Thursday, February 6, 2014

I've got a sinking feeling

In Forbidden Island, 2-4 players cooperate in their attempt to rescue four treasures and then escape from an island that is rapidly sinking into the sea. The island is represented by a grid of tiles depicting various locations, and a deck of cards with matching locations is used to determine which ones are lost to the water and when. Certain locations are more important than others, as there are only two possible tiles from which to rescue each of the four treasures, and only one helicopter pad for the players to escape the island from. Additionally, players need to make sure to retain clear paths between the tiles so they can move their pawns from one to another.

Players can control the rate at which the different locations sink by spending time during their turn "shoring up" locations. They can also play sandbag cards (if they have them) to rescue a sinking location in an emergency. Each player also gets a unique Adventurer card which gives them a special ability such as the Navigator, who can move other players on his turn, or the Diver, who can move through flooded areas.

As the game progresses, the number of locations that sink each turn increases, which does a great job building the tension and instilling the players with a sense of urgency. It really is thrilling when the group manages to rescue all four treasures and get off the island, and it can be devastating when the helicopter pad or the last treasure location sinks, making it impossible for the players to win. We sometimes get loud when playing this game.

The artwork on the cards and tiles is beautiful to look at, and the game components are of relatively high quality. Plus, it comes in a metal tin with a nice, solid plastic tray that keeps the parts sorted (a rarity among new games these days). All for less than $20 retail.

We play Forbidden Island fairly often, and we find that it is especially good for introducing non-gamers to the hobby. The beautiful artwork and components and the cooperative strategy will usually keep them interested, and can often work as a gateway into more complex games.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) A terrific, high quality game that is also very accessible to new gamers, but interesting for experienced players as well.

Date played: January 26, 2014

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