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The Fog: Escape from Paradise

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Robert Muller-Reinwarth's The FOG: Escape from Paradise is a game that publishers Xollox have had in the works for some time. Early versions have been exhibited at International Spieltage (Essen) for three years. Now, at last, the game is scheduled to arrive on Kickstarter...

Tho' The FOG isn't a board game version of the classic, similarly titled, John Carpenter horror movie, there's a nonetheless comparable theme. The game is set on an island where a mysterious wall of Fog is steadily approaching. Those who are swallowed up by the Fog are never seen again. Players are trying, therefore, to get their islanders to safety (escaping ships) to save them from this existential threat.

Shown here on Board's Eye View is a 1-4 player prototype of the upcoming game but the final deluxe version is expected to take up to six players in addition to having a solitaire mode. The game is set up by randomly placing out islander tokens and obstacles in the numbers indicated for each row. Players then take turns 'drafting' the islanders by placing a marker disc beneath an islander. Once all the islanders have been drafted, the game proper begins...

On your turn, you'll have seven movement points to spend in moving any of your islanders. A simple Run action (movement to an adjacent space) costs 1 movement point (MP). A Push action pushes all the islanders in a straight line and costs 3 MP. Squeeze (4 MP) lets your islander squeeze between obstructed spaces in the row ahead. Swap (3 MP) allows you to switch position with an adjacent islander. Jump (3 MP) allows a draughts/checkers move to the other side of another islander. Cross (4 MP) allows the islander to move to any space on the other side of an obstacle. In addition, each islander has a 'specialism' that gives them a discount on the movement point cost of a specific action; so, for example, an islander with the Cross icon can take that action at a cost of only 2 MP rather than the usual 4 MP. Each round, after all the players have used their movement points, the Fog advances. Any islanders that are overtaken by the Fog (represented in the game by an elevated wall that advances each round) are considered 'lost': the tokens are flipped and they'll score negative points at the end of the game.

The Fog: Escape from Paradise is an optimisation puzzle as players try to maximise the impact of their all-too-limited movement points. There can be a distinct 'take that' element as players can effectively block each other's islanders in or, at least, make it difficult and relatively 'expensive' to scramble to relative safety. You'll almost certainly find you'll need to sacrifice some of your islanders to the relentlessly advancing Fog in order to secure the point-scoring bonuses of getting other of your islanders onto the ships that match their colour.

There's a bit of iconography to recognise but that's quickly mastered and the rules give clear illustrations of each movement type. There are optional rules too for stepping up the challenge - including sand timers that add urgency to every turn: you have to complete all your movement actions before all the sand runs through and you lose any unspent movement points. This is just what you need if any of the players are prone to AP (analysis paralysis)! We felt that the solitaire version could easily be adapted to offer the option of playing this game as a fully cooperative puzzler. We're expecting to see more options added as stretch goals in the KS campaign which you can check out for yourself by clicking here.

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