Cedric Chong
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I. Co-op was not my cup of tea

When was the last time I sat down and played a new game nine (9!) times in a row?

I cannot think of any instance.

Maybe for Magic: The Gathering? No, definitely not when I first learnt the game. Maybe for some short filler party games? I don't think 9 games in a row. Maybe for Settlers of Catan? Yeah maybe. But for a game as heavy as Robinson Crusoe? I don't think so. And for a co-op game? Definitely not.

*

Shadows over Camelot was the first co-op I played. It was 2006. Shadows over Camelot received rave reviews. I got all my friends over to try six and seven-players sessions of the game. The theme of the game was fantastic. Days of Wonder could do no wrong with components. The traitor mechanics lit up the game. But, as opposed to a full co-op experience, it became an all-versus-game-and-traitor affair. Take away the traitor mechanics, the basic game became boring. The search for the Holy Grail of full co-op continued.

I had a two-sessions affair with Arkham Horror. Not much of a Cthulhu fan myself, although I had a copy of the H.P. Lovecraft's collection. It took us three to four hours to play each game. I was annoyed with the streak of bad luck where I simply could not roll a "5" or "6", with seven (7!) dice. Decision per unit time was very little. I disengaged half way through. Perhaps co-op was not for me?

No more co-op for the longest time.

Then Matt Leacock came along with the incredibly popular Pandemic. My distrust of co-op could not convince the skeptical part of me to get this game. I stalled. Eventually bought the shinier Forbidden Island. I was immediately impressed with the mechanics of Forbidden Island. It was great for non-gamers too! But I found it too simplistic. The game ignited my curiosity for co-op again.

I got convinced by numerous good reviews to buy Space Alert by Vlaada Chvátil. Oh my god. This game is very difficult! And fiddly! It was mental-gym while you focused on executing your orders, coordinating with your team mates and accounting for the many hazards coming in to wreck havoc. Nice stressful fun! The screensaver! Kept forgetting about screensaver!

The market had many more co-ops available. I got Flash Point, Legendary, Escape. After a few games of Flash Point, we could beat the game on its hardest setting. Legendary started out great. I got many games down. But after I discovered Black Widow, things changed. Black Widow, a seemingly weak individual in the Marvel universe, when compared to the likes of Hulk, Thor, Silver Surfer. Black Widow is over-powered in Legendary. Black Widow plus Dreadpool is imbalanced. With a deck of less than 15 cards, I could beat Loki + Legacy Virus 100% of the time. Too simple. Sold the game. Escape was interesting for it's dice mechanics. But it could not get us engaged for long even with all expansions.

Maybe co-op is not my cup of tea.

Then Z-Man announced the second edition to Pandemic. Maybe I should give this a try? Wow. And try we did. It was followed by many wonderful game sessions. All I thought was What was I thinking? I should had gotten this game right from the start! Pandemic is a gem. It is simple to explain. The mechanics of escalating infections is brilliant. Much of the difficulty of the game is built into the mechanics. Difficulty rises exponentially as the game progresses. It's fun! And challenging! Pandemic became my favorite co-op game. Pandemic renewed my faith in co-ops.

I got a few others like Sentinels of the Multiverse, and Defenders of the Realm. But we always go back to Pandemic. It's challenging, engaging, and huge amount of fun packed into 45 minutes. Pandemic is number one!

One day while browsing BGG, I came across numerous threads on Essen 2012. Everywhere, users were talking about this new game. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. Wow. Just the title alone made me paused. The box art grabbed my attention. The theme sucked me in. The reviews made my head explode. This is amazing! I need to try the game!

Guess what? I could not get a copy of Robinson Crusoe. Z-Man picked it up and we all had to wait a year. One year! Back to usual gaming. When we feel like co-op, it's back to Pandemic to scratch that itch. Life goes on.

*

Two weeks ago, my sparkling new Z-Man edition of Robinson Crusoe arrived. I tore open the box and devoured the rules.

