Forbidden Island is the home of a peaceful, self-sufficient civilization known as the Archaens. The Archaens possess the ability to control the earth’s core elements – fire, wind, water, and earth – through four sacred artifacts: The Crystal of Fire, The Statue of the Wind, The Ocean’s Chalice, and The Earth Stone. Because of their incredible power, invaders and colonizers frequently try to siege the island and obtain them. Fortunately, the Archaens have a safeguard against those who wish to steal their sacred objects–Forbidden Island is designed to sink if intruders ever attempt to claim them, and the Archaens will take their artifacts to another island in the archipelago. Will the Archaens manage to protect their most sacred artifacts from those who seek to steal them and escape the invasion?
Your team of Archaen citizens must work together to retrieve your artifacts from their hiding places and sink enough of the island to avoid being followed. Once you’ve retrieved your artifacts, you must make it to Fools’ Landing and escape by helicopter to win. If, however, you fail to sink at least 50% of the island before you reach Fool’s Landing, the invaders will be able to follow you to your new home.
1, Create Forbidden Island: Shuffle the 24 Island tiles and randomly place them face up (non blue and white side) into a grid as follows: First make a 4×4 square of tiles in the center of the playing area. Then place 2 tiles next to each of the 2 middle tiles on every side of the square. (Important Note: Leave a small gap between the tiles.) This forms Forbidden Island and your pawns will move on it like a game board.
2. Place the Artifacts:
Place the 4 artifact figurines–The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire, and The Ocean’s Chalice–around the island. Your team will try to retrieve these artifacts during the course of the game by discarding 4 matching Artifact cards on a corresponding Island tile. Take a moment to locate the 8 tiles on which you can claim artifacts. Each artifact can be claimed on one of two tiles, as indicated by the symbol in the bottom left corner.
3. Divide the Cards
Separate the cards into three decks, according to card back: Flood deck (blue back), Artifact deck (red back), and role cards (6 cards)
4. Begin to Sink the Island
Shuffle the Flood deck and place it face down on one side of the island to form the Flood draw pile. Draw the top 6 cards (1 at a time) and place them face up next to the draw pile to form the Flood discard pile. For each card drawn, flip the corresponding Island tile over to its “flooded” (blue and white) side.
5. Become a Citizen
Shuffle the 6 Citizen cards and randomly deal to each player. Each of you will take on the role of an Archaen citizen with a special power that only you can do during the game. Take a moment to read aloud your roles and powers written on the bottom of the cards so that your teammates know your strengths. You’ll find the game will be easier to win if you cooperate and take advantage of these special powers.
Take a pawn matching the color of your Citizen card and place it on the correspond Island tile. (Look for the matching pawn icons in the lower right corner of the Gates and Fools’ Landing tiles). Put any extra Citizen cards and pawns back in the box. Note: It’s OK to start on a flooded tile.
6. Hand out the Artifact Cards
Thoroughly shuffle the Artifact deck and deal 2 cards to each player. Place your cards face up in front of you so that both you and your teammates can easily see them. If anyone gets an Island Defense card, give them a replacement card and shuffle the Island Defense card back into the Artifact deck. Place the Artifact deck face down by one side of the island. Note: There will be an Artifact discard pile right next to the Artifact deck.
7. Set the Water Level
Place the Water Level marker on the left side of the Water Meter and set it to the appropriate starting difficulty level, according to the type of game you want to play. (For example, if this is your first time playing a cooperative game, set it to the Novice level.)
Order of Play
The player who last visited an island goes first and play continues to the left. On every turn, do the following three things in order:
- Take up to 3 actions.
- Draw 2 Artifact deck cards.
- Draw Flood cards equal to the Water level.
The parts of each turn are described below. Also note that the back of every Citizen cards shows a quick reference guide.
1. Take up to 3 Actions
You may take up to 3 actions each turn (could be 0, 1, or 2). Your teammates are allowed (and encouraged!) to give you advice on the best actions to take during your turn. Select a combination of any of the following 4 actions
- Shore up
- Give an Artifact Card
- Save an Artifact
You may, for 1 or more actions, move your pawn to an adjacent Island tile: either up, down, left, or right, but never diagonally. You may move onto a flooded til, but may not move onto (or over) the space of a missing tile.
- The Leader may also move diagonally.
- The Pilot may move to any tile once per turn for 1 action.
- The Navigator may move other players up to 2 adjacent tiles per action.
- The Diver may move through one or more adjacent missing and/or flooded tiles for 1 action
You may, for 1 or more actions, shore up any adjacent Island tile (up, down, left, right), or the Island tile your pawn is on. To shore up a tile, simply flip it over so its unflooded side is facing up.
- The Engineer may shore up 2 tiles for one action
- The Leader may also shore up tiles diagonally
Give an Artifact Card
You may give 1 or more of your Artifact cards to another player if both of your pawns are on the same island tile. It costs 1 action for each card you give away. (See “Hand Limit” for restrictions.) You may not give Special Action cards.
- The Messenger may give cards without having to be on the same tile.
