Forbidden Island Board Game Review by David Lowry
Forbidden Island is a co-operative board game designed by master game designer Matt Leacock and published by Gamewright (www.gamewright.com.) In this game you join a team of adventurers trying to capture 4 sacred treasures on a perilous paradise that is sinking into the ocean. Will you have enough time? You and your team must race against the rising waters to accomplish your mission before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!
Ages: 10 to adult
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Contents: 58 playing cards, 24 island tiles, 6 pawns, 4 treasures figurines, 1 water meter, 1 water level marker and the rules of play.
Suggested Retail Price: $17.99
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids
Creative Child Magazine Game of the Year
FunFare All Star Award
FamilyFun Magazine Toy of the Year Award
Parent’s Choice Recommended
Games Magazine Top 100 Game
BoardgameGeek.com Golden Geek Award
MTV Geek, Top Board Game of 2010
Benefits for children: Cooperation, strategic thinking and problem solving.
In Forbidden Island your team of adventurers must work together to try and keep the island from sinking long enough to gain the 4 treasures and then get out alive by flying off the island at Fool’s Landing. To do this you will pick from a team consisting of an explorer, pilot, engineer, diver, messenger and navigator. Each team member has its own special ability to use in the game, which allows for greater teamwork and cooperation.
You start the game by shuffling all 24-island tiles and randomly placing them face up (non blue & white side) in a 4×4 square and then adding two tiles each side in the middle. Then you place your 4 treasures, The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire and The Ocean’s Chalice on the outside of the corners of the island.
Then you take your flood deck and shuffle it and place it face down on one side of the island. This forms the Flood draw pile. Draw the top 6 cards and flip over the tiles to the flooded (blue & White) side they represent to start the island sinking. Now place your pawns on the appropriate start tiles for each player.
Shuffle the Treasure deck and deal 2 cards to each person. Each person lays their cards face up in front of them so all team members can see what everyone has and how to best trade cards later in the game.
Now set the Water Level Meter to difficulty you wish to start at for the game. By no means think that this game is easy so if it’s your first time playing, set it the Water Level Meter to the novice level.
The order of play is as follows. Take up to 3 actions, draw 2 treasure cards and then draw Flood cards equal to the current water level. During your 3 actions you may move, shore up (sand bagging,) give a Treasure card to another player or capture a treasure. Moving allows you to move vertically or horizontally. You many never move diagonally unless you are the Explorer. That is the special ability of that card. The Pilot may move to any tile once per turn. The Navigator may move any other player up to 2 adjacent tiles per turn and the Diver may move through one or more adjacent flooded or missing tiles for 1 action. Shoring up allows you to flip one tile over to prevent it from sinking and obviously transferring cards to another players allows that player to capture a treasure on their turn in they have 4 of the same treasure card.
In order to capture a treasure, one player must get to a tile with a treasure symbol on it and turn in 4 corresponding treasure cards in for once action before that tile sinks. Each treasure has two tiles in the game.
After a player has taken their actions, they then draw 2 treasure cards into their hand. Draw one card at a time because if you draw a Waters Rise card you then follow the instructions on the card and this is when tiles either get flooded or sink. Move the water level marker up one on the Water Level Meter and then shuffle the discarded Flood cards and put them on top of the Flood deck. Now draw the number of cards indicated by the Water Level Meter and flip any tiles over that you draw. This will with flood a tile or sink it. Once a tile is sunk, there is no brining it back so it is critical that you manage shoring up properly in certain areas and also that players don’t get stranded where they can’t get back to the Fool’s Landing. If any player gets left behind you lose the game.
In the game you have special action cards that can help the team. You have Helicopter Lifts and Sandbags cards. Playing one of these cards does not require and action.
If the team recovers all 4 treasures and all players are able to get back to Fool’s Landing while playing a Helicopter Lift card, they then win the game. There are 4 possible ways to lose the game. If Fool’s Landing sinks, you automatically lose the game. If both of one treasure’s tiles sink you lose the game. If a player is on an island tile that sinks and they can’t swim to an adjacent island tile you lose the game. If the water level reaches the skull and crossbones on the water level meter you also lose the game.
Component wise, the game has incredible pieces. The tiles are thick and don’t fray on the edges, the cards are of good quality with a texture feel and the treasures are nicely done as well and could look even better for those that like to paint their minis. The game pawns are simple colored pieces of wood which actually work perfect so it doesn’t distract from the art on the tiles or the treasure pieces. The artwork is amazing which makes the overall appeal of this game even higher. My only complaint is the tin box. Although the box art is awesome, a tin box is hard to stack with other games and many times the lid comes off very easily causing major spillage. Fortunately, both of my copies of this game the lid holds tight. The box fits all the components perfectly so when you open the game it is nice and neat and easier to get set up.
Forbidden Island is an outstanding gateway game to teach new players about co-operative games and for children. It has simple mechanics but also adds a good amount of tension and fun interactive game play between all the players. This game is not easy by any means and you will be stretched with basic strategy and challenged every time you play it. The ability to switch different levels of difficulty from the start also gives it replay value. This is also accomplished, as the tiles are never the same at the start of the game so you basically never play the same game. If you are looking for a good family game or a gateway game to either get in the board game hobby or to teach other new players, this is a great one to start with. Obviously it has won many awards and although it’s not a “deep” game for experienced gamers I still feel is extremely enjoyable and offers enough challenge for just about any level of gamers. The fact that it is so good for kids is a real bonus.
Although my star rating may not show it based on the level of difficulty , depth of play and tin box, that in no way should reflect negatively on this game. It is a solid effort and a great game for people who love to interact, be social and want a challenging game that isn’t a brain burner.
I give it 7.5 out of 10 stars. [rating=7.5]
You can find the original review posting on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/forbidden-island-board-game-review-by-david-lowry/
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