Electrifying #boardgame with Forbidden Sky: Height of Danger (@Gamewright, 2018)

COOPERATIVE GAMES HAVE A SMALL PLACE IN THE RockyMountainNavy game collection. We own several Matt Leacock titles, going back to Forbidden Island (Gamewright, 2010) and of course Pandemic (Z-Man Games, 2008) as well as the wargamer version, Pandemic: Fall of Rome (Z-Man Games, 2018). Back in 2018, I almost pulled the trigger on the then-hotness, Forbidden Sky (Gamewright, 2018) but ultimately didn’t do so. Maybe it was because of some of the mixed reviews at the time. Several weeks back I had the chance to trade on BoardGameGeek for a copy of Forbidden Sky and it arrived and made it to the gaming table this weekend.

Boy, did we miss out on a great game – but no more!

In Forbidden Sky the players are adventurers who are stranded on a strange platform in the middle of a great storm. They must explore/build the platform to complete a circuit and launch the Rocketship before they are either electrocuted to death or blown away. Game play is very typical of many cooperative games; on your turn you take up to four Actions (Move, Scout, Explore, Wire) after which you draw a number of Storm Cards based on the current Storm Intensity. Every Adventurer has a special skill and a variable amount of Health and Rope. Truth be told, there is little exciting in the game play.

Instead, the tension builds as your team literally builds the platform. Along the way you must put together the Launch Platform and a requisite number of Large and Small Capacitors and Lightning Rods all connected by Wires. Not only do you have to have the right components, but they must be connected in a proper circuit. Forbidden Sky really is the ultimate hotwire game!

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Courtesy Gamewright

The combination of puzzle and circuit building sets Forbidden Sky apart from the other Forbidden titles and totally distinguishes it from the Pandemic series. The need to Explore (build) the platform and Wire it all together is challenging, but the rewards at the end is much more tangible than the ‘save the world’ of Pandemic or ‘whew, we made it’ of Forbidden Island.

Most importantly, RockyMountainNavy T, my Autism Spectrum boy who is working towards an Electrical Apprenticeship, totally fell in love with the game. He could not say it, but I can tell the game spoke to him. This game, themed around electricity, really is about him. Can he puzzle through a problem, build the circuit, and complete the job?

Although we lost our first game, RockyMountainNavy T was totally gushing about it. He studied all the Adventurers and looked through all the tiles and even put together a few circuits based on the different Blueprint Cards (challenge levels). He is very anxious to get this game to the table again, and again. I for one will be very happy to indulge him because playing games together and having an enjoyable time is ultimately what our hobby is about. Best of all, its good for the family.

Forbidden Sky has jumped to the top of the Saturday Game Night line up not because its a good game (it is), but it is a game that the entire RockyMountainNavy family enjoys together.

Forbidden Island makes a great Father’s Day present…from this Dad to the family.

#FamilyFriday – 2019 Golden Geek #Boardgame Challenge Update – Forbidden Island (@Gamewright, 2010)

THE RECOMMENDED AGE ON THE BOX FOR FORBIDDEN ISLAND (Gamewright, 2010) is 10+. That is not an age range that I usually associate with children’s games, yet it is the category that Forbidden Island won in the 2010 Golden Geek Awards. As part of my 2019 Golden Geek Boardgame Challenge we recently played the game and took a new measure of the title.

These days Forbidden Island sits on our shelf of shame, unplayed and surpassed another cooperative game title, Pandemic (Z-Man Games, 2008). In some ways that is very sad as both games are by Matt Leacock, the godfather of cooperative games, and both are good at what they do. Interestingly, I see that Pandemic is rated for ages 8+, yet I don’t think anybody calls Pandemic a children’s game. So why does Forbidden Island not get more love at our gaming table?

Forbidden Island was the first cooperative game that reached the RockyMountainNavy house. It is not a bad game, but in this house a cooperative game needs to build a strong narrative for it to reach our gaming table more often. Alas, this is a weakness of Forbidden Island. Of the several cooperative games in the RMN collection, Pandemic and Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game (Fantasy Flight Games, 2008) are well regarded, and played more often, because of the highly dramatic story that plays out in the game. Other cooperative games, like Forbidden Island or Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier Game (Mattel, 2016) are more like puzzles with a thin story behind the game mechanics. They aren’t bad games, just not dramatic enough. For us, it is the thought (expectation?) of a great narrative that brings certain cooperative games to the table.

RockyMountainNavy Jr. recently expressed an interest in Forbidden Sky (Gamewright, 2018). The game is the third in the Forbidden Island/Desert/Sky trilogy and claims to carry the narrative of the first two games forward. Not owning or playing Forbidden Desert I cannot comment on the carried-narrative portion. Maybe, just maybe, there is something to this. The question will be is the lure of carried-narrative enought to get a new game, much less two older ones, to the gaming table?


Feature image courtesy Gamewright