I got my wife to sit with me and we played our first game. We took Cook and Carpenter. We started scenario 1 and.... won. Hmmm... Something's not right. It's not supposed to be so easy. Indeed! A quick browse of the rulebook revealed I played a key concept wrongly! It's so embarrassing. I thought the normal food (yellow cube) is nonperishable!

So I went back to play game 2. Lost. Game 3, Won! Yeah! Quick check on BGG... opps, I forgot about Adventure Tokens! Man! I played all previous games wrong! Tried again. Game 4. Won. Okay, this time I was sure I got most of the rules right. Moved on to Scenario 2. Game 5. Lost. Game 6. Lost. Game 7. Lost. Game 8. Lost. Game 9. Won!

By the end of the day, I had to stop. My back hurts. My throat hurts. I forgot to drink the entire day. Need water.

When was the last time I played a new game nine (9!!) times in a row?

I cannot think of any instance. Definitely not for a game as heavy as Robinson Crusoe. It's fantastic! And incredibly difficult!

Over the last two weeks, I played many more games of Robinson Crusoe. The most amazing thing I found, was the gigantic difference between the scenarios. Thematically they are different. But the bigger difference lies in the difficulty. The step up in difficulty is ridiculous. Just when you think you managed to scrap by Scenario 1, Scenario 2 came and slapped you across the face. The fog in Scenario 2 is crazy, CRAZY! I kept re-reading the Scenario card to ensure I didn't read it wrongly. Surely it can't be so difficult! I'm going to die soon! Arghh! Every other scenarios changed the game. Just when you thought you knew everything about survival, in come Scenario 3. If you want to save Jenny, you have no time for luxuries like shelter, or food. Fancy a little bit of Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs with erupting volcano? Check. Wanna face off with cannibals? Check. Wanna play Hollywood filmmakers in the movie King Kong? Check. In every case, the games are thematic, and brutal.

Snow is coming. Our roof is leaking. Foul beasts are howling outside our camp. We are running out of food. Friday is dying. And the Cook is whining nonstop. Time is running out. One wood! We need one more wood! Where can we get one more wood? Where?!!

Soooo good. Robinson Crusoe.





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II. Castaways Quick Start Guide to Robinson Crusoe

A Quick Start Guide to Robinson Crusoe sounds like an oxymoron, for a game commonly regarded as tough to learn. Nothing is going to replace reading the rulebook. And I strongly recommend you do so.

This Quick Start Guide is meant as an introduction to the game of Robinson Crusoe. You can think of it as a guide to pass along to your friends to read before going to game night. It’ll be great if the game is played with at least one experienced player who knows how to handle all the exceptions and special rules.





















































This guide is not meant to be comprehensive. Hopefully it can be used as an aid to help new players get into this game. Some of the things I left out includes:

- Unfulfilled demand rule
- One unique token on each space rule
- Modifiers
- "IF POSSIBLE"
- "DECIDE"
- Cards and effects
- Storm token
- Special wounds


NOTE 1: I intentionally left out rules for Building Shelter on other tiles. I'm not clear on that myself. I play all my games such that I can only Build Shelter on Camp tile. It works. I think it's fine to play either way.

NOTE 2: Friday + Dog. There is rule difference between Polish version and English version. This may be a translation / interpretation issue. As I heard, Polish version is very clear that Dog can be used with Friday. English version says Dog can only be used with a player's pawn. Feel free to play either way. It only affects Solo plays. Either way is fine.


[Version 1.1] Corrected a wording mistake on page 21.
[Version 1.2] Amended page 22. Added page 23, 24, 25.
[Version 1.3] Changed title design. Removed specific mentioning that Dog cannot be used together in the same action with Friday on page 18.
[Version 1.4] Corrected a wording mistake on page 20.
[Version 1.5] Corrected page 6, 20 and 23.
[Version 1.6] Minor edit. Added searchable text.
[Version 1.7] Corrected error on page 22.

[PDF] Castaways Quick Start Guide to Robinson Crusoe




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III. Some information

A. Dice distribution


Building has the lowest chance of success (67%).
Building is the most dangerous with 67% chance of getting a wound.
Gathering is the safest activity with only 17% chance of getting a wound.
While Exploration has high chance of success (87%), it also has highest chance of drawing an Adventure card (87%).


