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Showing 1-10 of 1,364 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,611 reviews
on July 20, 2011
Plenty of people have done an admirable job of explaining the games in their reviews, so this is instead an attempt at a comparison between a number of games, the pros and cons of each and which may suit different people best. The games in question are: Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Castle Panic, Smallworld, and Forbidden Island.

We have had Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne (with a number of expansion packs) for quite a few years now, and only recently added the other games above. We usually either play just as two adults, or with our two older children (age 9 and 8), and so our conclusions are based on how these games work in those settings. So here's what we've found:

Settlers of Catan
We got this around the same time as Carcassonne and initially just didn't latch onto it. Partly it's that it's supposed to be 3 players or more, and we often play as just two of us. Once we found online some instructions for playing as 2 players it came out more often, and as time's gone by it's become fairly 50-50 whether we play Settlers or Carcassonne on a quiet night in. The choice will usually depend on how much we want to think. With Settlers, you're always planning and calculating; with Carcassonne, you're taking it a card at a time.

Who should get it: Settlers is well-known as one of the great modern games. I'm not as sold on it as some people, and it takes quite a while to learn and feel comfortable with, but once you get the hang of it, it is an entertaining and enjoyable addition to a games collection. There are several 2-player rule variations out there if you need them and they work well (we found one that worked for us and we've stuck to it). But this isn't a game for kids; I would suspect not until they're 16 or so. Amongst other things, I think they'll find it too dull.

This has been a favorite for years now, and everyone we've played it with has gone off to get it themselves. We usually play without farms because it then becomes less directly competitive and more sociable. Kids can play it, adults can play it, it's relaxed, it's fun and it's simple to learn. Here's one nice thing about it: you don't have to be constantly thinking and planning ahead. You don't know what card you're going to draw next time, so you just play one card at a time. You're encouraged to discuss where to put a card, and since you don't know what piece you're getting next, your comments to another player are usually pretty unbiased.

Who should get it: In my experience, pretty much anyone, except those who want ultra-competitive games. The first few expansion packs are also well worth getting, but don't bother with anything from Mayor onward.

Castle Panic
The kids love this one, again it's simple to learn and it has the added bonus of allowing them to get out their aggressive instincts and go postal on monsters! They don't like the `master slayer' option, but prefer just straight cooperative play. After the first few plays, I've found the basic game is too easy, and so we're experimenting with making it more challenging, such as starting with no walls, or drawing 3 monster cards at a time instead of 2. I think Castle Panic will become a game that we get out pretty regularly to play.

Who should get it: People with kids, who want to play cooperative games. Could be fun as a party game too!

While the kids have enjoyed playing this, I think their interest is starting to wane already. I suspect it will work better as a game with a group of adults, or when the kids are older. It has a lot going for it, especially the creative cards and board, but as others have noted - what's with the box for the tokens? Very poorly designed and adds unnecessary annoyance. Most of the time when playing we've found it's not too directly competitive, it's easier to attack lost tribes or declining races, so generally it doesn't get too personal!

Who should get it: I think this would make a fun addition to a games collection, but I don't think it would be a go-to game, especially with kids. The rules are more complicated to learn and explain than the other games, and this makes it hard to just sit down with new players and get on with a game. Having said that, we've enjoyed playing it , and I think it'll get pulled out every now and then over the years.

Forbidden Island
Although the kids would prefer Castle Panic, when we've played Forbidden Island (at my insistence!) they've thoroughly enjoyed it. As the island starts to collapse in a heap toward the end of the game, the tension levels rise and people are on the edge of their seats! The game always ends with voices rising in pitch and tension as cards get turned over - it's fun! It's a pure cooperative game, and that works well for us as a family - no one feels bad, we're all in it together. We're still using the `Normal' level of play, maybe we'll notch up a level soon!

Who should get it: If you like cooperative games, I think this is excellent to have. I love how easy it is to set different difficulty levels, and it's definitely the game that's had the most excited tension - Castle Panic has this at times, but not sustained (at least as the basic game). It doesn't have the whole monster thing going for it that Castle Panic does, and I think that's why the kids haven't latched onto it so quickly (kill trolls or wander round an island getting treasure - which is your average kid going to choose?) but I suspect that long-term it'll have more staying power.
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on March 1, 2017
I got this as a gift for my stepson but we love games just as much so this is getting a lot of use. This is a really simple concept to learn but more difficult to master.

It's a co-op game where the players play against the game to either win or lose together. The game is not too difficult where kids would be frustrated but it does require some strategy and you have to stay focused or you'll lose. It's pretty quick, about 30 minutes, start to finish - which is nice because we can play 2 or 3 games at night.

The concept is that you are on an island that is sinking. You have to collect the 4 idols to make the island stop sinking and save the day. Tiles get "flooded" then they "sink" and you remove them from the board. Once all the idols are collected, all the players have to make it to the helicopter tile and someone has to have the helicopter rescue card for everyone to win. If the helicopter sinks, you lose. If there is no path left to the helicopter, you lose. There are two tiles for each idol on which you have to be to get that idol, if they both sink you lose. It's a pretty addicting game and we love it!
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on April 30, 2016
I was recommended this game from a friend as a "game that two people can play and still have a lot of fun!" And yes, it is! My husband and I are avid gamers and since we had a recent loss of our gaming group due to moving several hours away, we needed something we could do just the two of us. The initial gameplay was slow, since we were playing from the instructions until we got the hang of it, but we won our first game together. After winning, we figured out we had forgotten an important mechanic and sorta accidentally cheated. SO we immediately reset it and played again properly. we still managed to win the second time :) Very satisfying when you can work together to beat the game. It takes about 30-40 minutes to play the game once you know the rules, so its great to just kill a bit of time. There are even options to up the difficulty, so once you've beaten it a handful of times, you can make it more challenging. We've just made a couple of friends in our new town, so we're looking forwards to trying it with them as well.
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on November 30, 2016
We do a lot of gaming and actually started by playing Forbidden Desert. We liked it enough we wanted to buy the original, which is this one: Forbidden Island. I have heard people say Desert is better, but I don't agree. Desert has a fun location mechanic (similar to what is used in Targi) but overall I think Forbidden Island is a better game. The tension associated with the game pieces disappearing as the island sinks makes this more fun than Forbidden Desert in my opinion. It's also cheap and slightly simpler.

