My top 10 Favorite Cooperative Games for Two Players - hypernaturalgames.com

My top 10 Favorite Cooperative Games for Two Players

Jamey Stegmaier
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In this week’s video I discuss cooperative games that work particularly well for exactly 2 players (even if they also work well at other player counts). Honorable mentions include Aeon’s End, Arkham Horror LCG, Burgle Bros, Chronicles of Crime, Dead Men Tell No Tales, Flash Point, Forbidden Desert, Fox and the Forest Duet, Gloomhaven, Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, Mansions of Madness, Marvel Champions, The Crew, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Spirit Island, Summit, Tainted Grail, The Captain Is Dead, The Mind, Too Many Bones, Fog of Love, Orleans w/Invasion, and Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective.

Sleeping Gods would have played this list if I had played it before filming this video.

1. Shards of Infinity with Shadow of Salvation
2. Pandemic Legacy Season 0
3. TIME Stories Revolution
4. Legacy of Dragonholt
5. Codenames Duet
6. Unlock
7. Hanabi
8. Shipwreck Arcana
9. The 7th Continent
10. Mysterium Park

Favorite 2-player games:
Favorite multiplayer games that play well at 2 players:
Favorite cooperative games:
Favorite cooperative games (no quarterbacking):

00:00 – Introduction
01:50 – Top 10 List

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podcast link:

Intro animation by Jeff Payne and video proofing by Cody Simonsen

54 Comments

  1. I'm gunna be reeeeeal disappointed if you didnt play 5 tribes at 2 players yet……..

    Also Orleans Invasion is AMAZING!!!!!!!

  2. Sleeping Gods is amazing at 2 players. We have been playing it non-stop.

  3. Magic Maze works really well with two. Many people don’t like real time games, but I find the tension in this one very refreshing

  4. Great Video as always. I was rather intrigued about your comments on Mysterium Park and am going to pick it up for that reason.

    On a side note have you ever played the video game Brothers: a tale of two sons? Its $3.00 on Steam right now and as I was binge watching your channel this week it popped in my head as a game that may intrigue from mechanics as well as story. It is remarkably short but incredibly satisfying… Anyway enjoy your valentine's chocolate today.

  5. Did you play season 0 as a straight 2p or did you play it with each person controlling 2 characters?

  6. The Shipwreck Arcana is intriguing… haven’t heard very much about this game but it seems interesting and isn’t very expensive

  7. Loving sleeping gods right now. Although like you say it’s you controlling three characters each. Lord of the rings Journeys in middle earth is great at two. Robinson Crusoe too. Although I take your point about a game that just chucks stuff at you! 😂

  8. What’s the potential of a highly interactive competitive game at 3+ players that plays cooperative as a two player game? Seems like a perfect match if it could be pulled off! A cleverly designed AI would be vital for such a variant?

  9. That's an interesting concept – that some co-ops are best at 2 because it ends up being more streamlined (less indecision, less aimless discussion). It made me think of another advantage: maybe a 2p co-op situation lends itself less to the alpha gamer problem. First, because when there is just one other player, it may be more obvious to the alpha that he or she is leaving out the partner. Two, because there is less data on the table – alpha gamers especially shine when there is only one person at the table who can deal with the plans of 4 or 5 players. And three, maybe we could call this solving the omega gamer problem – with 2, both people can get a word in, but sometimes in large groups one or more people can't squeeze in a word among the others.

    Thinking of 2p also made me, for the first time, interested in Chronicles of Crime. The idea of passing around a phone to all players just does not appeal, but if it's just 2 people, that seems less obnoxious.

    Maybe my list (no order): Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, One Deck Dungeon, Set a Watch, Pandemic, Viscounts of the West Kingdom (Tomesaga co-op mode), Spirit Island. I need to play the Desolation module of Scythe more because I'm sure that would make my list.

    Tip: My best experience ever playing Hanabi was a 3p game in a pub where my friends had Hanabi Deluxe. This version uses dominoes instead of cards. That should have been the component all along, Jamey. Makes a huge difference not to have to awkwardly hold the cards backwards and constantly worry about peeking. And beer spills are less of a factor. 😉

  10. My wife & I love 7th Continent. We've been trying to get Pandemic Legacy to the table with our family, but it is so hard to find time when we are all able to play. I'm getting tempted to go for it 2-player with my wife. We also like Horrified. She & I are getting ready to start Sleeping Gods soon.

  11. Looks like the cat thought the tuna payment was too low to star in the episode 🙂

  12. Thanks for the 2 player bunny kingdom recommendation a while back. Finally got it to the table this weekend and wow you were not kidding. An amazing 2p drafting game. Quickly went to the top of my favorite games.

