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Showing 1-10 of 1,433 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,688 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 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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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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on January 5, 2016
We got this for our kids for Christmas and it has been a big hit. Our 11 year old boy and 8 year old girl love to play Forbidden Island together and it's fun to play as an adult too.

Pros: It is very easy to set up and clean up.
Little to no fighting by the kids (because it is a cooperative game).
Games are quick (usually 30 minutes or less)
The kids are learning game strategies they will be able to use for more complex games later on.
It can easily be played by an 8 year old, but is still enjoyable for adults.
The price was great. We got it for $10.50.

Cons: The directions could stand to be a little more detailed.
For adults, the strategy aspect is pretty simple. Once you've played it, you pretty much know the strategies you'll always use.
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on October 21, 2014
There are some good video reviews and gameplay tutorials that can be found on youtube (Tabletop with Will Wheaton is a good one). In short, you are attempting to find four artifacts on a sinking island. The board (the island) consists of tiles you lay down. Since the tiles are laid down randomly, the board will be different each time you play. There are different player characters you can choose from, each one having a unique ability that can be utilized to help achieve your goal. The island is slowly sinking. There is a game rule that will allow you to adjust how fast it will sink thereby giving you control of the difficulty level.

The artwork on this game is beautiful, and the pieces are of decent quality. In comes in a tin, and inside are compartments for storage. The tin is not humongous like some board games. The price is a good bargain for this great game you are getting.

What I like most about this game is it's cooperative nature. It is a "co-op" game meaning, instead of player-vs-player, everyone must work together to beat the game. My wife & I specifically like games of this nature where we help each other as opposed to attacking each other.

Some people have commented that this is a kid's game. I'm in my mid-40's and very much enjoy playing it. Yes, there, are co-op games out there far more complex than this one, but this is still fun to play, and an excellent intro into this genre of games.
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on May 24, 2014
Let me start by saying that Gamewright notes on it's web page that it was founded by four parents whose kids wanted great games. And, while I think both Forbidden Island and its sequel Forbidden Desert Board Gameare great games for kids, I also think they are good ways to introduce new players to the board gaming hobby (or to cooperative games, which some people are less familiar with). And, I find the fact that you can play both games solo to be a major plus.

But, the two games are VERY similar in that they were designed by the same person, are co-op, use the same general set up and mechanic, and have top notch and interesting components. So, I really don't think you need both. And, if you only get one I think Forbidden Desert Board Game is the one to get because (1) it can be at least a little more challenging, and (2) it has an innovative "eye of the storm" mechanic that I have found to be particularly fun.

That said, experienced gamers will likely find both games a little too simple since they are not the main target audience (again, except to introduce new people to the hobby or to play with their kids). I recommend these folks jump right to Pandemic Board Game, which is another co-op game designed by Matt Leacock, but is noticeably more complex and harder to win. I think it can be another nice way to introduce adults to more serious and/or co-op games, but Pandemic is probably a little too complex for kids.

All that said, I'd give Forbidden Island 4.5 stars for kids and new or light gamers, and 2.5 stars for experienced gamers (for an average of 3.5 stars, which I've rounded up to 4 stars since that was not an option). And I really think Forbidden Desert is a half-star or more above Forbidden Island in a couple of important ways, and highly recommend getting it instead if you only want one.
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on April 11, 2015
When I first saw the game, I thought it would be really difficult, with a lot of rules, but it intrigued me still, so I looked more into it. It's not. The explanation of the roles of the players, and of how the island works, is extensive, but necessary. And the game is challenging, yet easy to learn, and fun.

In a nut shell: up to four players select one of six roles, each with a different skill. They work together as a team versus The Island. Each player takes a turn, first consulting with the other players, and then consisting of three actions. In between each player's turn, the island has it's turn. The point is to collect the four treasures, and make it to the helicopter pad with everyone alive.

Fun, strategic, cooperative play. I recommend this game for families and friends.
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on July 14, 2016
A fantastic choice for game night! I'm new to the world of collaborative games like Pandemic, but Forbidden Island strikes a perfect balance by being just difficult enough for failure to be likely, while being a quick enough experience to retry immediately when you inevitably fail and the island sinks.
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