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Subject: [Micro Review] Matt Leacock's Compact Masterpiece rss

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James Webb Space Telescope in 2018!
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Forbidden Island is a lighter co-operative euro game. I've played 4 times so far, my rating now rises from initial 8 to perfect 10.

This is a challenging game. Suspense builds as your team races the clock and more and more of the island sinks away. Forbidden Island is much like Pandemic in underlying mechanics, but it still feels like its own game.




Theme is rich. Just like Indiana Jones, players are a team of "obtainers of rare antiquities."

Bits are first class, artwork is gorgeous. The 4 treasure pieces are heavy-chunky. Island tiles also chunky. Cards are thin but feel quality. Game box is metal, surely more durable than cardboard. Box a little smaller than San Juan, although much deeper. Attractive rule book explains everything clearly.

Gamers will want to set the initial Water's Rise marker appropriate to their skill level. The lowest settings are more suitable for play with families and kids.

Forbidden Island is now on my shortlist of best gateway games. A game with wide appeal - for both kids and adults, gamers and non-gamers. Decisions feel about as heavy as Pandemic but this game is shorter. Die-hard gamers will likely put it in the "non-trivial filler" category. I predict 30 minutes for experienced adult players. But you will want to play several games in a row.






Gamers be warned: There is significant luck and chaos in this game. Strategy is also crucial, but just like Pandemic, it's possible to lose this game to bad luck. Theoretically (although unlikely) you could lose on your very first turn - this almost happened to me, we almost lost both chalice tiles. Many factors are beyond your control: island tile layout, player start positions, starting flooded tiles, as well as treasures not coming out as soon as you need them. There is a lot of scrambling to "put out fires" in this game.

Your challenge is to use strategy and cooperation to overcome all this. Personally, I think it all adds nicely to the suspense and the danger theme - knowing you could lose, and you definitely will lose if your actions aren't smart.




My 7 year old daughter watched me open the box and immediately wanted to play. She loved it. She did fine but will still need a little coaching next time. Setup and play took us about 45 minutes total, for our first learning game.

I used to think Pandemic was Matt Leacock's masterpiece. But Forbidden Island tops it. It warms my heart that a mass-market publisher like Gamewright is going to be placing this game, priced to sell to the general public, where non-gamers will see it and take it home.

[Shhhh. No one tell Gamewright that us BGGeeks are used to paying twice as much for games this great, but with inferior bits to what Forbidden Island has.]


For more information, there are several nice video reviews on the main FI game page.

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euronoob

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nice review, thanks!

I especially like the (logical, thoughtful) inclusion of the pictures. Often after reading a wall-of-text review, I'll browse the game pics, but that's pretty hit or miss (particularly with older games) - here's a picture of components that don't come with the game, there's a picture of components that do come with the game, but I painted them, how about a picture of just one item from the game, and a picture of the rare 1st-edition box which you can't get anymore...I mean, those are great, but sometimes, just the basics are nice

And I just got a copy of San Juan, so now I have a point of comparison. Haven't seen a game in a metal box in a while.

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Mark Chen
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Thanks for the concise, colourful and informative review. May I ask your opinion on the game's potential fun factor with 2 or 3 players? The reason I'm asking is because I may only get to play this game regularly with my wife or with one other friend at most.
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cmarkboy wrote:
Thanks for the concise, colourful and informative review. May I ask your opinion on the game's potential fun factor with 2 or 3 players? The reason I'm asking is because I may only get to play this game regularly with my wife or with one other friend at most.

I've only played 2-player so far. I think it plays great with 2.

But I think this game would scale well from 1-6 players. With more players, you cover the island better, but the island sinks that much faster. Since it's a co-op, you don't mind if you have to wait for your turn, and there are also some cards that let you do actions out of your turn.
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Железный комиссар
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So what makes this worth playing for someone who has played Pandemic dozens of times?
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JohnRayJr wrote:
So what makes this worth playing for someone who has played Pandemic dozens of times?

I agree with Funguy's review: "Forbidden Island just feels cleaner, more refined, and in many cases it has a bit more interaction that feels less scripted and more cooperative."
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/523684/design-and-mechan...

Overall, it's different enough to be worth getting. And dirt cheap - $11 online.

If you only care about the pure mechanics, FI isn't that much different than Pandemic and it's probably a little more chaotic.

But the disappearing board is new, Pandemic doesn't have that. You have to shift your plans as the board changes, always protect your important routes, and get everyone to the same spot at the very end - before time runs out. Some of the player roles are also different.

The game experience overall doesn't feel like Pandemic, especially if you get into the theme. You are a team of professional treasure hunters on an exotic island, trying to survive long enough to grab artifacts of tremendous ancient power before the island sinks below you. Unlike a lot of euros, this theme does not feel pasted on. It sucks you in.

This game is also more accessible to kids and newbie gamers. This is true mostly because it's shorter, and the theme and bits are so engaging. The actual gameplay doesn't feel simpler than Pandemic, this game is just a little shorter.

As far as newbie-friendly, this game is a little more complicated and less straightforward than, say, Ticket to Ride. But this is offset by its shorter playtime and the whole cooperative aspect.

It's not Puerto Rico or Agricola, but it definitely requires planning and strategy.

And it is a lot of fun.
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Ben Stanley
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Great review. I finally saw it at my local game store and grabbed a copy. I think this is the greatest value in gaming I have ever seen (as you say, dirt cheap, great bits, and a master designer).

I like the theme better than Pandemic's (though both are excellent), but I do wonder if Forbidden Island's strategies are too obvious. Maybe it was having played a fair amount of Pandemic and On the Brink, but I felt like this one was pretty "self-evident" given its simplifications, and that good players would probably not have a lot of variety in their "solutions" to the puzzle of any given game as it develops.

It would be really interesting to set up the decks in a specified order, pre-configure the island, and see just how identically two groups of experienced gamers ended up playing the game.

I still think I would recommend it to people over Pandemic, though. It really is an unbelievable deal in terms of content for the price. Forbidden Island sets a new standard for gaming value in a beautiful tin box.
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Mark Chen
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Good to know that it plays well with 2 players. I'm hoping to get this game sometime soon to play with my wife and introduce it to others along the way. Thanks!
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joel siragher
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Im very fond of micro reviews. It takes me back to the time of the joy I had reading space gamers game reviews. Good job. I will put it on my buy list.
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