Updated: Oct 24
Designed by Thyyen Ta, The Lost Island is a tile laying exploration game using a modified roll & move mechanic.
The players each roll two dice, one of which determines how far they can move while the other customised die specifies the action that the player can take. This can involve further movement, 'mining' for treasure cards, drawing and laying out another map tile, or attacking or stealing from another player. Once more map tiles have come out, players are likely to have quite a lot of choice over how they use their movement roll, so they are likely also to get an action related to the spot to which they move. This gives players more agency over their actions than in most conventional roll & move games.
Ultimately, players are competing to accumulate the most wealth, so they'll be trying to land on treasure chest spaces and spots that allow them to gather more treasure items. The treasure items can be made more valuable by fashioning them into jewellery, and sets of three different jewellery items are worth more points and, crucially, are immune from theft or 'forced trade'.
The Lost Island may have cute Disney-like princesses on the character cards but, don't be fooled, it's quite a competitive 'take that' game. Up to half the possible action die rolls could involve either an attack or a 'forced trade' (which is more likely to mean an outright theft). In addition, some spots launch 'forced trades' or attacks, and attacks are automatically triggered whenever a player lands on the same spot as another player. Attacks are resolved simply by comparing dice rolls but the odds always favour the attacker because they get +1 to their roll. This is a system that inevitably rewards aggressive play. The winner takes either 3 coins or a mining card from the loser.
This all makes for a game with some quite wild swings of fortune. There are single-use unique individual player powers, event cards which come into play each round and individual hidden personal objective cards that a player has to complete before the game ends. Even if they have the most wealth, players automatically lose if they haven't satisfied their own personal objective. The end-game condition is again set randomly by a card drawn at the start of the game but it's made known to all players. In practise you'll find, therefore, that players will be each trying to satisfy the conditions for their own personal objective and then hurrying to advance the end-game condition in the hope that rivals will not yet have met their own personal objectives.
The Lost Island makes for an entertaining family game. It caters for 2–5 players and you can usually expect to finish a game in around 30 minutes. The roll & move mechanic will already be familiar to even quite young players so the game is easy to learn, yet it's a step up from the simpler children's games they may have played before. The only limitation on quite young players joining in is that the objective and event cards involve quite a lot of text.