Monday night, when we get in from work and school, is board games night. Except sometimes Monday night is used for other things, or Rob can’t make it home in time on Monday but is working from home on Tuesday, in which case Tuesday night is board games night. Except sometimes we play Yachtzee or some other game which isn’t quite a board game but fits into the same category, pretty much. You get the idea.
My favourite games are adult games (it’s been a long time since I’ve found Snakes and Ladders exciting) except my children aren’t adults. Hence why I still refer to them as children. They are clever though and super keen to join in with things which Mummy loves so there are a few games which we play anyway.
We played one of my personal favourites this week:
Yes, I know it says ages 10 and up but this is a cooperative game so, if you train your children well and they are happy to listen to advice, it can be good fun for all the family, and the children quickly learn what kinds of actions are required in different circumstances. Another benefit of the cooperative game, when playing with young children, is that you don’t have to deal with a devastated child who has been beaten by his older/younger brother. Saying that, when we have a family game session the boys do all behave very well, enjoying the game for the sake of it.
The idea with Forbidden Island is that four treasures are hidden on the island. The adventurers arrive at the island with the goal of hunting down these treasures and escaping. The problem is that the island is sinking. This process starts before the adventurers ever set foot on the island and continues throughout the game. Flood cards are drawn from one deck at the end of each turn indicating which sections of the island are succumbing to the surrounding water. The first time a card is drawn, that area of the island has been flooded; the corresponding tile is turned over to display the blue and white side (see bottom picture) but is still usable; the real problems start when the Waters Rise, at which point the flood discard pile is shuffled and put back on top of the flood deck. If a flood card is drawn for a tile which is already turned over, that area of the island has been washed away and the tile is taken out of the game.
The adventurers have to move around the island, shoring up flooded areas (spending an action to turn the tile right side up) while collecting and exchanging sufficient treasure cards to trade in for the treasures themselves before all returning to Fools Landing and taking a helicopter off the island. Each adventurer has a special ability. In the picture you can see below, Daniel is playing the Engineer in red (who can shore up two orthogonally adjacent tiles for one action); Phillip is playing the Navigator in yellow (who can move another player two spaces for one action) and I am playing the Pilot in blue (who can fly to any tile in the game for one action, once per turn). Also available are the Diver in black (who can swim through any number of adjacent flooded or missing tiles for one action); the Messenger in grey (who can give cards to any other player, wherever they are on the board) and the Explorer in green (who is the only character who can move and shore up diagonally).
The marker moves up the flood indicator with each Waters Rise card is drawn from the treasure deck, which also contains emergency Sandbags cards and the essential Helicopter Lift (one of these is needed at the end of the game in order for the adventurers to escape from the island), accelerating the rate at which the island is flooding. The bottom line is marked Novice and it is advised that young and inexperienced teams start their maker here; the next one up is Normal, then Expert. We have been starting from Normal recently, despite the age of the players. As you can see from the victory shot below, we still managed to collect the Cup, the Broken Globe, the Crystal Flame and the Griffon and return to Fools Landing with a Helicopter Lift in hand before the island sank around us, even after a bad start with Fools Landing being one of the first areas to start sinking and with losing two tiles of the island in the first five minutes of play! We were a happy band of adventurers.
I give this game a full 10/10. It’s well thought out; sturdy and well built; has lovely illustrations; a wonderful mechanic (first featured in Pandemic by the same company) and comes in a beautiful, if slightly “loved” metal tin. It only takes around half an hour for a game, depending on how decisive people are, so is perfect for after school. I would recommend it to anyone, not only families with school-aged children but also to adults looking for something short and thoughtful. I am so looking forward to getting Forbidden Desert for my birthday!