Monday, January 27, 2014

Robinson Crusoe - Learning the Game, Learning from Mistakes (not), Admitting Defeat

Its been a week of no posts from me as I was away serving my country ( albeit being very bored in the process ). With the very little spare time I had in between days, I managed to chalk up 3 solo plays of Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island.

Girl: We will go there, and die / Man: Roger Dodger Boss

Robinson Crusoe ( RC ) is a game I have been wanting to try since it first released back in 2012.
The theme appealed to me and the art was certainly eye catching. But after reading about how heavy the game is, I held back for a long time as I was quite certain that it wouldn't be able to hit the table regularly.
Well, I saw a copy for sale online and I bought my first new game of 2014, much against my new year resolution. Haha. It had to happen eventually. :P
I am still determined to buy lesser games this year than I normally do though. :)

RC is a co-operative game that plays 1-4 players. I won't be describing the game in detail, its really too lengthy and boring to type out in a blog post. But basically, what the players are trying to do is to survive and fulfill a scenario specific objective. The game comes with 6 different scenarios to choose from.
Throughout the game, players will take actions via a worker placement system where players place their tokens to complete certain tasks together or alone. Players are trying to explore the island to reveal new experiences and sources of resources, build items to survive and improve their chances of victory, gather resources, hunt animals for food, and to withstand the forces of nature. Everything is interconnected in RC and you will often find you don't have enough time ( or life points ) to achieve all you had hoped to set out to do.

A turn in RC goes something like this:
- Execute an Event ( bad thing happens )
- Check your team's morale
- Produce resources located at your camp ( perhaps the only good thing happens phase of the game )
- Plan and Execute Actions ( possibly losing many many life points )
- Withstand the Weather ( bad thing happens midway through the scenario till you die )
- Sleep through the Night ( spend resources or bad thing happens )

This continues till you have won or lost collectively.
That's RC in a very small and unflattering nutshell.
The meat of the game is the planning and executing actions phase where the decisions to be made are really quite engaging, and often poses tough choices for the players.

Solo Game 1 / Castaways - Learning Game - Death by Bear...

My first venture on the cursed island was as a lowly and inexperienced cook.
I had my friend Friday and a most loyal and obedient dog named dog.

Upon waking up at the cursed island, I did what all inquisitive minds do, set out exploring the vast and beautiful landscape. I was to spend the nights alone, so I just needed enough food in the day for one and I could roam to my hearts desire, build till my hands were weak, and sleep under the beautiful stars without a care for a shelter over my head.

Days 1-3 went by without much problems. I was slightly bruised and tired, a little flood here and there, some disruptive monkeys made my life slightly miserable, but I was extremely determined and optimistic for the future. With a nice cellar and a beautiful pot, what more could a cook need ? Soon I will have my fire, and a pile of wood shouldn't be too difficult to get. When I see the ship, I will be home free, a tale for the grandchildren no doubt.

But suddenly, the weather changed.. What's this ? Snow clouds ? Harsh rain ?
Soon I was out of wood, and food. A cook without food ? What an embarrassment ! I will never live it down.. The beautiful stars no longer seemed beautiful, Friday my friend had disappeared, and my dog had given up hope in me.

The Ominous Bear

No worry dog ! I still have a big heart ! Screw the fire, I have a magic pot ! I just need some nice juicy meat. Let's go do something new. Who says a cook can only cook ? I can fight like the best of em ! I have 2 weapons, and much strength in me, I am invincible !
Day 5... Rain beats down on the broken and ripped up body of poor Ms Cook.. Not a soul in sight but for bear tracks leading deep into the forest...

1) Hunting the beasts is tough. There are more high powered ones than low powered ones so a high level of weaponry is important. But weaponry takes up important wood and actions.
2) Having shelter and roof is crucial. Absolutely crucial. With half of scenario 1 requiring you to roll all 3 weather dice, the lack of a roof is a sure fire way to fail
3) Food is pretty difficult to maintain and I think the cellar is possibly the best invention in the game. I had it and can imagine my life being terribly miserable without it

Solo Game 2 / Castaways - Learning from Mistakes (not) - Death by Iguana...

I am Mr Explorer, stranded on this intriguing island when my ship crashed after a terrible storm. I was heading on an adventure after lost treasures, but since I am now here, I wonder what secrets this island is keeping from the outside world. Well, soon enough a rescue ship will come, I already have my plan. I read a survival book once, some time back, talking gibberish about sleeping under good shelter, monitoring the weather and not fighting without proper equipment. Please, everyone knows that. Money wasted on a useless book.

A good start, A very sad end

While exploring the island, I bumped into a native named Friday, and an overly excited dog. What a promising start for a brave and clever explorer as I. Alone I am capable, with help I am unstoppable !
Being the savvy explorer I am, days 1-6 were like a walk in the park. I was hurt and battered, but I had a cellar with food reserves for a day or 2, I found natural shelters to rest my head for the cold nights. I even have a nice small roof over my head ! On my travels, I found oh so many equipment and items that have refreshed my soul and filled my heart with great delight. Oh the heavens have blessed me indeed !

I did get much blisters from building items and a flood ravaged my camp when I was out for the day. A tiger even attempted to assassinate me in my very own home ! But hey, Mr Explorer does what he does best, surviving against the odds. *wink* Well, tomorrow is the day I get my fire done, get more wood for my rescue plan, and maybe I might find some treasure in the process. That would be Sweeeeet !

A lot of Equipment tokens were gained in this game

Day 7 came like a thief in the night...
How could I not have seen the storm coming ? How could my day have been so fruitless and unproductive ? I, Mr Explorer - the great Mr Explorer - got nothing done ? Made a judgement lapse on the weather ? Preposterous ! I even got lost on the way back to camp ! No ! I did not say such a thing. That's impossible, it's like admitting Friday got killed by my stupidity of asking him to build an item by himself. He's the foolish one ! Thinking he was so capable and didn't need my help. Just a bad day, just a bad day. Tomorrow, yes tomorrow.. Tomorrow all things will be made right.