I actually like both cooperative "Forbidden" games, but in my opinion, this one is a bit better.
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on April 5, 2017
Great fun for the whole family, and because it's cooperative, it works even with much younger players. Because the setup is different every time, it requires players to come up with a new strategy each game, building on each adventurer's extra skills and the configuration of the board (both assigned randomly each game).

The rules are slightly more complicated than your average family game, but not so complicated that you couldn't teach the grandparents and cousins to play a quick game after Thanksgiving dinner.

The "waters rise!" mechanic guarantees an exciting ending, but it's eminently winnable when played at the Novice difficulty level. (Definitely let the family win a couple times before upping the difficulty.) As kids get familiar with the game and each adventurer's extra skills, they'll come up with their own strategy for winning.

As with most cooperative games, an "alpha player" can easily dominate the gameplay, but with mixed ages playing, that can become more of a feature than a bug.
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on February 11, 2016
This is a really fun, easy to under stand game. If you've played Pandemic, you will have no problem catching on. The mechanics are Very similar in the way that you work as a team. In the long run I like Pandemic better. the one thing this game has over Pandemic is set up time. You can set this up and be ready to rock and roll in a minute. Pandemic takes a bit more (separate the cards, deal them out, shuffle other cards back it, infection the cites, etc)

High quality and great art.
Set up time is very fast.
Game time is about 30 mins.
The "board" changes every game
High replay ability.

On the "roll" cards, they put the roll name on the front AND the back of the card. So unless you close your eyes while choosing your roll, it's not a surprise.
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on September 8, 2016
Buy this game. Buy this game now! Don't even hesitate! Absolutely one of my favorite games ever! I just bought this and we have played it about 12 times so far. The first couple games were the learning ones but by the end of the second we were hooked. I love that it is more strategy over "I win!" type of game. You really need team work to win the game. I love that every game is different. My fiance and I have really enjoyed playing this after dinner as a chance to have some non-technology time. Really has helped us bond and have some silly fun. It's tough finding fun 2 player games, but this one is a winner!!
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on February 1, 2015
Quick take: Good introduction to cooperative games. Light on strategy but makes a good first impression. Theme and art are superb.


Forbidden Island was the first cooperative game I played, and it was a welcome introduction to the genre at the time. It's admittedly quite simple, but that makes for quick, fast games. It's a great way to introduce the cooperative genre to a group of gamers unfamiliar with the concept. The theme is intriguing as long as the players use a bit of imagination, and the different roles available are well designed and complementary. Coordinating four players' movements while the island is sinking all around them is a fantastic concept and it's a lot of fun. A plan to capture a treasure can change immediately at the end of a turn when Waters Rise! and put an important tile in jeopardy.


It's mastered very quickly. After playing a game or two right out of the box, we felt like experts. In 10+ games played at varying difficulty levels, we've lost twice. It's fun to play with different groups and introduce people to the game, but playing with the same group of people starts to get stale.

Losing due to the water level getting too high (i.e. drawing too many "Waters Rise!" cards) is anticlimactic. In one particular game, we couldn't help it and lost simply because we had to draw through the deck too many times to find the final set we needed. Making this initial water level higher is also the game's method of making the game more difficult. Several in our gaming group mentioned that it's more fun to deal with the flooded tiles and lose that way rather than the "time limit" imposed by the water level.

Final Thoughts

Forbidden Island makes a good first impression, especially as an introduction to cooperative games. Four player games are fun with all players engaged the whole time. However, the staying power struggles since it's relatively simple in strategy. Some of the game mechanics will frustrate; for example, some turns, especially the beginning of the game, give little to do but wait until cards are drawn. Good game for kids.

Still, it's a good filler game that's fun to play. It works great for an intro to a game night. The game has beautiful, colorful artwork on the tiles and cards and has a great theme that adds to the experience. It's relatively inexpensive as well, which is always excellent.
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on December 28, 2011
What a fun game. As you start out, it seems like this game will be easy, then the suspense builds up and up, as the island starts to sink faster and faster. Will you get all of the treasures and escape in time?!
I was please with the thought that went into developing this game. You can tell by the way it plays that fun was a priority. While it is turn based, the collaborative nature of it means that everyone is always a part of the game and always engaged. Lots of fun!
As for the materials, they are well made and the cards are all attractive and interesting. People who care about games made this game. Their only motive was not profit-- unless they realize that the way to sustained profit is to make a high quality product that will last. You can tell they didn't go as cheap as they could. They did it right.
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on April 14, 2017
I ordered this for a 15 year old family member for Christmas, intending it to be just a fun game that we could all enjoy, unplugged and away from our phones. After a few rounds of play, her dad pointed out that from a parent's perspective this is a great game because it encourages players to work together to solve problems. That's the kind of lesson that's good at any age. It's easy to play, quick to learn, only has a few pages of instructions and comes in a nice little tin that is easy for kids to take to a sleepover or camp and for adults to take to a bar or patio.
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