Forbidden Island from GameWright Games is a spiritual successor to Z-Man Games Pandemic. I say spiritual as it is designed by Matt Leacock, who is also responsible for creating Pandemic, and has heavily borrowed its game mechanics in order to bring us a beautiful, smooth and innovative gameplay that promises fun time and time again.
Inside the tin (TIN!) you will find double sided island tiles, role cards, pawns that match up with the role cards, island location cards, adventure cards, and four ancient artifacts.
The game is played open handed, and players are encouraged to freely talk to each other and plan out the best choices for their moves, which can lead to some great conversations, especially if players have different thoughts on what the best choice would be. During play, a player will start off with 3 actions, where they can either move, claim an artifact or shore up an island tile (shoring up means that they will unsink a sinking part of the island. If they don't, they run the risk of not being able to pass through it later as it'll be sunk). To claim an artifact, a player must be on a specific island tile and have enough adventure cards of the same artifact that they are trying to claim. To move, they move one island tile per action.
|Several surrounding tiles have sunk|
|When a tile is sunk, both it and its matching card are removed from the game.|
Once all four artifacts have been claimed, the team must now race to the helicopter pad and escape before the island sinks completely. If they can do this, then the game is won. However, if they can not make it to the helicopter pad before it sinks, they will loose.
|All the team needs is a helicopter card and they can win the game|
I found that I enjoy this game quite a bit. While in many respects it is exactly like Pandemic, there is much about it that is very unique and allows for it to hold its own. It's theme is fun and refreshing, and appeals to a wide audience. In Pandemic, when the action deck runs out, the game is over. However, in Forbidden Island when you get to the bottom of the deck, you reshuffle the discard and start anew. This allows for a slightly easier challenge to the game by comparison, which I think will allow for more re playability with friends and family. Another great thing about it is that because the game board is tile-based, it can be rearranged in multiple configurations, upping the challenge if you like. The game has been nominated for 2011 spiel des jahres and is a Mensa Select game, and definitely deserves any and all honors it receives.