In the Isle of Skye board game, you strategically build landscapes and gamble for the best tiles to become king of the Scottish Highlands.
The Scottish island after which the Isle of Skye board game is named is known for its beautifully rugged nature, its rugged mountains, fairytale lochs and lush green meadows.
And that is exactly what this connoisseur’s game of the year 2016 is about: each player is the chieftain of a clan and builds his own landscape starting from his castle. Each player tries to expand his own clan territory in the most lucrative way, and for this you need not only the right tiles, but also a good strategy, talent in buying and selling and a bit of luck.
In the Isle of Skye board game, each player gets both a game board and their own castles and landscape areas. On the edge there is a ring-shaped scoreboard for the players’ points, on which each places and moves a piece. On the game board, 4 of 16 scoring tiles are laid out at random in the form of Gothic windows. These squares are marked with the letters A, B, C and D and below them is a turn bar that determines which scoring tiles are active and when. A round marker is also drawn here for a better overview.
There are 6 rounds and each scoring tile is active exactly 3 times, with one active in each of the first two rounds, 2 in the next two and 3 in the fifth and sixth rounds. This also ensures that you get used to the game the first time and gradually get to know the tiles. However, it makes sense to always keep an eye on the scoring tiles that will become active in the future.
In addition, each player receives a screen and a first landscape tile with a castle in their chosen colour, as well as a so-called discard marker in the form of a battle axe. All the regular landscape tiles are placed in a cloth bag and shuffled well. Then the game can begin!
Depending on the number of players, a game of Isle of Skye lasts 5 or 6 rounds and each round has 6 phases:
Income is received in the form of coins, with 5 for your castle as basic income and 1 more for each tile with a whiskey barrel connected to the clan seat by a road. From the 3rd round onwards, there are also money bonuses for the players who are currently at the back, i.e. further back on the scoreboard. In this way, the luck factor is also balanced out somewhat and it remains exciting.
Each player draws 3 tiles from the bag and lays them out face up in front of them. Hidden behind the screen, each player then decides which of the 3 tiles to discard and what prices to assign to the other two tiles. Then everyone removes the screen at the same time and the discarded tiles go back into the bag.
Starting with the starting player (changes every round), all players in turn may now buy exactly 1 tile from any other player. By the way, the other player can’t resist the sale, so it makes sense to make the tiles that you have drawn and want to keep as expensive as possible. But not too expensive, because the remaining tiles that lie in front of a player must then be bought by that player.
So in this phase of the game you have to weigh up very carefully how much tiles are worth to you and at the same time assess how valuable they could be for other players. This almost brings a bit of a poker atmosphere into the game, because you also have to assess how the other players will act.
Now each player may place all tiles acquired in the trading phase. Landscape areas must always be continued accurately, but not roads. The tiles may be rotated as desired, i.e. each edge may be placed on a different edge. It is very important to pay attention to the scoreboards on the game board when building the landscape and also when choosing the tiles.
Which scoreboard(s) apply this round? Which ones in the next? How do I reach the appropriate targets to get the most points?
After each round, points are distributed according to the scoring tiles active for that round. This is also indicated by the round marker on the game board. In the fourth round, for example, the 3 scoring boards active are those on the squares, A, C and D. Depending on whether the conditions shown on them are fulfilled, the players get points and move forward accordingly many steps with their token on the scoring board around the game board.
Examples of tasks / conditions on the scoring boards:
There are 16 scoring tiles in total but in a game you only play with 4 at a time.
After the very last round, there is an additional final scoring that is not to be neglected. There are certain tiles on which a scroll with another task is printed. If such a tile is in your own area and you have fulfilled the condition easily or even several times, you get additional points for it. If the scroll is in a closed area, these points are even doubled! In addition, every 5 gold coins that you still have also bring you 1 victory point.
In our first game as a pair, I was clearly in the lead for a long time, but thanks to many scrolls, Anika overtook me in the final scoring and won by exactly 1 point!
To cut to the chase: In our opinion, the Isle of Skye board game is worthwhile for everyone who likes strategy games. Fans of tile-laying games like Carcassonne will especially enjoy it, because here too you puzzle together landscapes yourself.
In our opinion, Isle of Skye is suitable both for families and for frequent players.
What we found particularly positive about the Isle of Skye board game: there is a quick start, although it is an expert game. You quickly understand what it’s all about, also thanks to the very clear and well-explained game instructions. Compared to other connoisseur’s games, the instructions are also quite slim – you don’t have to memorise numerous rules first, but can just start playing.
The overview page with the explanation of the scoring tiles, which we always place open next to the game board during play, is also very good. Otherwise, we only had to read up on the rules once or twice during the first game.
The design and the implementation of the Scottish theme also appealed to us. The square tiles are very reminiscent of Carcassonne, but adapted for the Scottish landscape.
The most important criterion for us is fun and that was definitely the case with the Isle of Skye board game, both in pairs and in fours. However, we had a bit more fun in the four-player constellation, simply because there is more choice when buying tiles and the tactical determination of the prizes is more exciting with more players. We liked this element very much because it added an element of mutual assessment to the pure strategy and the moment of luck, almost like in poker.
In the Isle of Skye board game, it is also possible to score a lot of points and win with very different strategies. This means that the game retains its appeal even if you play it several times.
An excellent strategic tile-laying game with a quick start that offers a lot of variety despite simple basic rules!
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