Game: Blue Lagoon
Designer: Reiner Knizia
Published: Blue Orange Games
Playtime: 25-45 Minutes
Play Type: Route Building/ Set Collection
You are the chief of a tribe and you seek to explore new islands to settle and expand your tribe’s resources. When you stumble upon a newly discovered archipelago, you hurry to create settlements on the resource rich islands before competing tribes settle their land.
Game play in Blue Lagoon is surprisingly simple. The end goal of the players is to gain the most points through islands, links, majorities and resources. We will go into the specifics of those later in the article.
Set up is very simple. Players will place the main board in the center of the table. Then each player will take their villages and settlers in the color of their choosing. Finally players will populate the resources on the board by drawing resources out of the bag and placing them on the indicated spaces on the board.
The game is played in two very similar phases, with scoring rounds in between each phase. The first of these is called the exploration phase. During this phase players have one of three options they may complete on their turn:
- Place a boat on any open water tile
- Place a settler on a land tile adjacent to a placed boat tile or another village/settler.
- Place a village on land adjacent to either a boat tile/settler
When players place on a space with resources, they collect that resource. It is important to realize that there may only be one token on any space. Play will continue like this until all villages/settlers are on the board or until all resources have been collected.
After the exploration phase, players will go into the first scoring phase. Both scoring phases will be identical. Let’s take a closer look at scoring:
- Islands: Players who have pieces on all 8 islands will gain 20 points. Players with pieces on 7 islands will gain 10 points.
- Links: Players will gain 5 points for each island that they connect together with an unbroken link
- Majorities: Players will gain either 6,8, or 10 points for having the majority of settlers/villages on an island. The player with the most pieces on the island will look on the edge of the board to see what that particular island is worth.
- Resources (Statuettes): Each statuette is worth 4 points during scoring
- Resources (Matching Sets): If players have 4 or more matching resources they will gain 20 points, if they have 3 matching resources they will gain 10 points, if they have 2 matching resources they will gain 5 points.
- Resources (Four Types): If players collect all four of the different resource types they gain 10 points.
Players will write their score for the first phase of the game. Then they will reset the board, leaving only the villages that were placed. Players will replenish the resources on the board and then begin the settlement phase.
The settlement phase is extremely similar to the first phase, with the only difference being that players may now only place their settlers and boats next to the villages that were placed in the last round. Boats can no longer be placed on any open water space. Play continues in the same fashion as the last round, and then finishes with a second round of scoring identical to the first.
The game only has a few components that come in the box. The components include the circular settler/boat tokens which are double sided to represent either the settler or the board. Wooden Village tokens in each of the of the colors. Wooden resources and a cloth bag for randomization. Finally the main player board and scoring pad. The components are easy to distinguish, and aesthetically appealing.
The only concern that I have for components in the use of the score pad which could in theory run out of players played the game enough. This can be solved though be laminating one of the sheets to use as a dry erase board or by making copies.
- Quick Game Play
- Easy to Teach
- Simple Strategy
- Family Friendly
- Aesthetically Pleasing
- No Direct Player Interaction
- Some Take That Elements
Blue Lagoon has simple but pleasing game play. The game mechanics are easy enough to teach to a young child, after all players are just placing either a settler or a village. However, there is more depth of strategy than originally meets the eye when reading over the rules.
Players will find that as they play the game, it is easy for players to cut one another off on their way to their destination. Players can frequently trap a player into a small section of the board if they want to. Additionally, the choices that are made during the first round of the game have a significant impact on the second round. Players who choose to not place their villages throughout the board will find themselves struggling to spread out in the second round.
While the game is enjoyable and light, players who are looking for a heavier game may not enjoy Blue Lagoon. The simplicity of it makes it a lovely gateway game for new gamers, however I worry about replayability over time. I can see that its staying power would be that it can be played quickly and taught in less than five minutes but plays longer than the average filler game.
I would suggest Blue Lagoon to players who enjoy games like Ticket to Ride or Through the Dessert. It could easily be taught to children as young as five or six, so it would be a good option for families trying to introduce new gamers into the hobby. It is especially good for this because of its bright colors and welcoming game pieces. I could especially see using this in relation to Moana for younger children who enjoyed the movie, because it does have a similar theme and feel.
If you are looking to add another lightweight strategy game to your collection, this would definitely be a good option. There is enough passive player interaction and simple strategy to keep everyone engaged, and it plays quickly enough that players could use it as an introduction to a longer game on game nights.