TOP 10 FAMILY GAMES #5: Forbidden Island

by Kelsey Norwood

in Reviews

If you’re just tuning in, I’m doing a Favorite Family Games roundup and sharing 10 of our family’s favorite games! We’re up to #5!

  1. Sleeping Queens
  2. Zimbbos!
  3. Hoot Owl Hoot
  4. Wackee Six

5. Forbidden Island (Gamewright Games)

forbidden island

This is another cooperative game for an older audience, although because it’s cooperative it works well to play together as a family even with our 5 and 7 year old. And they love playing a “grown-up” game!


The goal is to save four sacred treasures (The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire, and The Ocean’s Chalice) from the ruins of the Forbidden Island, a perilous paradise! Each player is takes on the role of an adventurer with a special power that only he can do during the game. Meanwhile, each turn the water is rising and more island tiles are flooding and sinking.


To set the game board up you lay out the island tiles face up, in this formation. The 24 island tiles are arranged differently so the game is completely unique each time you play. You also have the option to begin the game with the water level set to Novice, Normal, Elite, or Legendary. The higher the water level is when you begin, the more likely it is you’ll lose. It’s a fun challenge!

On each turn, each player completes several steps:

Step 1: Take up to 3 Actions – Move, Shore Up, Give a Treasure Card, or Capture a Treasure. (You’ll just have to play the game to figure out what that all means!

Step 2: Draw two treasure deck cards – these are the cards that will eventually help you capture the treasure. There are also special action cards AND the dreaded Waters Rise! card which makes you have to flood more island tiles on each turn as the game progresses.


Gus drew the Waters Rise card – that means we now have to draw MORE flood cards on each turn, making it more difficult to capture the treasure and escape the island before it all sinks! Drat!

Step 3: Draw flood cards – the water level card tells you how many to draw each turn, and this is what rises each time you draw a Waters Rise! card from the treasure deck. It’s a race against the water level and everyone is in it together!


We’ve played lots of times and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose – it’s fun to play a cooperative strategy game for a change. We’re used to playing very cutthroat strategy games…this one tends to leave everyone much less irritated with each other…


This time our band of four adventurers succeeded in capturing the treasure and escaping the island before it completely sank. Wahoo! The adventurers are victorious and proud!

Forbidden Island is $16 on Amazon.

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