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Showing 1-10 of 1,418 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,672 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.

Carcassonne
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!

Smallworld
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.
1313 comments| 705 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Great game! My 10 year old and 8 year old love playing it!

Within the first 15 minutes of playing this game for the first time, we all knew we would love it. Quickly the game's rules and unique playing was understood and we were all enjoying it, even my 8 yr old daughter knew exactly how to play after a short time.

It's quite easy, each turn take 3 actions, draw 2 treasure cards, and draw flood cards equal to the flood level. Rinse and repeat and help each other conquer the island!

I would highly recommend this to anyone as its a blast and fun to play!
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on June 6, 2016
This game is completely cooperative; either everyone wins or everyone loses. You are given a number of actions and you can spend those actions to move, gather artifacts, or save the island.

This game is great and bought it because Pandemic is one of my favorite games. This is a much smaller game than Pandemic, uses similar game mechanisms, and was designed by the same person. Unfortunately for me, I played Forbidden Desert (the sequel to this game) and it was better than this one. This game is still quite good and could easily be used to get players into this style of game before introducing them to Pandemic.
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on April 27, 2015
My daughters, ages 8 and 10, love this game, and so does everyone else we've played it with. At first, the game might seem a little complex, but once you get rolling, you'll have no troubles with the rules or order of play. The designers also included a little "cheat sheet" of action options and play order on each player's card.

The object is simple--capture four artifacts and helicopter off the island from the landing site before the rising waters flood the island enough to either drown a character, swallow the areas housing an artifact, or wipe out the landing site, which will prevent your escape. You have a choice from up to six characters, such as a diver, an explorer, an engineer, a messenger, or a pilot. Each character has unique and useful abilities they add to the team. For instance, the pilot can fly to anywhere on the island in one turn. The diver can swim underwater through sunken areas of the island. The engineer can shore up (stave off the rising waters) twice as much area as the others. Very well-developed skill set. Each character is useful and you'll regret not having any of their abilities with you. And, because the game is for 2-4 players, you can't have them all with you. This is a nice touch, too, because you can never tell which skillset might be more useful, and this changes every game due to the changing layout of the island and due to the random nature of the cards you'll draw as you play.

Once you get started, you might think it'll be a simple game and you'll breeze through it. We thought so, and then were swiftly overwhelmed by the flooding island, frantically trying to shore up game tiles to preserve the precious artifacts and landing site before we were lost. A really unfortunate session of flood cards (which represent where the water levels are rising) and the dreaded WATER RISES cards (which mean that each turn, even MORE areas are impacted by the waters AND that areas can start to sink into the abyss and be gone forever), we couldn't even rescue one artifact before being soundly defeated.

The second time we played, we took it seriously. We shored up every part of the land we could, using sandbags and helicopter lifts from the treasure cards to combat the eager water levels. Our pilot and engineer raced across the area while the messenger and diver gathered and exchanged treasure cards. Despite our best efforts, the water levels rose and the island started to sink. We lost entire areas, leaving great holes in our island, and the diver and pilot were frantically trying to get the last two artifacts while the messenger and engineer continued to stave off the inevitable. We felt elated--like we had really accomplished something--when, thanks to a few lucky helicopter lift cards, the four of us made it to the landing spot and

The game gets intense--it is designed to do so. Unless you're phenomenally lucky, your team WILL start to lose ground and you won't be able to preserve the entire island. And that is part of the frantic fun.

Finally, the tiles are well made, with imaginative and evocative names. The artifacts look cool, too. And the game play moves pretty swiftly, so you won't get bored.

In my opinion, this is a can't-miss game. It's rapidly become our favorite, and if your family loves quick-paced adventure games, it may become yours, as well.
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on December 27, 2016
This game is awesome! Forbidden Island is a wonderful cooperative-play game, where 2-4 players work together to collect treasures and escape before the island sinks beneath them. Game-play is easy to learn but has enough complexity to require some strategic thinking if you hope to win. Our nine-year-old enjoys it, and the cooperative nature of the game allows older siblings to inject counsel whenever necessary (honestly, the discussion is constant since you must work together in order to succeed). In the two days we've had it, we have played the game three times, and each time has been a close-call, leaving us wondering if we were going to be victorious or wallow in utter defeat. The tension-level is perfect, with the setup leaving you feeling like your one step away from disaster from the beginning and keeping it interesting throughout. I will definitely be buying more of this game to give out as gifts--we love it!
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on October 5, 2016
I like Forbidden Island, but it's similar to Pandemic in terms of how to play. Very easy game. Too easy. We're spoiled by Pandemic. We've played Forbidden Island once and haven't pulled it out since. I'm wondering if the expansion pack will make it more fun. Hesitant to purchase anything additional when the hype for Forbidden Island is semi-nonexistent for the BF, though... I feel like Forbidden Island is a better game to play with kids. If you're looking for the adult version of this, grab Pandemic instead.
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I'd been eyeing this one for quite some time. Played it years ago 2-player, and really wanted it for solo play. Couldn't pass it up for $9.79.

