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Digital Subscriptions > The Best Games of 2019 > The Best Games of 2019 > TREASURE ISLAND

TREASURE ISLAND

Golden Silver

TREASURE ISLAND

Golden Silver

Treasure Island is a hidden movement game with no hidden movement. flat small caveat aside, this pirate scavenger hunt is one of the most inventive and original entries in a genre populated by the likes of Fury of Dracula and Whitehall Mystery.

It helps that the premise is so irresistible: it’s a treasure hunt, plain and simple. Long John Silver – controlled by one player – knows where the booty is hidden on the island, but has been locked up. He ekes out vague clues to the rest of the pirates, who are all out for themselves in the search for the buried chest. They’ll share some knowledge, but other hints given to individual players can be kept secret. They might want to consider working together at least a little, though, as Long John will eventually escape and race to reclaim his treasure first. Lacking the fraught cat-and-mouse pursuit of other hidden movement games due to its static target, Treasure Island manages to whip up just as much tension and energy as the greats of the genre by letting players draw on its laminated board. The pirates move around, conducting searches to narrow down the possible locations of the treasure, while every few turns Long John oThers tantilising hints as instructed by cards.

The treasure’s somewhere south or west of you! It’s not within five miles of the temple! It’s not in this district! Almost all of the hints are accompanied by the immense satisfaction of scribbling on the board (or your own mini-map, in the case of a private clue), using a caliper, rulers and templates to quickly turn it into a glorious confusion of lines, circles and crosses. The simple act of drawing brings the hunt for treasure alive – it’s impossible not to feel swept up in the excitement of working out the shrinking number of places where the plunder could lie. Of course, pirates aren’t exactly in the business of honesty. Long John can choose to tactically lie a set number of times, with the unknown veracity of his clues throwing just enough doubt into the mix to keep the pirates guessing throughout Treasure Island’s extremely reasonable runtime. Meanwhile, the pirates have a limited number of more powerful special actions individual to each character, making Treasure Island more than a simple game of hot and cold.

With the exception of pirates stumbling onto the motherlode by pure luck – not impossible, if generally avoidable – Treasure Island masters its pace. The clues feel well tuned to narrow the net without leaving the pirates guessing blindly or Long John feeling cornered too early, ramping up the specificity at a rate that makes the closing turns come neatly down to the wire. Allowing Long John to escape makes for a dramatic finale, avoiding a jarring sudden finish when time runs out. While the game’s semi-competitive scavenger hunt sings best with three or four people, it scales comfortably to a one-on-one showdown.

Treasure Island’s great pleasure of doodling is also where its few hiccups arise. Vincent Dutrait’s artwork is beautiful, but the lush forests and rolling seas of the map often make the multicoloured pens tough to see. As the board is filled with scribbles, it quickly becomes an overwhelming mess of information to try and parse; something that the mini-maps aren’t too well equipped to help with. At points, the sheer amount of brain-burning feels like it belongs in a three-hour strategy heavyweight, rather than a sub-hour game of pirate hide-and-seek. There can also be a fair amount of fiddliness when it comes to drawing lines – the rulebook encourages an amount of Thexibility, so it’s not a game to play with pedants. It’s worth noting that the rulebook in our copy of the game, which suThered from confusing wording and poor structuring, has since been updated with a significantly better version available online.

A few small blips ultimately can’t detract from Treasure Island’s buoyant sense of fun and adventure. It’s a simple pleasure wrapped up in a brilliantly creative package that’s a treasure well worth discovering.

MATT JARVIS

WE SAY

The busy visuals can be a problem, but the pure joy of seeking out buried booty makes Treasure Island a fantastic addition to the hidden movement genre.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

► Five screens

► Four mini-maps

► Four memo sheets

► Five miniatures

► Four turn order tokens

► Game board

► Calendar board

► Four character sheets

► Two mini rulers

► Ruler

► Caliper

► Small search template

► Large search template

► Small compass

► Large compass

► Five markers

► 11 district hints

► Eight compass hints

► Seven starting hints

► 11 Black Spot hints

► Eight information tokens

► Chest

► Six chest tokens

► Treasure token

► Long John Silver mini-map

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED… FURY OF DRACULA

Looking for another stellar one-versusmany hidden movement board game based on a classic of literature from the turn of the 19th century? You’re in luck!

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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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