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Forbidden Island
Price:$10.89+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

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 December 27, 2017
Wow, what a clever game! I'm so impressed to have a cooperative game that is complicated enough to engage adults and still playable with the kids. Marketed for ages 10 & up, but my 7- and 9-year old play. Since it's cooperative, it's pretty easy to explain a strategy that the 7-year old doesn't get right away. And sometimes the 7-year old explains to us!

Here's a hint to get the kids interested....figure it out yourself first. They don't want to sit and listen to the instructions which are a bit lengthy. I set the game up for multiple players, played each player's part myself to figure out the strategy and get all my questions answered. THEN I had the kids join me. Much easier to explain and work with them since I didn't have to constantly reference the instructions. Super fun.
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on August 1, 2017
Forbidden Island is a good game to bring out when you have guests who don't play board games often, or if you want to play a game without committing too much time. It's very easy to teach, the concept is straightforward, and it's cooperative. If you've played Pandemic, this is a very similar concept but (in my experience) much easier to win.
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on January 6, 2018
We enjoyed this game. It isn't as deep and complicated as some other cooperative games we have, but it was quite fun. Our children (ages 4 and 8) were able to play with us and participate in decision-making skills. This game is a great way to spend time together.
We are going to get Forbidden Desert as well.
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on January 3, 2018
This is a great game. I bought this for my 9 year old daughter and I love the cooperative aspects of the game. It teaches the players to work together, using each persons strengths, towards a common goal. It also teaches strategy through the prioritization and sequencing of different actions. I actually wish there was a more corporate version I can use with my team at work.
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on January 8, 2018
Played this with my wife, 10 and 12 year old and we had a good time. The concept of urgency is always there which keeps you on your toes and forces team work and communication to deal with the impending flood / doom. It's a good game for their age level, but will not hold up in the next 1-2 years as the complexity is low so the replay value won't be there for them, or us.
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on July 14, 2016
Such an excellent game!!
You do essentially pick your own board which helps keep things random. Depending on the players and the roles, things constantly keep switching. It reminds me a bit of Pandemic with the roles and collecting statues. It's also more difficult to have an "alpha" in this game because of the way the roles are and the possibilities each turn. It's very easy to learn and I've had friends who requested we play this multiple times in one game night - with us winning none of the times.
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on July 14, 2014
This has become one of our favorite family games. I bought it after a friend described it on FB. I won't rehash all of the game play, but I will say that it's quick and easy to get started, and every game is unique. It requires collaboration to win, and even then, sometimes you don't beat the game. We have had a couple of down-to-the-last-chance games that were pretty thrilling. The game says it's for ages 10+, but my 6-year old picked up the game easily and loves it. This is one of the best family game night games we own. You can play with 2-4 players.
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on December 31, 2017
My daughter LOVES this game. She first played it with some of her friends, she was SO excited she couldn't stop talking about it. So I bought it the next day! At Christmas when she opened it she flipped out with excitement!!! Great game! FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!
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on December 27, 2017
Forbidden Island is great for a group that likes a short-ish, light-strategy game. Not quite as complex as something like Settlers of Catan, but still enough to keep your mind engaged. I also love the cooperative element, especially if you are inviting younger players to participate.
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