ToysBulletin.com reviews another award winning game from Mayfair Games.
As the recent winner of the Kennerspiel des Jahres (“Connoisseur/Expert Game of the Year”), we were excited to play test “Isle of Skye,” and we certainly were not disappointed.
“Isle of Skye” is basically a tile replacement game, however its fast game play and strategic elements place it firmly at the top tier of these types of games. The game contents include a double-sided game board, 16 scoring tiles, 78 landscape tiles (5 with castles), 6 player screens, a cloth bag, along with various coins, markers and tokens. The game is designed for 2-5 players ages 8 years old and up, and a typical game can be played in less than 60 minutes. The object of the game is to collect the most victory points and become the king of “Isle of Skye.”
Setup is very easy, as the game board is placed in the middle of the table (the side used depends on the number of players), 4 scoring tiles are randomly placed in the marked sections A, B, C and D on the game board. Each player chooses a color (5 to pick from), along with a matching player privacy screen, a starting landscape tile with castle, a score token and a discard marker. All scoring tokens are first placed on the number zero space on the scoring track that surrounds the game board. The landscape tiles (w/o castles) are placed in the cloth bag. Each player should make sure he has enough space in front of his screen to build their clan territory beginning with their landscape tile with castle.
The game is generally played over 6 rounds, with 6 phases to each round, Income, Draw Tiles/Set Prices, Discard Tile, Buy Tile, Build and Scoring. The first 3 phases of the round can be played by all players at the same time. During the Income phase, all players receive a base amount of 5 gold coins, plus bonus coins based on the number of tiles with whiskey connected to their castle or the position of opponents on the scoring track. Each player then grabs 3 landscape tiles from the cloth bag and places them face up in front of their privacy screen. Next, and this is done behind the privacy screen, each player positions his discard marker directly behind one of the 3 landscape tiles, and assigns at least 1 gold coin behind the other 2 landscape tiles. This completes the Draw Tiles/Set Prices phase of the round. The 3rd phase of the round ends with each player lifting up their privacy screen and placing the landscape tile marked by the discard marker back in the cloth bag.
Beginning with the 4th phase of the round, players alternate turns by buying one and only one tile from another player, or passing and buying nothing. If a purchase is made, the selling player receives the proceeds from the buying player and also gets to keep the coins he assigned to that tile. Any remaining tiles left in front of players (unpurchased) are picked up by that player, but he does lose the coins assigned to them.
In the 5th phase of the round, players must place in their clan territory all of the tiles they either purchased or picked up during the 4th phase, but the tiles must share a common edge with each other, either a matching pasture, mountain or water. Victory points will be scored at the end of each round (6th phase) based on some combination of 1 or more of those scoring tiles placed on the game board during the game setup. The scoring tiles will show various requirements needed to earn victory points, such as ships, sheep, cattle, towers, completed areas and many more. Players move their score tokens along the victory point scoring track at the end of each round. After the 6th and final round of the game, there is also some end of game/final scoring that will determine the final winner.
The Toys Bulletin staff agreed that “Isle of Skye” was a fantastic game experience from start to finish. Players need to keep an eye on those scoring tiles at all times, plan their tile purchases and subsequent placement to earn maximum victory points, while discarding tiles to keep them away from their opponents. But these are only a few of the key strategic elements to keep watch over during a game of “Isle of Skye.” Every time we played, we thought of something else that might help or hinder our game play. This is a must own game for sure, and another exceptional experience from Mayfair Games.
“Isle of Skye” retails for $37.00 and can be purchased directly from the Mayfair Games website.