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Forbidden Island» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Forbidden Island - Ummmm Why Am I Here? rss

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Highlander Highlander
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I was new to gaming. I thought video games were a bit geeky, let a lone boardgames. But I'd played a couple of games, after much cajoling, that made me think..."wait a minute, maybe board games are not just for kids or people from the 80s..."

My first game with a "game group" was Ticket To Ride. And then Forbidden Island. The group leader explained that it was a great way to introduce games and game mechanics to new people. This is in fact, a common defence I hear for this game. It's a really good, non-threatening way to introduce and teach games for new people. Well...it didn't work on me, and there are a whole bunch of other people it din't work on from the sounds of things.
But, there are great reviews and people that love it and it obviously sells well...but here's why I don't think it's worth the time...

Our group leader and game owner explained that we have to go around the tiles and collect artefacts before the island sinks.
"What? Why? Island?"

Yeah, these tiles they're an island and it's sinking and we have to get artefacts and then we get to the plane or helicopter and whatever and get out.

"Get to de choppa!"


"Get to de choppa!..Umm...no? ah okay..."

So we each move around on our turns and explore, trying to find

"Wait, what? Who are we? Why are we on an island? Why are we getting artefacts?"

It doesn't matter. So we each take turns and just move around the tiles until we find the artefacts and then we get off the island. It's really fun, trust me.

"Okay...so how do I stab the other players?"

You don't. It's a sinking island, we're all working together. The tiles are sinking..

"Oh...so I have to push the other players into the rising water and run off with the jewels?"

No. We're on the same team.

"AAh cool. So, what decisions do I make? Where to go and what to flip over or wat to sandbag on my turn?"

Yep, that's right.

"Sounds pretty boring, but okay, cool. I'm not sure exactly what to do, or what the best move will be...."

That's okay, I'll help you. That's the beauty of this game, it's not competitive, so i can help you. There's no hidden cards, or hidden information or anything that could create feelings.

"Oh, cool. So it's my turn now...ummm...I'm gonna move over here and like, sandbag the shit out of this tile, because...artefacts."

Ummmm, sure. You could do that. But why don't you go over here instead becasue then it will save us moves because blah blah blah.

"Oh, okay. Guess I'll do that then."

Sweet. Go ahead, move your piece. Yes, that's right. Good boy. Here's a biscuit.

"Ummm...I'm gonna go take a shit."....."Alright. I'm back. What did i miss? Oh, we moved to some tiles, some tiles disappeared? Cool."

Oh, you're back? We didn't realise you'd gone. We just moved your piece for you.

"You mean like before?"


"Cool. Did we just win the game?"


"Cool. That was easy."

Yeah. Wasn't that fun?

"Yeah! I really liked it! At first it was kind of hard, but i knew if I perservered and focussed that I could curl it out..."


"...oh. you mean the game? I was talking about the shit I took. Yeah the game was okay I guess."

You did really well. You all did really well. Good job guys.

"Did we? Umm, cool. We just did what you told us to because we didn't know what to do. And then we won the game really easily."

Yeah, great job. That's why I love this game, because you guys all learnt how to play games and got an introduction to gaming.

Okay, so I'm paraphrasing a little here. My shit actually lasted much longer. And the game actually felt much longer. Now I know what everyone who loves this game, and games of its ilk is going to say..."You can't play with an alpha gamer in these games!"

But the guy who showed us the game is not even an alpha gamer. He was very gently guiding us toward the best moves and explaining things and telling us what the consequences of each move would be. And through it all no-one at the table cared. Because the game is boring.

The theme is boring and meaningless. The mechanics are boring. There aren't really many choices or interesting moves to make. It keeps being touted as great to teach to new people to introduce them to games...but for me it just put me off them. what was the point of me being there? I could take a shit and the game would roll on unaffected.

Grizzled has hidden information so there is actually a point the existence of separate players, trying to guess what each other have and sweating their moves because they are not sure if what they play is going to work for the team. Fun.
Forbidden Island has....ummmm....

Dead of Winter has a possible traitor in your midst as well as individual goals for each player even as they work toward a greater team goal. That feels more true to reality, people want to do things for the greater good, but at the same time have their own needs and sometimes those conflict and that's where things get interesting. you watch everyone's moves, question their motives, but still try to work as a team, until the first cry of "traitor!!!".
Forbidden Island has....ummmm....

If you like being told what to do and get rewarded for it...join the army.
If you like being told what to do, in a agme that is not that difficult, moving a piece around some tiles, because, umm, artefacts, then..Forbidden island is for you!
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Stephen Schaefer
United States
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Okay, well, people don't often ask why Indiana Jones is looking for artifacts, or Nathan Drake. The adventure is the raison d'être. And for saying that your problem goes beyond alpha gaming, you seem to keep coming back to being told what to do. Not everyone tells you what do. Most people won't. And if open information bothers you, just pick up your cards. That's originally how Pandemic was but people just gravitated towards open information because they didn't see the point when you can communicate openly and supposed to cooperate.

If you don't like it, you don't like it. Not every game is for everyone and not everyone buys a theme. I'm just not sure since of these gameplay problems are really problematic.
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Brian Hall
United States
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When we play Forbidden Island, we never tell anyone what to do on their turn unless they ask for help. If they're going to do something that would really make things go south, we might point it out, but not make the decision for them. I've never had this problem with my gaming groups.

But I would certainly not try to tell anyone else that they have to like or enjoy Forbidden Island. There are plenty of great games out there, both competitive and cooperative, that are tons of fun. My favorite coop game is Space Hulk Death Angel, which makes Forbidden Island look like Candyland. But I still enjoy Forbidden Island.
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United States
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I gave you a thumbs up because I appreciate negative reviews. Continuous positive reviews get boring.

I will say, though, that it sounds like you had a negative attitude towards the game before you started playing. There's a little more to it than letting people tell you where to go and what to do. I would suggest trying it again, maybe this time with a different group.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Might I also suggest leaving out your bathroom activities in future reviews.
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