Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island is a cooperative playable game in which we get stranded on an unknown island, far from civilization. A struggle for bare survival lies ahead.


To survive, we must set out quickly to explore the island, gather food, and build equipment and shelter. With all sorts of dangers lurking in front of us, we have to be on our guard, but still take risks. The game Robinson Crusoe is by author Ignacy Trzewiczek, whom we already like from games 51st State, Imperial Settlers and Detective know. Its games are published by the Polish publisher Portal Games and localized by Pegasus.

“An island full of adventure and mystery awaits you!

You are stranded on a desert island and hope to be rescued. But first you have to ensure your very survival. To do this, explore the island, look for food and build a shelter to be protected from rain, cold and wind. Craft items to make your life easier and build weapons to face the dangers of the island.

And always be prepared for anything, because events will precipitate ... ”

Teaser for Robinson Crusoe, Adventure on the Cursed Island

A game with scenarios and a story

At the moment I'm very much into games that tell stories while playing, i.e. contain something like scenarios. Robinson Crusoe is a well-known representative of such games, a classic that is often recommended by other board players.

Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

It is not only playable cooperatively, but also alone, which was one of the main reasons for my purchase decision. When I finally bought and built a suitable inlay that kept all the game material in check, I was finally able to start.

Island life on a clear game board

The game board is clearly laid out and graphically themed. You have everything that happens on the island at a glance.

The design makes it easy for the player to know exactly where and what is going on. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck
The island parts are stored here. At the beginning of scenario 1, the adventurers only know a small part of the island. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck
Above are the box for the inventory and the scales for the shelter with the strength of the roof and palisade, as well as the strength of the weapons. Underneath there is plenty of space for the available equipment and weapons. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck
The other required material, the scenario description and the playerboards, are placed next to the game board. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck
All in all, it takes up a lot of space on the table. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

Cumbersome set of rules

The structure of the game is still understandable and simple. But after that, when reading the instructions, it is difficult to see a common thread. It feels like parts of the game are explained all over the place, but not in connection with the phases or actions. This makes it difficult to keep the rules in mind or it takes time to look up something. It's easy to feel slain. It is recommended to use rule videos and playthroughs on YouTube to get a good first feeling for the game.

Rapid completion of the phases

As soon as you know it, the course of the game is fairly smooth. A bar at the top of the game board shows the order of the phases of a round.

We are currently in phase 1 of the round. That means we draw an event card. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

A player help supports the process. The icons can be found in the places on the board that are used for the individual phases, so that you can comfortably move along the phase bar. That has been resolved well.

After the event card has been resolved in phase 1, the morale track is checked and the appropriate resolution tokens are taken or put away. Then resources are taken from the part of the island map we are on.

The actions

The section for the heart of the game, the Actions, is at the bottom of the game board. First, all pieces are assigned, the resources are added, and then they are dealt with in a fixed order from left to right.

First of all, we have the opportunity to render impending disaster harmless at an early stage, before it occurs in one of the next event phases. Each round a new card is added and the previous cards are pushed on. As soon as a card is thrown off the board in this way, an event takes effect immediately.

Fortunately, the first card in the game does not cause any harm, but we would get food if we assigned one of our adventurers to the task. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck
As soon as there is a card here, we can go hunting with two action markers and, if we succeed, can receive food and fur. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck
Building, collecting resources or exploring: As soon as an action is not carried out with two action discs, the dice must roll. These show whether the adventurer has suffered a wound, whether the action was successful and whether something special happened that would require us to draw a card. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck
Adventurers are also allowed to work on their motivation or heal themselves for health. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

What you have to make sure that all resources and tools received in the action phase are only available after the phase. Small things must also be taken into account with certain tiles, as well as with cards drawn. Certain types of cards or tiles have different properties in each scenario.

A lot can happen at the end of the day

The last two phases in the round, the weather phase and the night phase, present our adventurers with further real difficulties. If there are weather dice next to weather tokens on the corresponding field, these must be thrown. This determines, among other things, whether it is raining into our shelter or whether we have to give up wood in order to be able to heat when it is cold. In the night phase, food usually has to be given. Every time we are not well protected enough or cannot give anything away, all adventurers are harmed! These two phases must therefore not be ignored when planning the action.

According to the scenario, three dice have to be rolled in the phase, which can be quite demanding. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

Confusing iconography

The first games can then come to a standstill, despite the simple course of the round, due to the not always clear and confusing iconography. So it is inevitable to look into the booklet again and again, which also explains some cards and tiles in the appendix, but not all of them and also not completely, for example with regard to the requirements for use.

For example, two graphics are used as resource sources on the island tiles, which actually apply to one and the same resource. Both a fish and a parrot indicate that one is receiving food. The meanings of other icons vary depending on the game medium, equipment card or exploration tile, or where a tile is located.

The marker for the weapon strength is at level 0. However, the icon for 1 wood is confusing. This should mean that in a building action for weapon strength 1 wood is required to go up one level. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

High luck factor, but thematically appropriate

The game has a high luck factor thanks to dice, the drawing of event, adventure and hunting cards as well as island and exploration tiles. Sometimes, if things go bad, this could lead to frustration. However, this fits thematically well into the game. Because we are on an unknown island, whose landscape and nature we do not even know, we do not yet have a shelter, possibly no food and are exposed to the weather. We are struggling to survive, so we have to use our strength wisely and make wise decisions about which moves to make next. The texts on the event and adventure cards are thematically selected.

The card texts are written correctly. Treasure maps usually have advantages. Exceptionally, for understandable reasons, not here. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

The fact that every new day holds surprises and that our actions can also have consequences keeps the tension going. As far as the actions are concerned, we can also improve the outcome without using the dice, since we can determine with two action discs that this action is immediately successful.

Six scenarios with different goals and requirements

The scenarios each offer a background story, their own requirements, skills of elements and victory conditions. Each scenario also contains its own items that can be built. It is positive that the scenarios are printed on individual cards. So that you can choose one and then place it next to the game board in order to have everything specific and worth knowing at a glance. Markers can then simply be placed on it.

So the game offers enough variety. In addition, the scenarios can be really difficult to solve, also due to the random principle with the drawn island parts, tiles and cards. Therefore, every move should be well thought out and you should coordinate well with each other in the cooperative game. But that's also what makes the game so appealing, because if it were too easy, you could quickly lose interest in the game.

Everything you need to know about the scenario is printed on a card. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

The basic game itself contains six scenarios, a seventh scenario can be downloaded from Pegasus. If you need more supplies, there is an extension called The ride of the beagle. Since the Treasure chest-Extension is not available and will no longer be reissued, its scenarios will be offered for download on the Pegasus Digital website as “Pay what you want” articles.

The six scenarios contained in the basic game are printed on both sides on three cards. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

Pictures of Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island

Infobox

Number of players: 1 to 4 players
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 60 to 120 minutes
Difficulty: high
Long-term motivation: medium

Publisher: Portal Games / Pegasus Spiele
Author: Ignacy Trzewiczek
Graphic: Vincent Dutrait et al
Year of publication: 2012
Language: German
Cost: 39,95 Euro

Summary

The game offers enough variety through different scenarios and objectives. The course of the round itself is easy and is supported by player assistance and graphic support on the game board. The rules and iconography, on the other hand, are confusing, which is why the game is by no means easy for beginners and needs a few games first to ensure an easy flow of the game. Once this hurdle has been overcome, you can expect a lot of fun. Perhaps there is a risk of one or the other player becoming less due to the high luck factor, but purely thematically it makes sense. It also makes good use of the cooperative aspect, as every move has to be well thought out and discussed.