My Island from Reiner Knizia, published by Kosmos Games is a campaign game for 2 to 4 players, that sees you arriving at an unknown island and your goal is explore the island and find out what secrets it holds. Over 8 chapters, 24 games your game will evolve and change. But can the game hold your attention for 24 games? That's probably the real test. Although there is the eternal game, which you can play again and again, but we won't be covering that in this review. (All images are from game 1 and show no further chapter or episode content)
Frosthaven draws you in with its character creation and world building, pandemic season 1 carries you through its story with twist and turns that are unexpected. Seafall, yeah we won't talk about Seafall. My City, took a polyominoe game and turned it into this slow progression game that saw your city develop overtime, essentially industrialisation, that for me was held by a simple rule of not being able to cross the river, which made so many decisions at time painstakingly tough, whilst a simple ruleset carried you through the experience. My island is what many consider to be a natual sequel to My City.
In My Island, you'll be playing over a number of rounds until either everyone has passed or you've reached the end of the deck. And the campaign is broken into 8 chapters, with each chapter consisting of 3 episodes (games).
Gameplay is relatively simple, and has you placing the corresponding tile as draw from the central deck of cards, onto your player board. Everyone will do this at the same time, minimising down time. Although at two player, we played a very similar pace, with me often being the slower! Importantly, your first tile must cover at least one beach tile, and every subsequent tile must be placed so that at least one side is adjacent to a matching symbol. E.g. a wall to a wall. You can always choose to pass on placing a tile, but you'll lose a point.
You'll earn points, for example for placing a house on a beach and lose a point at the end of the episode for each beach space on your board.
And that's pretty much the core game play. I think that might be where my first issue is, but we'll come back to that, lets cover the campaign, no spoilers of course!
Charterstone takes you on a journey that has your village progress over 12 games, and it felt like every game brought a sense of progressive, which was supported by a fantastic helpful community fostered by the published when it came to rule queries. Pandemic legacy season 1 was a rollercoaster that was held together by a solid ruleset, that we never needed to seek clarification on. And Rise of Queensdale was essentially a race to 80 points, in slow incremental progression steps, that felt like it overstayed its welcome, not helped by the number of rules we needed to clarify, for which there was no community or publisher/designer help.
My island, falls into a very similar boat, there's a real sense of "oh new stuff" at the start of a chapter, that isn't always a fundamental change, followed by a slow incremental progression in the 3 episodes of that chapter and at times it felt like that did more harm than good. As 3 games that were essentially the same game, with minor tweaks, didn't feel rewarding or that progression had been made. And equally some elements that were only around for 3 games, could have definitely stayed longer! Whilst others, I couldn't wait for them to disappear. There were a few too many elements that were somewhat random. But it's the lack of rule clarity and a sense of frustration you get from reading the games forums from very similar questions being asked with very little definitive answers apart from there's an official FAQ coming soon. There's fan made FAQs based on their interpretation, but largely silence from the designer and publisher, which is really disappointing, and that really impacted our experience of Rise of Queensdale and the same goes here. There were multiple times where we weren't sure. Does that mean that rule goes, do we now do that and that? And we got a sense that the board game community didn't know either, so we went with well that seems most common sense and everyone will play the same way.
Now returning to the core gameplay, that gameplay, which you'll be basically following for 24 games with twists and turns. My City had you carefully constructing and prevented you from placing tiles across the river. My Island tries to replicate that with its one side must be adjacent rule. But it's not the same, and honestly, I didn't crave more of that gameplay. My city had me struggling at times with where I was going to place and debating how to construct a city, with that restriction. My Island's restriction doesn't feel like one, rather its more of a frustation when you realise you physically can't place because there are no matching icons, rather than a shape or size restriction that you may have found in My City, here my passes where often, oh I can't place that and have it match.
As you know I rate games on a
- Buy or play
- Wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ
For me this is a wait for sale or play if you enjoyed My City. This isn't one I can see everyone liking, if you enjoyed My City you'll probably enjoy my Island. But I enjoyed My City more, and My Island feels like a revision, like someone went "ohh lets rework this bit and this bit", essentially a more of the same with a fresh lick of paint, like a video game added a new world for you to explore. However, if you're expecting a story or a narrative to carry you through, there's barely one here, it's loosely woven into the chapters but barely translated across to a sense of thematic gameplay.
And if you've not played either My City of My Island, honestly I'd play My City first, if you're one for needing rule clarifications, I'd wait on My Island until the official FAQ is released. Although there are plenty of other great campaign games you could try instead! For my Legacy of Yu, a solo campaign has been one of my highlights of the year! And if you haven't tried Charterstone, you may want to explore that world too.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of My Island by the publisher for review, I wasn't paid for this content, all thoughts are my own.