Game Play / Rules / Complexity
Island tiles are laid out in a defined patter. Players are randomly assigned a role and place their colored pawn on the tile with the matching color. (The pilot, for example, starts on Fools’ Landing, since that’s where the helicopter lands.) Each player gets two treasure cards which are placed face-up on the table in front of them. The water level is set to the desired difficulty level. Finally the top six cards from the flood deck are drawn and the matching island tiles are flooded (turned over).
Let me talk about those two decks briefly. The treasure cards are mostly good. They contain cards that match the four relics that you’re searching for. Getting a set of four matching cards allows you to claim the relic at one of the two temples on the island. The treasure deck also includes cards that allow you to keep an island tile from sinking, or a helicopter card that allows you to quickly move around the island without using an action. There are also several “Waters Rise” cards! They’re the bad news. Back to that in a moment.
On your turn you can do one of several things. You can move, you can give a treasure card to another player who shares your location, or you can shore up a part of the island that has flooded. You can repeat actions if you want. At the end of your turn you pull two treasure cards from the deck, hoping to complete a set of four matching cards. Trading in four matching treasure cards (another one of your possible actions) gives you the icon for that treasure, and you’re one step closer to winning the game. You can only trade in sets on one of two special temple island tiles though.
After you have pulled your treasure cards you must then draw flood cards. That’s what makes the island so treacherous! Parts of the island that have already flooded can sink, forever lost. Parts of the island that are still dry can get flooded. By the end of the game half (or more!) of the island has disappeared, making travel more challenging.
If you are on a flooded tile that sinks with no way to move to a safe place, you die, and the game is over.
There are two places for each treasure (eight altogether) to turn in your set of four treasure cards. Lose both of them before you cash in your cards, and you lose.
If “Fools’ Landing” sinks, you lose the game.
If the water meter rises to the skull icon, you lose the game.
See how many ways there are to lose the game? Isn’t that fun? 😈
The flood deck is scary, but remember earlier I mentioned the three “Waters Rise” cards…those are the real killer. When you pull one of those, you get to shuffle the discarded flood deck cards and put them on top, where they will get drawn again. You also move the water gauge up a notch, which gradually increases the number of flood cards that you draw.