B. Tech tree


Terrains
There are five (5) terrain types
Mountains and Plains are more common
Every terrain has one (and only one) tile with both Food and Wood.
All (2) Hills tiles have Mystery Icon.
Aside from Beach, every other terrain tiles have at least one Discovery Token Icon.

Inventions
Aside from Beach, every other terrain unlocks 2 Starting Inventions.
Pot is needed for some Discovery tokens.
Cure is needed to prevent damage from certain Adventure/Beast cards.
Rope unlocks the most (5) Inventions.
Only three Invention cards can be build without any terrains. Diary, Sling, and Sack.
The Bow is the most difficult Invention to build. It requires unlocking 2 terrains, 2 other Inventions plus a resource.


C. Ways to get additional pawns


+ Gathering Pawns
Belts Invention
Raft Invention

+ Exploration Pawns
Raft Invention
Map Invention
Compass Treasure Mystery Card

+ Hunting Pawn
Shield Invention

+ Building Pawns
Lantern Invention
Candles Treasure Mystery Card (one use only)
Hammer & Nails Starting Item (one use only)
Handy man Carpenter Determination Skill (one use only)

Because Starting Items are randomly chosen, and you cannot affect the Mystery deck, the only control you have is over the Inventions. In this case, the Carpenter's special determination skill, A New Idea, helps a lot. By spending 3 Determination tokens, you can draw the top 5 Inventions and choose 1. It will take about 3 tries to go through the entire deck.





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IV. The actual review



Robinson Crusoe
1 Exploding with theme!
2 Scales well from 1 to 4 players!
3 Remarkably different scenarios
4 Minimizes alpha-player issues
5 Plays from 50 to 120 minutes
6 Extremely fiddly!




Layer 1 - Meta game characteristics

Scales well from 1 to 4 players!

First night on the beach...
"Well nobody thought of building a shelter or finding one,
so I guess we'll be sleeping out in the open tonight."
Image from Lost (TV series)

Games that scale very well in recent memory includes Lords of Waterdeep and Descent 2.0. Games that do not scale very well includes Settlers of Catan, El Grande, Power Grid.. oh, there are so many. For example, Settlers of Catan is really meant only as a 4 players game. You really do not want to play this great game with 3, 5, or 6. Similarly, you want to play El Grande with 5. Power Grid says it works with 2, but you have to add a 3rd dummy player.

Robinson Crusoe scales very well. It feels like the designer really put lots of thoughts into making the game scale well. Down time is minimal because in five of six phases of the game, all players are playing at the same time. Only Morale Phase affects First Player. But that phase is resolved so quickly it doesn't impact much. I'm talking about maybe 5 seconds. Many phases involve players making decisions collectively.

Difficulty also scales very well too. For solo play, you don't have to worry so much about Food or Morale. With 2 players, you start to feel the impact of lack of Food and falling Morale. With more players, you would think the two extra pawns from each player gives a lot of advantage. But with more players, you have a few problems to handle. You have more mouths to feed. You need more resources to build Shelter, Roof and Palisade. When certain demands are not met, all players suffer a wound. So this rule scales up the difficulty with more players.

To round it all up, it is even more impressive that there are minimal rule changes from Solo plays to 4 players setup.

Solo: Morale +1 every round; Take Friday; Take Dog.
2 Players: Take Friday.
3 Players: Take Dog (Recommended); Shelter/Roof/Palisade costs more.
4 Players: Add Modifier card to Arrange Camp action; Shelter/Roof/Palisade costs more.

How much simpler can it get?


Plays from 50 to 120 minutes

Hunt
Hunting is a good source for food and fur.
Plus you get bigger muscles too!
Image from Lost (TV series)

The game duration of Robinson Crusoe really caught me off guard, in a good way. Playing time says 120 minutes. All prior impressions say this is a complex game. So I came in totally prepared for the game to drag long.

