to get trapped in them) and Mountaineering (a group works together to scale a mountain). But even older players will enjoy simpler Family Pastime games, including Caves & Claws, Harvest Time, and particularly Max — in which players work together to distract a tomcat.
Designed by Justin De Witt
Players: 1–6 | Age: 8+ Duration: 60 minutes
Do you enjoy the addictive online game/app Kingdom Rush? Here's a tower defense boardgame in which players work together to defend their castle against a horde of crazed trolls, goblins, orcs, and other monsters. Strategizing is important: If you have a card that won't be useful for battling monsters until it's another player's turn, then swap it for another card with that player. You're all in this mess together.
Excerpted from Unbored Games: Serious Fun for Everyone by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen.