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Subject: Design and Mechanics Meet Perfection rss

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Chef D
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I just bought this the other day at my FLGS, Eureka Games and Puzzles in Brookline, MA. From what I am told, Gamewright will be having a launching party for Forbidden Island with the store. Dare I say that I am excited. Forbidden Island feels like a fine wine that the vintner has been refining for years. It is clean, it is fresh, it is beautiful, and above all it is fun! Now onto the nitty-gritty.

Components:
Forbidden Island has some of the best designed components in the last few years. Let's start off with the tiles. They are thick double sided tiles with beautiful art that reminds me of Myst. They do a great job at making you feel that you are really on Forbidden Island. One side has a great color image; this is the un-flooded side. Flip is over and there is a white and blue image of the same graphics depicting the flooded side of that part of the island. The image and execution are quite clever.

The cards are nearly as good as the tiles. They have a light linen finish with clean and crispy edges that shuffle well. These cards seem like they will stand up to repeated use, especially with younger children, the intended audience of this game. The images on the flood cards are identical to those on the tiles. The treasure cards are adequate and serviceable. The graphics of the treasures is a bit clunky but they do a fine job. The role cards are my least favorite. The graphics seem a bit clip-art like. It's a good thing that you mostly use the other side which has the player aid. All-in-all a fantastic job with the cards.

The treasure pieces are molded plastic pieces representing The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire, and The Ocean's Chalice. The chalice and wind treasures are a softer plastic but the details are great. The red crystal is beautiful and it seems like everyone constantly want to touch it.

The wooden pawns for each person are typical painted pawns. And the water level marker is also fine. It has a clip on piece that slides up and down to indicate how close the island is to being completely flooded. It also shows how many flood cards each person draws on their turn. The only thing I wish is that this piece would have had a folding piece of cardboard so that it could stand on the table. As it it doesn't lie flat and it is a bit hard for someone to read if they are on the other side of the table. Only a minor suggestion that doesn't otherwise detract form stellar bits..... and dare I say this is at $15.95 retail. Some OLGS are even listing this for $10.99. At that price it's a steal.



Set-Up


The first thing that you do is to arrange the tiles on the table in a 4x4 grid. You then place the extra 8 tiles next to the center two tiles on each side of the grid to make a cross-like pattern. The plastic treasure cards are then placed on the four corners. It really doesn't matter which one is at which corner since they magically appear from the island when you raise the treasure. Next, the cards are divided into three piles: the flood deck (blue), the treasure deck (red), and the adventure/player aid cards (multi-colored). Before each person is given an adventurer, the first 6 cards are drawn from the flood deck (blue deck) and the respective tile on the island is flipped from its normal side to its flooded side (white/blue side). Next each person is given an adventurer card. Each adventurer, like the role cards in Pandemic, allows each person to break the rules in different ways:


Explorer: Can move or shore up tiles orthogonally as well as diagonally
Pilot: Can use his action to move to any spot on the island
Navigator: Can move other players on the board
Diver: Can move through missing/flooded tiles for 1 action
Engineer: Can shore up 2 tiles per action instead of just 1
Messenger: Can transfer cards to others anywhere on the island

Each person then takes the specific colored pawn of their adventurer and places in on the spot on the island that shows where it is suppose to start. This is a bit different than Pandemic where everyone starts in the same place. This adds a bit of variability and also makes the strategy a bit different than Pandemic.

Each person is then given two treasure cards which are placed on the table for all to see. There is no hidden information. The water level is then set depending on how well you think you can do at the game. For starters, we played normal and them moved up to elite. This is another element shared from Pandemic, in which case you seed more epidemic cards to the deck.



Gameplay:
While this game does share several of the same mechanics as Pandemic, I also feel that it is more approachable and actually leads to more cooperation. The biggest issue with Pandemic is that if a more experienced person is among a bunch of newbies, they often take over and direct each person's actions. Forbidden Island, with its modular map, really makes each game different, but I find that it is much easier to chart out your own turn. On each turn you have three actions: move, shore up, give a treasure card, and capture a treasure. These actions are easy to explain and it took only about 3 minutes of explanation to be up and running.

