Forbidden Island = Pandemic Lite = FTW

About a month ago, my husband and a dear friend of ours came home with a bag from our local game store.  I admit there might have been a bit of eye rolling, I mean, we currently have 743 board games in this house… did we need another one?  What they brought home however, was a small treasure, completely worthy of a place on our shelves:  Forbidden Island.

One of the first things that was inquired was “So, how much did you spend?”, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the answer.  A mere $17 was all this game broke the bank for, which by gaming standards will typically only purchase you a third of a game.  Especially given that most games run closer to $40, and many run much much higher.

The components that come with Forbidden Island: Four statues that you must rescue (From left to right: Fire, earth, water, and air), two decks of cards (stored in the same slot), island tiles, and player pawns.

Ok, so they bought a cheap game I thought.  First off the components are going to be crap, right?  I mean, what kind of value can you get for that kind of money.  What I found was heavy plastic and cardboard pieces, and also nice cards.  The only thing I didn’t like was something that our friend did.  The game comes in an attractive tin box.  I find these annoying because they dent really easily, but she found it to be a plus as well.  All and all the components were quality.  No complaints there (I know, rare for me, right?).

So it was cheap, and the components are quality, that means they must not have put any money into designing a halfway decent game then.  Strike three, I’m out.  This game was made by the same creator as “Pandemic”, and has many of the same thoughtfully crafted elements.  I couldn’t have been more shocked.  It plays really really well.

But what is “Forbidden Island” you ask?

Forbidden Island board setup. The tiles are laid out to create an island with the appropriate piles of cards around it. Each player starts on a specific spot based on color.

Forbidden Island is a game where all players are forced to work together in order to save their own hides from a sinking island, while dashing around trying to rescue artifacts.  Each player has a particular job, which equates to a special ability that they can perform.  At the end of each turn, players receive two cards from one deck, which shows pictures of the artifacts they are trying to rescue or could contain a “Waters Rise”. This moist sounding card causes the rate in which the island floods to increase.  After those cards are revealed, a certain number of island cards are turned over, based upon the current rate of flooding.  Island tiles are flipped over to the flooded side, as these cards are revealed.  If a portion of the island was already flooded, then it suddenly sinks, and is removed from the board.

Pandemic: the more complicated sister game of Forbidden Island.

Does this all sound familiar?  Yeah, it did to us as well.  This game is basically the same as Pandemic, but streamlined.  Many of the elements have been simplified,  but it is largely the same game.  I wasn’t sure if I would love or hate this fact, but after having played numerous games of it over the course of a month, I must say I enjoy this new “Pandemic Lite” game. When you think about the other big factors surrounding this game (a great price, while still having quality components), Forbidden Island becomes a big winner.  It’s even become preferred in our house to it’s sibling, Pandemic.

So, a game that plays well, at a great price, with quality components.  Why can’t more games be like that?

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 at 8:55 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Co-op Games, Resource Management Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


  1. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto
    a colleague who had been conducting a little research on this.
    And he in fact bought me dinner simply because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this issue here on your blog.

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