Stuck on that desert island and how do you survive on a day to day basis? Robinson Crusoe really delves into this ethos in a heavy handed way and has you explore, scavenge, starve and fight amongst yourselves.
It truly is a game that delves into little details about individual characters and how they all must band together in order to survive whatever the scenario has to throw at them.
What is it?
Robinson Crusoe is an in-depth heavily themed worker placement game. There are elements of luck throughout and its major theme would be exploration, survival and teamwork.
What do you get?
This is a beautiful game. Flat-out the card design down to the board it has been carefully crafted to look rustic and oozes charm. In the base game there is a heap of card upgrades, creatures and the wooden pieces that are used for placement. The artwork is all very fitting and continues a nice theme. The area that could have been improved straight up is the cubes and player markers. They are just coloured blocks and actually detract from the aesthetic of a game being played. It’s not a cheap game either and in our opinion that’s an area that should have been improved.
How does it work?
As mentioned earlier, it is a worker placement game. You venture through different phases of the game, the main one being when the players dedicate their pawns to actions. There is always way too much to do from the start so it is a game struggling with each scenario and the challenges it will throw at you. Random events, random tiles with different bonus’ also come into effect regularly so no two games will play the same.
Is it any good?
The thing that Crusoe does best is tell a very cohesive story through players just taking actions. Failing to do certain actions means putting event cards into the deck that could trigger later, often to comical effect.
The first two missions are admittedly very good. The missions don’t ask for much and it’s nice to play a game at a leisurely pace, perhaps falsely luring you in to the games difficulty. You see, while the goal is to just survive, the game is pretty challenging with that alone but obviously the scenarios want to shake that security right away and that is the issue. Before you know it you are fending off cannibals or escaping a volcano, two scenarios that my gaming group is not very happy with as its borderline impossible to get through. I have an issue with this as the games core mechanics are really good but at times the scenarios feel untested which is a real big shame.
I realise that I am nit-picking here specifically about the scenarios being too hard but a game that only has a few, it feels hard done by with this. There are several fan made scenarios already but that’s beside the point. I believe everyone wants to play professionally developed scenarios as they are meant to be played. Fan scenarios are often unbalanced and untrustworthy to a degree. Of course, feel free to disagree there.
Robinson Crusoe is a superb experience with the right amount of luck. It can be frustrating as I’ve played scenarios from turn 1 realising that my character will die within a couple turns unless somehow we get lucky with tiles or items. Quite often this luck quickly turns into doubt and frustration.
But in there, there is a really good game. It’s almost as if you don’t have enough actions, and even having one more may not be enough. There is Friday and Dog also in there if you decide to play on easy, but honestly, I hate it when games don’t have a difficulty because they can’t tell how hard their game is. There are so many games out there that understand solo play now that it’s a little inexcusable to make a bad scenario.
I see a few expansions are planned for this game and I just hope that they’ve been play tested with real people this time and not just sadists. Crusoe is the #1 game for a lot of gamers out there looking for a true hard as nails as well as true to life setting. It has a casual gamers gleam about it, but dont be sucked in by that.