Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Illinois James and the Elemental Treasures (Forbidden Island)

Tell me Sonny Jim, do you like adventure?  Do you like treasure?  Have I got the place for you, full of riches to make men's dreams come true, and danger to get your heart a-thumpin', and how! Don't be put off by the name, you certainly don't run the risk of drowning almost immediately once you land.  You'll be the big cheese once ya find that enormous fortune.  Come on down and purchase your ticket to the Forbidden Island!

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Forbidden Island is a co-operative game published by Gamewright.  Each Player is part of an expedition that is attempting to uncover all the treasures before the island sinks.

SET-UP:  Each player selects a Role card and their matching colored pawn.  Place the 4 different Treasure figures off the side.  Shuffle the Island Tiles and randomly place them face-up according to the design in the rules.  Place each player's colored pawn on their location indicated in the bottom right.  Each player is dealt 2 Treasure cards, which they keep face-up.  If a "Waters Rise!" card is dealt, shuffle them back in the deck and draw a new card.  Finally, reveal 6 Flood cards and flip over the matching Island Tiles, and set the Water Level to the appropriate difficulty.

ACTIONS:  Each player begins with 3 actions they can do each turn:

  • Move to another adjacent tile horizontally or vertically (or diagonally if you're the Explorer, or to any space if you're the Pilot).
  • Give a Treasure to a player if you're both on the same Tile.
  • Shore up a tile, or flip a face-down tile back face-up adjacent to you horizontally or vertically (or diagonally again if you're the Explorer)
  • Discard 4 matching Treasure cards to capture that Treasure, if you are on the matching tile indicated on the bottom right.  You may gather the Treasure if the tile is Flooded, or flipped over. You cannot if the tile is Sunk.
FLOODING/SUNK:  Tiles that are flipped face-down are Flooded.  If a Flooded Tile is drawn, it is Sunk.  You cannot move on the areas with Sunk Tiles (unless you are the Diver).  If a Tile is Sunk with a player on it, they move to any horizontal or vertical adjacent tile (or diagonally if you're the Explorer.

DRAWING:  Once you end your turn, draw 2 Treasure cards.  If you have more than 5 cards, you must discard down to 5.  If a Waters Rise! card is drawn, shuffle the Flood discard pile and place it on top of the deck, and raise the Water Level up one tick mark.  Then, reveal and flip over the Flood cards equal to the current Water Level.  If either the Flood or Treasure deck runs out, reshuffle the appropriate discard pile and place it as the deck.

ENDING:  There are 5 ways this game ends.  If the players manage to gather all 4 treasures and make it to the Fools' Landing, and someone has a Helicopter Lift card in their hand, the players win.  The players will lose if: 
  1. Both of the Tiles you can gather Treasure at are Sunk and no-one has collected that Treasure.
  2. The Fools' Landing Tile is Sunk.
  3. If any player is on a Tile when it is Sunk and they cannot move to an adjacent tile.
  4. If the Water Level reaches the top Skull & Crossbones symbol.
CONCLUSION:  Forbidden Island is hard, plain and simple.  It is always actively trying to kill you and make sure you can't win through luck or mis-plays.  There have been games that have ended on the first turn they began just because of bad luck.  That doesn't mean that the game is bad, just hard.  The really neat thing about this game is the co-operative element.  There are very few tabletop games that are truly co-operative, and even fewer have made it as compelling as Forbidden Island.  Plus, the rules are simple to understand, but allow for deep play with careful planning.  If you plan on playing, make sure it's with a group who can stand to lose over and over, because the victory will be that much sweeter.

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