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Forbidden Island» Forums » Variants

Subject: Forbidden Island X rss

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Jeff Murchison
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Forbidden Island was the first co-op board game I ever played, but despite its unique central mechanic (the shrinking area of play) I can't help but feel that it pales somewhat in comparison to other games of its ilk (Pandemic, Forbidden Desert, Burgle Bros, etc). As such, I've been playing around with some ideas that might help fix some of its shortcomings (hence this variant's acronym).

To wit:

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The Pilot
The most significant change from the base game is that the Pilot is always used, but only as a non-player character. The blue pawn starts on Fool's Landing as normal, and they are still dealt two treasure cards at the start, but the Pilot never has a turn in the conventional sense (and thus never draws any further cards).

The Pilot can only move through the use of the Helicopter and Sandbag cards (more on those in a bit), which means losing Fool's Landing will only cost you the game if the Pilot (and by extension, the helicopter) is on it at the time it sinks. Of course, this means losing any tile the Pilot is on will cost you the game, so watch out.

As far as directly interacting with the Pilot, any pawns on the same tile as the Pilot may:

A) freely hitch a ride when the Pilot flies to another tile,
B) use a single action point to move a treasure card from their hand to the Pilot's, or
C) use a single action point to move a treasure card from the Pilot's hand to their own.

The Helicopter and Sandbag Cards
If a player shares the same tile as the Pilot, they may freely use the Helicopter card to send the Pilot to any other tile on the board (whether they or anyone else on the tile hitch a ride is up to them). Conversely, if the player is not on the same tile, the Helicopter card may only be used to bring the Pilot (and any passengers) to them.

The Sandbag card has no such player requirements (though they can still hitch a ride), and is used to send the Pilot to any flooded tile to shore it up. Note that since the Sandbag card cannot be used on a non-flooded tile, this means that the Helicopter card remains the only way to get everyone off the island once all four treasures are retrieved.

The Messenger
Finally, since the Pilot serves something of a similar role to the Messenger (passing cards between players who aren't on the same tile), I've made a slight tweak to the Messenger's special ability--for one action, the Messenger may discard any treasure card from their hand and replace it with one of their choosing from the treasure discard pile.
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If you give FIX a try, please let me know what you think. There's only so much play testing I can do by myself.
 
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Jim Montanus
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Twin Falls
Idaho
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What shortcomings are you attempting to fix?
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David Gotteri
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CHESTERFIELD
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In your variant, are you saying that only the the Pilot can shore up flooded tiles using Sandbag cards? Everyone else would not be able to use them? Otherwise why would you not just play the card 'from' another character's current location?

Just asking before i try this!

Thanks
 
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Jeff Murchison
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jimmontanus wrote:
What shortcomings are you attempting to fix?

Well to be fair, some of the issues I have with Island are just in comparison to other such games. Pandemic's version of treasure cards, for instance, have much more utility than Island's, which only serve a single purpose and then become useless. The change to the Messenger was an attempt to somewhat lessen this without explicitly copying Pandemic's approach.

Then you have Desert, which took the idea of retrieving four prizes and added mystery and effort to the task. In Island you know where everything is the moment the board is set, position yourself to cover as many important tiles as possible, and then just sit there shoring them up until you get the cards you need. Hence some of the changes to the Pilot.

As for Island itself, my issues are more thematic than mechanical. Why do you need to escape from Fool's Landing when both the Pilot/Helicopter card lets you fly from anywhere? How is it possible for a treasure to be in two different places... but if one sinks it's always in the one that didn't? What exactly are the treasure cards supposed to represent? And so on.

IdBass74 wrote:
In your variant, are you saying that only the the Pilot can shore up flooded tiles using Sandbag cards? Everyone else would not be able to use them? Otherwise why would you not just play the card 'from' another character's current location?

Just asking before i try this!

Thanks

Anyone can use a Sandbag card, same as in the base game, the difference being that you also move the blue pawn to the tile in question. You may be the one playing the card, but the Pilot is the one who is doing the physical act of shoring it up.

Edit: And remember, no one is actually playing as the Pilot. So if you and I were playing a two-player game, there would be three pawns in play--yours, mine, and the Pilot.
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Jeff Murchison
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Edit: Oh, something I should have mentioned in my original post--even though they're not a player character, the Pilot's hand size is still limited to five cards.

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Apologies for the double post, I just wanted to add a few observations regarding FIX's suitability to other modes of play. It occurred to me that the passing around of the Pilot/helicopter might work well not only in a solo variant, but particularly in a competitive one (players would essentially be fighting over it at that point). Admittedly, I haven't ironed out all the details on these, so consider them works-in-progress.

For instance, you may have to increase the number of actions per turn to four in order for these modes to work. Then there's the issue of the Navigator, who's functionally useless without allies. For now, I favor changing their ability to, at the cost of one action point, cash in a hand of four different treasure cards to lower the water level by one. But perhaps someone else here will come up with a better idea...
 
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