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ISLAND Edit

Designed by Jasper de Lange


Island is a tactical game of conquest, exploration and negotiation. Several armies are fighting over control on a newly discovered island, but in the end only one will be recognized as the true king.


This game is an adaptation of the area control game Inis (2016), designed by Christian Martinez. Inis offers a wonderfully elegant tactical experience, which is all about opportunistic positioning, thinking on your feet, and making the best use of the means you have under constantly changing circumstances. Island has become quite a different game, since the components of the Green Box are more generic. However, I believe I have captured the spirit and some of the more charming elements of the original.

Goal of the game Edit

The goal of the game is to achieve recognition as the one true king of the Island. At the beginning of each turn cycle, players with a claim to kingship can win the game, but only the one with more victory conditions than the rest will win the game. If there is a tie, the player who is Whisperer wins. Otherwise, play continues.


There are 3 distinct victory conditions in which players can claim kingship:

  • They are present in 6+ territories.
  • They are present with 6+ castles (anywhere on the board).
  • They are leader over 6+ opposing units (anywhere on the board).


For a shorter game, players can decide beforehand to allow for the claiming of kingship with 5+ (rather than 6+) of the above.

Game overview Edit

Play takes place in cycles. Before the start of each cycle, a fixed procedure is followed in which claims to kingship (victory conditions) are checked, the number of features on the board is expanded, leadership and council roles are determined, and the play direction for that cycle is set. The lead in this is taken by the Whisperer of that turn, who also acts as first player and as tie-breaker. Then cycle cards are drafted, so players can build up a hand of actions to take that turn. During a cycle players take one action each turn. Aside from cycle cards, territory cards (gained by becoming leader of a territory) may be used to get additional actions. Once all players have passed in a row, the cycle ends and a new cycle starts.

Unit placement, leaders and territory cards Edit

Units owned by different players may be present in the same territory. The player with the most units present in a territory is considered to be its ‘leader’. If a territory has been developed, the leader of each territory gets the associated territory cards during the start-of-cycle procedures. Territory cards are placed openly in front of the player. They can be played as action cards during a turn, but cannot be used when attacked during combat.


A player that has a majority of units in a territory is also considered to be leader over all opposing units that are present as minorities. This is important for the victory condition of being leader over 6+ opposing units; it has no other in-game effect.


If at any moment in the game all of a player’s units are removed from the board, during their next turn that player places 2 units anywhere on the board (in the same or different territories).

Play materials Edit

Cycle cards (green-backed cards)

These cards are divided in the draft before each cycle. They can be used to take actions during a player’s turn. They can also be expended during combat.


Territory cards (pink- and yellow-backed cards)

These cards are kept in a separate stack next to the board. Territory cards with a corresponding icon are given to the leader of a developed territories before the beginning of each cycle. These cards are kept openly in front of each player. They cannot be expended during combat.


Territories (pairs of tiles)

The board is made up of separate territories. Each territory consist of two tiles. Tiles in new territories always enter the game face-down (brown side up), until a player chooses to develop them. To form the playing board (the island), territories are always placed orthogonally, adjacent to other territories. Don’t include tiles with the brick icon.


Units (colored cubes)

These are each player’s armies.


Castles (black cubes)

Each castle may let 1 defending unit take shelter there at the start of combat. Castles remain in play permanently. Before the start of each new cycle, a new castle is placed by the Guardian (the player with leadership over most opposing units). Being present with 6+ castles is a victory condition.


Peace tokens (white cubes)

When a peace token is in a territory, a player initiating combat there automatically loses 1 unit before combat starts. Peace tokens are removed at the end of a turn cycle.


Monuments (pips on a six-sided die, one die pr player)

Each monument lowers the required number to reach a victory condition by 1. Players can decide in each moment for which victory condition(s) they would like this to count. For example, a player with 3 monuments (3 pips on the die shown) may claim kingship when present with 3 castles; alternatively, they may claim kingship with units present in 5 territories and having leadership over 4 opposing units.


