Last Saturday night saw Isle of Skye hit the table.
For those not yet familiar with this little beauty, the aim of the game is to score points across 5 or 6 rounds by building your Isle, in a way which best follows the scoring goals. The goals change from game to game – you’re always working on 4 goals, and score them progressively throughout the rounds.
This scored me plenty of points for 3 sets of brochs (towers), lighthouses and farms (goal B – 5 points for each set) but I underachieved on the other goals (due to a chronic lack of cows) and came 2nd.
In this game, each player chooses 3 tiles (blind draw) from the bag, then selects 2 to keep. You must be able to place tiles to keep them. Water, mountains and pastures must match edges to be placed. Roads are desirable to match if possible – you usually gain extra income or points if you can manage to connect them.
The tricky part is that each player gets to purchase one other tile per round, from another player. The selling player sets the price, but ‘protecting’ your most desirable tiles consumes income. Get the price right, and you’ll keep your tile to add to your Isle. Get it wrong, and you’ll lose the tile … but be cashed up to buy from someone else (either now, or next round).
This ‘auction’ mechanism means that you’ll end up with 3, 2, or 1 tiles to build onto your Isle each round. Or, if you’re rather unlucky, zero! That’s not as bad as it may sound though, because if you keep zero tiles, you’re likely to have buckets of cash instead.
The game is well balanced – we played with 5 players, including 3 new players, and the scores were close – 69 for the winner, 63, 59, 51 and 40 in last place.
Thoughts from the family
Miss 13 approves of this game – the Isle building is a good puzzle, and buying someone else’s favoured tile is even better.
Best thing about this game
It is great fun building your own little Isle of Skye. The tiles look great – who doesn’t like cartoon highland cows?! The auction mechanic works well and has a sensible limit because you’re restricted to buying 1 tile.
A huge variety of goals and tiles means that you’ll never build the same Isle twice.
Worst thing about this game
Some of the scoring goals (e.g. 3 points for each set of at least 3 tiles in a vertical column) feel arbitrary.