Only Fools Lose Fool’s Landing — A Review of Forbidden Island

Forbidden IslandForbidden Island is an excellent entry-level cooperative game. Thematically, you are a group of 2-4 adventurers with unique skills on a quest to collectively retrieve four artifacts from a sinking island. If you accomplish this mission and all the adventurers survive and leave the island, you are victorious!

Before game play begins, you create an island comprised of 24 location tiles, eight of which are potential artifact locations, and one of which is the Helipad, or Fool’s Landing. If you lose the Helipad before getting off the island – if it sinks — you lose. If you lose a single adventurer on a sinking game tile (that is a tile that is removed from the game), you lose the game. And, in rare instances (at least in our games), you can lose if the water meter reaches epic levels.

You spend your game turns taking up to three actions while managing a hand of cards, shoring up tiles that are flooding (flipped over), moving and other special actions specified by your selected adventurer. You draw a couple of Treasure Cards on each turn, most of which depict one of the four treasures you need to win the game. If you collect 4 of the same, you can retrieve the depicted artifact by visiting one of its two corresponding tiles. You can trade your treasure cards with other players, as it can be difficult to collect four matching cards all on your own. The treasure cards also include some sandbags (a way to shore up a tile for free – that is flip a sinking tile back to its non-flooding side) and a few Helicopter Lift cards, a way to ultimately leave the island at the end of the game, or to move around the island freely.

All the while, after every turn, you’re drawing the dreaded Flood cards, hoping to avoid the Waters Rise card. Waters Rise triggers a re-shuffle of the previously drawn flood cards, increasing the likelihood that currently flooded tiles (flipped tiles) will be drawn again, and hence removed from the game board.

There’s a bit more to the game than that, but what I like about the game is the tension and excitement of getting to all the artifacts on an island that is usually quickly disappearing – that is flooding – making strategic game play, maneuvering and player interaction essential.

I just love this game. It comes in a really cool metal tin, the components are very well made — thick cardboard tiles, wooden player tokens and detailed plastic artifacts to collect. The artwork is exceptional.

The rules for Forbidden Island are accessible to everyone. I’ve played this game with my mom, my wife and my regular group of gamer nerds. Get this game. It plays fast, so it’s perfect as people are still arriving for game night or at the end of the evening when you are looking to fill that final 30 to 40 minutes. The current price of this game is under $14 all over the place. Are you kidding me? This kind of quality for less than $14?

That’s Forbidden Island!

Scott Bogen
The Board Game Show podcast

Categories: Reviews

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