Friday, May 25, 2018

Review Day: Forbidden Island

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Forbidden Island is our latest attempt at finding a two-player game we can play together that isn't just the cripple version of a game for more people. It's designed for 2 - 4 players to play cooperatively and feels well-done at both ends of the range.

Players start on a randomly organized island of 24 tiles and, with limited inventory, must collect enough treasure cards to attain the 4 plastic treasures. Once the team has all of the treasures, they must reach the helicopter landing pad to fly away together. The gimmick of the game is that random parts of the island sink after every turn, at a rate that gradually increases over time (and like the real world, flooded properties are more susceptible to future floods). You can use an action on your turn to "shore up" a nearby tile, but tiles that flood twice without any shoring up are permanently removed from the island.

Each member of the team has a random occupation, like the Engineer who can shore up 2 tiles per turn, or the Messenger who can trade treasure cards to anyone on the island without standing right next to them. The game is spent strategizing, moving, trading, and shoring up while hoping that the dreaded "Waters Rise!" card isn't drawn to accelerate the flood rate.

In our games, we've won more than we've lost, but it's been pretty close at the Novice and Normal difficulty levels (we're about ready to increase the challenge next time we play). The relatively small number of unique card types make it easy to keep track of what's going on while the many random variables make each game feel fresh without introducing any scenarios that just feel impossible (random impossibility is the worst). Overall, we definitely enjoy this game and plan to play it again very soon!

Final Grade: A

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