Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island – A Cooperative Game Filled with Euro Game Goodness

Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island - A cooperative game filled with Euro goodness

Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island is a cooperative, worker-placement game that I’d had my eye on for over a year. When it finally released in the U.S. in August 2013, we were one of the few stores to get the full quantity we preordered. Probably because I preordered it so early.

In Robinson Crusoe, there are so many things you can do and that you need to do, and never enough time to do everything, which provides that anxious feeling you only get in the best Euro games. Additionally, the worker-placement mechanics and the lack of any obvious course of play each round eliminate much of the possibility of the bossy-player syndrome that can plague cooperative games.

Robinson Crusoe character sheets

Robinson Crusoe character sheets

Each player takes on the role of a castaway crew member stranded on a deserted, well mostly, and cursed – most definitely – island. You can play the Carpenter, Cook, Explorer or Soldier (flip the character card over for the opposite gender). The famous castaway’s friend, Friday, and a hunting dog, are also available to help you, particularly in one- and two-player games. You’ll need them then, believe me!

Robinson Crusoe event card Rain

Robinson Crusoe sample event card: Rain

Each round one or more events or threats present themselves, a morale check is performed with requisite reward or penalty to the first player that round, the castaways receive the resources available at their encampment, and then begin making decisions about what actions each will take.

Players each have two workers they can deploy. Possible actions include: deal with a current threat, go hunting, build an invention into an item, gather resources, explore the island, arrange the camp, or rest. Hunting always requires two workers, while building, gathering resources and exploring can potentially be accomplished alone (with risk of injury, event and/or failure), but will usually automatically succeed when you have help. The events you encounter when you go off on your own really add to the story and sense of adventure, but are almost always bad.

Robinson Crusoe play order

Robinson Crusoe phase order

After the planning phase, players then carry out their actions in the order specified on the board: 1) address threat, 2) hunt, 3) build, 4) gather resources, 5) explore, 6) arrange camp, 7) rest. Then, depending on the round number and the current scenario, weather dice are rolled.

Robinson Crusoe sample scenario

Robinson Crusoe sample scenario

If the crew does not have adequate shelter and supplies to deal with the weather or animal attack, they suffer penalties in terms of lost resources and health. The round ends with nightfall at which time players eat and rest in their shelter or suffer from hunger and/or exposure, again in terms of health points. The next round begins with a new event.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island comes with six different scenarios. Each scenario presents a new challenge and objective, often with a few setup modifications, and a round tracker that also provides specifics regarding weather conditions. Each game of Robinson Crusoe is different. Even if you play the same scenario repeatedly, the island layout will alter, the hardships will be different, when and what inventions you can make will differ, the adventures you encounter will vary, and the weather conditions and animal attacks will fluctuate. Change scenarios and your goals and obstacles will be different, too. In other words, in spite of having only six scenarios, Robinson Crusoe has got loads of replayability.

Having now played all six scenarios, I can unequivocally say Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island was totally worth the wait. The actual play is simple and intuitive, much more so than the poorly organized rulebook would have you believe. If you can get someone to teach you (Here Be Books & Games will be happy to), you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. If not, then let me refer you to the Comprehensive FAQ on Board Game Geek. While you’re there (in the Files section for Robinson Crusoe), you can also grab more scenarios, tuckboxes and all kinds of other goodies.

A truly excellent cooperative adventure awaits you in a box labeled Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island supports 1 to 4 players ages 14 and up and plays in an hour and a half to two hours. We have a copy in our Demo Game Library, so we can teach you how to play!