The game plays great either as a cooperative game (2-4 players), or as a solo game (using 2-4 characters). The artwork is phenomenal, and the quality is as well. Nice thickness to the tiles, and cards for that matter. Character pawns are wooden, while the 4 trophies needed for victory are hard plastic and just superbly done, quality and aesthetic wise. Everything fits perfectly into the tin that came with it.

The game is incredibly thematic, too. You are basically trying to escape the island with the 4 trophies before the island sinks. One of the best games that incorporates the theme of the game into how it plays. Really ingenious by Matt Leacock.

I find it hard to fathom how Gamewright can offer this fantastic game at such a low price point...surely they are either losing money, or just breaking even. Everything is just that good!

If you've never tried this game, or even a cooperative game for that matter, then honestly look no further. I can't think of a better entry game into the foray of coops.
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on January 12, 2016
A very enjoyable game built on a cooperative theme of working together to solve the game, with each player possessing a unique ability that helps determine the outcome of the game. Unlike so many other games where the goal is to smash and destroy the other players, here is a refreshing variation where you work as a team, literally discussing each move and play with one another because, if you don't, the island will sink beneath your feet. I've never played a game before where teamwork was such a vital component of solving the game. The collapsing island is very much the antagonist of the game and you've got to play each move carefully and help each other player. The cards and game tiles are bright, colorful and well-illustrated, and having four game piece treasures is a nice touch. Played it several times and no game is the same, and if you don't work together closely that island sinks FAST! Highly recommended and very enjoyable.
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VINE VOICEon March 11, 2015
Call me the kill-joy here when so many others just love this game. It's o.k. but I've now played it at least 10 times beginning at higher water level settings and still win every single time. It's not really all that challenging and therefore not that much fun. The island cards which have the dry/flooded sides are absolutely beautiful to look at, and the deck cards are very nice also. The 4 relics that need to be captured are all solid and heavy plastic so the quality of construction of this game is excellent. It just doesn't keep our interest for very long since after a couple of games you have it figured out and know what island cards are important and which ones can be left to sink away. However, it's the first game we've (the four of us) have ever played together where we're not opposed but actually working as a team to win. I like that aspect a lot. I just wish there were more variables/options to this game to make it more interesting and fun.
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VINE VOICEon August 26, 2013
Forbidden Island sounds silly. Heck, it kind of looks silly. But what it lacks in instant appeal, it makes up for in gameplay. The set itself is in a nice metal container. The island tiles are heavy cardboard and the artifacts are nice quality rubber or plastic. The cards are typical, decent quality.

The game has a variety of difficulty levels and is suitable for a wide range of ages and skill levels. Since the game is cooperative, younger or newer players can get assistance from other players. The object of the game is to collect all of the artifacts, four total, and escape the island before it sinks. There are up to six players, but even as a two player game it is quite fun. You can limit the amount of interaction if you like, or you can invite everyone to voice opinions as to your next action.

You set up the island tiles randomly in a star like grid. Each time playing is unique, which is part of the fun. You then take turns around the board. Each player draws a card to determine what player they are. Each player has a unique ability such as the ability to move to any space on the board, or shore up two island tiles for only one move and so on. You can pick outright, but I find choosing randomly to be more fun.

Each player takes three actions: move, shore up, trade, or collect artifact. Then the player draws two treasure cards, keeping up to five in their hand and discarding extra. If you draw a water rise card - uh oh! - the water level goes up and the game gets more challenging. The next turn is to draw flood cards equal to the current water level. You then flip the tiles indicated. If a tile is flipped already, then it's lost forever! So players want to make sure and shore up certain important tiles when they get flooded (flipped over).

The game is over when all of the players collect the artifacts (combined for all four, not everyone will have an artifact), return to the helipad (Fool's Landing) and use an airlift card. Other ways the game ends is if a player is stuck on a tile when it is removed and there are no other adjacent tiles to swim to; or if Fool's Landing is removed; or if both island tiles containing an artifact which has yet to be collected is removed. On lower difficulty settings, it's quite easy. It gets more challenging as you start the water level higher. You can also remove a couple of special treasure cards such as the helicopter and sandbags (make sure to leave at least one helicopter or you can't escape!)

It's a quick game lasting around 30 minutes on average. The cooperative style is very fun. I find it to be a good in between game - that is a game between longer games such as Dominion, Carcassonne, or Race for the Galaxy. It's great for friends, and it's easy to learn. What's great also is that as long as one person knows how to play, you can instantly dive in with newbies and assist them in the first couple of plays through.

Highly recommended!
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