  13. Was honestly just watching the video to get ideas of games to play with my girlfriend and am humbled to see Shadow of Salvation at the top. Thanks for all the other great suggestions, Jamey!

  14. My Girlfriend and I have difficulty playing anything other than Arkham Horror LCG if we want a 2 player co-op. It’s SOOOO good, we’ve binged campaigns in weekends.

  15. The one I've had the most fun with is Arkham Horror LCG. At 1 player, the game is too luck driven and you miss out on the cooperative elements of the game including not being able to play with "support" style characters. At more than 2 players, the game becomes extremely grindy because the game scales by just "adding more" you have to do, so big enemies get more hitpoints, you have to earn more clues, and it really makes the game feel more like a slog for me. At 2 it takes more time than one, but it feels like it's exactly the right amount for this game. (LotR LCG, which I also like is better at 2 for the same reason since AH:LCG is based on it and I presume Marvel Champions also).

    From your own list, I actually prefer both Unlock and Hanabi at more players. With Unlock, I find that the problem solving skill sets of players might not cover the different types of puzzles at 2 making the game take longer or the players resorting to clues far more. I do think you don't want more than 4 players with Unlock because there's only so many cards to look at, but 3-4 players has been my sweet spot with the game.

    And with Hanabi, I actually prefer 4 players the most. I find at 2-3 players, the game can suffer player locks where one player ends up giving all the clues and the other players end up only reacting or discarding and because there's no discussion, you can't prod the incessant clue giver to take a turn off so they can learn something about their own hand.

  16. You actually can play Codenames: Duet at more than 2P, but agree it's best with fewer. My wife and I play all the time!

  17. Very excited to hear that Shipreck Arcana works at 2! I had been holding off but will track it down now.

  18. We really like 7 Wonders: Duel, Parks, and Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries.

  19. Great video Mr. Stegmaier!

    My favorite co-ops at 2 tend to be the ones that for me, more players just seem to add more time or more people to teach a complicated game to. So I like games like Gloomhaven, Tainted Grail, Sleeping Gods, and Too Many Bones. I'm not big on co-op games, after playing a handful of them I thought it might be a genre that just wasn't for me, but I'm always open to try new games if my friends want to play so with time I found a couple that I actually did enjoy. Incoming Transmission and Hanabi were two others that I enjoyed, Hanabi is fun at two, you really want 4 or 5 with Incoming Transmission though.

    Great video! Look forward to another Sunday Sitdown next week

  20. I am the biggest Alpha player when it comes to coop games. I don't understand how I'm supposed to let my teammate make a bad decision for us, hehe. Now I just play all my coops solo when I don't have others to play games with. Favourite coops are Flashpoint, Forbidden Dessert, and Horrified. I will play Magic Maze with other people though.

  21. My family didn't like 4 player hanabi. It never occurred to me that Hanabi would be good at 2. Because of your video I was looking at the box. My daughter asked if the two of us could play it. We had one of the most fun games ever. Thanks Jamey 🙂

  22. Hanabi is meant to be played with 3+ players

  23. Our go-to 2-player co-op game is actually a cooperative variant for Wingspan that we designed, because we just love Wingspan so much and wanted to play co-operatively. We also love to play a co-op version of Everdell, designed by "Dragon Phoenix Games" – they've got a lot of great co-op variants for competitive games. We also really enjoy a Teotihuacan co-op variant we designed, and an Ex Libris co-op variant we also designed. We love taking existing competitive games and creating co-op versions. My wife doesn't like co-op games so most of my collection is competitive, but my brother won't play anything except co-op, and he has a degree in game design, so we get a lot of joy out of creating variants like that. There's an official co-op variant for Dinogenics too, where the two of you control east and west branches of the park, while trying to create a better park than an AI opponent.

    In terms of games designed to be co-op out-of-the-box, we find the following work really well at 2-player: Spirit Island, Robinson Crusoe, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, and any of the Pandemics. Most recently, we've been playing a lot of two-player Sleeping Gods.

    We haven't tried the Unlocks at 2 yet, we'll have to give that a go.

  24. "Too many players" is basically what happens with both Spirit Island and (from what I've heard) Aeon's End. In both cases it just takes too long to resolve a round, and in particular in Aeon's End, I have trouble waiting for my turn with jut two players! With more it'd be just painful.