Claims (meeples)

Instead of playing a card or passing, if a player fulfills at least one victory condition during a turn, they may spend that turn to take a claim token. At the start of each cycle, only players with a claim are checked for kingship. The one with most victory conditions wins the game. If there is no winner at this point, claim tokens are returned.


Whisperer token (coin)

This coin shows which player is Whisperer this cycle, which means they are the first player and make decisions in case of a tie. The coin is also flipped to determine play direction before the beginning of each cycle: heads is clockwise, tails is anti-clockwise.

Setup Edit

  • Each player chooses a color and puts their units (colored cubes) in front of them.
  • Set aside the castles (black cubes), peace tokens (white cubes), claim tokens (meeples), monuments (1 six-sided dice per player), and the first player token (a coin).
  • Create a stack of tiles (make sure to exclude the brick icon), a stack of cycle cards (green-backed), and a stack of territory cards (pink- and yellow-backed).
  • Randomly determine the Whisperer for the first cycle by letting each player draw a territory card. The player with the highest number becomes Whisperer. Redraw when there is a tie.
  • The Whisperer takes the first player token and flips it to determine play direction. Heads is clockwise, tails is anti-clockwise
    Screenshot 2019-04-24 at 08.48.36

    Example of orthogonal tile placement. A setup with 4 territories (of 2 tiles each) for 4 players.

  • Take turns creating the starting board by letting each player place 1 territory (2 tiles). Territories should always touch each other orthogonally (i.e. like a T-shape). Whisperer starts.
  • The Whisperer places a castle (black cube) on a territory of their choice.
  • Finally, players take turns placing units, until each player has a total of 2 units on the board.

Cards & actions Edit

Action cards and territory cards carry six different icons, which determine the action they trigger:

Symbol

Action
Symbol-1Drop
Replenish Take the top card from the discard pile.

This action may not be taken if the top card is a Replenish card.

Symbol-2Hammer
Recruit Place 1 unit on a territory where you are present.
Symbol-3Wood
Pacify Place 1 peace token on 1 tile in a territory where you are present.  

If combat is initiated here, initiator immediately loses 1 unit. Remove peace token at the end of the cycle.

Symbol-4Brick
Develop Turn over 1 tile on which your are present.

Next cycle: chieftain takes the corresponding territory card (pink/yellow).

Symbol-5Cog
Enchant Play immediately followed by different card (not another Enchant card).

Take the Enchanted action connected to that card.

Symbol-6Straw
Invade Move any number of your units from 1 territory to 1 adjacent territory.

Initiate combat.

Enchanted actions:

Symbol

Action
Symbol-1Drop
Drown Play as an immediate reaction to a card (or card combo) played.

The card (combo) is discarded without taking effect.

Symbol-2Hammer
Dominate Recruit 2 units in any territories where you are present.

If an opponent of your choice has 2+ units in 1 of these territories, you may remove 1 of their units

Symbol-3Wood
Enrage Place 1 unit in a territory in which you are present.

Then initiate combat there.

Symbol-4Brick
Immortalize Erect a monument. Put a die in front of you or move it up 1 pip.
Symbol-6Straw
Infiltrate Move 1 unit from 1 territory to 1 adjacent territory.

Do not initiate combat.


Cycle overview Edit

Each play cycle takes place in the following order:

  • Carry out start-of-cycle procedures
  • Draft cycle cards
  • Take cycle actions
  • Once all players have passed, end the cycle and start a new cycle

Start-of-cycle procedures Edit

Before the start of each cycle, players go through a fixed procedure:

1. Check claims for kingship.
Only players that have a taken claim token last turn can win kingship, and thus the game. A player with a claim can only win if they fulfill at least 1 of the victory conditions; this may be a different victory condition than the one they used to take the claim token in the first place. If multiple players with claims fulfill victory conditions, the player with most victory conditions wins the game. If there is a tie in the number of victory conditions, and the Whisperer is one of them, the Whisperer wins. Otherwise, play continues.


2. Determine leadership and divide territory cards.
The leader of each territory that has developed tiles gets the corresponding territory cards. If a developed territory has no leader (no player with a majority of units), keep the territory card next to the board for this cycle.


