Want to take a trip to the Caribbean? How about explore a cursed temple? These are not things that are lightly undertaken. But, with summer here, maybe you can get some small taste of the experience on your table. These games are perfect when you’re seeking a little summer adventure. Not only are they fun and exciting, but they don’t bog down and are short enough that you can engage in other summer activities, you know like swimming or… not dying in the jungle.
From the same designer that brought you Pandemic, Forbidden Island is a cooperative title for up to four players. You find yourself on a deserted island, filled with old ruins and mystical temples. But you don’t really have time to conduct painstaking archeology. The whole thing is sinking! You’ll need to liberate the treasures and get back to the helipad before it succumbs to the waves.
Each round, the players get four actions. They can use them to move about the board, trade cards, shore up flooded tiles, or even grab one of the treasures. To win the game, the players will need to acquire all four treasures and have everyone make it back to the helipad. If any treasure or the helipad sinks before that time, you’ve lost.
Forbidden Island is a treat to play and easily evokes an Indiana Jones style adventure. Those treasures belong in a museum! In a similar vein, Forbidden Desert takes roughly the same concept and puts it in a crash-landing where the players have to build their means of escape.
Sometimes you want to find treasure on an island that, while mystical, doesn’t have any chance of sinking under your feet. That’s where Tobago comes in. Setup is fantastic. There are three triangular(ish) boards that can go in any configuration with either side up. From there, the players put three trees, four huts, and three stone heads on the board. Wherever they want. And these aren’t mere chits. They are fully sculpted three-dimensional figures. The game looks boss.
There are four treasures to be found, but you don’t know where they are. Instead, the players place map cards down on treasures of their choice. So one map might say, “Not next to a stream.” I play it on Brown and now that narrows down the potential places that treasure might be. Then someone adds, “Within sight of a hut.” That narrows the options even more. And play continues until it can only be in on spot on the board.
From there, players can grab the treasure, distribute it based on who contributed to the map, and hope to avoid curses. The game is fantastically fun and does an excellent job of capturing the imagination. On one hand, there is a strong strategic element. Maybe you want to place a card that makes the treasure more likely to be near your figure, rather than someone else’s. But at the same time, it’s amazing to slowly determine where the treasures might be. It feels like you’re really discovering the secret location of where it’s hidden. It brings out a strong sense of adventure and discovery. And it does so in every play since the board can be set up in innumerable different configurations.
Escape: Curse of the Temple
In this cooperative title, players are explorers who need to make it out of the cursed temple before the doors shut permanently and trap you forever. To do so, the players need to go from room to room, activating magic gems. The more you activate, the easier it will ultimately be to escape. Once you feel like you’ve activated enough, you race to find the exit and try to get out. Only if everyone makes it to safety have you won.
But Escape is not so simple as taking turns and counting resources. Players get five dice and have to roll them. All in real-time. You need to roll two travel sides to explore a new room. Or perhaps a travel and a torch to enter a new room. If you get black masks, those will lock down your dice so you can’t use them. That is, unless you or someone else in your room rolls a gold mask which can unlock those dice.
The whole game is played with a soundtrack. It comes with a CD, but for those who eschew physical media, it’s easily downloaded onto your favorite smartphone or MP3 player.
Escape really gets your blood pumping. You are constantly rolling, evaluating, and re-rolling. Sometimes you feel on the cusp of activating gems and succeeding! Other times, you can almost taste victory only to roll some black masks and beg for help from your fellow explorers. The buddy system is a good idea here. For sure.
What games bring out the feeling of adventure for you? Tell us about it in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: Mark Longair | Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0
Image Credit: Gamewright Games, Rio Grande Games, Queen Games