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Forbidden Island
Price:$11.12+ 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 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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on July 25, 2016
This is a great cooperative family game. . .interesting for adults and kids. The teenager enjoys it as well. The artwork is lovely and the components are top notch. I am very happy with this purchase. After playing Forbidden Island several times we also bought Forbidden Desert. That game is great as well, but Forbidden Island is the easier of the two (if you have younger kids definitely start with Forbidden Island). Forbidden Desert ups the intensity, which could be a good or bad thing depending upon your personality. There is a lot of fun packed into this game!
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on May 11, 2017
This is by far one of my favorite games. I love how everyone works together against the game. You really have to work together as a team and plan out your turns. People who don't enjoy strategizing or participating can end up just doing what everyone tells them to do on their turn. This is really a game for people who want to work together to come up with the best possible course of action because this game is difficult! We've lost a lot!
You can set the difficulty level, however, since the board and characters change each game, even the easiest difficulty can be impossible in some playthroughs. Every game is different though since the "board" is never the same and there are so many different roles you can play! All these variations make it so this game never gets old! I definitely recommend this game!
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on February 17, 2015
This is an awesome coop game of up to 4 players. They players are located on a sinking island and the island is sinking bit by bit. The island sinks slower at first but it speeds up. The challenge is to coordinate with the team mates, grab the 4 artifacts and make it to the helicopter pad before the whole island sinks in the ocean. The game causes an awesome tension as you can see more and more of the island sink. When you do win it's right under the wire and it's an awesome feeling.

You will lose this game multiple times however before you beat it. Don't let that discourage you though, it's a lot of fun.

There are 6 possible characters you can play as, each with different abilities and there are 4 players. This means that each game 2 characters are not into play and the experience is unique. What further makes it unique is the way the tiles are arranged. You never get the same island twice.

All in all an awesome game well worth the money if you enjoy cooperative games.
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on September 3, 2017
This game is a lot of fun! This is one of many games we have bought after watching it on Tabletop. It is a little easier to play with 2 people and gets pretty hard when playing with 4 people, but it is fun no matter how many are playing. When you have to start flipping and losing areas, your heart really starts pumping and makes you sweat! It's amazing how such an innocent game will make you so nervous!! Everyone we have played this game has really liked it. It's not real difficult to understand how to play but if you have problems you can just watch the episode of Tabletop and see how it's played.
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on March 28, 2016
I've played this seven times, and while I've won only 3 of those games I can say with 100% truthfulness, this is one of the best games I have ever purchases. Getting to play cooperatively to try to beat the island leads to so much fun and discussion and banter between all the people I have played with. Everyone can contribute and weigh in on the strategy, but ultimately it is the luck of the draw that can determine the outcome of this game.

UPDATE: Bought one for my nephew! He loved it so much! He's smart kid and a good strategist, so far the only person I've played and made it off the island with. TWICE!
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on January 4, 2013
I recently received this game and my 4 1/2 Yr old son was so excited looking at the tin box it came in that he would not leave me alone and wanted to play. I was worried it might be to complex for him, but decided to go ahead and play so I could at least give it a trial run before playing with others. I figured the game could be played by nephews & nieces during family gatherings.

The rules are pretty straight forward and not difficult to understand. You setup the island tiles, shuffle the treasure deck, shuffle the flood deck, pick or randomly pass out characters and then deal two treasure cards to each player. Finally flip 6 flood cards and flip the tiles that are flooded - game on!

You then perform actions - move, shore up a tile, pass a treasure card, claim a treasure - draw treasure cards and flip flood cards. The idea being to work with the other players to get all four treasures prior to the island sinking or your "escape" tile sinking. The island sinks as "water level rises" cards are drawn. The higher the water rises, the more flood cards are drawn meaning more tiles are flipped.

Every time the water rises, you take the drawn flood cards, shuffle them and place them on TOP of the flood deck. This means the flooded tiles are once again on top the flood draw pile and if drawn while "flooded" they sink (are removed from play). So there is strategy in which tiles you want to save by using a "shore up" action - of course you have to be able to reach the tile in order to shore it up (flip it over so it's no longer flooded).

Each character has a "special" ability that can assist during play and may ultimately be what allows you to win. It is a cooperative game so using your characters abilities in conjunction with the other players will allow you decide the best way to proceed.

The game is rated for 10+ but my son enjoyed it and we were able to win both times although barely. I think the two characters we had made a good combination allowing us to complete the task and get off the island in time. It will be interesting to see how well it works with additional people playing and having a larger "gap" between your moves so more flooding occurs before you move again. Not sure my son completely got the strategy involved but he liked flipping tiles and getting the treasures. I'd make suggestions to him and let him decide - even if it meant turning over a tile because he liked it better than the one I'd rather have him turn over :)

If you want to make the game more challenging, the water level meter has different starting points which basically means each player will be turning over more flood cards sooner than later. It does seem like you can concentrate on saving basically five tiles - but that really depends on the layout of the tiles, if you can get all treasure but not have a way to get to the landing then you lose so keeping some "meaningless" tiles may be necessary to escape the island and win the game.
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on March 1, 2017
I got this as a gift for my stepson but we love games just as much so this is getting a lot of use. This is a really simple concept to learn but more difficult to master.

It's a co-op game where the players play against the game to either win or lose together. The game is not too difficult where kids would be frustrated but it does require some strategy and you have to stay focused or you'll lose. It's pretty quick, about 30 minutes, start to finish - which is nice because we can play 2 or 3 games at night.

The concept is that you are on an island that is sinking. You have to collect the 4 idols to make the island stop sinking and save the day. Tiles get "flooded" then they "sink" and you remove them from the board. Once all the idols are collected, all the players have to make it to the helicopter tile and someone has to have the helicopter rescue card for everyone to win. If the helicopter sinks, you lose. If there is no path left to the helicopter, you lose. There are two tiles for each idol on which you have to be to get that idol, if they both sink you lose. It's a pretty addicting game and we love it!
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on September 8, 2016
Buy this game. Buy this game now! Don't even hesitate! Absolutely one of my favorite games ever! I just bought this and we have played it about 12 times so far. The first couple games were the learning ones but by the end of the second we were hooked. I love that it is more strategy over "I win!" type of game. You really need team work to win the game. I love that every game is different. My fiance and I have really enjoyed playing this after dinner as a chance to have some non-technology time. Really has helped us bond and have some silly fun. It's tough finding fun 2 player games, but this one is a winner!!
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