But what I've found was quite on the contrary. Solo games can be played in 35 to 45 minutes depending on scenarios. If you lose, game may even end in 20 minutes. I really enjoy playing Robinson Crusoe as a solo game. To be able to play such a deep, thematic game in 40 minutes is remarkable. With two players, game go on for about 90 minutes. If you lose, it may end in less than 60 minutes. With three players, game is just north of 90 minutes, I'd say 100 minutes maybe. So I'd say the 120+ minutes play time is probably accurate for four players.

Very impressive for a game as thematic and as complex as Robinson Crusoe.


Relatively quick setup and take down time

Build Shelter
Priority should be given to building a shelter.
You don't want to sleep in the open.
Image from Lost (TV series)

For a game with as many fiddly bits as Robinson Crusoe, I'd expect the setup time to take quite a while. So I took out my stop watch and timed my setup. I couldn't believe my eyes. I timed it again on a few other occasions. Setup is always less than 10 minutes. In fact, actual time ranges from 7 to 8 minutes. Take down is also always less than 10 minutes.

This is impressive for a game as complex and with as many bits as Robinson Crusoe.


Active support from designer

Build Fire
"Fire!!!"
Image from Cast Away (Movie)

Ignacy Trzewiczek is one of the few designers who communicates a lot on BGG. I scanned through a couple of top designers and look at the number of posts. Ignacy is easily top 5 in terms of number of posts.

When you are free, check out some of his most thumbed blog posts, and forum replies.


Rules are hard to get into

Rest
Sit back, relax, read a book. You earned it.
Image from Lost (TV series)

The general consensus is that Robinson Crusoe is a complex game. After playing this game, I must say the rules are pretty straight forward. It's only that there are so many moving parts that you need to read a lot more.

To be fair, I must go back to when I was learning the game. In that case, I must agree the rules are hard to get into. It is very easy to play a few many things wrong on your first few games.


Extremely fiddly!

Arrange Camp
Tidying up those messy bits can go a long way in boosting morale.
Image from Lost (TV series)

If someone is observing a game of Robinson Crusoe, he should immediately notice the insane amount of bits moving around the board. I'm trying to think of a way to describe this. The best I can come up with is this. The book-keeping of Robinson Crusoe is very busy. My hands are flying across the board through out the game. Every phase, every decision you make, you are moving cubes, tokens and cards around.

In a typical round, you can move a few cubes onto the board, and 30 seconds later, you remove it. You draw a card, you move tokens around. And 1 minute later, you remove them.

There is no down time in terms of moving bits. Event Phase, yes you are drawing a card, possibly pushing other cards, adding tokens, and possibly removing cubes (Food or Wood). Morale Phase, yes you are moving Determination Tokens, and possibly taking one or two wounds (which means moving another cube). Production Phase, yes, again you are moving cubes to your Available Resources Space. Action Phase, yes. You are place your pawns, moving cubes, then rolling dice, and drawing cards, adding tokens, or removing tokens, and moving more cubes! Weather Phase, yes. Rolling dice, and moving more cubes. Possibly moving tokens as well. Night Phase. Yes. More cubes are moved.

This is a very busy game!


Layer 2 - What sets this game apart as one of the top cooperative game?

Exploding with theme!

Exploration
Beware of the dangers of the island.
Image from King Kong (Movie)

Robinson Crusoe is one of the most thematic games I have ever played. A typical game of Robinson Crusoe could have been a movie like Tom Hank's Cast Away, the movie King Kong, or a season of Lost.

One of the most amazing thing about Robinson Crusoe is how it ties theme with mechanics. Mechanics make sense thematically.

Now if you play really fast. I mean really really fast, then you are playing mostly mechanics. But if you just slow down slightly, the aroma starts to come out. Yes food, we need food. Let's go hunt. Or gather. Or build a snare. Night is coming, I don't want to sleep in the open. Let's build a shelter. Monsoon rain is coming, we need to prepare for it. Let's reinforce our roof. Jenny is stranded. We must save her! The volcano is erupting! No time to build shelter or roof. Ruuuunn!


