The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Robinson Crusoe

Traded for this as yet another solitaire (and co-op, I suppose), based on its reviews. These are initial thoughts based on a single game (controlling 3 players, not using the solo rules, but since its an open info co-op, that’s fine).

Like most coops, you have a bad (ish) event, then some good events. In the case of Robinson Crusoe, you get a bad event, gather your (automatic) resources, then players can take their actions. Each player gets 2 actions, but for most actions if you only spend a single action you have a chance for failure. You roll three dice. One of which shows success or failure (but if you fail, you get ‘determination’ tokens, which you can spend for re-rolls and other advantages). One shows if you get wounded or not, and one shows if you get an adventure — another random event which isn’t necessarily bad, but I think averages more bad than good.

There’s no order to taking actions, players just negotiate their setup until everyone is happy and then you resolve everything. Then there’s some end of turn checks (Do you have enough food? Shelter? Etc) and you do it again until you’ve completed the scenario, run of time, or had a player die.

Theme — Good, with several clever ideas. As I mentioned in my recent thoughts on Magic Realm,

Some scenario games [mix core events and rare events] by having generic cards in the game and having the scenario define the meaning

Robinson Crusoe does this. The event deck has ‘book’ icons which are scenario defined (in the first scenario — no effect). In addition to the “one typically bad effect per turn” random event, you have adventure cards which do random things but sometimes they set up an effect then go into the event deck and when they resolve the effect you’ve set up triggers. Call them foreshadowing or foreboding. “Oh, you just ate some wild berries? I’m sure you won’t be plagued with stomach issues in the near future.” Or “Oh, you think you saw something moving through the forest? I’m sure a tiger won’t randomly attack in a while.”

This is straight out of Hitchcock’s playbook. As the master said, if you have an explosion the audience jumps, but if you show them the explosives underneath the table, a five minute dinner conversation will be amazingly tense. Robinson Crusoe shows you (the player) the explosives, then shuffles them into the deck. You may be able to win before they show up. You may not. And these cards don’t make the event deck thicker: they do not count when drawn. This increases variability, as you could have a bunch of foreshadowed bad events hit at once.

I’m OK with that, I think.

There are six or seven scenarios (not counting expansions/online ones) and you start with different inventions you can build each time, and of course the event decks are much bigger than you’ll use in a given game, so I think replayability will be fine, although I’m not sure how much luck there is. You could get a bunch of “Good” adventures or “easy” hunts, or really hard ones. Again, as an experience I think I’m ok with that. It would be annoying in a competitive game.

Nice components. The rules are a bit spotty (IMO) and took a while to figure out all the components.

Would I play this co-op? Perhaps. I think this would be very prone to a single driver, so for now this will probably just stay at home unless I get a group that really wants to play a co-op.

A note on difficulty — I was surprised that I won my first game as this has a fierce reputation. After checking a few rules I realized I’d earned the dreaded commissioner’s asterisk on my achievement. It’s two wounds per missing food. (I realized this while playing Scenario 2, which I lost even without my rules screw up). This is apparently quite difficult. Going to go with 3 players plus the dog attempt at scenario 1 again.

Very early rating — Enthusiastic (as a solo).

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Written by taogaming

December 23, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Posted in Reviews

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