Forbidden Island, along with Forbidden Desert and Pandemic, create a trinity of cooperative games that define the genre. In almost all board games the aim is to defeat the other players in ritualistic combat, a duel to the proverbial death if you will. In Forbidden Island however, the aim is to beat the designer of the game, in this case Matt Leacock, and as a team, emerge triumphant!

Build Quality

The “board” in this game is somewhat unconventional. Instead of a folded piece of card it is made up of 24 separate tiles, each with a cool sounding name like “Breakers Bridge” and “the Cliffs of Abandon” these tiles are made of that solid card that all new games seemed to be made, solid and smooth. The biggest advantage of separate tiles is  the randomness it creates. No two games are ever quite the same. The pieces are fairly generic wood and the playing cards are a little thin but with care they should last a fair amount of time. The whole game comes in a really great tin but the crowning design pieces are the treasures.

I love to see something special in each game I play and the treasures are no exception. Each of the four treasures are made out of plastic but really give the game something to strive for and add a glittery touch to the game. Gamewright, the producers of the game do a fantastic job here of building quality products that last.


The premise of this game is simple really. You and your team have landed on the Forbidden Island to steal treasure. You must accomplish this task and escape before the island kills you in a myriad of ways!

Each of you get one of five characters at random, each with their own specific skill that helps in the game. For example the Helicopter Pilot (Blue) can fly anywhere on the board for 1 action. You get 3 actions in a round to do certain.. well.. actions. These include moving, stopping the island from sinking, and swapping cards to get treasures.

To win you must collect all four treasures and get out of dodge. Losing is much easier. Drowning, losing a treasure, and falling off the Island are just some of the ways to lose.

Time scale and players

Forbidden Island has a level select system from beginner to expert which greatly effects the duration of the games. The unwary or cocky who think they can defeat expert early in their careers are sure to be consumed by the island early on. Expect the game to take 30-45 minutes if you have played it a few times. My children and I played a game with the maximum four players the other day which we lost in 30 minutes. Victory is no sure thing.


Currently Forbidden Island has no expansions but Forbidden Desert could be thought of as the prequel. On your way to the Island you crash in the desert and must survive to reach the island.


This game is now the opening gambit in any games night. The cooperative style of play allows grizzled game vets and newbies alike the chance to interact and have fun. I have used it a few times to introduce people to the new wave of Tabletop games. “This ain’t your papa’s board games son”

You can get Forbidden Island from for $17.99 which, frankly, is a steal! This should be in your game collection

As always on my Tabletop game reviews, here is Wil Wheaton playing the game I review. Why? Because its awesome to watch, that’s why.

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