Save an Artifact
You may, for 1 action, save an artifact by discarding 4 matching Artifact cards from your hand if your pawn is on either corresponding island tile.
When you save an artifact, discard cards to the Artifact discard pile and move the figurine in front of you.
You may save an artifact on a flooded tile.
2. Draw 2 Artifact Deck Cards
After taking actions, you must draw 2 cards from the top of the Artifact deck and add them to your face up hand. Draw cards 1 at a time. If you draw an Island Defense card, do not add it to your hand, but follow the instructions on the card and then discard it to the Artifact discard pile.
There are 5 of each Artifact card in the Artifact deck. The aim is to collect 4 of the same Artifact card in order to save the corresponding artifact of Forbidden Island. You can give Artifact cards to other players using the Give an Artifact Card action.
Special Action Cards
There are 2 types of Special Action cards in the Artifact deck–Helicopter lifts (3) and Sandbags (2)–that will help your team during the game. These cards are taken into your hand and can be played at any time–even on another player’s turn. Playing a Special Action card does not require an action, Discard these cards to the Artifact discard pile immediately when played.
Note: You may use the power of a Special Action card if you are forced to discard it.
Island Defense Cards
There are 3 Island Defense cards in the Artifact deck. When you draw an Island Defense Card, you must immediately do the following:
- Move the Water Level marker up to cover the next tick mark on the Water Meter. Note how many cards will no be drawn at the end of your turn by looking at the number on the right of the meter.
- Take all of the cards from the Flood discard pile, shuffle them, and place them face down on top of the Flood draw pile. This means that previously drawn cards will be drawn again soon!
- Discard the Island Defense card to the Artifact discard pile.
- If you draw an Island Defense card, you do not get a replacement card.
- If you draw 2 Island Defense cards in a row, shuffle the Flood discard pile only once but move the Water Level marker up 2 tick marks.
- If you draw an Island Defense card but there are no cards in the Flood discard pile, just move the Water Level marker up 1 tick mark.
When the Artifact Deck Runs Out
When the last card of the Artifact deck is drawn, immediately shuffle the Artifact discard pile and turn it over to form a new Artifact deck
You may only have 5 cards in your hand, including Artifact and Special Action cards. If you ever find that you have 6 or more cards (for example, because you drew more cards or received cards from another player), you must immediately choose and discard the excess to the Artifact discard pile. IF you choose to discard a Special Action card, you may use its action before discarding.
3. Draw Flood Cards
After drawing 2 Artifact cards, you must now defend your home from invaders! Draw a number of cards from the top of the Flood draw pile equal to the current Water Meter level. (For example, if the level is at 3, draw 3 cards.) Draw cards 1 at a time and place them face up into the Flood discard pile. For each card drawn, find the matching Island tile and do one of the following:
- If the matching Island tile is un-flooded, flip it over to its flooded side.
- If the matching Island tile is already flooded, it sinks into the abyss! Remove it and the matching flood card from the game and place them out of play.
Note: You cannot shore up a tile once it’s already been removed from play.
Pawns on Flooded Tiles
If a pawn is on a tile that becomes flooded, lift the pawn off the tile, flip it and then return the pawn to the tile.
If a pawn is on a tile that must be removed, it must immediately “swim” to an adjacent tile (up, down, left, or right) that is still part of the island (even flooded). If a pawn is on a tile that is removed and cannot move to an adjacent tile, it sinks into the abyss and everyone loses the game!
Exceptions: The Diver may swim to the nearest tile. The Leader may swim diagonally, The Pilot may fly to any tile.
When the Flood Draw Pile Runs Out
If the Flood draw pile ever runs out, immediately shuffle the Flood discard pile and stack the cards face down to for a new Flood draw pile. If this happens in the middle of a turn, continue drawing Flood cards as necessary from the new pile.
Winning the Game
Get to Fool’s Landing! Once you have collected all four artifacts everyone must move their pawns to the Fool’s Landing tile. Then, on player must discard a Helicopter Lift card to life your team off of Forbidden Island for the win!
However, there is a catch. If at least 50% of your island is not sunk (not just flooded) by the end of the game, the invaders will be able to follow you to your new home, and you lose. After every pawn is on Fool’s landing, the team only has 2 more turns with which to sink the rest of the island. If they cannot achieve this in 2 turns, the team loses. Therefore, the team will have to decide throughout the game which tiles to allow to sink when to ensure enough of the island is sunk by the end of the game.
Losing the Game
There are 5 possible ways to lose
- If both Temples, Caves, Palaces, or Gardens tiles sink before you collect their respective artifacts.
- If the Fool’s Landing tile sinks.
- If any player is on an Island tile that sinks and there is no adjacent tile to swim to.
- If the water level reaches the skull and crossbones.
- If the team fails to sink 50% of the Island within two turns of every pawn reaching Fool’s Landing
Once you’ve won the Novice game, try starting the water level at the Normal, Elite, or Legendary difficulty settings. Also, try playing with a different mix of citizens.