    A surprise success was Forgotten Waters with the two player variant the designer posted on BGG. I basically messed up and bought FW not noticing it was a 3-7 player game, so we played it with the 2-player variant on Saturday. There was the usual variant fluff of "when it says fill in a constellation star, instead gain 3 Infamy, and the Infamy track works completely differently" and each player controls 3 pirate standees but we had a blast. Word of advice though – the variant rules say that in the planning phase the highest infamy player places all their standees, then the other player places theirs. Don't do that – it's boring and annoying watching one player place 3 standees standees and take all the good spots before you get to go. Instead, play it so the highest infamy player goes first, then the other player, and so on until all standees are placed.

  25. I got Shipwreck Arcana based upon Zee Garcia's and your praise of it and my wife and I love it. Haven't played your #1 & #10. Working through a 4-player game of Pandemic Season 0 and thank goodness we haven't ran into your issue with my group; we played Pandemic Season 1 & 2 at 4 player count as well. I find Pandemic too easy at 2 players. The Unlock games are great at two except for maybe a couple such as the Island of Dr. Goorse and the Adventures of Oz due to variations on gameplay.
    My favorite cooperative game at 2 players (or any valid player count) is Atlantis Rising.

  26. Menara is actually great at two players because you feel like you really built a tower together and made decisions together! And I hear letter jam is good at two players with each player having two letters they can't see, and I think Spirit Island is best at two because its super big brain and making a decision with only two players is less daunting at first then trying to coordinate with three or 4 players

  27. I like almost all the Tiny Epic Games and many of them have a coop mode.
    For me the best coop game in the series is the one, that can only be played coop and that's Tiny Epic Defenders. It can be played very fast with two players.

  28. I Agree with a lot of what you say here. My experience of pandemic legacy was very similar to yours. I enjoyed the 2 seasons I did as a 2 player with my wife for all of the reasons you mentioned. It’s much easier to get a group together so you can play more often which helps to keep the flow of both the narrative elements as well as keeping track of the rule changes. And discussions go a lot quicker, a couple of options get tabled and as a couple you reach a decision fairly quickly and move on. Great list thanks. We love codenames so I’ll probably pick up duet next.

  29. I think we need a SM two player game

  30. Street Masters is a wonderful cooperative 2-player game that deserves more love. My girlfriend and I play a lot of Fox in the Forest Duet and Codenames Duet, and I am REALLY hoping she likes Dice Throne Adventures.

  31. Great list, thanks for posting it! Have you tried the campaign mode for Hero Realms? I've heard you mention Star Realms on other lists but I found the co-op expansion for that disappointing. The Hero Realms version is much better and if you know one game, you know them both. 🙂

  32. When the pandemic started last year I dove head-first into Arkham Horror LCG and it has been amazing! The deck construction isn't for everyone, but there are so many tough decisions to make in the building and even more so in every play. The mechanics of it actually make it feel like a board game more than a card game. Upgrading our decks with better equipment and allies between each game is another fun bit that keeps us thinking and talking about the game in between scenarios. The story each scenario brings keeps us coming back for more to find out what happens next and to have a hand in our character's fates. Amazing game and will always be in my collection.

  33. My husband and I have also enjoyed most of the recent Prospero Hall IP co-op games (Horrified, BTTF etc). This is a good list!

  34. Awesome list here Jamey. Boy do I really need to get my hands on Mysterium Park. I love Shards and Codenames Duet. I’ll actually be a guest on Ruel Gaviola’s twitch stream tomorrow night playing Codename Duet! Should be fun.

  35. for similar reasons to pandemic legacy season zero (if not the general theme of the game), I enjoy Clank! Legacy

  36. Near and Far with the Amber Mines expansion to play cooperative I found worked really well 2p with my son!

  37. Cool map in the background, is that Wales? Where'd you get the poster/art?

  38. I didn't even know Hanabi played 2 players. I can't imagine a couple not owning Sherlock Holmes, though.

  39. Great video! I’ll add some of my favorites:

    Cthulhu: Death May Die
    Marvel United
    LOTR: Journeys in Middle Earth

  40. Quirky Circuits, Magic Maze, Micro Macro Crime City.

  41. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective?

    I realize it is barely a game in some ways, but it is great nonetheless.

  42. I like the Crew best in the Cooperative category – althiugh I tend to like Cooperative games more.

    Jamey – please consider for a future video – focus on elegant, streamlined games with few elements – but yet there is great game depth – thanks.

  43. That should have been…..although I like Competitive games more.

  44. My wife and I enjoy Volfyrion by Tabula Games which is a deck builder with a Co-op mode, so will have to look into Shards of Infinity. Also good to hear that Season 0 of Pandemic Legacy plays well at 2 players, I've been wondering about that as its on my list of possible games to get.

  45. You should also check out Shut Up and Sit Down’s “Chess Month” series for non cooperative two player games.

  46. How does Shards of Infinity coop compare to something like Aeon’s End?

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