Forbidden Island the board game (2010)

The original intent of this blog was board game reviews. Shells and I would play a game a day and then I’d write about it.
That didn’t really work out, but we are trying to play three games a week, so I’ll do occasional game reviews.

This is a good game to start with since it’s really a pretty nice, cheap, gateway game. If you’re not a hard core board gamer, you should find some enjoyment in this light Pandemic-like game.


Forbidden Island is quick cooperative game for 1 to 6 players. It’s probably best at four players. For those non-gamers, cooperative means either everyone wins or everyone loses, so it’s really the game you’re playing against. You should really lose more than you win, but do the losses compel you to play again or give up in frustration?
Well, Shells and I played twice, once was a three player game, and lost both times, but I’d play again. Our second loss was really just a bit of weird, bad luck in a game that’s mostly strategy and hand management. Plus, the game plays in about 30 minutes which is a nice sweet spot to encourage replay ability. Pandemic is almost two times longer on average and occasionally a slog to get through.

Okay, the premise. You’re on an island that’s sinking. Why, I’m not sure. Let’s just say evil unicorns are behind it all. So, the island is made up of 20 tiles representing different locations. Through a random set-up and a random card mechanic that causes the locations to sink, each play of the game should be unique. Each location takes two card hits before it’s space is just nothing but water. If some key locations sink, the game is over and you lose. You may be forced to swim or helicopter over sunken sections of the island. And the island starts sinking quickly in just a turn or two.
On your turn you can slow the sinking of locations, move or drop off treasures. Oh, your job is to collect treasures and get the hell out by helicopter before the sharks or evil unicorns or whatever get you. The tension comes in deciding, as a group, to get treasures, move or stop the sinking.
There are four ways to lose and only one way to win, like most modern cooperative games.
Also, each player has a special ability, like Pandemic, to help out and you definitely all need to all work together. The rules were only a few pages, well laid out with lots of pictures and in two games, we only had one question that was answered easily. That’s pretty rare.
One of the best aspects of the game was the price. It was fifteen bucks at Barnes and Noble. That’s impulse buy territory. Plus, the bits certainly don’t seem cheap like many similarly priced games and even has a few unique tokens you could use for other purposes.

Overall, the game is win on many levels— price, playability and bits. The only down side is it’s similarity in game play to Pandemic. If you hate Pandemic, skip this one because it’s a simplified, streamlined Pandemic.
But if you really like this game, Pandemic may be a future purchase. If not, you’re not out much dough. Use one of those Barnes and Noble coupons, I got Forbidden Island for about nine bucks.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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About gebryan

Writer of pointless reviews, pointless-er comedy, lover of zombies, board games, already excited about upcoming life-changing heart attack.

7 responses to “Forbidden Island the board game (2010)”

  1. ianthecool says :

    I have Pandemic and enjoy it greatly. However, like you have said, Forbidden Island is similar. Is it so similar that it would be too much like Pandemic? I don’t want to simply buy a game which is practically a repeat of one I have.

  2. Bryan Gahagan says :

    As my girl friend pointed out, the only out and out copy from Pandemic is that each player has a different special ability. Because of tiles, the board is set- up differently every time. That’s key. You’re also given more treasure cards at the end of a turn, so hand management is different. While there are fewer options per turn than Pandemic, strategically the game feels different.
    I wouldn’t say Forbidden Island is better than Pandemic (and I haven’t played the expansion), it’s certainly not worse because of speed of play, price, and how the game ramps up. Forbidden Island ramps up quickly. We played on the easiest setting and still had island pieces going away a handful of turns in.
    Yea, if you like Pandemic, I say get it. It’s different enough in key areas. I’m a fan of co-operative games. It’s waybdifferent than Arkham Horror. 🙂

  3. ianthecool says :

    Ah, that clears things up a bit. Thanks for the info.

  4. Sean says :

    Well, I think the other mechanic you can say is an out-and-out copy of Pandemic is that when the “waters rise,” you reshuffle the deck of already-flooded locations and put that back on top of the deck. That’s very much how Pandemic handles epidemics.

    I got Forbidden Island because I wanted a co-op to play with my 8- and 6-year-olds. They love it. Not a lot of reading involved, and they feel like they’re participating in an exciting story.

  5. Bryan says :

    We finally won the game last weekend after 6 tries, with 6 players and super easy. Yea, we cheated.The only time we’ve beat Pandemic was the first time and we were playing it wrong.

    Although, we have beaten Arkham Horror a bunch of times. Talk about an exciting story.

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