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Forbidden Island
Price:$11.39+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on August 31, 2010
 Forbidden Island is a fantastic family board game for a number of reasons:

* 1 - it's a cooperative game. We love cooperative games in our family because we aren't competing against each other, but rather working together as a team to beat the game. And we love that more designers and publishers are creating more cooperative games to play.

* 2 - it's easy to learn and simple to play. Take it from Caleb's video review. You simply set out the island tiles, draw your character card and follow the steps on the back of the card as to what to do on your turn. Pretty soon you won't need to look at the cards during the game, but it's great that the help is there if you need it.

* 3 - the re-playability. Since the game isn't played on a set board, but rather by area tiles, every time you set up the island it gets set up differently. And with 6 characters that each have their unique special abilities, you only get to play with a team of 4. So each time you play, you'll also have to deal with the characters you get (and you'll long for the special abilities of one you're missing). And on top of all that, you're dealing with the luck of the draw in the card deck, so you don't know which tiles will start flooding, then sinking away.

* 4 - it doesn't take a long time. The turns play really quickly and everyone is engaged the whole time and the island is always changing with tiles flooding, so there's a lot of discussion going on the whole game - which also makes it seem like it goes by fast.

* 5 - it's fun! The first time we played it, we played over and over. Granted we kept losing so we had to keep trying again. But that's what made it so fun. We would get so close and then just miss the win. So we'd quickly set it all up again for more.

Oh - and did I mention that Forbidden Island has fantastic artwork and great game components? We love the artwork and everything in the tin is high quality. The tiles are nice, thick and sturdy - which is a must because they will get flipped over a lot. And the treasure pieces are definitely treasures that you want to search out and get. The game components all help make it a fun game experience.

If you typically just read these board game reviews rather than watch the video, we'd suggest you take a look at the video to see the quality you're going to get with Forbidden Island.

You can read more about this and other great family board games on TheBoardGameFamily.
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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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The ancient Archeans have hidden four treasures around their island, and it's up to you and your crew to find them. Assemble a crew of up to four experts from the following:


Each expert has his/her own special ability. For example, the Diver can cross spaces where tiles used to be, and the Messenger can give treasure cards to other players from anywhere on the board.

As the game progresses, the Island slowly sinks into the sea as your water meter card marks higher and higher water levels. Those pesky Archeans booby-trapped the Island to keep thieves like you out! Tiles become flooded, and if not shored up, they will be lost forever beneath the cold, hungry waves of the ocean. She's a harsh mistress, that ocean. There are two tiles for each treasure type that you must collect, as well as one treasure piece. These tiles represent maps to the hidden treasures. Once you have collected four treasure cards of that treasure type, you can go to the treasure and exchange the cards for it. Don't let both of the tiles that show the treasure type sink below the waves, however, because the location to the treasure will be lost, and the game will be over. Likewise if the tile that the treasure itself is sitting on is lost.

It's also a Bad Idea to let your helipad tile sink. This also ends the game.

The game will also end if a player is on an Island tile that sinks and there is not an adjacent tile to swim to (with the exception of the Diver).

If the water level on the water meter card reaches its maximum value, accurately represented by a skull-and-crossbones, guess what? Game over, man! Game over!

Forbidden Island is an enjoyable game that successfully conveys the sense that time is running out, and it's doing so quickly. It takes about 30 minutes to play (if you're lucky).

My box came with an extra Temple of the Sun tile. Not a huge mistake - it's better to get extra pieces than to be missing them, am I right? But if you're reading this, and your set is missing this tile, I'm keeping mine. Talk to Gamewright!

This is an excellent addition to my board game library.
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on May 31, 2017
My girlfriend and I have started getting into board games. I have been a fan for years, and used to have family game nights often while growing up. That fell off for a bit, but having grown tired of doing the same old watching TV or movies for entertainment, decided to get back into it. The first game I purchased in this resurrected love was Forbidden Island. 10 board games later, this is still probably our favorite. It really is a perfect couples game, and I'll try to highlight why I think you, too, should buy this game.

First, its cooperative. You all either win or lose together. And that is nice so you don't risk causing hard feelings. Even on each other turns, you are encouraged to discuss strategy.

Second, there is just enough strategy to engage you in discussion and keep you thinking, but not so much that your head starts to hurt. The game stays a game, and not a college final exam.

The element of luck. Sometimes games are so based on your strategy that you can sort of predict what is going to happen. With FI, luck has a lot to do with it and causes your best laid plans to fall into ruin and despair. I enjoy when at least some element of the game is out of your hands and you have to learn to adapt to new scenarios.

It is very simple to learn. You can learn to play in less than 10 minutes. The instructions are very clear on how to set up and it comes with cards to reference what you are supposed to do on each turn and in what order. I taught my best friend and his wife to play in about 5 minutes and within 10 minutes of actual playing (one very slow round as they were asking questions) they were off to the races, making suggestions and critiquing moves. You should be able to teach children to play this pretty easily (I'm thinking like...7 or 8).

Replayablility. Each time you play, you build the board from a random order, so no two games are alike (yes, I know there is really a finite number of permutations). The goal remains the same, but the environment changes. And each player gets a role card which provides special powers to their character, which also changes how you go about playing.

Challenging. Some games are too hard. Some games are too easy. This game actually has built in difficulty controls. So if you want to sit back and just kill some time but still feel good about yourself in a victory, you can play it that way. If you want a pulse raising, edge of your seat adventure that is likely doomed to fail, you can play it that way.