Remarkably different scenarios

Scenario 3 - Rescue Kate Jenny
Role play in your wildest fantasy.
Rescue Kate Jenny, build a raft, and sail off to the sunset.
Image from Lost (TV series)

You will see this a lot in the following section where I am comparing Robinson Crusoe to various other co-op games. One of the biggest factor that sets Robinson Crusoe apart from other games is its Scenario system.

What's the big deal about scenarios? Many games have scenarios. Yes many games have scenarios. But we are not talking about the same thing here. Example. Memoir '44 has hundreds of scenarios. They change the way game is set up. But it's still a WWII game. The gameplay and feel is still roughly the same.

On the other hand, when we're talking about Robinson Crusoe, different scenarios could have been different games.

One scenario, you are focusing on survival. You feel the harshness of nature. Food, shelter, and rain. Basic things we take for granted.

One scenario, it's suddenly saving someone. Time is of the essence. You have to make compromise on basic "luxuries" like food and shelter.

One scenario, a volcano is erupting. The map is transformed. And it reminds me of a game of "Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs".

One scenario, you are a Hollywood filmmaker. You are trying to film King Kong, set traps and save the actress.

Not only are the stories different. The feel of the game is different.

As Tom Vasel commented in his review, just scenario 1, Castaways, could have been the game itself. But the box comes with 6. And there are already 2 more available online.

There is huge variety in Robinson Crusoe's gameplay.


Minimizes alpha-player issues

Build Roof
"I told you to build those roof. But you said no need.
No need! Look what the rain has done to our food!"
Image from Lost (TV series)

Co-op games typically have the alpha-player problem. Meaning one player who is more experienced with the game can solve the game. The problem comes when this experienced player starts telling other players what to do.

Many good co-op games overcome this challenge via a number of different methods.

One is via using timer. By restricting all players' decisions to a few seconds, the alpha-player is occupied with his own set of problems to solve. He cannot possibly boss other players around. Examples include Space Alert, Space Cadets, and Escape.

Another way is via introduction of the traitor. With a traitor, questionable less-than-optimal choices could be a motive. The alpha-player has to quietly observe and deduce who the traitor is. Examples include Shadows over Camelot, Police Precinct, and Battlestar Galactica.

Then there is the semi-coop. All players can lose together, so in a way we are cooperating. But if one player makes an awful play, it's great, because it means I get to win! There you go, no more alpha problem. Examples include Legendary, Archipelago and Castle Panic (variant).

Robinson Crusoe does not have any of these. There is no timer. So everyone gets to think as long as you want to. There is no traitor mechanics. Robinson Crusoe is a full cooperative game. There is no semi-coop. Everyone is truly in this together and gets out of this together.

Instead Robinson Crusoe tackles this in a different way. There is a bit of unknown outcome from card draws. There is a bit of multiple paths to the same problem. There is a bit of randomness. There is variable player powers. So everyone will have different preference of tackling the same problem.

For example, let's say we want to tackle the simple problem of food shortage. There are many ways of getting food. You can hunt. You can gather. You can build stuffs to get more food. Sometimes, you can even get food when you explore the island. Each has it's own benefits and risks. Variable character powers means different characters will have different bonuses and hence preference. Soldier may prefer to hunt. Cook may prefer to gather. Carpenter may prefer to build. Explorer may prefer to explore.

Then there is the choice of using 1 pawn or 2 pawns. The best choice is not always clear. With 2 pawns you are guaranteed success. But the game gives you so many things to deal with you may be forced to take a chance on splitting those 2 pawns into 2 separate actions.

Perhaps the biggest factor is that the game throws so many different sets of problems at you. Almost every action contributes in some way. Yes we may have a food problem now, but you're not wrong if you want to go build that roof. In fact, getting that roof done may even prevent food lost from rain!

There is no single answer to each problem. Hence, the more experienced player cannot say for certain your choice of action is bad.

But do note that in Robinson Crusoe, not all choices are equal. At certain stage of the game, specific actions may be marginally better. In a way this is good. If all choices are equal, then there is no game. Because it doesn't matter what you choose! In this way, Robinson Crusoe does not eliminate the alpha-player problem completely. It only minimizes it.


