Forbidden Sky Review

Forbidden Sky Feature
Forbidden Sky Feature
Released 2018
Designer Matt Leacock
Publisher Gamewright (Website)
Players 1 – 5
Playing Time 45-90 minutes
Category Cooperative
Action Points
Hand Management
Player Powers
Circuit Building
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Some things should remain off limits – but not this!

Just like Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert before it, Forbidden Sky takes a central theme of characters working together to achieve a common goal.

Once again, each character has a set number of actions they can perform on their turn.  Each character has special abilities that will break some limiting game rules and help the team.  There is also the ‘Draw a card and lose’ actions in full swing.

Then the game changes

Normally characters are playing in a predefined shape of tiles in order to search for and obtain a certain number of items to win.

I bet you are already checking out the rocket in the picture though, aren’t you? We will get to it, I promise 😀

This time around, you have flown the Archean’s lost Sky Ship from the Desert to a secret Sky Station.  Here you need to repair the station in order to allow the Rocket to hopefully take you to the Archean’s long-lost civilisation.  Forbidden Moon is coming perhaps?

Forbidden Sky Components
Mostly the same simple components that allow lots of gameplay, except everyone plays with the Rocket...

Gameplay wise you start at on a preset tile (complete with an image of the Sky Ship – glad the theme is starting to flow) but you have to explore the station.  This is done not by tile flipping like in the Desert, but in collecting then placing tiles a la Carcossone.

If you have never played Carcassone, the placement is fairly simple.  On each tile is a number of orange lines which represent wires.  Each time you place a tile, one of these orange lines must line up with a tile next to it, forming a continuous line like a road.

Also on these tiles are various symbols, but I will go into these a little later.  For the moment, you are concentrating on forming a circuit with a certain number of disks, physical wires and lightning towers in order to power the Rocket.  And you will actually power the Rocket!

Forbidden Sky Tile Placement
So this tile can be placed because the orange line matches the previous tile. This is your main placement rule - nice and simple.

Gameplay vs Gimmick – The Rocket

Now the idea behind the game is simple and brilliant – build an actual electrical circuit to power the Rocket.  When complete, the Rocket will flash and make noise as it simulates taking off into the unknown.

But to get there, you need to build a physical circuit with a number of components.  The amount of items you need depends on the difficulty level you want to play at – the higher the difficulty, the more parts involved.

Now this challenge is both familiar and different to the other Forbidden games, which is great.  Needing to find tiles to make the capacitors that act as wire joints, as well as lightning towers and the pad itself, makes this unquestionably a Forbidden game experience.

But.

The play tiles are constantly being bumped.  You are eventually placing different length wires in different places.  Player pieces are moved around into wires or accidentally moving tiles.

Forbidden Sky Connections
The joints are magnetised, but the constant bumping and knocking makes mid turn rebuilding the map a pain.

All this means when you finish the game, you usually then have to nudge the pieces into place to ‘win’ and let the Rocket launch.  The circuit can never remain in place during play, making this the fiddliest game to date – all for a gimmick light and sound show.

Now don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the challenge of the game, and making three similarly feeling yet completely different games is a massive task.  Matt Leacock deserves every credit for making a fun game – it’s just the execution seems to be a bit lacking.

I really would have preferred a less finicky system for playing with.  Placing plastic wires on discs (capacitors) would have worked without the magnets to form the circuit just as well, and maybe a little better.

Physically ‘building’ the Sky Ship in Forbidden Desert was fun, but not essential – especially as they just filled a set space.  I rarely let anyone attach the propeller in my game because I had trouble pulling it apart again – but no one was disappointed the ship didn’t ‘fly’.

When the circuit doesn’t just work, the satisfaction of winning is dashed by the anti-climax of the Rocket not lighting up, and that actually detracts from a very fun game.

Forbidden Sky Circuit Complete
When the board is complete, watching the Rocket light up is great! But when it doesn't work, well that is such an anti-climax

The Leacock Equation has been reversed

So the Leacock Equation is something I call it, but if you talk to a lot of players of Matt Leacock’s cooperative games most will probably guess what I am talking about.

When you play these cooperative games, if you want to make it a bit easier on yourself/yourselves, you play with fewer characters.  The general theory is that fewer ‘bad thing’ draws happen between your turn ending and coming back to you.  This also allows you to optimise strategy on using certain special skills over and over again with less cooldown.

Forbidden Sky does something different – I find the game much easier on higher player counts.

The reasoning is exploring the Station.  Because Forbidden Sky is a cooperative game, everyone can see what everyone is holding (open handed play).  When you have four or five players, you can see up to 15 tiles waiting to be placed.

Now some tiles have capacitors you need, some have gear available, some have protection from lightning and/or protection from wind (the ‘bad things’ of Forbidden Sky).

Forbidden Sky Characters
Six Characters, with up to 5 at a time. But the more that come in, the easier planning gets.

With this much information freely available and unlimited turn and planning time, you can lay out a lot of the Station very quickly and protect your characters nicely.

This is a little offset by the fact you have to survive at least an entire round to get to this position, and something bad will happen all but guaranteed each turn.  But getting here isn’t uncommon and it’s quite an advantage.

