This Robinson Crusoe board game review was made after playing the game eight times.
What is Robinson Crusoe?
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is a cooperative adventure game that shipwrecks players on a deserted island. Besides the more common survivor necessities (shelter, food, weapons), players will also learn through their decisions, and discoveries, that this island has many mysteries to throw at them.
Robinson Crusoe Rules Overview
There are many steps that go into setting up Robinson Crusoe, but the most important one is choosing one of the six scenarios (seven scenarios in the newest edition). Each scenario plays quite differently and comes with its own set of unique objectives.
When getting ready to play Robinson Crusoe, players can choose to be the cook, the carpenter, the explorer, or the soldier. Each character plays a bit differently since they have different morale/life tracks, special abilities, and starting equipment. The team also has its own morale track that can make the game harder if it’s too low, or help players use their abilities if it is kept up.
There are six phases in each round of the game: Event, Morale, Production, Action, Weather, and Night. Three different sets of dice are used for each of the three actions in the game (building, gathering, and exploring). The dice will tell you if an action is successful (success, wound, or adventure) or not.
The Building action is extremely important in this game. You have to build camps to avoid taking damage from the elements, you build up your weapon strength to be able to handle the animals that you encounter, and you have to build other items to help you stay alive on the island.
Players make their own choices while playing Robinson Crusoe, which makes the game unique and difficult to master. For example, one day you might choose to move to a different part of the island and fight a bear, while on another day you will focus on getting the team’s morale up.
If one player succumbs to their wounds during the game, then the whole team has lost. You also lose when you are unable to complete your chosen scenario’s objectives in time.
That is just an overview of how to play Robinson Crusoe. If you want to read all of the rules, check out the official Robinson Crusoe rulebook (PDF).
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Robinson Crusoe – Pros and Cons
- It’s incredible to me how thematic Robinson Crusoe is! It’s one of those edge-of-your-seat experiences that makes the 2-3 hours just fly by. Please let us know if you know of a more thematic game than this one because we definitely want to play it!
- I don’t think this game needed multiple scenarios, but it’s so awesome that it has them. Don’t worry, though, it’s easy to start a new scenario once you know the basic rules. Each one adds some new objectives and a few rule changes.
- There is so much replay value in Robinson Crusoe since it’s almost impossible to play the same game twice. Not only are there multiple scenarios to choose from, but the dice rolls and the decks of cards make it hard to predict what you’ll be facing. It really does tell a different story every time you play.
- The randomness of the dice and the cards just makes sense in this game. It works because this is an adventure game and, if you were in these scenarios, you wouldn’t know what was right around the corner. You don’t know if you’re going to have to fight a big animal or if you’ll be able to get the supplies you’ll need to survive the night.
- I’m a big fan of the overall look of Robinson Crusoe. It’s a bit intimidating to see all of those components on and around the board at first, but those are also the things that make it easy to throw yourself into the theme.
- It’s very cool how worker placement is implemented in Robinson Crusoe. You only have a few workers, but you can send them to a bunch of places on the board and perform the actions you need to help the team (hopefully) win. Building is so fun and rewarding in this game!
- Each character feels quite different. They all have multiple unique special abilities that help players to know what they should be looking out for throughout the game. The soldier is good at hunting, the carpenter is good at creating and fixing things, etc.
- I definitely recommend that new players take a look at this crib sheet for Robinson Crusoe on BGG. It makes getting through each phase of the game so much simpler. The game comes with a nice-looking rule book, but it is not easy to navigate. (Update: The rulebook is much better in the newest edition of Robinson Crusoe and it comes with a nice reference sheet.)
- This game is very tough. That’s going to turn some people away, but my group loves tougher co-ops. I don’t know if Robinson Crusoe is as difficult as Ghost Stories, but losses definitely hit you harder since games are so much longer and you put so much effort into them.
Robinson Crusoe – Final Thoughts
It might not be the best choice if you are new to cooperative board games, but Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is a wildly entertaining game for those who give themselves some time to become familiar with it. It’s my group’s favorite co-op board game and second place isn’t really close to it right now.
Anyone who likes survival and/or adventure games should love what this game offers. You really do feel like you’re on a mysterious island and everyone has to work together to survive. It’s very challenging and about as thematic as cooperative board games come.
I never knew I needed a Robinson Crusoe board game in my life, but I am very glad that I randomly decided to give this one a try a few years ago!
Update: Added images from the newest version of the game and updated all links.
Update 2: Robinson Crusoe was added to the Best Adventure Board Games list!
Robinson Crusoe Links
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