3. Determine council roles for this season.
Determine which players will act as Whisperer, Explorer and Guardian this cycle. The same player can take multiple roles if they are the one meeting the criteria. Do so in the following order:






- Whisperer: the player who is present with most castles. This player acts as first player and tie-breaker (ties are always decided in their favor, e.g. when determining the other council roles, and when checking for kingship).






- Explorer: the player who is present in most territories. This player now places a new territory on the board, adjacent to at least one existing territory.






- Guardian: the player who is leader over most opposing units. This player now places a new castle in the board.





4. Whisperer flips coin to determine play direction. 
Heads is clockwise, tails is anti-clockwise. This play direction is used both during the draft, and as turn order during the cycle.


Drafting cycle cards Edit

With 2 players:

  • Take the 18 green cycle cards; randomly and blindly discard 2.
  • Randomly divide up the remaining cards, giving each player 8 cards.
  • Players pick 1 card to discard and 1 card to keep, and pass on the remaining cards to the player on their left.
  • From the new hand, players again discard 1 card, then pick 2 cards to keep, passing on the remaining cards. Then they discard 1, pick 3, and pass on the remaining 2. Lastly, they discard 1 and keep 4.
  • Players may choose to pass on cards they chose to keep before.
  • Keep cards discarded during the draft separate from the regular discard pile. These cards will remain out of play for the duration of this cycle.

With 3 players:

  • Take the 18 green cycle cards; randomly and blindly discard 3.
  • Randomly divide up the remaining cards, giving each player 5 cards.
  • Players pick 1 card to discard, 1 card to keep, and pass on the remaining 3 cards to the player on their left.
  • From the new hand, players then pick 2 cards to keep, passing on the remaining 2 cards. Then they pick 3 and pass on the remaining card.
  • Players may choose to pass on cards they chose to keep before.
  • Keep cards discarded during the draft separate from the regular discard pile. These cards will remain out of play for the duration of this cycle.

With 4 players:

  • Take the 18 green cycle cards; randomly and blindly discard 2.
  • Randomly divide up the remaining cards, giving each player 4 cards.
  • Players pick 1 card to keep and pass on the remaining 3 cards to the player on their left.
  • From the new hand, players then pick 2 cards to keep, passing on the remaining 2 cards. Then they pick 3 and pass on the remaining card.
  • Players may choose to pass on cards they chose to keep before.
  • Keep cards discarded during the draft separate from the regular discard pile. These cards will remain out of play for the duration of this cycle.

Cycle actions Edit

During a cycle, when it is their turn, a player may:

  • Play a card (cycle card or territory card)
  • Pass (this turn only)
  • Take a claim token, only if they meet at least one victory condition


Once all players pass in a row, the cycle ends.

Combat Edit

Combat can be initiated through either the Invade or the Enrage action.

Once a player initiates combat in a territory (the initiator), the other players (the defenders) may opt to use any castles in the territory as defensive structures. In the play direction from the initiator, each defender may announce they are placing 1 of their units in a castle. Keep going around until either all castles are used (1 unit per castle) or no defenders express interest in using any of the castles present. A ‘castled’ unit is placed on top of a castle (black cube) and is considered not to be present in the territory for the duration of combat; after combat, return all castled units back in the territory.

All players who have (non-castled) units present in the territory take part in the combat. Once a player has no units left in that territory,

During combat, players take turns announcing 1 combat action. This takes place in the play direction, starting with the initiator. There are two different combat actions:

  • Attack. The defender must either discard a cycle card (green) from their hand, or take back 1 unit from the territory in which combat is taking place. The player taking the attack action always chooses which other player whose units are present is the receiver of the attack.
  • Retreat. The player taking this action moves all their units from the territory in which combat is taking place, to an adjacent territory in which they are the leader. If there is no such adjacent territory, the retreat action may not be taken.

Important! Combat can be stopped at any moment - even before it starts - if all players involved agree that they want combat to stop. However, if at least one of the involved players wants combat to continue, it does.

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