Treasure of the 13 Islands Review

Der Schatz der 13 Inseln, orTreasure of the 13 Islands as it is known here in the states, is a family-friendly game from HABA (who else) and designed by Marco Teubner.  Featuring-

jessasm chatJess:  Holy cats, look at this gorgeous board!

joshasm chatJosh:  It’s huge!

andrewasm chatAndrew:  I know, isn’t it awesome?

The 13 Isles arrayed before you! Fire up your hot air balloon, adventure awaits!
The 13 Isles arrayed before you! Fire up your hot air balloon, adventure awaits!

The rules are simple.  Each player is an hot air balloon captain, searching for treasure that have been hidden somewhere in, where else, the 13 Islands.  On your turn, you will move your airship as far as you’d like, avoiding the holes in the board (lest your ship be damaged), and searching the face-down tokens for the icons found on the goal cards you are trying to complete.

Each Isle has tokens on it, and revealing them gets you closer to discovering clues to the treasure's whereabouts.
Each Isle has tokens on it, and revealing them gets you closer to discovering clues to the treasure’s whereabouts.

Once you find both icons for your goal, you are allowed to secretly look at one of the face-down treasure location cards, each of which depicts a single terrain detail, such as inlets, mountains, and cliffs.  These three cards together describe exactly one of the 13 islands – the island where the treasure is hidden.

13-isles-6

Once a player is sure of which island is the correct one, they announce their guess.  If they are correct, they win the game!  However, if they guess wrong, then they lose and everyone else wins.  Which is a little odd, but those are the risks you take as a high-flying balloon explorer!

The 3 clue cards describe exactly one island, based on its features.
The 3 clue cards describe exactly one island, based on its features.

jessasm chatJess:  So, wait, that seems incredibly simple.  I mean, sure, there’s the memory part, where you have to explore each of the islands looking for the icons and may need to come back to complete future goals, but this seems really simple otherwise.  And why would you ever accidentally fall into the holes on the map…wait, what’s this mask for?

andrewasm chatAndrew:  Why, that’s the captain’s mask, of course!

jessasm chatjoshasm chatJess & Josh:  …

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And so now we come to the important bit of 13 Islands– you will move your piece across the board completely blind.  You can study the board for as long as you want beforehand and plan your route, but when the time comes to slide your token, you must hold the captain’s mask in front of your face so that your view of the board is completely obstructed.

Absolutely harder than you might think it is, and even more challenging if you make sure players don't move too slowly on their turns - our preferred house rule.
Absolutely harder than you might think it is, and even more challenging if you make sure players don’t move too slowly on their turns – our preferred house rule.

jessasm chatJess:  It’s surprisingly more challenging than you might think!  Even if you have a good memory and steady hands, it can sometimes be really easy to misjudge a distance and find yourself trapped in one of those holes.  And when you do, you need to draw a damage card.

The damage cards come in three flavors.  As soon as you draw a second of a given type, you are sent back to one of the starting isles to gather yourself and get back underway.  Not a huge inconvenience, but every delay in this race can cost you.

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andrewasm chatAndrew:  The production quality of13 Islands is awesome.  The board is huge and the art is really great.  However, despite its vast proportions, it really is a simple, family-level game.  That said, it was certainly fun to play with adult gamers too.  I don’t know that it’ll become a mainstay of my collection, but I enjoyed it.

joshasm chatJosh:  Agreed!  While I don’t think it will become part of my regular rotation anytime soon, as a game to have in the collection in case younger gamers are about or when we want a bit of light fun, 13 Islands certainly is a high-quality and really playable title.

jessasm chatJess:  I actually thought it was pretty great!  It’s silly, and that’s what makes it fun.  And besides, not that we’re officially endorsing it, but drunk 13 Islands would be hilarious!

andrewasm chatAndrew:  …Not that we are at all endorsing that idea, and shame on you for thinking it, but oh my bacon strips, that would be a riot…

13 Islands is a beautiful, easy to enjoy game that will absolutely work for families, but will also find a place on many gamers’ shelves.

(Gameosity was provided review copy of this game for review, but was not otherwise compensated)

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