Inculcate accountability

Gather
Gathering is one of the most reliable source for food.
Image from Lost (TV series)

One thing I really like about Robinson Crusoe is that it seems to inculcate accountability. When things go wrong, it's your fault.

There are games that deal random penalties at you, and many times, it's not really your fault.

In Robinson Crusoe, you are usually able to foresee problems ahead of time. Threats stay on the board for 2 rounds. You have 2 rounds to deal with it. If you suffer from a Threat effect, it's your fault. You know you need to eat or suffer 2 wounds. If you don't go out and get some food, it's your fault. You can see on the scenario card when the weather dice are coming, if you didn't build enough Roof levels to deal with rain, it's your fault.

Even most cards let you DECIDE one of two choices. You can suffer now and discard the card. Or get a minor benefit but shuffle into Event deck and deal with a penalty later. See it again? You make that choice, so when it comes around and you still haven't found Cure, it's your fault.

I'd say 80% of all bad things are foreseeable.

20% of the time, you just have random catastrophes that you can't stop. Just when you're all comfortably set up with a strong sturdy camp, a Landslide forces you to move camp. Out of nowhere, some strange beast comes out from the jungle and smacks you on your head.


Extremely challenging

Weapon Levels
"Don't tell me what I can't do!"
Image from Lost (TV series)

Co-op should not be easy.

Robinson Crusoe sets the bar right up there in terms of difficulty. As I mentioned in the introduction, just when you thought you managed to scrap by scenario 1, scenario 2 comes in and slaps you across your face. And think you've seen it all after you won scenario 1, 2, 3? Try 4, 5, 6 (plus 7 and 8).

Co-ops should not be easy and rightfully so. It helps to provide challenge and replayability. Robinson Crusoe is not difficult for difficult's sake. There are different strategies to tackle different scenarios. But because when you lose it's your fault, you want to try again.



Comparing Robinson Crusoe with other Co-Op games I've played






Pandemic
Very streamlined design.
Short game duration.
Unique theme.
No random outcome in players' actions.
vs Robinson Crusoe
Less depth in theme.
Less variety and replayability.
Much easier compared to RC.

Pandemic really stood out for it's clean design. It has interesting variable players powers from many different roles. It has absolutely no random outcome in terms of players' actions. Shuffling mechanics means different infection regions in each game and escalating infection in the same region within the same game.

Robinson Crusoe blasts Pandemic out of the water in terms of depth, difficulty, and variety of scenarios. In fact, the same can be said for almost every other game, because depth, difficulty and variety of scenarios are some of the best qualities of Robinson Crusoe.

Pandemic will always have a special place in my collection, for when I want that clean simple co-op fun in 45 minutes. For everything else, it's Robinson Crusoe.


Forbidden Island
Good for non-gamers.
vs Robinson Crusoe
RC beats Forbidden Island in almost every other aspect.

Nothing much to say here. The only thing good about Forbidden Island is its simplicity. You can explain the game in 5 minutes. Even then, I would rather play Pandemic (Forbidden Island's older brother).



Defenders of the Realm
Great fantasy theme.
vs Robinson Crusoe
RC has varied scenarios.
DotR has much more random outcome that players have to deal with.

Defenders of the Realm is a very good co-op game. It's main appeal lies in the fantasy theme. The randomness of the dice are not so agreeable with me. Players really need to account for these randomness the first time they try to battle each boss... and add one or two more cards/dice for safe measures. Maybe three. Defeats in boss fights are not laughing matter.

In Robinson Crusoe, players also have to deal with random outcomes. BUT, random outcome is mostly a choice. You put 1 pawn into an action, you roll dice. Chance of success is 67% for Building, 83% for Gathering or Exploring. You put 2 pawns, success is 100%. When you fail, you get 2 Determination tokens as consolation prize. Which isn't that bad, because some Determination Skills are powerful. In Defenders of the Realm, you may very well end up losing actions over bad dice rolls.




