Which was the first cooperative board game?

For the purpose of this question, we can define "cooperative" as "there is more than one player, and at the end of the game, they either all win or all lose".

My unsuccessful attempts to answer the question:

  • At the time when I am writing this, the history section on Wikipedia mentions an 'alternative ruleset' for The Landlord's game (1903) as an early example (without claiming it is the first); I could not easily google this ruleset to confirm that it fits the criterion.

  • Some sources cite Community (1972), but that seems quite late, given the other games mentioned on Wikipedia.

  • Boardgamegeek has a cooperative game category, but many of the listed games are clearly not cooperative with this definition, as their descriptions mention winning and losing teams. And there are various pages of games without a publication date in the list.

  • 1
    Probably indeterminate, as it will depend on the definition of game and where you draw the line between game and puzzle. The oldest coop game on BGG is such a puzzle: boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/39814/mosaic-designer Apr 6, 2021 at 11:47
  • 1
    Yes, in the version in which the players would all cooperate to reproduce the pattern. Apr 6, 2021 at 12:09
  • 1
    The question has been asked at BGG too: boardgamegeek.com/thread/803965/… Apr 6, 2021 at 17:23
  • 1
    This is probably obvious, but does your game require more than one player? Otherwise any singleplayer game would qualify.
    – Erik
    Apr 14, 2021 at 7:50
  • 1
    The first known jigsaw puzzle was made in the 1760s by John Spilsbury. His design used a world map as the pattern and was intended as an educational tool. That's likely a lower temporal bound for first cooperative board game.
    – Zags
    Apr 14, 2021 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


While I am not sure it is THE earliest, The Landlord's Game/Prosperty, the origin for what we now call monopoly, had two sets of rules. The first set of rules, The Landlord's Game, formed the basis for Monopoly, was competitive and was won by the first player to reach $2000 in cash. The second set of rules, Prosperity, was cooperative and was won by all players when all players had at least $7000. (This may be a typo in the rules since it also says double their starting capital, and each player started with $350, and the game had just over $8,000 included)

The rules for both can be found here

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