Game Name: Forbidden Island
Designer: Matt Leacock
Artist: C. B. Canga
Players: Two to four players
Playing time: 30 Minutes
The goal of Forbidden Island is to collect four identical treasure cards for each treasure, move to one of two “special” tiles for that treasure to discard those cards and claim the treasure. After claiming the four treasures, you’ll need get all players to the helipad tile, and play a special card to be airlifted off the island. Sounds pretty easy doesn’t it?
It’s harder than you think!
The Island is laid out randomly each time and is made up of 24 card tiles. As the game goes on more and more of these island tiles are removed from play. Play begins by drawing six Flood cards. These cards indicate which tiles are now under water and you flip the island tile to its blue tinted side indication it is under water. Being under water just means the tile is threatened and players can still move to save the location.
Each turn, players have four options and may take three of the following actions:
2. Shore Up a part of the Island – flip a tile from “blue” to normal, thereby protecting it from destruction if that card comes back up in the flood deck.
3. Give a treasure card to another player
4. Claim a treasure with four matching cards of its kind
Each player gets one of six character cards with specials tweaking those actions. As with Lecock’s previous creation, Pandemic, each player has a special ability. Such as the Engineer shoring up two tiles at a time, and the Navigator can give other players additional moves. The Explorer may move diagonally, for another example, while everyone else can only move up and down or right and left. Meanwhile, players compete against the system itself as the island continues to sink around them, flooding and removing tiles that may contain the treasures players need to win.
Players also draw two treasure cards, trying to reach that magic number of four of a kind. The Treasure Deck also contains Waters Rise cards that makes flooding worse. Finally, players draw from the Flood deck to determine which tiles become blue (are underwater) or are completely removed from the game.
All the players must survive and retrieve the treasures to win. Any other result is a notch in the loss column.
Now I must admit I enjoyed playing Forbidden Island more than Pandemic but that isn’t saying a whole lot. Yes, yes, I know I’m in the minority but I don’t see the appeal of the mechanic used in both games, although I do enjoy Defenders of the Realm quite a lot which does have a Pandemic mechanic as the heart of the game. I suppose my biggest gripe is that in Forbidden Island, as well as Pandemic, I have the lingering impression that I’m not playing the game; the game is playing me. Everything going on just seems to just be a reaction to what is being dealt from the deck. For myself that doesn’t make for a very entertaining gaming experience.
Those of you who do enjoy Pandemic (and I’m not knocking the fact that you do) will enjoy this lighter, faster playing cousin. Add to the fact that the price is very reasonable for a game of this kind (as opposed to $30 or $35) and Pandemic fans will want to include this in their collection.
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I have finally had the opportunity to play Forbidden Island, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I do like Pandemic as well, and as Jeff says if you don’t like one you won’t like the other. Forbidden Island is a great filler family game, it is easy to teach, can be played in under an hour, and everyone gets to work together in order to beat the game. So yes, the game does play you. I don’t mind this as I have played plenty of video games that work the same way. The game is inexpensive, and is a lot less complicated to learn than Pandemic. My biggest qualm is that it only handles four players. I would rate this game an 8.