I stumbled across this game by accident at BGG Con 2012. Walking around the exhibitor hall collecting stickers (for exhibitor bingo; makes sense if you were there), I saw Dan Manfredini sitting alone at the APE Games booth. I needed a sticker from APE, so I went to talk with him. He walked me through the rules of the game. The rules are now linked on the game entry page at BGG, and there is a video of game play on the Kickstarter page, so I won't go over them in detail here. After the explanation, we played a game. I immediately fell in love with this game.
What I liked about the game:
The playing time is not drawn out. The thirty minute estimate listed for the game is about right. The first thing you might think is that this is a filler game with no substance. Not so. There are many subtle ways to attack or defend that make the game balanced, strategic, and enjoyable.
The decisions during the game were intense. You can build forts for more defense, or more buildings within forts to get special abilities, but you can't defend them without resources, and many of the resources come from attacking opponents. The balance of importance of actions was perhaps the most brilliant part of the game.
Metal coins. While the KS game will have metal coins, they won't be the US half-dollar coins we played with (if my memory is correct; they might have been dollar coins). Either way, there was something about metal coins for scoring that made the rest of the components feel richer.
Finally, the theme. I don't care that much about island fortresses or ships with cannons. I'm typically more of a space theme guy myself. BUT...the theme for this game felt right. I felt like I was building forts with stone walls and I felt like I was sailing to the enemy fort to blow holes in it. I feared for my colonists safety. The theme wasn't just an add-on to the mechanic.
What I didn't like:
The art for the cards wasn't done at the time we played. It didn't impact the strategy of the game, but would have added to the sense of immersion in the theme. I did get to see the deck with the more finished art before the end of the con, and it looked amazing.
What I liked the least is that I couldn't buy the game then and there. However, the Kickstarter project to fund this game is on with 12 days left at the time of this writing, and it needs your help.
I'm not affiliated with APE or the game designer in any way. Just a fan. A fan who wants the project to succeed so I can have my own copy of the game. I'd rate this game an 8 out of 10 overall for integration of theme and balanced game play. If you liked this review and want to check out the project, follow the link on the BGG game entry page or click here.
I agree. My wife and I have just played the print and Play version. We found it tense and tight right to the end. Resources were tight and every turn had meaningful (and sometimes agonising) decisions.
The theme realy does feel right for the way the game plays.
Island Siege plays in 30 minutes, but there is much more here than a simple filler.