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Forbidden Island
Price:$11.39+ 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, 2016
This game is awesome! Forbidden Island is a wonderful cooperative-play game, where 2-4 players work together to collect treasures and escape before the island sinks beneath them. Game-play is easy to learn but has enough complexity to require some strategic thinking if you hope to win. Our nine-year-old enjoys it, and the cooperative nature of the game allows older siblings to inject counsel whenever necessary (honestly, the discussion is constant since you must work together in order to succeed). In the two days we've had it, we have played the game three times, and each time has been a close-call, leaving us wondering if we were going to be victorious or wallow in utter defeat. The tension-level is perfect, with the setup leaving you feeling like your one step away from disaster from the beginning and keeping it interesting throughout. I will definitely be buying more of this game to give out as gifts--we love it!
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on January 26, 2018
Played as a 2 player game with my husband. I haven't historically been a fan of board games, but we're trying to get into a few games that can be adapted for family game nights as our kids get older. Cooperative play means we don't get competitive, and no one goes to bed grumpy because they lost. That's important because he usually beats me at everything and I am a sore loser. It's got a decent amount of suspense and gets more exciting as the game goes on. It's probably more fun with more players. The instructions could be written a little bit more clearly, as a few of them are a little vague. Overall pretty fun, and it doesn't drag on for eternity like some board games. It's over in about 10-15 minutes (at least it was for us).
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on February 9, 2018
Great light-weight cooperative game. Easily played by the whole family, but has enough to it for the more serious gamer to have an enjoyable experience. Created by the amazing Matt Leacock. Should be one of the first games added to any modern table-top collection. Great price. Comes in a tin case (which you may like or not - makes it difficult to stack with other games)

High Recommended For: Anyone who is just getting into modern gaming or as an early entry into cooperative games.
Recommended For: More serious gamers who want a light-weight, less complex, but still somewhat puzzle-like game.

If you like this, you should get . . .: Forbidden Desert Board Game,Pandemic Board Game

Type of Game: Cooperative
Theme: Adventure / Survival
Main Mechanisms: Tile movement, Hand Management, Action Point Allowance
Fun factor: 7 out of 10
Players: 1-4
Playing Time: Fairly Short (30-45 minutes)
Complexity: Fairly Low (3 out of 10 - ten being extremely complex)
Component Quality: Very Good (8 out of 10)
Artwork: Very Nice (7 out of 10)

OVERALL RATING: 7.5 out of 10
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on May 8, 2016
I was afraid this game would be on the easy side for a group of adults who like Pandemic. No need for that - having 4 people play made this game seriously difficult. The artwork on the cards is beautiful (is that the Quiraing on one of them?) and there are several elements competing for your attention each turn, so it's a good brain workout. The fast pace of the game keeps you engaged. I think it takes maybe about an hour to play? So it's one of the shorter games we play when we get together.

We did not have such a difficult time beating the game when we played with three people, which I attributed to not so many necessary trades. To win a treasure, you must possess 4 of the 5 cards in the deck for that treasure. The more people you play with, the more trades would be necessary, which eats up a lot of time. So I think if you're considering purchasing this game, it's good to think about how many people will be playing it and what difficulty level you're looking for.

The only issue I had with the game is that one of the treasure objects was not formed well (base is rounded) and won't stand up as a result. Hopefully that is only my game.
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on April 27, 2015
My daughters, ages 8 and 10, love this game, and so does everyone else we've played it with. At first, the game might seem a little complex, but once you get rolling, you'll have no troubles with the rules or order of play. The designers also included a little "cheat sheet" of action options and play order on each player's card.

The object is simple--capture four artifacts and helicopter off the island from the landing site before the rising waters flood the island enough to either drown a character, swallow the areas housing an artifact, or wipe out the landing site, which will prevent your escape. You have a choice from up to six characters, such as a diver, an explorer, an engineer, a messenger, or a pilot. Each character has unique and useful abilities they add to the team. For instance, the pilot can fly to anywhere on the island in one turn. The diver can swim underwater through sunken areas of the island. The engineer can shore up (stave off the rising waters) twice as much area as the others. Very well-developed skill set. Each character is useful and you'll regret not having any of their abilities with you. And, because the game is for 2-4 players, you can't have them all with you. This is a nice touch, too, because you can never tell which skillset might be more useful, and this changes every game due to the changing layout of the island and due to the random nature of the cards you'll draw as you play.

Once you get started, you might think it'll be a simple game and you'll breeze through it. We thought so, and then were swiftly overwhelmed by the flooding island, frantically trying to shore up game tiles to preserve the precious artifacts and landing site before we were lost. A really unfortunate session of flood cards (which represent where the water levels are rising) and the dreaded WATER RISES cards (which mean that each turn, even MORE areas are impacted by the waters AND that areas can start to sink into the abyss and be gone forever), we couldn't even rescue one artifact before being soundly defeated.

The second time we played, we took it seriously. We shored up every part of the land we could, using sandbags and helicopter lifts from the treasure cards to combat the eager water levels. Our pilot and engineer raced across the area while the messenger and diver gathered and exchanged treasure cards. Despite our best efforts, the water levels rose and the island started to sink. We lost entire areas, leaving great holes in our island, and the diver and pilot were frantically trying to get the last two artifacts while the messenger and engineer continued to stave off the inevitable. We felt elated--like we had really accomplished something--when, thanks to a few lucky helicopter lift cards, the four of us made it to the landing spot and

The game gets intense--it is designed to do so. Unless you're phenomenally lucky, your team WILL start to lose ground and you won't be able to preserve the entire island. And that is part of the frantic fun.

Finally, the tiles are well made, with imaginative and evocative names. The artifacts look cool, too. And the game play moves pretty swiftly, so you won't get bored.

In my opinion, this is a can't-miss game. It's rapidly become our favorite, and if your family loves quick-paced adventure games, it may become yours, as well.
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Long time owner of this game. I enjoy it with my wife (she is more of a fan of Forbidden Desert), but as a dad this game is simply great with kids. I am writing a review now because I saw it was... $11! Are you kidding me!?! This game is phenomenal. It is a stellar co-op game, with great art, great mechanics, great components. And on top of using it as intended, the art is so good you can use it as an "I Spy" game with your younger kids. I simply cannot say enough good things about the game. If you are on the fence and worried about it being a cheap game because of the price, put those fears to rest. This is worth every penny.
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on February 18, 2018
We seriously love this game. We play it with 3 people all the time and it's a blast. It seems to be more difficult with more players, as we cannot win when we played with 5 people - oh, but we will.... someday! Best loved family Christmas present this past year!!

Oh, and BTW, we had a hard time understanding the game at first. The instructions confused us... our own fault, I am sure, but we went on Yo*Tub* and there is a group called team hypercube in particular that gives a phenomenal run down of the set up and instructions - seriously made game play much easier and quicker to get the hang of it. I am in no way connected to them - they just did the best job explaining it so that we could play after we got seriously confused and watched a few other videos that confused us more......
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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 February 19, 2018
This game is great fun! I bought it on Amazon after seeing it in a store. It is a fun game to play with friends and it’s nice because you don’t need a huge crew to play (2-4 players).

The basic premise of the game is that you and the other players are explorers trying to secure four different treasures from the island before it sinks. I The game play is easy to pick up and it has great replay value as the island changes are every time you play. This is also a cooperative game so you get to play with the other players and not against them. This however does not make the game any easier. I highly reccomend!
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