Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Forbidden Island

Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to capture the four sacred treasures hidden on Forbidden Island. But wait, there's more! The ancient mystical empire that hid the treasures also designed the Island to sink if intruders ever came to Forbidden Island. Will you and your team be the first to enter Forbidden Island, find the treasures, and make it out alive!?

(*dramatic music*)


Forbidden Island is a cooperative boardgame for 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up, and an average game takes about 30 minutes to play.

The game comes in a cool metal box containing:
  • 28 Treasure cards (these are good)
  • 24 Flood cards (these are bad)
  • 6 Adventurer cards (these are the roles of the Adventurers)
  • 24 island tiles (these are the areas of the Island)
  • 6 pawns (these are the Adventurers)
  • 4 treasure figurines (The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire, and The Ocean's Chalice)
  • 1 water meter
  • 1 water level marker
  • Rules of play
Forbidden Island is similar to Pandemic, but simpler. The object of the game is to keep Forbidden Island afloat long enough to capture the four treasures and escape via helicopter from Fools' Landing.

After you shuffle the island tiles and lay them out, each player takes a random Adventurer card. The Adventurer card tells you what role you will be playing (Explorer, Pilot, Engineer, Diver, Messenger or Navigator). Each role has a special ability that gives an advantage in the game. Take a moment to look at the island tiles - these will indicate where each Adventurer starts the game, and where each Treasure can be captured.

Each player's turn consists of three things:
1) Take up to 3 actions. Your actions can be a combination of these standard actions (note that your Adventurer card may allow you to do additional actions):
  • Move
  • Shore Up - if a section of the Island is flooded, this action flips the tile back to normal
  • Give a Treasure card - give a Treasure card to another player
  • Capture a Treasure - discard 4 matching Treasure cards if your pawn is on the corresponding tile
2) Draw 2 Treasure deck cards. There are 5 of each Treasure card in the deck, as well as 2 types Special Action cards and the Evil Waters Rise! cards. Drawing a Waters Rise! card causes the Water Level marker to move up the Water Meter, which will cause more of the Island to flood each turn (this is bad).

3) Draw Flood cards equal to the water level. Each Flood card is a tile location - so if that location is normal, you flip it over to indicate it is flooded. If that location is already flooded, then that location sinks and is out of the game.

You win the game by collecting all four treasures and getting all the Adventurers back to Fools' Landing.


You lose the game if:

  • You don't manage to collect all four treasures (those tiles sink before you collect the treasure)
  • Fools' Landing sinks
  • Any player is on an tile that sinks and there are no adjacent tile to swim to
  • The water level reaches the skull and crossbones.

Scott Kurtz wrote a PVP comic about Forbidden Island, and Gabe from Penny Arcade had tweeted about the game. I finally had a chance to demo the game at PAX and it was a blast. We had an epic 5 person game with the woman who was running the demo, and we barely won.

I recommend picking this one up - the rules are pretty straight forward, the game is pretty inexpensive, and it could be a good gateway game to encourage your non-gamer friends to become cooler :-)

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