I’ve been wanting to play Robinson Crusoe for quite a while now, and I’ve recently had a couple of opportunities to try the game out. I’ve had two goes at it, and have yet to reach the end, so a lot remains unknown. But I can say pretty confidently that this game is a lot of fun, and ticks a lot of boxes for me.
Robinson Crusoe is a co-op game for one to four players that tells the story of some people (and maybe a dog) stranded on an island, trying to survive. The game is essentially a worker-placement game, but there’s a lot going on besides sending people out to do stuff. For one thing, there’s a modular board that has you building your island Catan-style with a series of hexagonal tiles. There are resources to collect and manage. There are several decks of cards that dictate a variety of random events, most of which will harm you in some way. There are multiple sets of dice to be rolled at various points. And there is a ton of room for player choice.
One of the game’s best features is the balance between risk and reward. There are a lot of situations where you have to choose between a high-risk/high-reward option and a low-risk/low-reward option. For example, when placing your workers, (of which everyone gets two), you usually have the choice to place both on a single objective, guaranteeing success, or place a single worker on an objective, determining the outcome with dice rolls. Throughout the game, you’ll need to do both of these things. If you always take the safe route, you’ll never accomplish enough to win the game; if you always take the risk, you’ll sometimes fail to accomplish a critical goal, wounding yourself and triggering potentially disastrous events in the process. Wound yourself enough, and your team’s morale will drop, causing you to lose critical resources and, eventually, more life, until someone dies and the game ends.