Blue Lagoon

Publisher: Blue Orange Games

Designer: Reiner Knizia

Ages: 8+

Players: 2-4

Duration: 30-45 mins

You were voyagers, exploring new islands and settling new lands, but now youve settle on the islands, and you’re comfortable. But, its time to explore and settle again, and you find a boat and start to sail…

Ok, I’m gonna stop right there. YES, this game looks exactly like a certain kids movie, and inevitably it will be compared to it but the gameplay is what makes it really unique. In Blue Lagoon, you will play the game twice, but how you play the first time it will greatly affect the second time through. So is this game worth playing twice and will you enjoy sailing to new lands.

What’s in the box?

Inside the box there is a board, 32 wooden resources (6 of the 4 regular resources and 8 statues) 20 wooden villages (5 for each player), 120 settlers (30 for each player), a bag for all the resources and a score pad.

img_4778.jpg
That bag is awesome, and so are the goodies inside!

The games is very colourful and vibrant, and the wooden pieces are great, especially the huts with the little painted doors. The bag is also really nice and the board is brightly coloured. The cardboard settler pieces are alright, obviously wooden pieces would have been nicer but would have driven the cost up exponentially with there being 120 of them. There actually isn’t much art in the actual game, but the box art is really awesome and one of my favourite of the last year. Overall, the presentation is awesome and is up there with Blue Orange’s best.

So how do you play?

To begin the game, place the board out and put all the resources in the bag and randomly distribute one to each space on the board marked with the stones. Then each player chooses a colour and receives their 5 villages and settlers depending on player count: 20 for a 4 player game, 25 for a 3 player game and all for a 2 player game. Now you are ready to begin!

Blue Lagoon is actually played twice: you will play the game once, called the exploration phase and then play it again, called the settlement phase. Both games will be scored the same, but how you play the exploration phase will influence the settlement phase. So let’s see what you’re going to do:

In the settlement phase, you will be placing your settlers on the water so they can explore the islands, and you have 2 possible actions, and you may only place ONE piece on the board during your turn:

  • Place a settler boat-side up in ANY free water space on the board. This will be your entry point into islands and the only way to get settlers on land.
  • Place a settler or village next to any of your other settlers, whether its on land or water, although villages can only go on land. If you place a settler on a space with a resource or statue, take the resource or statue and place it in front of you. Important note: while you can place a village on a space with a resource or statue, it’s not a good idea as your villages will not make it into the next phase.
It’s getting a little crowded in here…

So why are we placing villagers? Well… when all the resources (not including statues) or  everyone has played all their pieces, the phase will end and we will score some points. Every game will have the same objectives.

  • If you have a settler on all 8 islands, score 20 points. If you have a settler on 7 islands, score 10 points, and if it’s 6 or less you get nothing.
  • Find your longest connected link of settlers (land and water, villages are also included) and see how many islands are connected by it. Score 5 points per island that the link connects to.
  • Each island has a number value. The player with the most land settlers on that island gets the point value, and if it’s a tie, split the points rounded down (so if 3 players are tied and the island is worth 8 points, each players only gets 2 points)
  • Score points for sets of the same resource: 2 of the same are worth 5 points, 3 of the same are worth 10 and 4 of the same are worth 20.
  • If you have at least one set of all 4 resources, score 10 points but only once.
  • Lastly, all statues are worth 4 points each.

So that’s how you score, and it greatly influences how you play. When the exploration phase is finished, write the scores down on the score pad… and now let’s play it again! Remove all your settlers from the board… but leave the villages. Then put all the resources in the bag and randomly distribute them again… and this is where the game gets interesting.

The villages are very important, because during the settlement phase, there’s no more placing your settlers anywhere on the water. Instead, you will begin by placing your settlers next to any of your villages you placed in the exploration phase, and then you can place next to another settler. You can move across islands as long as you place your settler in the water next to one on land. After the same end objectives as the exploration phase, score the game again, add up your scores from both phases and the player with the highest total score is the winner! If there’s a tie, the player with the most resources and statues breaks the tie.

Is it any good?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know that a game you have to play twice would be that great. I was truly drawn to this game by the art on the box, it was so vibrant and it really stood out to me. I’m also a fan of Reiner Knizia (who also desgined Lost Cities), but he designed so many games that I wasn’t so sure this one would stand out. Luckily for me, the game plays just as good as the box art looks.

A little area control, set collection and strategic placement… what more can you want?

Playing the game twice is actually my favourite part of this game. As one of my friends put it, “The first part of the game is the set up, and the second is the execution” and it totally feels that way. The placement of the villages is so important and crucial to the second part and adds a extra layer to an already solid gameplay. There’s so many ways to score, and you wont be able to do them all and theres only so many settler tokens you can use. I also love how in the settlement phase, your villages are also on the board so you have 5 less placements, which makes it even tighter!

The game is very easy to learn and I’ve taught it very easily to non-gamers. And yes, its mostly an abstract and the theme isn’t essential, but I do like how in the first phase you come from the water and settle, and then after settling you explore from your villages. the colours are really great and inviting, and it plays really fast. Because you only place one settler or village per turn, they go by really fast and you never feel like you’re waiting a long time.

Now let’s get one thing straight… this game can get really MEAN. You are always trying to block your opponents and get the resources first, and there’s going to be a lot of feelings getting hurt. That’s ok… that’s part of the game, and I actually enjoy it. But not everyone will, and that’s ok. Another problem is that with any game like this that requires lots of interaction, it never works well with 2. Yes its playable but it doesn’t feel the same. But at 3 and 4, the game really shines and really works great.

You’ll want to play it again, and not just because you need to!

But at the end of the day, this is another great game from Reiner Knizia and Blue Orange games. It has great mechanics, and playing it twice makes it extremely worthwhile. The box art really drew me in, but I’m staying for the amazing mechanics and gameplay. These are the kind of games I look for: quick and interactive with easy rules. While the fact that it isn’t as good with 2 hurts it a little, it doesn’t take away the genius mechanics. Blue Lagoon is one of my favourite games of 2018, and a welcome addition to any collection. I would say try not to be mean when playing it, but where’s the fun in that?

Pros:

  • Bright and colourful, with nice wooden pieces.
  • Extremely easy rules and quick turn order.
  • Genius mechanic of playing the game twice, and setting up the first game for the second game is just great.
  • The ability to end the phase early by collecting all resources adds tension.

Cons:

  • Can be extremely mean, but that’s kind of the point of the game.
  • As always, these area control games aren’t that good with 2 players.

 

3 thoughts on “Blue Lagoon

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