GS TABLE GAMES: Forbidden Island Review

50056_a_mws11_MWe take a look at the latest table games out there for review and news. This time it is all about the Forbidden Island and 4 pieces of treasure. This game has won ten awards including the MTV Geek, Top Board Game of 2010.

Dare to discover Forbidden Island! Join a team of fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of this perilous paradise. Your team will have to work together and make some pulse-pounding maneuvers, as the island will sink beneath every step! Race to collect the treasures and make a triumphant escape before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!

Opening the rather small tin for this game I was holding out hope that it was going to be something special but was concerned that it was not offering a lot for a “board” game. It just goes to prove you should never judge a game box by its cover. Inside we get 58 playing cards, 24 island tiles, 6 pawns for each player type, 4 treasure figurines and the water meter and lastly the rule book. All this fits perfectly in the box and is very easy to get all the pieces out and also back in the same way. All the contents are sturdy and excellent quality pieces which will hopefully last for many years to come.


After reading the rule book which took about 20 minutes to run through I was ready for game set up which took about 3 minutes and with two other players we were off and running to see if we could beat the island at its own game.

You lay 24 island tiles in a certain diagram that have various locations on them of which some also have a treasure symbol. Each player gets a character type card as either a diver or pilot or engineer and others. Depending on what character you get you can do special moves that include moving extra tiles or saving flooded areas etc.  Then we have the flood cards which replicate all the board tiles and also treasure cards. The flood cards will be used to see what tiles flood or sink during the game and the treasure cards contain images of the 4 various treasures to allow you to “cash in” to collect the treasure. Before we start our first turn we have to take 6 Flood cards and turn those board tiles upside down to show they have been “flooded”.

Each player follows the 3 turns that consist of taking up to 3 actions. These actions can be Move to an adjacent tile, or Shore Up a tile that has been turned over as “flooded” or give a Treasure Card to another player who needs it if you are on the same tile and lastly you can capture a Treasure. To capture you must have at least 4 of the Treasure cards that show that treasure on them and be on a tile that has that Treasure image on it.

So the idea behind using any of the three actions is to see where you can move to or save a part of the island to ensure a safe passage across the Island or try and get treasure. You have to all work together to talk strategy and plan where to go, what to save and what treasure to try and collect.

Once you have taking your  3 actions in any order you have to take 2 Treasure cards from the main deck. In your hand you always start with 2 Treasure cards. The cards are 5 of all of the 4 treasures that you need to collect. There are also special cards like the Helicopter lift that will help take you to other tiles you cannot reach and Sandbag which can “Shore Up” any tile on the board at any time which is really handy at times. You can only have 5 Treasure cards in your hand at any time so if you have more you must discard them.  Also in the Treasure deck are Water Rises cards that when you draw them you must move the Flood marker up one level. This is bad news because it means that you have to draw extra Flood cards.

Then the final part of your turn is to draw Flood cards. Depending on where the Flood marker is will tell you how many to draw. It starts at 2 but can go up to 5 in the game. You can start the game at different levels of skill so if you want a challenge you can start this at 4 cards. When you take a Flood card you must look for that tile on the board, if it is still right way up you must turn it over to show it is flooded. If the tile is already flooded then it means the tile is sunk and the tile is taken away. This will stop you from collecting treasure on that tile and also moving through that space on the board.

So at this point it becomes a race against time to collect you treasure, save tiles to let you move around the board and at the end all make it to the Helipad and fly away. Sounds simple right? Wrong it is addictive fun with a high level of team strategy in which you never know if you will win or lose against the Island.

To see real time movement of the game you can see below how the board changes over a period of 45 minutes. As you will see the Island gets smaller very quickly.

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The artwork on this game is excellent with each location tile having its own character that goes very well with the tile title. Our four treasure pieces consist of The Crystal of Fire a red crystal type statue, The Earth Stone is a broken globe shaped idol, The Statue of the Wind a golden winged lion and The Ocean’s Chalice which looks like a holy grail cup. All of them are well made and look great on the board.

The rules for the game are quick to read and very easy to follow and by turn 2 you will be up and running. This means that its playability for both adults and children are through the roof even if it is a adult and a 10 year old playing. Most games last about 30 minutes but you can take your time and just enjoy it but as the island sinks you feel the need to speed up your turns.

The company GAMEWRIGHT have created lightning in a bottle with this but it does not lend itself to expansion because it is pretty perfect as it is but they have produced a second game called Forbidden Desert which uses the same game engine which we will be looking to try out in the future.


Also if you want to see the game in action then check out the Geek and Sundry Tabletop edition where they play the game HERE.


For more board game reviews on Geek Syndicate go HERE

Reporter: Montoya


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