Menu

BLUE LAGOON

Reviewed by Chris Wray

BLUE LAGOON (Blue Orange Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, 30-45 minutes; $29.99)

 

Blue Orange is becoming a darling of Gen Con, developing a reputation for well-produced, family-friendly games.  This year they released Blue Lagoon, a game from Reiner Knizia that harkens back to his hit classic Through the Desert (reviewed under its original title Durch die Wuste in the Winter 1995 issue of Gamers Alliance Report).  The game was a critical and commercial success at the convention, selling hundreds (if not thousands) of copies and earning a spot on most “hotness” lists covering the convention.

In Blue Lagoon, players are the chiefs of their tribes, exploring and settling along an archipelago of eight islands.  With vibrant blues and greens splashed across the gameboard and resources like bamboo and coconut, the game feels like it is set in the South Pacific, though the rulebook never specifies.  

To start the game, each player receives 5 wooden villages and 20, 25, or 30 cardboard settlers, depending on the number of players in the game. The goal is to spread the villages and settlers across the archipelago, connecting the islands and gathering resources along the way.

Blue Lagoon is extraordinarily simple to play.  Gameplay proceeds in two intuitive phases.  During the first phase, called the Exploration Phase, a player takes his turn by placing either a village or a settler on the board.  A settler can be placed on any open water space but, when placing settlers or villages on land, they must be placed adjacent to another piece belonging to that player.  

The board has several spaces where resources/statues were randomly-placed at the start of the game, and if a village or settler is placed

The exploration phase ends either when (a) all players have placed all of their pieces or (b) all of the resources on the board are taken.  At that point, the first round of scoring is triggered. Scoring has a point-salad feel. First, players earn 10 or 20 points if they are on 7 or 8 islands, respectively.  Second, they earn 5 points per island in their longest chain of continuously-placed pieces. Third, each of the 8 islands is scored for majorities, with players earning 6 to 10 points for having the most.  Next, resources are scored. The game has four in game resources – bamboo, coconuts, precious stones, and water – and a set of 2, 3, or 4 of one kind is worth 5, 10, or 20 points, respectively. Having a set of all four kinds is worth 10 points.  Finally, some of the resource spaces are filled with statues, which don’t count for any of the combinations above but they are worth 4 points each.

After the first scoring, the settlement phase begins.  All pieces except the villages are removed and the resources are put out again randomly. During this phase, players can only place next to their villages or an already placed piece.  In other words, during the exploration phase, players need to have strategically placed their villages to set them up for the settlement phase.  

Like the exploration phase, the settlement phase ends when all pieces are placed or all resources are exhausted.  At that point, another scoring is triggered, and the second scoring mechanic is identical to the first. The scores are tallied, and the highest score wins. 

The game is easy to learn and a rules explanation takes only a few minutes.  The rulebook is a mere four pages. I’m disappointed that the publisher did not include scoring player aids – given the “point salad” nature of scoring they would have been nice – but there is a thick pad of score sheets that can be handed out as reminders. 

Play is fast.  Very fast. Because a player’s turn involves simply placing one piece on the board and because they often have a feel for which space they want, turns around the table can take only a few seconds.  In total,  the game box says Blue Lagoon takes 30-45 minutes but that seems high to me: we’ve been playing in 20-25 minutes.  

I’ve played Blue Lagoon nearly a dozen times and I find it remarkable how many different strategies emerge from such a simple game.  Players can rack up points from gathering resources, spanning the archipelago, or playing for majorities. The game can be a bit cutthroat; there’s always somebody trying to block off portions of the map but in a manner that is more friendly than confrontational.  

As I mentioned in the introduction, Blue Lagoon reminds me of Through the Desert.  I prefer the latter – I think it is the deeper game – but what Blue Lagoon sacrificed in depth, it gained in approachability.  This is a game that just about anybody can play. 

