Forbidden Island: Tropical Death Trap, or Charming Vacation Getaway?

Kate’s response: Why not both?

A few weeks ago, I noticed a thread on reddit’s /r/boardgames in which the original poster asked for other users’ lists of good 2-person or very small group games. There were many interesting suggestions, some of which I already owned, many of which I didn’t.

It was a moderately costly thread for me, because when a game came up on several lists and seemed the sort of thing I, Kate, and/or Kaylee might enjoy, it went onto the to-buy list; we’re pretty strapped for time around Casa Testerman these days, but at the same time, we love games of all types, especially stuff we can pull out and play with little notice and limited time.

What did I pick up? Lost Cities looks good, though I haven’t unwrapped it yet. Jaipur and Ticket to Ride we already own. Timeline was a gift from Santa to Kaylee, and I’m patiently waiting for our new copy of “Lord of the Rings: Confrontation” to arrive from the UK.

The one game we didn’t own, but which was on nearly every person’s list? Forbidden Island.

"The trees are actually quite lovely..."
“The trees are actually quite lovely…”

Designed by the same guy who created Pandemic, Forbidden Island is a cooperative game like Pandemic (but with considerably less fiddly rules) or Shadows Over Camelot (but with no ‘traitor’ role).

The basic idea is that you take 24 beautiful ‘location’ cards and use them to randomly create the Forbidden Island. Each of the (2 to 4) players picks a character to play (each with a special ability) – adventurers who have come to the island to recover the lost four elemental treasures of the Archeans before the island sinks.

Oh yeah: the island is sinking. Did I mention?

We didn’t get a chance to play it at the latest game day, but Kate and Kaylee and I did try it out a few nights ago (after Kate read the rules and took 20 minutes to watch the Tabletop crew lose), and managed to eke out a narrow victory with the starting difficulty level set to “novice.”

Then we sent Kaylee to bed and played it again with just the two of us at “normal” difficulty and eked out a still-more-narrow victory.

The last three location tiles left on the table as we finally catch a helicopter lift the hell out of there.
The last three location tiles left on the table as we finally catch a helicopter lift the hell out of there.

Last night, Kate pulled it out for a quick game before my audiobook recording session – it wasn’t pretty, but we managed a slightly wider margin of victory, still at “normal” difficulty, which put us three-for-three in the wins column.

We’ve both grudgingly acknowledged this means we need to start the next game at ‘elite.’

And that we’re doomed.


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