Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island
From: Gamewright
Reviewed by: Tony McRee

 Forbidden Island is a cooperative game from Gamewright.

Following the success of Pandemic, Matt Leacock set out to design a co-op game that would allow the younger gamer to join in the fun. Forbidden Island  was the result of that goal and is a good entry game for those players, especially younger players, to try out a cooperative game where it is the players against the game. The goal is for players to work together to recover four treasures and return to the helicopter pad before the island sinks or a player does not have a return path to the helicopter pad. The game is either lost by all or won by all. While the game is not one of the most challenging co-op games on the market, it does provide an excellent introduction to the world of gaming.

 “A fearless band of adventurers…”

Forbidden Island is a simple game to learn and teach. You are given a fearless adventurer at random at the start of the game. Each adventurer has a unique trait that will help the team achieve their goal of collecting the four treasures on the island. However, collecting the treasure is only half the task, the adventurers must all then return to the helicopter pad and play the helicopter card so they can leave the island before it sinks. During your turn you perform three steps: Take 3 actions, draw 2 treasure cards, and draw Forbidden Island cards equal to the water level shown on the water gauge.

Take 3 Actions: Your actions can be to move about the island, shore up flooded lands before they sink, give a treasure card to a fellow player, or capture a treasure if you have four cards of that treasure and are on part of the island where the treasure icon resides.

Draw 2 Treasure Cards: You then draw two cards from the treasure deck that will either be treasure cards, special action cards, or the Waters Rise cards.

Draw Island Cards: Once you have resolved any special effects from this draw, you then turn over the Forbidden Island cards and flip over the matching Island tile to show that it is flooded. If the tile is already flooded, it is removed from the game along with the matching Forbidden Island card.

Play continues like this until the adventures gather up the four treasures. All then must make it to a special tile called Fool’s Landing and escape the island by playing a special action card called Helicopter Lift. Players will lose if one of the following happen – the special treasure tiles sink (are removed from the game) and the treasure can’t be claimed, Fool’s Landing sinks, or a player cannot make it back to Fool’s Landing.

“…seeks Sacred Treasure”

As you play Forbidden Island, you discover that even though the game lacks depth, it is still a game to treasure especially when sharing it with younger gamers. The concepts are simple, there is a good theme and some urgency during the game, but generally, your group will find success more than failure. Forbidden Island is a great first timer’s cooperation game and is also the game that is used in our game club’s library when we go to local libraries to teach the younger gamer crowd. If you have young gamers in your family, you can’t beat this game to put in your collection, especially at a price point usually found below $20.

In conclusion, Forbidden Island is a great game to add to your collection. However, if you think that it might be too simple, take a look at Forbidden Desert for it raises the bar on challenge but still keeps a similar theme.

For more details on either game, head over to the “Gamewright website” and at your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 15 – Fairly Good

Product Summary

Forbidden Island
Type of Game: Cooperation
Game Design by: Matt Leacock
Game Components Included:  58 playing cards, 24 island tiles, 6 pawns, 4 treasure figurines, 1 water meter, 1 water level marker, rules of play
Retail Price: $ 16.99 (US)
Number of Players: up to 4
Player Ages: 10 and up
Play Time: 45 minutes

Reviewed by: Tony McRee