I had the opportunity to try a new board game last week. The game is Robinson Crusoe : Adventures on the Cursed Island by ZMan Games. It is a cooperative gave for 1 to 4 players where the object of the game is to survive long enough to get rescued. This involves gathering food, supplies, building items and finally creating a signal fire to call for help.
Full disclosure; I am generally not a fan of cooperative games. Most people love Pandemic but I find it excruciating. I thought Defenders of the Realm was just okay. I do really like Arkham Horror but I think that it mitigates the punishment inflicted on the players more than the others. I like that the players have more choices and they seem to really make a difference.
So, back to Robinson Crusoe. You and your team has been shipwrecked. Working together the island must be explored, supplies must be gathered and items must be built to allow you to survive long enough to build a signal fire and win the game. Each player gets two actions per turn which he can play on one or two items. When all players have placed their actions they are resolved in a specific order until the turn is completed. Two actions on an item is essentially an automatic success while one action requires a roll of dice to complete and there could be complications (see below).
The game has a mechanic where the environment gets an event card once per turn. This card almost always does something bad. The card then goes into the threat box and if it is not dealt with it gets shuffled back into the event deck and does something worse when it comes back up again. I am not a big fan of just having a punishment card every turn but at least you can minimize its effect on the game.
Likewise when you are building something or gathering resources if the players don't put full manpower on the project then dice are used to resolve the outcome. This determines if the player takes damage, builds the item or if a card must be drawn. Here the cards are almost always bad and they usually get shuffled back into the event deck for nastiness inflicted on the players late.
Our group took a very cautious approach to the game. We took two actions on nearly everything we attempted. This kept our party damage down and the number of cards down as well. This was a conscious choice by the players where other groups might risk more while attempting to build more items and gather more resources.
Overall, I found the game enjoyable and would play it again. It would never be my first choice of a game to play with a group and will not purchase my own copy. However, if the "gang" wanted to play I would sign up. I think I still prefer Arkham Horror because of the Lovecraft theme. I would give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars (or coconuts in this case).