Overall, I’m highly impressed. I’ve tried more than 25 titles from Gen Con 2018, and Blue Lagoon has emerged as my favorite title from Gen Con 2018 and one of the few that will stay on my shelf. This game will work with a wide variety of different audiences, most notably family gamers, but while Blue Lagoon is simple, it is also fast-paced and tense with enough depth and interesting choices to intrigue serious gamers. As is often the case with Blue Orange’s games, the production value is stunning.  Combine that with Reiner Knizia’s clever gameplay and Blue Lagoon is sure to be a hit in the coming months.   – – – – – – – – – – – – Chris Wray



Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Other Fall 2018 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by James Davis BIOS MEGAFAUNA: 2ND EDITION (Sierra Madre Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 90-180 minutes; $69.99) Phil Eklund is a rocket scientist. He’s also a game designer. And so yes, he has created a game about rocket science. It’s called High Frontier (and featured in ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Wray BLUE LAGOON (Blue Orange Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, 30-45 minutes; $29.99) Blue Orange is becoming a darling of Gen Con, developing a reputation for well-produced, family-friendly games.  This year they released Blue Lagoon, a game from Reiner Knizia that harkens back ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac CHAMPIONSHIP FORMULA RACING (Ultra Pro, 1 to 12 players, ages 13 and up, 45-60 minutes; $60) Back in the 1980’s when I first started gaming and Avalon Hill was king, one of the most popular racing games was Speed Circuit.  However, many years passed and the ...
Read More
DOLLARS AND SENSE This issue of Gamers Alliance Report is being published just as the Holiday Season buying rush is getting into gear. Pretty soon, families will be spending time around the Thanksgiving table, gifts will be bought for the Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations and, of course, if you ...
Read More
Reviewed by Kevin Whitmore EPOCH: EARLY INVENTORS (Rio Grande Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 45-90 minutes; $59.95) Epoch is a 2018 release from Rio Grande Games, designed by the slightly cryptic Martyn F. I say cryptic, as Martiy does not disclose his last name. Adding to ...
Read More
Games at the Alexandria Palace by Selwyn Ward Despite its regal sounding name, Alexandra Palace was never a royal residence. Located in North London, England, it was originally conceived and built around the time the Civil War was raging between the United States and the Confederacy. It was named after ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy LOST CITIES: RIVALS (Kosmos, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 40 minutes; $14.95) Very often, a well received game will inspire its designer to "revisit" that creation and come up with a new spin on it. No one is more adept at this than ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy MERCADO (Kosmos, 2 to 4 players. ages 10 and up, 30-40 minutes; $39.95) Mercado means "market" in Spanish and, true to its name, players will find themselves in a market where they will use their wealth to buy expensive treasures and rare perfumes and, with the ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy ORBIS (Space Cowboys, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; $39.99) Games cover a whole range of subjects, from the sublime to the ridiculous. touching upon almost everything imaginable in the world. But what about creating your own world? That is this challenge ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy PIONEER DAYS (Tasty Minstrel Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 45-60 minutes; $59.95) In the early days of western settlement of the United States, it took hardy folk to undertake - and survive - the dangers that awaited them as they trekked from ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy RHINO HERO: SUPER BATTLE (HABA, 2 to 4 players, ages 5 and up, 10-20 minutes; $29.99) Super heroes, super hero battles, building things up and crashing them down, what more can someone ask for in a game designed for kids? At least, that seems to be ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy RISE OF TRIBES (Breaking Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 30-60 minutes; $50) We've come a long way since early man first appeared on this planet but questions still remain.  Just how did early man survive? Just how did civilization grow and develop? ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser SANTA MARIA (Aporta Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 45-90 minutes; $54.99) Every now and then I am surprised by a game, finding myself really enjoying it after initially low expectations.  A few folks in our game group played Santa Maria shortly after ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy SHIFTING REALMS (Soaring Rhino Inc., 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; $75) Lots of games create a world for players in which to immerse themselves. For brothers Craig van Ness and Jeff van Ness, however, one world is not enough! In their ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy TARGI (Kosmos, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 60 minutes; $19.95) Back in 2012, the German game company Kosmos released a two player game of tribal competition in the desert. This game received critical acclaim including receiving a Kennerspiel des Jahres nomination as well as a ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy THE RIVER (Days of Wonder, 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, 30-45 minutes; $39.99) The quest for land and the growth of settlements have been influences on human behavior for centuries and, in many cases, rivers running through them have been an essential component ...
Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue UNLOCK! (Asmodee, 1 to 6 players, ages 10 and up, 45-75 minutes; $14.99 each) Since its first appearance back in 2008 and more from 2010, the Escape Room has become a real cult favorite with, nowadays, hundreds rooms all around the world. It was just ...
Read More

 

 

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!