Sentinels of the Multiverse
Very good super heroes theme.
Many different heroes to choose from.
Nice comic art work.
vs Robinson Crusoe
SotM gameplay is not very deep.
SotM does not scale very well with different players count.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is probably one of the best super heroes themed co-op games. I bought several of its expansions. Love the varied battlefields, large number of heroes and villains, all with very different feel. Minor quibble is the book-keeping. However, since we're comparing with Robinson Crusoe, this becomes a non-issue. Because Robinson Crusoe is very fiddly.




Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
Deck-building semi co-op.
Marvel superheroes theme.
vs Robinson Crusoe
Co-op is too easy to beat.
Semi co-op is awkward thematically.
RC's theme is very tightly integrated with its mechanics.

The strongest asset of Legendary is it's Marvel setting. As a co-op, Legendary is too easy to win. Which is bad, because co-op needs to be challenging. As a semi co-op, Legendary is awkward. Hulk will smash enemies, but Hulk sometimes smash other heroes too so that Hulk can be ultimate winner. The heroes and villains are not properly balanced based on the Marvel universe.






Space Alert
Intense activity in 10 minutes.
Tests co-ordination skills.
Tests forward planning skills.
vs Robinson Crusoe
RC shines in its variety of scenarios.
RC has a more leisurely pace, you have time to think and discuss with other players.

Space Alert and Robinson Crusoe are very similar in one aspect. You have an assortment of different challenges coming at you in the foreseeable future. You have a few rounds to deal with them. Difference is, in SA, you plan out how you want to deal with them at one go. But you will need other players' help most of the time. Because you have time constrains in Space Alert, part of the fun is watching how you totally screw up.

In Robinson Crusoe, you have a general long term direction, but you're taking it one round at a time. No time pressure. So if you screw up, it's your fault!




Flash Point: Fire Rescue
Family-friendly fire-fighting theme.
Non-gamer friendly.
vs Robinson Crusoe
Flash Point is too easy to beat.
Suffers more from dice roll.
Not much variety.

Flash Point has a very good theme that almost anyone can get into. It is very non-gamer friendly. Although to increase it's difficulty I find you need to explain more rules. Compared to Pandemic, you can simply add a few more Epidemic cards. No further rules explanation required.

There are some minor points here and there, but the biggest difference between Flash Point and Robinson Crusoe lies in its difficulty. Co-op should not be easy. Flash Point is easy to beat. Plus random fire means it's hard to plan ahead. This means it's harder to work together. So for something simpler, I'd rather go to Pandemic.





Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Non-gamer friendly.
Rowdy fun gaming experience.
Short game duration.
Interesting dice mechanics.
vs Robinson Crusoe
Novelty of Escape's dice mechanics fade off after a while.
Not much in terms of replayability.

Escape is fun. The dice mechanics is interesting and refreshingly new the first times you play. To be successful, players really need to stick together, and hence the co-op feeling.

Escape is supposed to be a light game. The theme is the same every time you play it. Escape from the temple. You will find more variety and depth with Robinson Crusoe.


Shadows over Camelot
Plays well up to 7 players.
Traitor mechanics.
vs Robinson Crusoe
Lacks in variety and scenarios.

Best points about Shadows over Camelot are it's traitor mechanics, and that it plays up to 7 players. However, if I want a traitor game that plays to 7, I'll go with The Resistance that plays with more intensity in a third of the time.

Robinson Crusoe only plays up to 4, so it doesn't fill the gap of that 7 player co-op. However, it's a better game than Shadows over Camelot in every other aspect.


Short version of comparisons
If I want simple co-op, I'll go to Pandemic.
If I want tough chaotic co-op in 10 minutes, I'll go to Space Alert.
If I want fantasy theme co-op, I'll go to Defenders of the Realm.
If I want super heroes theme co-op, I'll go to Sentinels of the Multiverse.
If I want rowdy fun co-op, I'll go to Escape: The Curse of the Temple.
Everything else, I'll go to Robinson Crusoe.


Shorter version of comparisons
If I want simple co-op, I'll go to Pandemic.
Everything else, I'll go to Robinson Crusoe.