Move: This allows you to move orthogonally one tile (the engineer can move diagonally).

Shore Up: For one action turn over an adjacent orthogonal tile back to its unflooded side (the engineer can shore up two and the explorer can shore up diagonally).

Give a Treasure Card: If you are on the same tile with someone else, you can pass them a card (the Messenger allows you to transfer cards to others even when they are not on the same tile).

Capture a Treasure: Hand in 4 identical treasure cards on the tile that shows where that treasure can be captured. In return, you get the miniature representing that treasure.

After you take 3 actions, you draw 2 treasure cards (discarding down to 5 if you go over). If you draw a Water Rise Card, you move the water level marker on the water meter up one level and then like Pandemic, you shuffle the Flood Discard Pile and then place it back on top of the deck. You then have to draw flood cards equal to your water level. If the tile that is drawn is flooded, that part of the island is lost and both the tile and flood card are taken out of the game. If an adventurer was on that section of the island, they can swim to any adjacent tile. If there is no adjacent tile, they are lost and Forbidden Island automatically wins.

The way to win the game is to collect all four treasures and then have all adventurers converge on Fool's Landing (the helipad) and then hand in a Helicopter Lift Card to get off the island. If the water level on the meter reaches the skull and cross bones, you lose. If the two sections of the island that show the identical treasures where they can be captured are lost to flood, you lose. If Fool's Landing is discarded, you lose. And if an adventurer is lost and can't swim to an adjacent tile, you lose.




Overall Impressions


All I have go say is WOW! ...... This game is truly well tested, well produced, and offers great replay ability. It reminds me a lot of Blue Moon City crossed with Pandemic. The modular tile board is great. It makes for a less scripted scenario. One of the problems that I always had with Pandemic is that often people traveled the same paths and went to the same exact cities. Not with Forbidden Island. Depending on where the tiles get placed, each game can offer different types of tension. And it does offer great tension. When playing, my 8-year old son was jumping up and down in anticipation of getting the treasures and off the island. In our last turn, the tile that two of us were on sank and the closest tile to swim to was Fool's Landing. It really made us feel like we had just gotten off in the nick of time.

Overall, this game does share a lot with Pandemic. The mechanics are similar, the tension is there, and the ease of play offers a great entrance for gateway gamers. But in my book, Forbidden Island just feels cleaner, more refined, and in many cases it has a bit more interaction that feels less scripted and more cooperative.

This is a fantastic game and I have to commend Gamewright and Matt Leacock for truly polishing this game. The other thing is the price point. At $15.95 retail and $10.99 online I can't see a reason that this game won't almost be universally owned. I know that for years we have often wondered what that break through game was that would pull more people into the hobby, and I truly think that Forbidden Island can be that game. Not just a Gateway Game but a Break Through Game; even more so than Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan. This game is cheap, it's sleek, its fun, and all in a package that makes it easy to teach.

Hat's off to Matt Leacock and Gameright!!!


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Mystery McMysteryface
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Great review!! Although we got bored of Pandemic and recently traded it, you have made me interested in this game!! This is something my little one might actually play with us!!

Thanks!

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Funguy wrote:
I know that for years we have often wondered what that break through game was that would pull more people into the hobby, and I truly think that Forbidden Island can be that game. Not just a Gateway Game but a Break Through Game; even more so than Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan.
I think this could be true.
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Funguy wrote:
I just bought this the other day at my FLGS, Eureka Games and Puzzles in Brookline, MA. From what I am told, Gamewright will be having a launching party for Forbidden Island with the store.


Do you happen to have any details on this launching party? I didn't see anything on either organization's website... I'm definitely interested in this game, but since I'm reasonably local, I was wondering if I should stop in for this event?
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Chef D
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nyphot wrote:
Funguy wrote:
I just bought this the other day at my FLGS, Eureka Games and Puzzles in Brookline, MA. From what I am told, Gamewright will be having a launching party for Forbidden Island with the store.


Do you happen to have any details on this launching party? I didn't see anything on either organization's website... I'm definitely interested in this game, but since I'm reasonably local, I was wondering if I should stop in for this event?


