My CITY by KOSMOS was our intro into legacy games, and what a high bar to set ourselves. This cracker from KOSMOS was the brainchild of Reiner Knizia, and the puzzle king is the KING for a reason. Fast forward in time and the sequel, MY ISLAND, has dropped and it takes the legacy based campaign building marvel of MY CITY and adds extra crunch. Like sand in your sandwiches, MY ISLAND levels up.
Because it is a legacy game, I can’t review it in the same way I would another game. Why? Well that would spoil the surprise! Legacy games are special as they develop over time. You unlock new content as you progress through the game!
I can reveal some general information though. It still uses the core tile laying process in each of the 24 games which are separated into 8 themed Chapters. And the rules from one episode flow into the next building up this immense and wonderful combination of placement restrictions and point potential. You won’t know what the next Chapter or series of episodes contains until you have finished the one before it. And whilst those sealed envelopes might be tempting, you mustn’t sneaky peek! You also really need to play with the same group each game as scores are cumulative and build throughout.
But in contrast to MY CITY, MY ISLAND uses tiles made of hexonimo shaped pieces. And unlike MY CITY where each piece is a single building type (colour), the tiles in MY ISLAND are a combination of any of the four terrain types in play (houses, fields, walls, and paths). And we didn’t think that would make that much of a difference, but wowza we were wrong!
My spatial skills leave a lot to be desired on a good day. So trying to work out where best to place a tile that has a combination of terrains on a board where, in the early chapters, a lot of the spaces are unavailable, leads to a chain of delectable decision dilemmas!
Like in My CITY, other features get introduced and areas of the board become available as the game progresses via the Chapters mentioned above. You will also be permanently marking and changing you personal player boards. As such, at the end of each chapter, no two player’s island looks the same!
Excitingly, scoring happens both during (in some episodes) and at the end of each episode. Depending on where you place, you’ll be gaining VPs and adding features to your board with stickers that create that unique, evolving, ever-altered playing space. And at the end of the campaign, once all 24 episodes have been completed, you can flip the legacy side of the board and there’s an eternal game to play and replay at your leisure.
Just like its predecessor, MY ISLAND is essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet of board gaming. And in our house it has become our Friday night date night game. Opening the new Chapter or moving on to the next episode is super exciting and it’s getting more and more synapse sizzling with each passing game. We can’t do everything. We know we can’t achieve every combination of point scoring possibilities. But we want to. We tell ourselves that with the perfect placement we can combo up on bonuses. It almost brings in a push your luck sensation. But one miss-step and it becomes very clear that our individual strategies need a rethink!
It's also a game where there is no hate-drafting because each player has their own set of tiles. You may get a little AP as you work out where to place a piece. And you’ll be placing the same piece as everybody else each round so you’ll be tempted to look at what others are doing, but it won’t really matter. With the addition of stickers and your own aspirations, where you place a tile is going to have a different impact on where another plays slots theirs (or doesn’t and has to pass – ouchie!).
Another great thing about MY ISLAND (as with MY CITY) is that when you win or lose an episode, you don’t really win or lose an episode. And you definitely don’t win or lose the game based on one performance! There’s a neat quasi-catch up mechanisms whereby those players who didn’t score the most in a game get something good to help them in the next one. And the winner gets something to make their next game more challenging. And that’s great for keeping the tension throughout the game. I’m not going to lie – I have even been tempted to lose one episode just to get a helpful sticker! But, as we found out in MY CITY, even bonuses don’t last and so all the stuff you thought would be helpful to the very end becomes something different indeed!
Replayability and sustainability are also big considerations for us. Environmentally speaking and value for money wise. And I feel like this manages to hit high on both fronts which is unusual for a legacy game. Having something that we can go back to and enjoy as much as we did the journey to get us there is definitely unique and inspiring. And, although we aren’t there yet, we cannot wait to play the forever game!
We are really enjoying MY ISLAND and it is a huge hit around our table. For us, the crunchier and sandier those tile placement synapse sizzles, the better!