Check out Unbroken: solo game of survival and revenge.
If your idea of being shipwrecked on a deserted island involves enjoying the weather and sipping out of a coconut shell while idly waiting for a cruise ship to pick you up – this game will shatter these silly expectations with a heavy reality check.
In this co-op 1-4 players take on a role of survivors stranded on an island. The game comes with six scenarios each including the specific circumstances of your shipwreck and the goal you are trying to achieve. The variability of the scenarios offers great replay value as you are not going to be blowing through these.
The game is very complex with several mechanisms interacting to produce the outcomes – worker placement, resource management, ongoing card effects, a tech tree of sorts etc. Each player has two pawns representing their character’s efforts. These can be spent on :
– dealing with the consequences of adverse events from preventing further complications
– hunting (bringing into action a basic static combat resolution)
– building (you can either construct inventions like knives, dams, pots or build up your shelter to protect your group from the elements)
– exploring (opening up new sections of the island or investigating locations of interest)
– or you can spend time resting/tidying up the camp which impacts your morale (despair will kill you as surely as an alligator in this game)
Depending on level of effort expended success is either automatic or you need to roll for it, introducing potential complications such as hurting yourself or an adverse event taking place.
In addition, each character has unique skills based on their class (Soldier, Carpenter, Explorer, Cook) that are fueled by “determination”, a resource that is governed by your group morale.
Each round you need to worry about having enough to feed your group as well as enough wood to keep yourself warm or sufficient shelter to ward away the elements. All the while you only have a dozen or so rounds to complete your scenario objective – if time runs out you lost, but don’t worry – the chances of you surviving that long are slim anyways.
The game has a TON of components of good quality and design. Art is minimalistic but appropriate thematically. Managing all of this will take some time to learn. The rules are not laid out in a good way and a photo guide on how to play is a big help : http://zmangames.com/goodies/Castaways_Quick_Start_Guide_to_...
It takes an above-average level of game savvy and knowledge of this game in particular to be able to plan effectively. Newer players can be easily overwhelmed by the amount of stuff happening at once and lack of clarity of the eventual impact of your actions. As a result the game is somewhat subject to “Bossy Veteran Syndrome”, however dice rolling and certain individual effects mitigate it to an extent.
If you do make an effort to learn and understand the game however, the rewards are great. The game tells a real story – it flows, has ups and downs (mostly downs), introduces realistic and interesting complications and creates the constant anxiety of how to best use the limited resources you have. It’s many systems, while they do not all gel in the most streamlined way, do combine to provide a very rich and complex experience. For example your characters can suffer wounds that are specific to body parts (that can later become more serious if a cure is not provided) – not many RPGs go into that level of detail, let alone board games!
The game is also punishingly hard. It does not shy away from throwing a real challenge at the players and a win will feel like a real accomplishment. Which is great in my books – in my opinions easier co-ops drain the fun away.
I would suggest this game to dedicated experienced players looking for a deep and rich game and not averse to arcane poorly laid out rules. People looking for a more casual streamlined experience will be frustrated and would not enjoy this. The stories you can tell once you get the hang of things are great – through a multitude of potential events/complications and different scenarios the game offers a ton of replayability.
Make the effort and all of the Cursed Island’s miseries will be yours to suffer through