In Forbidden Island, you play as a cooperative team. Your goal is to collect all the four treasure items hidden on the sinking island: the Earth stone, the Crystal of Fire, the Ocean's Chalice, and the Statue of the Wind. If someone from your team acquires 4 of one treasure card in their hand they must then go to the treasures lair to collect it. When your team have secured all four treasures you all make a desperate helicopter escape via Fools Landing.
This game is in a cooperative game series with Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Sky. The game is for 2 to 4 players.
Each player has three actions which they may take on their turn. If it is advantageous, a player may choose to take fewer than three actions. After taking their actions players draw two cards from the treasure card deck. After resolving any Waters Rise cards they then draw the appropriate number of cards from the flood card deck, according to the current water level. It is then the next player's turn.
The game is won by the players capturing all four of the treasures and returning to the Fools' Landing tile. Once all pawns are on that tile someone can play a Helicopter Lift card to win the game, regardless of whose turn it is or what phase of play it is.
The game is lost immediately:
- if Fools' Landing sinks at any point, or
- if both tiles for a treasure that has not yet been captured sink, or
- if a tile with a pawn on it sinks and that pawn cannot be rescued, or
- if the Waters Rise to the tenth water mark (indicated on the water meter with a red skull)
Adjacent here means tiles sharing an edge. tiles that touch only at corners are not considered to be adjacent.
Move: Any player may move to an adjacent tile
Shore Up: Any player may flip one adjacent flooded tile (or the tile they are on if it is flooded) to its unflooded side.
Give Card: Any player may give any card to another player on the same tile. You may only give regular treasure cards, not special action cards. You also cannot take a card from another player during your turn.
Capture Treasure: If a player has four matching treasure cards, and is on a tile with the same matching symbol, they may capture that treasure. The player discards the four matching cards and matching treasure is taken from the board into the player's play area. The team is now one step closer to winning the game!
Each player plays a different role on the expedition team. Depending on their role they have abilities that make it easier to win the game. A role is assigned randomly to each player at the start of each game.
Diver: (Black) May move through flooded or sunk tiles for one action, but must end their movement on a tile. (ie. not in a sunk tile square) Note this movement is still only through adjacent tiles, and it does not allow moving through spaces where there was never a tile, such as the open ocean around the island, or any holes in the initial setup, such as the lava in the volcano island setup.
Engineer: (Red) May shore up two tiles in a single action, provided they can reach both flooded tiles normally.
Explorer: (Green) Tiles that touch at corners only are considered to be adjacent for the explorer. Thus they may both move and shore up tiles diagonally.
Messenger: (White) May give treasures to any player, regardless of where their pawns are.
Navigator: (Yellow) May move another player's pawn up to two adjacent tiles for a single action.
Pilot: (Blue) May move to any tile, not just adjacent tiles but only once per turn.
There are four treasure cards with five copies of each type: the Earth stone, the Crystal of Fire, the Ocean's Chalice, and the Statue of the Wind; which match the four treasures the team needs to find. There are also five special action cards, two sandbags and three helicopter lifts. Finally there are three Waters Rise cards, for a total of 28 cards in the treasure deck.
The Hand Limit is 5 cards. Immediately after a player has more than 5 cards, the player must discard down to 5 cards, even if it not on his/her turn.
Special action cards can be played at any time, whether it is that player's turn or not. Indeed it is often necessary to play a special action card during another player's turn to win the game. Also, if required to discard, a player may instead immediately play a special action card instead of discarding.
Sandbags: When played allows the player to shore up any flooded tile anywhere on the island.
Helicopter Lift: When played during the bulk of the game it allows a player to move any number of pawns from a single tile to any other tile on the board. Note the start and end tiles must be the same for all pawns moved, but you need not move all pawns from the start tile. The Helicopter Lift card is also necessary at the end of the game in order to win, in which case it lifts all players off of the sinking island with their treasures, but only if all pawns are on the "Fool's Landing" tile.
Waters Rise: This card does not go into the players hand but is immediately discarded. The water level is then increased to the next water mark (possibly increasing the number of flood cards to be drawn) and any cards in the flood card discard pile are shuffled and placed on top of the discard deck.
The implementation provides a limited Undo feature. The undo is provided for 'moves' only and only if another player has not played a special action card (Sandbags or Helicopter Lift).
ELO is awarded for winning based on a fictitious game opponent with an experience level determined by the Difficulty level of the game and the Number of Players.
The following table provides the reference values:
- 2-players => 1350
- 3-players => 1400
- 4-players => 1450
- 2-players => 1550
- 3-players => 1600
- 4-players => 1650
- 2-players => 1750
- 3-players => 1800
- 4-players => 1850
- 2-players => 1950
- 3-players => 2200
- 4-players => 2500