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V. Final words

Adventure on the Cursed Island

There are so many things I love about Robinson Crusoe. The way it blends several mechanics into the game. The way it offers so many valid choices. The way it manages to change the feel of the game with different scenarios. The way theme exploded out from the box. The way so many different elements come at you together to screw you up. The desperation you feel as you go on. The sweet taste of victory after numerous exhausting defeats.

Snow has come. Our roof is broken. Foul beasts are feasting on our Explorer. We have no more food. Friday is dead. The Cook is still whining. We have ran out of time. One wood! We need one more wood! Where can we get one more wood? Where?!!

It is truly an adventure on the cursed island. Robinson Crusoe.





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Check out my contributions for Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island:

1. Castaways Quick Start Guide to Robinson Crusoe
-- A review
-- [PDF]

2. Leviathan's Defeat (fan-made expansion pack)
-- Leviathan's Defeat (scenario)
-- Voodoo Man (character)
-- Grandma (character)
-- [PDF]

3. Zombie Island (fan-made expansion pack)
-- Zombie Island (scenario)
-- Sumo Wrestler (character)
-- Doctor (character)
-- [PDF]

--------------------------------------
A Geeklist of all my comic-style "stuff"
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Nick Bolton
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"Quick" start guide? It's practically a (graphic) novel!
Very interesting though

Yggdrasil is another coop you can play solo you may enjoy playing, just to complete the collection.

Not sure you have to turn in the wood discovery token immediately, the rulebook just mentions the food spoils and won't keep. A minor issue anyway that makes little difference in practice.

Read all of this and enjoyed the rules summary, commentary and coop comparisons.
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Jeremy Olson
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This review is a work of art. Hat's off to you sir!
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Brian Dean
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Nice work!!
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Box of Delights
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Neston
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WOw! Your love of the game is evident by the amount of work put in. Fabulous!
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Steve G.
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Splendid review.

I think with Space Alert, you might have meant "a leisurely pace" rather than a luxurious one.
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Isaac Milton
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Holy smokes
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Gregg Speers
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Bravo!

It would be awesome to turn your pictorial overview into a pdf file for reference. Don't know what the file size is but something worth considering.
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Juan Crespo
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This is awesome sauce!! As quick as a start will get to RC without leaving out critical things.
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Ted Magdzinski
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Probably the best review I've ever seen on this site.
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Frank Conradie
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Bravo! This has to be one of the best articles I've ever read on BGG, and is truly deserving of !
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Thomas
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spaceman spiff wrote:
Bravo!

It would be awesome to turn your pictorial overview into a pdf file for reference. Don't know what the file size is but something worth considering.


Came to suggest the same thing
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Nick Bolton
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LunarSoundDesign wrote:
spaceman spiff wrote:
Bravo!

It would be awesome to turn your pictorial overview into a pdf file for reference. Don't know what the file size is but something worth considering.


Came to suggest the same thing


He mentions in the text that a PDF is coming soon.
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Doc Hogan
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Holy cow, amazing work! Added to bookmarks, thumbed, and tipped!
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T France
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Aside from a few questionable word choices, an excellent review...
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Byron Campbell
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This is brilliant. I think (once it is its own document) this should replace Ricky Royal as the go-to suggestion for people learning the game. That, and the review is rather good as well.
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Liam (Away/AFK)
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Contender for review of the year?
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Ranger Rob
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Great write up!

I'll be printing that PDF when it is done and putting it in the gamebox.
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Robert Kuster
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Excellent, thanks very much.
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Manuel Ingeland
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Thank you so much for this piece of fantastic work!
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Jeff Brown
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Simply astounding job! After reading your rundown, I, too, have realized that I played the Adventure tokens wrong. I am also glad that I am not the only person who envisions Lost in my head every time I play this game.
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Enjoy Life !
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Just do it!
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WOW
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James Bentley
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Stellar review!
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Manary Corte
Brazil
São Paulo
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Best game of all time...
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Absolutely great review!

Have you ever played Ghost Stories?

It's my favorite co-op (probably Robinson Crusoe will tie or overtake, but I need more plays to decide) and I would like to see your comparison.
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Bruce Tanchel
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Solihull
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A superb piece of work for a superb game. Well done.
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