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Meeple’s Eye View – Forbidden Island

The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library. This week’s column is written by featured blogger Rick Grayshock.

You and your companions are treasure hunters seeking the four special ruins of a deserted island. But this island is fighting back. Can you collect the treasure and escape before the island sinks around you? Will your group survive the Forbidden Island?

Theme: Adventure

Number of Players: 2-4

Game Time: 30-45 minutes

Age Appropriateness: 8 and up

Game Type: Cooperative, set collecting

Forbidden Island is a cooperative game in which players assume roles with special abilities in order to collect the four ruins of the island. Players move around the island made up of tiles collecting cards, while shoring up the parts of the island that begin to flood and sink. These sets of cards are then turned in to receive the ruins/treasures which are all needed in order to win the game.

Game Play: On each players’ turn they may take up to three actions. They can move, shore up a tile (flip the tile from the flooded to dry side), give a treasure card to another player, or turn in a set of four cards for a ruin. At the end of a turn, players receive two new treasure cards and draw flood cards to see which tiles become flooded or *gasp* sink that turn.

When a tile sinks, it is gone from the game. Lose the helicopter landing pad tile and the adventurers can’t get off the island, and they lose. Lose two of the same ruin tiles and that ruin is lost forever, and the group loses.

Oh, did I mention the waters rise meter? Incrementally, as the waters rise cards are drawn from the treasure deck, the number of tiles flooded each turn increases.

Component Quality: Forbidden Island is a very well made game, with quality cards, tiles and treasure miniatures. The game comes in a tin, which for some is a little bit of a turn off, but doesn’t bother me.

My Take: Love Forbidden Island. Especially love Forbidden Island as a family weight game. Even the youngest kids can feel like they are a big part of the game because their character has a special ability that helps the group. The game is cooperative as well, so you can help them think through their turn and contribute to the success or failure of the team. Fantastic game for helping teach kids about reasoning, problem solving and deduction.

It isn’t just a family weight game though. The game creates some tense moments where you genuinely don’t know whether or not you are going to win. I like that you can choose the difficulty level at the beginning by starting the waters rise meter higher. It really makes Forbidden Island a good challenge no matter who is playing.

Where does Forbidden Island fit in the ever-increasing world of cooperative games? I think it will always have a place as either a gateway game for the genre, or as a family weight cooperative. Other games may be more challenging or have a better story, but Forbidden Island packs a punch in a relatively short time and is very affordable in comparison. This one is staying in my collection.

Expansions and Replay-ability: There are no expansions, but there was a follow-up game- Forbidden Desert which added new elements to make it a bit more strategic.

Meeple Rick Grayshock

Rick Grayshock is a husband and father who is a digital content producer for FOX Sports Ohio and is a co-founder of the Cleveland sports website WaitingForNextYear.com. Rick is excited to contribute to Meeple Moments and to write about his ‘other’ favorite hobby. Follow him on Twitter @RickGrayshock.