I normally play this with my girlfriend, and its extremely fun with just the two of us. I have played it once with three and once with four players, and had just as much fun. The game does offer more challenge as player count increases, I'll admit. In fact, the first two, and only two, times I lost this game was playing with the aforementioned couple. We lost the first game, and you never know how people will react to that. But, they wanted to play again, thinking they could best the island now that they got it. Wrong. After two defeats, they still wanted to play again. We finally got it the third time. It is a testament to how fun this game is to play, whether you win or lose. Most of my victories have come within a turn or two of losing, even as I turn the difficultly up.

You really cannot ask for more in a game under $20. The artwork is beautiful, the game challenging, the quality time endearing. It takes us less than 30 minutes to play, which is about a sitcom. The perfect answer for that...well...what would you like to do before dinner/bed/movie/drinks/dog walks/etc question.
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on January 1, 2017
My son, who is 8 years old (almost 9) received this game as a gift. My 14 year old and 6 year old were the first ones to play it with him. Let's be honest - the directions could have been more concise. They played it wrong. I read directions and watched videos on it, and we played together the next day. Basically, every turn goes like this: 1) 1-2-3 (choose 1,2 or 3 actions to do) 2) draw 2 treasure cards (discard some if you end up with more than 5) and 3) draw flood cards that match the water level. (If water level is at 4, draw 4 flood cards to see which spaces get "flooded." Your turn is over & play moves along.
Each player is unique and has a different trait they bring to the table. For example, one may get to move diagonally, another player may get to up flood 2 tiles for 1, etc.
Your goal, with your team (the other players are all your team) is to get off the island before it sinks, WITH all 4 treasures on the board. Once you collect all 4 treasures, everyone hurries to "fools landing" and then hopefully gets air lifted off the island by one of the players.

My 6 year old can play this game just fine. The only issue I see with her is selfishness. She wants to collect all the treasures. The way the game works is....with the treasure cards received every turn, you collect enough cards to be able to get the treasure. My 8 year old plays the game with ease.

I didn't care for the mythical "story" the game follows. Directions can get confusing and there were a few things I had to look up. (For ex: the engineer can shore up 2 tiles for the cost of 1. Is this any 2 tiles? Directions don't say. We assumed it was any 2 adjacent tiles.)

This is a great game and I love that you all work together. If 1 person dies, the game is over. I also like how you help each other out on the island. I like that tiles change every time, so you never play the exact same game board. THe game is a bit exciting and once you navigate through the directions, play goes fast and pretty simple. Sometimes, we would forget whose turn it was because with an 8 and 6 year old, there is a lot of table talk. I recommend the adult do the card flipping and keep discard piles by them.

Remember, for each turn: 1,2,3 ----draw 2 treasure cards-----draw flood cards
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on December 25, 2017
I cannot say enough good things about this game! My husband and I have a 6 year old son and we're all extremely competitive. We tried to have a weekly Family Game Night, but hit two snags. The first was that it was very hard for us to find a game that our son could understand, that also wasn't so childish that it bored the snot out of us parents. The second was that games with three players can easily devolve into a situation where two people gang up on the third. One more game of Sorry was probably going to lead to a divorce. I decided we needed a cooperative game in our lives and went to the store, in hopes my kid could keep up with Pandemic. I saw Forbidden Island was *a lot* less expensive, had a lower suggested age limit, and said that game play only takes about 30 minutes, so we've decided to give it a try. It quickly became our favorite game! Even though none of us were familiar with it, it only took a few turns of game play for everyone, even the 6 year old, to figure it out. It's so much nicer to work as a team than to be pitted against each other. There's enough variation in the game that we haven't gotten bored of it yet, playing it once a week for several months.

What's even more neat is that I've been able to introduce the game to my friends, who would NEVER play an RPG-style game, and all of them have loved it! Since it's small, fast, and accommodates up to 6 players, it travels well and is great to have at dinner parties and small get-togethers. We're looking forward to trying some of the other cooperative games from this developer, now :D
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on December 2, 2017
This is a fun cooperative game to play with family and friends. My wife and I play with our 16 and 14 year old girls. We play this game a few times a year. The artwork on the cards is interesting, the token pieces are unique and the premise is fairly easy to learn. The game comes in a tin container. Basically you and your teammates must work together to get helicoptered off Forbidden Island before the water rises and kills you all. Each player has special skills unique to them that aid the group on his/her turn. Players are encouraged to talk to one another during each turn to discuss the best possible choice to make to ensure their survival. Can you survive Forbidden Island?
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on September 8, 2017
This is the first cooperative game my family has tried and we absolutely love it. The pieces and cards are well made, the game is easy to learn and the random nature of the game board makes it highly repayable. I recommend searching online for alternate board layouts that can really increase the challenge once you get bored with the suggested layout. Also note that it is less expensive than other games so you don't have to spend a lot to try it out. Great game for families and people getting started in table top gaming!
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on August 31, 2016
My favorite game out of the 5 I bought (I also bought SET, Five Crowns, Exploding Kittens, and Quiddler). Cooperative strategy with well balanced elevating intensity. Well worth the price. The cover has regrettably become loose over time, a mild annoyance that requires you package it carefully or in a different container if you don't want things to spill out.
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on December 22, 2017
It’s very easy to learn and quick to play and set up. If you’re trying to play a quick game with your friends or if you just want to kill a bit of time, this game takes about 30 minutes to set up, play, and learn. My only real complaint is that it really gears towards backseat gaming. In every game I’ve played in, one person would tell the rest of the group what to do to win. Aside from that, it’s very fun and I enjoyed it.
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