All I got was an email from Eureka games last Wed. that the game was in stock and that Gamewright and Eureka Games and Puzzles were planning an event. I would for to Eureka's website:
http://www.eurekapuzzles.com/catalog/index.php
and sign up for their newsletter.

As far as I know there is no firm date but that it is coming in the next few weeks. Eureka often uses the Marriott Hotel in Coolidge Corner for events and I assume that it will be there. They are probably trying to coordinate a time that works for the hotel as well as Gamewright.

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Reis
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There was no date set for the launch as of Friday, but I'm fairly certain it will be on a Thursday at the Devotion School, as the Marriott has been doing construction in the area Eureka uses, and may in fact be serving dinner there from now on and Eureka game night may have to find a new permanent home, which may be Devotion on Thursdays...which is bad news for me since I work late on Thursdays.
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Chef D
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Luce wrote:
There was no date set for the launch as of Friday, but I'm fairly certain it will be on a Thursday at the Devotion School, as the Marriott has been doing construction in the area Eureka uses, and may in fact be serving dinner there from now on and Eureka game night may have to find a new permanent home, which may be Devotion on Thursdays...which is bad news for me since I work late on Thursdays. :(


How is the space at the Devotion School? The Marriott was ok but the tables were often too small and very wobbly.
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Reis
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I haven't been to Devotion yet, as I think they've only had a couple and I took a break from game nights when LOST started back up.
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Max Maloney
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Funguy wrote:
Not just a Gateway Game but a Break Through Game; even more so than Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan.

I think TtR still has the edge over Catan or Forbidden Island. The latter two are more fiddly to set up and TtR feels more like a conventional card game, which is more approachable.

Interesting review, though. I'm intrigued.
 
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Chef D
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Dormammu wrote:
Funguy wrote:
Not just a Gateway Game but a Break Through Game; even more so than Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan.

I think TtR still has the edge over Catan or Forbidden Island. The latter two are more fiddly to set up and TtR feels more like a conventional card game, which is more approachable.

Interesting review, though. I'm intrigued.


I am not sure that FI is any more fiddly to set up. I also don't think that fiddly is what sets a game that the US consumer would buy from another. Look at Monopoly or Life, these are way more fiddly than all three of these game. The other thing to consider is that while TTR might be a tad more simplistic to teach, there is the huge price difference between it and FI. TTR retails for $50 and FI for $15.95. I have never seen TTR in the stores of any major retailer like Walmart or Target. They do sell them online, but not all stores carry them on the shelves. I have never seen a Target sell TTR: Catan, yes. While I am not sure that FI will be carried by these stores, it fits more in line with a game that can be owned by many people. I have seen Gamewright games in Target and Walmart so I am sure that there marketing plan is to get them into these large retailers. There is such a small niche of people that would pay $50 for a game, but millions that would pay less $20. I would not argue that TTR is a good Gateway Game but a Break Through Game it is not. Someone that might pick up FI might be interested in designer board games and TTR might be the next logical step, but as for a jumping off point, I guess only time will tell. The U.S. market for games is inundated with cheap and relatively low quality games. FI fits the bill as cheap but amazing quality. It has more likelihood of being picked up as a casual or impulse buy than TTR ever will. And if someone buys in from an OLGS I have seen the price as low as $10.99 The European market is different. While I think FI might eventually become accessible there, I don't think Gamewright's marketing focus is targeted for Europe. I also think that since gaming culture is more prevalent there, the idea of a Break Through Game is not as poignant.
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Chef D
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Maybe I need to clarify myself of what I mean by the difference between a Gateway Game and a Break Through Game. We often use the term Gateway Game here on BGG, but a Break Through Game is not often used. I think that there are differences.


Gateway Game:

1) A game used by gamers to bring others into the hobby.
2) A relatively easy game to teach and pick up basic strategy.
3) A game that has a certain amount of curb side appeal -- looks great.
4) A game that a new gamer will want to play repeatedly.
5) A game that a FLGS might recommend to someone getting into the hobby.
6) A game that peaks interest in other more advanced gaming options.

Breakthrough Game:

1) A game that is easy to pick up an learn.
2) A game that does not have to be taught or introduced by a gamer.
3) A game with enough curb side appeal to be bought outright and not just when seen.
4) A cheap game that won't hurt the pocketbook.
5) A game with mass audience appeal that like a gateway game will lead someone to other gaming options.


