Robinson Crusoe Board Game Review

As soon as you stepped onto the deck of your ship and saw the darkening clouds on the horizon, you knew you were in trouble. High winds, rain falling so hard it stings, crackling lightning – these are the last moments you remember from the sinking. Now you’re rushed to the beach of an unknown island, with nothing but your mind, some debris, a few surviving teammates, and some bananas to help you survive. Can you build up your defenses, find enough food to last the whole season, and get to safety? These are the challenges that are offered to you Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Islanda cooperative board game published by Portal Games.

A two-player game of Robinson Crusoe in progress.

How to play Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is a cooperative worker placement game for one to four players, designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek. Player Robinson Crusoe, players select one of seven different scenarios provided in the box and attempt to complete its requirements before a character dies or special mission failure criteria are met. Each player chooses a character and collects their character card (which tracks their health and lists several special abilities the character possesses) and two tokens representing their character, then they adventure.

In a typical worker placement game, there is much more to accomplish on the island than they have tokens to assign. You can build useful tools to help you, you can build your camp to help you survive against the elements, you can increase your weapon skills to help you hunt animals for food and pelts, explore the island, and more. One of the most innovative designs in this game is the idea of ​​safe or risky actions. If you place two pawns on a workspace, that task automatically succeeds (symbolizing the time and people power it takes to accomplish this task), but if you place only one pawn on a workspace, you must roll dice to see if you succeed, if you go on an adventure, and if you get hurt in the task. This balance of risk and reward is perfectly tied to the limited action space available to each player, and fits perfectly with the tone and theme of the game.

Robinson Crusoe's explorer is ready to get out and see what this land holds
Robinson Crusoe’s explorer is ready to get out and see what this land holds

How difficult is Robinson Crusoe?

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island can be a truly challenging experience for players, earning its place as one of the hardest co-op games to beat alongside the mainstays Pandemic. Although your characters have special abilities, using these abilities requires the expenditure of rare inspiration points. And there is always something for you. At the start of each turn after the first, players draw a card from the event deck and must deal with its (usually disastrous) consequences. Then that card is placed on a mini-track where – if not assigned workers to help fix the problem – it hurts the players again. At the end of each turn, players must eat (otherwise they take damage), have suitable shelter from storms (otherwise they take damage), and burn wood for a fire if it is cold (otherwise they take damage). damage). As you can see, it’s an airtight race to stock up well and work towards achieving the specific goal of your scenario.

What types of scenarios are in Robinson Crusoe?

In the latest edition of Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, there are seven distinct scenarios for players to play. These aren’t connected in any way, so you don’t need to complete scenario three before moving on to scenario four. The first scenario is quite simple: you’ve been shipwrecked and need to store a ton of wood (and set it on fire) in one of the last three game turns, to create a bonfire that will be seen by passing ships to secure your rescue. But from there, the scenarios blossom in complexity and theme, from a scenario on an island full of cannibals out to eat you, to a scenario called “Swiss Family Robinson” where you’ve come to terms with the fact that you’ll never leave the island, and it’s time to build a family and a sustainable life from there. The final storyline even sees players as members of a film crew trying to find footage of the famous King Kong!

Explore Robinson Crusoe's Modular Map
Explore Robinson Crusoe’s Modular Map

What are our final thoughts on Robinson Crusoe?

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is not for the faint of heart. The rules are quite complex when you first dive, but there is a stellar rulebook and video tutorials online to help you master the game. And once you understand the overall flow of Robinson Crusoe, the game proceeds rather quickly. And although, as mentioned above, it is quite difficult, this difficulty is what makes this game so exciting. You wouldn’t want this game to be any easier, because that’s where a lot of the narrative comes through. And this game is perfectly married to its narrative and theme, really making you feel like you’re dragging it to a deserted island, trying to gather enough food to survive another month.

Should I buy Robinson Crusoe?

If you’re a fan of co-op games with a real challenge behind them, and love complex yet rewarding rulesets, you should definitely check this out. But, if you are looking for a lighter and easier experience, you would be better served with a lighter worker placement game Where a lighter co-op experience.

The copy of Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island used in the creation of this review was provided by the publisher.