Forbidden Island

There are thousands of competitive games around, and some good cooperative ones too. In those, the idea isn’t so much to upset your visitors by winning yet again, but to have fun working towards a common goal.

Forbidden Island is one such, having risen from the sea in 2010. Being an awkward minded kind of island though, it’s apparently rather keen on sinking back! Well, it seems it’s not necessarily a fundamentally evil island. Rather, we’re told it behaves that way because a long forgotten empire left four treasures upon it, and designed it to behave that way as a preventative measure.

So it’s all down to homo sapiens again … 😁

Players land on what seems to be part paradise, part mystery, with locations like Crimson Forest and Misty Marsh. They’re keen to get their cooperative clutches on the four treasures. But the island’s constantly getting up to its tricks, sinking bit by bit as it attempts to plunge the efforts of plunderers into oblivion. Indeed, even before the adventurers have shaken the sand out of their shoes, six of the island’s locations begin to sink – that’s a lot of locations!

Every game is different, since the twenty four delightfully designed tiles that portray the locations are randomly distributed each time: so a new island appears before you.
What also changes is the speciality of each player – explorer, pilot and four other areas of expertise (one of the six for each player). Their expertise permits them to do different kinds of “good things” at various points – they’re constructive skills and qualities.

Each player at their turn can take up to three actions. And, somewhat unusually, their co-plunderers are allowed to give advice – and you are allowed to ignore it. 😎

One action is shoring up – making good a location that’s been flooded, thus making it safe again and slowing down the big sink. Other available actions are moving around, passing treasure cards to colleagues who are at the same location, and, joy of joys, grabbing one of the treasures.

Having taken their actions, players draw cards from the Treasure Deck. They may be lucky enough to draw a treasure card, or advantages like extra sandbags. Or the cards drawn may stimulate the sinking feeling that players often feel, by bringing about a rise in the water levels around the island.

Having just taken their chances with the Treasure Deck, they then have to follow the bidding of the island: they are forbidden to refuse! They’ll have to reveal which locations become flooded next, or, worse still, sink to the bottom of the sea. The higher the water levels, the greater the flooding!

As the time ashore and the exploring progress, the island remorselessly expands the sinking scene, and the pressure on the adventurers increases. The team has to work together to keep their route to important locations open, trying to stop the island from sinking before they grab all the treasures. So bad may the situation become that sacrifices have to be made.

It has variable levels of difficulty, different characters to choose from (each with a special ability of their own), various island formats and game variations.

  • every game’s different – demanding different styles or strategies
  • rated as highly replayable
  • more players make for a better game
  • spans the ages
  • Largely about hand management and set collection.
  • but works well with just two players
  • additional versions bring expanded variety