While I think that there might be shades of gray, I think that the main difference is that a Break Through Game has a mass audience appeal. Think of Monopoly, Sorry, Scrabble, or Uno. You can walk into most households and find a copy of these game. TTR and Catan, while popular, will never be close to any of those game. I am not saying that FI will ever be as popular as Monopoly or Sorry, but it sure has a great chance, at least in my opinion.
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Great review! Thanks for posting it!

Funguy wrote:
The other thing is the price point. At $15.95 retail and $10.99 online I can't see a reason that this game won't almost be universally owned.


Sounds like just the thing for the "hmm what can I add for free shipping" slot
 
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JessA
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Do you have any thoughts about how this would work with five players?
 
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Jatoha wrote:
Do you have any thoughts about how this would work with five players?

If I may chime in here, I don't see why it wouldn't work fine with more players than 4. I've only played with 2 so far, but I think the game is designed to scale very well.

I think for 5, you would only need to find an extra player token, and give the person a role card just like the rest of the players get. There are 6 roles to choose from, if I remember correctly.

The only downside is that everyone would have to wait longer for their turns. But since this game is cooperative it wouldn't matter much, and some cards let you do things during other people's turns anyway.

It would definitely be worth a try.
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Chris Norwood
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The problem with more than 4 players would be that the treasure cards will be more diluted. Waters Rise cards would be coming out all the time, and it's going to be harder to put together the sets you need. But if you're up for something more difficult, it could be do-able.
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kilroy_locke wrote:
The problem with more than 4 players would be that the treasure cards will be more diluted. Waters Rise cards would be coming out all the time, and it's going to be harder to put together the sets you need. But if you're up for something more difficult, it could be do-able.

Why would the treasure cards be more diluted? Do you mean they would be spread out among more players, so you would have to work harder to put together a set?

I'm not sure it would actually be that way - there are only 4 types of treasure and there are lots of them in the deck. Also more players means others will be closer to you and easier to get cards from. It would take more planning, as to who is going to complete which set, but those people could stay more in the middle of the board and let other players come to them to give cards.

It's true, however, that you yourself would have fewer turns during the game since the waters would rise more before it became your turn again. On the other hand, more players means more people to shore up sinking tiles.

Buy I've only played 2p so far. The best bet would be to keep an eye on the "number of players" ratings on the game's page.
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and I wouldn't want more than 4 unless there was an added treasure type with cards to pad the deck between Waters Rise(s). Otherwise you'd barely get once around the table and you'd be drawing three or four floods already.

I've played with 2 and 3 so far, looking forward to 4p this weekend.
This game keeps on giving. Nice to have a new game to be excited about that's:
1. A nice blend of theme (metaphorical and narrative) and mechanics
2. Great for a WIDE range of ages (my FIVE year old is playing and loving it with minimal coaching)
3. Good art and bits
4. REASONABLY PRICED. I mean come ON. $14.99 at amazon, $11.99 at coolstuffinc.com, you can't beat the value for money.

Thanks for a great review David.
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chitshappen wrote:

4. REASONABLY PRICED. I mean come ON. $14.99 at amazon, $11.99 at


$10.71 at Boards and Bits.... lowest I've seen so far.
 
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tesuji wrote:
Why would the treasure cards be more diluted? Do you mean they would be spread out among more players, so you would have to work harder to put together a set?

I'm not sure it would actually be that way - there are only 4 types of treasure and there are lots of them in the deck.....

Another review said there were only 5 of each treasure card in the deck.
 
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Chef D
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Sylvicolus wrote:
tesuji wrote:
Why would the treasure cards be more diluted? Do you mean they would be spread out among more players, so you would have to work harder to put together a set?

I'm not sure it would actually be that way - there are only 4 types of treasure and there are lots of them in the deck.....

Another review said there were only 5 of each treasure card in the deck.


There are four different treasures. In the treasure deck there are 4 of each card representing the 4 different treasures. To claim a treasure you need 4 out of the 5 cards and then be on the spot on the island that depicts that treasure.
 
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