Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday Nerdsday Table Games - Forbidden Island

You know that you have a game hoarding problem when you find yourself cleaning out cabinets frequently to make room for more games.

We've somehow acquired more than a few games lately and I find myself rearranging other things all the time so that I have somewhere to put them when they aren't in use.

This is what happens when your husband meets Wil Wheaton at Comic Con and become obsessed with his show Table Top. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it's a web series about various table games.

I'm pretty sure most of the ones I will introduce you to were featured on that show at some point.

Up first, Forbidden Island. Aside from Pathfinder, this was our first true "nerd game" purchase.

Made by Gamewright, it retails for about $15-20, which is very reasonable in a world where table games can easily cost $50 and upwards. It's labeled for ages 10 and up, but our 8 year old has no trouble playing it at all, and in some ways is one of the best tactical players in the family.

It usually takes less than an hour to play, and trust me when I tell you it will take you almost that long just to understand the basic rules. To really understand the strategies, though, it takes playing it a few times.

The first thing that you need to get used to with this game is that it's a collaborative game, not a competitive one. You aren't playing against each other at all, in fact you will have to learn to work together quickly in order to survive.

The goal is a simple one, in theory at least. You have to retrieve four treasures before the entire island sinks. Where the game gets complicated, and does it ever, is in the fact that the tiles are arranged differently every time, the abilities of each player change every time, and you are at the mercy quite often of the cards.

To collect the treasures, a player must possess four cards corresponding to that treasure, and travel to a marked location. All this takes place on a board of floating tiles which are in danger of sinking with every turn.

Whether you win or lose this game often depends on where the waters rise cards end up in the deck. Every time one of those is drawn, an additional island card must be pulled at the end of the turn of each player. Islands start to sink faster and faster, and as that happens a sense of urgency begins. You have to juggle so many things at once to master this game- you need to figure out who will retrieve the treasures and how to ensure they have the cards to do so before the islands they need to visit sink, then once you have retrieved all the treasures you have to figure out how to fly everyone off the island entirely, which often becomes a questionable task as more and more pieces disappear beneath the water.

This game is an exciting one, and can frustrate you endlessly at times, especially when you can see that your team is going down this round. Up to four people can play, and there seems to be an advantage to having 3 or 4 players as opposed to just 2. The more players, the more skills you have among the group, and the more ways you can strategize.

This is a great game for developing critical thinking skills in kids, and also great for teaching the value of collaboration.

Good luck getting off the island alive!


  1. Your Nerdsday posts are going to be bad for me.
    I have to go find this game now. I don't understand how we don't already own it.

  2. Sounds like a fun one. I may need to check it out. It has been forever since we have played a table/board game

  3. I LOVE tabletop. But when I had time to watch season 2, it wasn't happening, and now that I have zero time, it's on baby. Sigh. Happily, the internet won't go away anytime soon.


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