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Great first impression, but loses its luster
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.
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.