One Year On – Forbidden Island

You may notice that I’ve changed the title of these posts. I’ve moved away from the month that I wrote them in, where I covered each game I reviewed within that month, to covering each game separately – it makes sense really, and I should have done it this way from the start!

Anyway, on to a game that remains in my collection purely for one reason, other than looking good on the shelf that is!

Forbidden Island is a fun little game. It sets up and plays in around 30 minutes, and its simple, straightforward rules mean it’s a cinch for new gamers to pick up – and that’s why I keep it on my shelf.

It only usually hits the table now when I’m introducing people to the world of hobby games – it makes a good prelude to Pandemic, as it shares similar game mechanisms – but it’s no longer a game I would play myself by choice.

Why? Well, once you’ve played it a fair bit then you soon learn the strategy of how to beat the game, and even cranking it up to the hardest level doesn’t present too much of a challenge – it really comes down to a balancing act of which actions to carry out during your turn. This is dictated by what’s in the discard pile, what tiles are sinking, and the chances of drawing a waters rise card. This sounds more complicated than it actually is, but after playing several games you soon learn how to prioritise your actions.

I’ll endeavour to put together a play through to demonstrate the though process, as it is quite interesting.

Is the game still a viable purchase today?

Along with being a good family game, one that can be played with a wide age-range of people, it does, as I say, a splendid job as an introductory hobby game – fitting somewhere between the common gateway game and the mass-produced games such as Monopoly and Cluedo.

For starters, there’s that tin. It looks great sitting on a shelf, and it is often this that draws non-gamers in…

‘So, what’s that then, up there on your shelf next to the complete works of Sherlock Holmes, the thing in the nice tin?’

‘Oh, that. That’s Forbidden Island; it’s a game. Wanna see?’

‘Okay then…’

Two hours later you’ve just wrapped up a game of Pandemic, which inevitably follows, and you’ve just hooked a new gamer!

Not only does it look good on the shelf, though, it’s also quite appealing to the eye when it’s on the table – it doesn’t give the impression of being too complicated, which is one of the biggest deterrents to newbies, and they’re not going to have to remember reams of rules either.

Its difficulty level scales really well too, offering a progressive challenge right up until you master it. This is important to new players, as they want to feel like they can beat the game, it makes them feel smart and proud of their achievement, not dumb and frustrated, which is how many newbies would feel if thrown straight in at the deep end, with a complex Euro game for instance. You have to work up to things and find your level, find the type of games you enjoy, and this is great place to start that journey.

On year on – Despite the fact that it’s nearing its tenth birthday, Forbidden Island still has its place on the game shelf. It’s a great family game, especially with non-gamers, to whom it is ideally suited for introducing them to the world of hobby games. It leads nicely into Pandemic, and though there are many newer games out there that could arguably be a better choice of intro game, how many of them come in a lovely embossed tin?

Read the review here

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