But it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. Each turn, location cards are drawn to “flood”. Once a tile is flooded, it is flipped over, but players can “shore up” to un-flood any location they are in as they move around the island in search of the treasures. As players dig through the deck for artifact cards, they’ll also draw special cards which rise the water level. This increases the rate at which locations flood each turn. Additionally, when these cards are drawn, the location discard pile is shuffled and placed on top of the deck, such that you are guaranteed to draw location cards that have already flooded! If a location is drawn and is already flooded, it is removed from play, which can be bad news for the explorers.
As with Pandemic, cooperative elements are very strong. Many player abilities directly encourage cooperation, such as the Navigator, who can use his actions to move others two tiles at a time. The Messenger, too, is a real team player, able to give cards to players without being on the same tile. This is very useful for completing sets needed to collect the treasures. But the fact is, working out a plan of action as a group is one of the keys to survival and success in Forbidden Island.
There are all manner of tensions and interesting decisions that must be made throughout the game. It’s tough to balance shoring up flooded tiles with moving to trade cards and then dashing to the artifact locations. It’s not uncommon for games to go down to the wire, with locations flooding off the map left and right as everyone flees to the helicopter lift tile. In this respect, it’s very similar to big brother Pandemic, but I found the Indiana Jones style, sinking island feel quite a bit more compelling than saving the world from disease. Forbidden Island is less complicated, too, which means even younger players and those who prefer simple rulesets can enjoy it. Games generally run around half an hour in length, so it’s great for when you don’t have lots of time to play.
I can't say I was surprised to enjoy Forbidden Island so much, as I definitely enjoyed its predecessor. As it is more appealing to my youngest son, I think it will likely end up being played often in our home. The gameplay is exciting, the components are top notch, and it even comes in a gorgeous tin that stores everything nicely. The price is right, too; you can find the game online or in game shops for less than $20. If you've never tried a co-op board game, and want an easy, inexpensive way to try it out, Forbidden Island is an excellent choice and I recommend it highly.