Alley Cat Games (publishers of Dice Hospital and Pocket Pharma) are back with Coral Islands. A two-in-one game featuring dice rolling, dice stacking and pattern building, with a splash of player interaction. Both these games look stunning but how do they play? Read on to find out what I thought of them when I played them with Caezar from Alley Cat Games.
Coral Islands - The Games
In Coral players are trying to repopulate a coral reef on a shared board. The coral is represented by lovely translucent dice which are stacked on top of other dice to make patterns. Players are trying to create patterns of dice based on the structure cards displayed. The structure cards are public and involve your opponent’s dice as well as your own. So, careful placement of your dice to help you but not your opponent is critical.
In addition, when placing the dice players must stack a dice of a higher value than the die below it. A pip value of one is a wild and can be placed on any die and six is the highest. Fish tokens, which are earned if a player does not claim a structure card or if they place the third and top level die, allow players to increase/decrease the pip value of their die. Using three fish tokens allow players to place two dice in a turn.
The 3D dice stacking element of this game is brilliant, it makes players look at the board from all directions and makes for some interesting and unique feeling gameplay. I really enjoyed my time spent with this game.
In Islands, players are conservation charities, moving dice around archipelago islands, stacking them on top of other dice, in an effort to escape the rising sea levels. There are six different coloured dice representing the six different landscapes of the islands.
Each round a card is added to each of the three stacks available and the active player will select one of these stacks. The player will then select one of the cards in the stack to move that coloured die the number of spaces equal to the cards in the stack. When moving a die its pip value is increased by one and it has to be placed on top of another die of lower value. Each stack has a rule changing specialist associated with it and are activated when the stack is taken.
At the end of the game the player who has specialised the most in a particular landscape will get to select a stack of dice with that particular die on top and score points based on the number of dice in the stack. Then, the next player will do the same and it will keep going back and forth until all the stacks have been taken for the landscape. This is repeated for all the landscapes. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Islands is another lovely looking game and offers a very different gameplay to Coral. There is a lot of player interaction as you are constantly checking who has the majority of certain landscapes, taking landscapes cards to deny your opponent, manipulating the die stacks to block people as well as trying to keep your majority landscapes on top. It is a fun game and enjoyed my playthrough of this also.
Thoughts ahead of the KS Launch
Coral Islands offers two excellent games in a single box. Although they employ a similar mechanic (dice stacking) they are two very different games, both of which look gorgeous and offer very interesting gameplay. I enjoyed both of these games for different reasons, Coral for the 3D pattern building and Islands for the interesting player interaction and choices offered.
Coral Islands is scheduled to go live on Kickstarter tomorrow and is worth checking out. Based on Alley Cat Games' previous releases and my playthrough of both games, this is an instant back for me.