Day 8... Upon my return to camp, all my wood and food was gone. The storm took it when it rampaged through my campsite. Oh the horrors.. At least it left my weapon... Food ! What I need most right now is food glorious food. Dog ! Let's go ! I saw something small creeping along on my way back to camp. We will defeat it and start our day with a bang !

Fear the might of the Iguana

**lying face up staring at the mid day sky**
"Iguana... stupid stinking Iguana..."
"It looked like it was on steroids... how could I fall at the hands of an IGUANAAAA !!!"

1) I liked the explorer the best I think. Exploring the tiles is exciting because of the knowledge tiles that come with it. And it also helps that the dog aids in exploring as well so life felt more natural as the explorer 
2) Once again hunting was my downfall and I start to think getting the beast cards expansion would be a great idea as it introduces more lower powered beasts. I would like it more if I didn't quaver at the thought of hunting a face down card. What happened to the push your luck person in me ?
3) I also liked the explorer's special abilities the best. It's with him that I used the most tokens and died without a single one left. 

Solo Game 3 / Castaways - Admitting Defeat - Death by Weather...

The ship won't sink they say, the holes don't need to be plugged or fixed they say, bloody thwarts, when will anyone listen to the carpenter ? I'm glad they met their watery death.
Now, how am I, a mere carpenter, supposed to survive out here on a deserted island ? I know absolutely nothing about survival. All I know is how to build and invent things. Maybe I should build a raft of sorts, then again, the next nearest land of civilization is probably moons away..
Well, maybe I should just get comfortable first and find a way to feed myself. The longer I stay alive, the better my chances of survival I guess..

A builder indeed... But a very cloudy sky each round did him in

Man, this island is choke full of good wood for me to experiment on.
I have my own proudly built shelter, a roof over my head, a snare to bring in food on a daily basis, even a hand made weapon ! Haha, this should add to my resume and secure me a nicer job when I get back to the real world. I even managed to light a fire just using sticks ! Genius !

Day 1-3 was relatively tough. Got bitten by some weird flying ma-thing-um. Feeling rather funny inside, hope it doesn't come back to bite me. Monkeys trailed me to my campsite, tried to wreck my roof building plans but I chased them away before I got started on it. I was kinda demotivated for awhile too, I guess settling in isn't as easy as I thought it would be. 

Day 4-6 brought heavy heavy rains. I'm so glad I have such a sturdy shelter, but man, this water is killing my inventions and rendering my wood useless. Once the storm subsides, those wood will be as good as useless. Sigh, all my work for nothing.
Hey, at least I have the gorilla to thank for the lovely roof I have. A roof made out of Gorilla fur, am I kickass or what. Killed it with my own handmade weapon; you should have seen the look of terror on its face. Haha. And they say Gorillas are scary. You haven't messed with Mr Carpenter yet that's why.
I wish I had some sort of image capturing device with me, if I show the ladies these pictures of the Gorilla fur roof, my blood stained handmade weapon, I will be rolling with chicks. Haha. Whatever, goodnight Mr Carpenter, a few more days till you're home.

Determined... Even in death

Day 7-9...
Snow ? And rain ? Snow AND Rain ? Shit... Bleep
I hardly have enough wood to build another weapon for food, let alone wood for that bonfire I wanted to get going. I don't have enough wood for ANYTHING ! And if I were just a bit stronger or fatter - Man, I wish I were fatter - I wouldn't need to eat so much food to keep warm at night. Doesn't pay to have a sexy body anymore.. It's ok. I'll just sleep now, I know I'll feel better when I wake up. That's right. Rest now and benefit later. Snow... so cold... Fire dying out... Sleep, sleep.....

1) The carpenter is great for building. Really true to its name and that really brings the theme to life. 
2) Having the roof and shelter kept me alive the longest of my 3 plays. Solidifying the notion that the roof is possibly one of the most important things to have at all times
3) The weather is simply unstoppable though. I have no idea how to face the 3 dice for 6 rounds in the game. I had good protection from my roof for quite a while until I kept rolling 3 clouds then shit got real. 
4) As much as I like the carpenter as well, he may not be suitable for scenario 1, I keep getting tempted to build stuff and end up wit insufficient wood for my pile. It's no surprise that with him I was the furthest from completing the pile compared to the cook or explorer. 

Robinson Crusoe is tough people. Scary tough. I don't think I will ever beat the game this year, or any year for that matter. Playing RC solo is like playing the Game of Thrones. You win or you die.
Well, you mostly die. Haha.
But it is fun ! And I think given the time, I will love to jump into the different scenarios soon.
I am more excited with playing this with other players though. I think solo is too tough an uphill climb due to the lack of action tokens and a limited amount of health. I don't know for sure if a multi-player game is easier but it sure seems like it would be compared to the solo game. I know all the players lose health together ( mostly ), but I do see a nett increase in health and the greater number of action tokens would be really useful. Well, very soon I hope, very soon.

Till then, that's all I have for my solo experiences with RC. Fun but deadly.
A very nice game.



  1. Hey Jonathan,

    Just curious, did you get the Zman or Portal version?


  2. hi JW

    unfortunately i could only get the Z-man version
    would have preferred the Portal Version but couldn't find it anywhere


  3. Does being more difficult make RC more fun to play than Castaways - the other (semi)cooperative game about being trapped on an island?

  4. AAAAAA !!!!
    Board RPGs - my weakness!
    Very cool article, I'm very recently bought a board game of thrones))
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