Hey everyone, what a time it’s been lately huh? I hope you’re all keeping safe and well under the current circumstances? In recent days I’ve been making an effort to favour games the whole family can play. As I surfed my shelves, (that’s an expression right?) I noticed two things. The first was I simultaneously spend too much and not enough money on board games, the second is I don’t have many games the whole family can enjoy. Most were either tailored towards adults meaning they were too complex for the kids, or towards the younger members of the family, lacking the fun and challenge that would keep us adults engaged. Then I spied The Isle of Cats and all my first world problems were solved!
The Isle of Cats is a 1-4 player card drafting, polyomino-laying game in which players are trying to rescue as many cats as possible over five rounds and secure them safely aboard their ships before the evil Vesh Darkhand arrives to wipe out all life on the island. Not only are there cats to be rescued but treasure and riches to be found. Fill your hold with felines and gold and at the end of the game, the player with the highest score wins.
Scores are determined by a variety of factors, the number of cats of a matching family (colour), the amount of treasure, the fewest rats remaining uncovered at the end of the game, and the ‘lesson’ cards learned by the end of your travels, lessons here being the game’s term for objective cards. Lesson cards are drafted at the beginning of the game and new cards come into play as the rounds progress.
Theme makes The Isle of Cats such an enjoyable, family friendly experience. Despite being competitive, you feel a sense of connection through the game’s common cause; at the end of the day, you’re all rescuing cats, it’s just a matter of how many, so even if you lose, you can still feel a sense of satisfaction. The game offers two variations and this is where it can appeal to a wide range of gaming groups. The standard game includes fish, used as a form of in-game currency to attract cats to your vessel, Oshax, a form of “wild” cat that can be used for any cat family and the lessons and card drafting elements, which add a little more meat into the mix. The family version removes these latter elements in favour of a lighter tile arrangement game ideal for younger players or if you just feel like some light hearted fun while idly chatting with your family.
The artwork is cute and colourful and the components are of a high quality, nice thick tiles and linen finish cards which are forgiving for little hands and even the game box lid has a fun cat oriented element which I won’t spoil here.
The gameplay is fun and incorporates a fun mix of game mechanics
Wonderful artwork, the cats are distinctive
Two variations of play, standard and family improves appeal
Component quality is high
Some players may want a gameplay experience that fits somewhere between the standard and family variations
The rulebook is not as clear as it could be
The box is too large and has a lot of empty space without the expansion
If you’re in search of a perfect game for your next family game night, then I have no hesitation in recommending The Isle of Cats. It ticks a wide range of boxes and with its relatable theme, stylish production design and approachable gameplay, it’s one you’ll likely find time to get to the table.
Thanks for joining me this week! Does The Isle of Cats sound like your kind of game? Feel free to share your thoughts of experiences in the comments below or join our amazing community of Game Kings Gamers on our Facebook page and share your love of the hobby! Hope to see you there!