Robinson Crusoe – review

We have heard the legend about the oh-so-hard Robinson Crusoe game. We’ve heard stories, we saw the reviews, looked at millions of pictures, read a tonne of things… and then, one rainy day, we popped in to Rules of Play in Cardiff and stood there for about 45 minutes, deciding. It wasn’t the time to buy a new game, we just got two new ones and backed some Kickstarters. But we had a crap weekend, so — that’s enough of an excuse. So we had Islebound in one hand, Roll Player in the other, Wasteland Delivery Express in third and pointing at Anachrony with fourth. We ended up buying Robinson Crusoe, because we needed a challenge.

We opened the box, and were overwhelmed with the amount of tokens. But, hey – BANANA TOKENS? That’s like the second best type of tokens – right after cheese tokens (let me know if you know where to get them). We put the stickers on, and had a look at the artwork.

I do love those journal-like sketches. On the main board you can find little notes, as if found in an abandoned notebook. I have chosen to be the Carpenter, because of my love for arts an crafts. And her cool clothes. That’s what I would like to look like, if I’m ever deserted on an island. That, or those lucky girls from lost, with a life long supply of make-up and shavers.

Anyway, so what’s that all about. There are different scenarios, each harder than the other. So it’s really hard to say ‘what it is about’. You walk around, uncover tiles, find things, fall into traps, be bitten by snakes and other animals… Basically, lot of bad stuff happens. Whether you explore, build or gather resources, you roll the dice and find out, if you 1. succeeded, 2. got injured, 3. encountered something interesting (which will most probably come around in the future, bearing additional effects of your decision).

Sometimes a volcano explodes, destroying the island you are on, sometimes the fog covers everything making searching for stuff EVEN harder. But, you know, sometimes they throw you a dog in, to help you out, or Friday – if you play with 2 players. But more often than not, something bad happens to you. There are times, however, when you see the light (at the end of the tunnel?)

You have a number of rounds to survive and an additional objective, like building a boat or making a fire big enough, so the passing by boat can see it. To be fair, I can see how this game may be hard for 2 players, which was the way we played it for the first time and lost. But then we had a 4 player game, followed by a 3 player game, and we won both.

I think, after playing Ghost Stories several times, the bar is set up really high. This is not the easiest game, but it’s also not relentlessly crushing (like watching the Revenant). Which is good! It is challenging, maybe we were just lucky with cards, and rolls, we hardly ever failed… but we love the theme, and we are yet to play the King Kong scenario. Set up a suitable soundtrack, like the sounds of a jungle, or a Jumanji drums… and try it if you have a chance.

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