When I first came here, the whole island seemed to vibrate slightly. And to this day, I’m not sure if that’s true. It’s such a subconscious feeling of gentle movement that you will probably get used to after a while. Fortunately, the reason why the island should vibrate may not be a mystery at all. This is because thousands of satisfied cats live on it. And when everyone starts purring, you have such a small earthquake.
Among the many furry cat friends, the fun will also take everyone who buys the board game Isle of Cats. Its author is Frank West, who published it under the logo of The City of Games with the help of a campaign on the Kickstarter server. Dragolisco decorated her with illustrations. However, the game has also found its way to the Czech tables in a complete localization, prepared by MindOK.
Even on the lid of a beautiful massive white box, cats sit everywhere, even after the name of the game. In the background we see a green island, which is a paradise for these animals and probably a hell for mice. And the players will try to save all the cats from the threat of a raid by Veto Blackhanded. Therefore, as part of the game, he prepares a small record of the island, which is a reminder of where all the events are happening. At the same time, it serves as a day counter, on the number of which five players place the figure of the villainous Veta at the beginning. There should be free space to the left and right of the island, and next to it will be a deck of discovery cards and a stack of durable basket tokens.
Under the island it is necessary to leave a place for variously shaped square pieces of copper treasures and also rare purple oshaxes. All other cats (five colors) start together in a bag of discoveries, together with pieces of golden treasures. He also prepares a supply of figurines of various colors and fish tokens. Each player chooses the color of the cats, takes two pieces of this color, once marks the order of the players on a scale on the island from top to bottom and keeps the other in front of him. However, individual participants will get one board of the boat and a durable basket for the start.
The whole game lasts five days. Fortunately, not ours, but the days in the game, which in reality last only a few minutes. At the beginning of each of them, several cats wake up, stretch and peek out of the bag to the right and left of the map of the island. In both areas, four to eight cats appear, depending on the number of participants in the game. If players draw a piece of treasure during the draw, they will place it under the map of the island instead.
Then each player gets their daily ration of twenty fish in chips. The players are moored near the island and the one who gets up early enough is not in need of a big catch. Then the players split the cards with a draft – first they choose two of the seven, then they send the rest to the neighbor and choose the other two, and finally the next. By sending, each of the participants will receive seven cards, which they will more or less choose according to their plan. However, these cards do not remain for players. It is only his private choice, from which he can pay for the fish caught.
Then the players go cat hunting. With the help of green catch cards, they can improve their speed statistics (change the order of the move) and baskets. All participants will first lay out these cards and then they will always try to catch one particular cat from the menu on the left or right, in the order in which the pieces on the island are lined up. The price for catching varies according to the zones and can be three or five fish.
To successfully capture, the player also needs one functional basket and immediately place the obtained cat on his ship. The first piece can be placed anywhere on the square squares divided on the deck into areas. However, the following tiles must follow the first one. However, cats can be stored arbitrarily rotated, they just have to respect the storage area.
At the end of each day, players can use yellow or brown cards to gain additional treasures or rare oshaxes that act as jokers for evaluation purposes. In the next rounds, before rescuing the cats, players can lay out the blue cards of the tasks they have bought and thus complete them. The public already knows the others, while his private ones are secret until he manages to meet their conditions. The tasks relate to the placement of cats in the ship.
Other days follow until the sun sets for the fifth time. Then it’s time to score, when the rats on board the ship become important. Those that did not catch cats (not overlapped) mean immediate deduction of one point. Players start collecting points mainly for families of cats, ie furry creatures of the same color that are adjacent to each other. The bigger the family, the more points. Plus points go to the players‘ pockets also from personal and public tasks and acquired golden treasures. In the end, everyone deducts five points for the section of the ship that is not completely used (covered by cats). The winner is the player with the most points in total.
Isle of Cats is actually just a jigsaw puzzle. You connect one with the other and then rake the points according to the specified conditions. But some games look like simplicity, and this is one of them. You will learn it in a moment, you will finish it in an hour and at the same time you will get a visual delicacy that works, is fun and you do not feel like you are missing anything.
The plates have different shapes and players not only try to connect them appropriately and cover the whole area, but they also have to think about keeping the same colors together. After all, it’s all about them. So it’s not about trying to fill the whole area effectively, but rather about trying to keep the open areas everywhere, and then quickly patch them at the end. Unfinished blocks bring relatively significant penalties. And just trying to find a balance between these two parts is what we enjoy.
Thanks to various types of cards and in conjunction with the draft, the game offers a fairly solid selection and control over the way for points. In addition, players must work well with resources in the form of fish, especially in combination with various price tags for catching in the left and right part of the playing area.
But it is clear that if players always have to take two when moving cards, their success depends a bit on luck. If you get three of the four cards you don’t want, you still have to take one of them. The draft is faster with two cards, but also more random.
Unfortunately, in two participants, the game slips to disappointment, especially in the moments when you draft cards as preparation before hunting cats. Exchanging sets of cards between two players has never worked well, and this is confirmed again. There are only two sets of cards spinning between players, which is not enough to keep both opponents at the top while giving them more freedom.
And what is important to remember is also a solo game, which Isle of Cats handles well. It is also good in two, just take into account the already mentioned problem when serving cards. But the higher numbers work great and they are just made for this game.
The graphics and the overall feel of the processing is absolutely famous. Not only did the pictures get a completely unique cat touch, but they will also please the wooden figures and illustrations on all other components. Text cards will also amuse a task, which with their playful approach to the text remains visually successful. The rules are clear and without unnecessary errors.
Isle of Cats is a topic close to many people, because there are many cats among us. And all of them will appreciate the novelty a drop more than the others. But that doesn’t change the fact that Isle of Cats is great fun with simple rules but deep enough gameplay. Beginners and intermediates will easily fall in love with it.
Review: Isle of Cats – a purring land
Isle of Cats will discover your inner cat in you. Just so you can satisfy yourself when you play. The game attracts your eyes right at the beginning, but fortunately it doesn't end there. The game is simple but fun and full of interesting mechanisms. Filling the ship with tokens is only the result of previous efforts and yet it is in itself a sufficient challenge. The only thing that can discourage you is dealing cards with the help of a two-player draft and the general coincidence of taking cards. Apart from these minor shortcomings, Isle of Cats does everything excellent and it will become a favorite pet of many families and player groups.