I can see where the gameplay would be made a little easier when the ‘bad things’ became harder.  Instead of fighting one peril (Water or Sun), you now face Lightning and Wind at the same time.

Lightning will do a point of health damage if you are on a square that connects to a lightning tower via a wire, and wind will blow you off the Station.  You can survive both for a few ‘hits’, but you need to beware.

Now personally I think this is a welcome changeup in mechanics, but for some players, this could be a large negative.

I know plenty of couple players that enjoy a ‘quiet’ game of Pandemic or Forbidden Island/Desert because it’s a little easier.  Only having a maximum of 6 tiles available to plan makes long terms strategising harder, and this may not be the instant difficulty spike they were hoping for.

It’s not the end of the world by any means – but beware if you think going in that the two player mode is the ‘easy’ mode.  To really hammer this home, if you play 2 player you will start on 2 on the ‘Draw Bad Cards’ meter – no breathers for you!

Forbidden Sky Storm Meter
Only playing with 2 Characters? Well you can start getting hammered straight away. Lightning and Wind ahoy!

So it really sounds like I don’t enjoy Forbidden Sky, doesn’t it?

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Everything that makes me enjoy the previous Forbidden games is here, including the ‘fiddly’ between turn issues of Forbidden Desert.

Think of any trilogy you have ever experienced.  I will pick the ‘original’ Star Wars for the example – Episodes 4, 5 and 6.  I enjoy all of them, both for nostalgia and as a bit of fun on the TV in the background.  Episode 4 introduced the story, Episode 5 set the stage and stakes, and Episode 6 bought it home.

Rewatching the movies now, I skip Episode 5 – Empire Strikes Back – almost every time.  Not because I don’t like it, but because I don’t need it.  I know the story, I know the twists, I don’t have to watch it again.

Star Wars Trilogy
I may be showing my age, but many would have seen these movies. And like all trilogies, one is liked less than the others

Forbidden Sky is a little like my Empire Strikes Back.  It’s good, and if you haven’t seen it you should watch it – especially if you want the entire Star Wars story.  Forbidden Sky is a worthy game for your shelf, especially if you are a fan.  But in a year, will I be suggesting to play it over Forbidden Desert?  I don’t think so.  But I will always be willing to teach and play it with people that haven’t played it, because it should be played.

But why no tin?

My only real ‘Why?’ with Forbidden Sky is the packaging.

Forbidden Island and Forbidden Sky both came in nice tins that made them stand out on shelves.  Now I have heard of people complaining of dents and lids distorting, but I have never had any trouble like this.  I can always spot the Forbidden games on my shelf because I look for the tins.

Now Forbidden Sky is larger than the previous two games, and costs can be a factor, but I am disappointed that the aesthetic didn’t continue.  However, for some people, this will be a plus, so go with what works for you on this one 🙂

Forbidden Island Something is Different
It's a small thing, but series defining - a 'Forbidden' game not in a tin! Still makes a nice pyramid though...

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Forbidden Sky

Final Thoughts

Forbidden Sky is my least favourite of the Forbidden games, but that needs context.  It’s like saying you like Rocky Road less than Café Grande or Salted Caramel – it’s not that you will say no to the Rocky Road, just that you might say no if others are on offer.

It’s not a bad game by any means, and the attempt to do some different things is very appreciated.  If you have only played Forbidden Sky, you will most likely really enjoy it.  If you played only one other Forbidden game, you may like this more, you may like the other – it’s a personal taste question.

That is both the beauty and curse of Forbidden Sky.  It’s trying to be an accessible entry for new players while giving existing fans something new, and it almost gets there.  But just not quite.

Play it if you get the chance, and there are certainly many worse games you can buy blind.  But if I was standing next to you in the game store, I would say buy one Desert or Island first depending on your tastes.

Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10

Pros

  •  It’s more Forbidden game
  •  Memory flip has been replaced with Carcassone style map making
  •  Still accessible for brand new players to the genre

Cons

  •  Rocket feels gimmicky
  •  Connecting ‘wires’ gets in the way and get knocked off a lot
  •  Inverting difficulty may put off some existing fans
  •  Doesn’t come in a tin – but that’s personal preference

Last Week’s Gaming – November 12th 2018

Drop It 20181112

It is Forbidden to Roll the Tags, so Drop It

A new week, and one full week back from holidays down.  The reality has come back in full force, and I already miss a few things from my holidays.

But on the bright side, schedules remain and games are being played!  A lot of new games this week, so let’s jump into it.

Drop It

How to describe Drop It.

Think of competitive Tetris or Connect 4, and add carnival game style dexterity challenges.

When you look at Drop It, you already mostly know how to play – it’s one of those great instinctual games.  There is a lot of ‘What How’ and ‘Ha Ha’ from the players, as you drop a piece and bases collapse or shapes bounce (or both!).

I know I am not talking too much about it, but Alpal has had it for a little while and I saw it playing at PAX Aus, so I figured it was time for the review.  So guess what tomorrows review is going to be?

Drop It 20181112
You look at it, and you think you know the game. And you do - but it throws you. Drop It is simply a fun game.

Tags

Most people I know enjoy a word game despite themselves.  Throw out a challenge like think of how many fruits begin with C, and a list will start to form in someone’s mind.

And yes, Cucumber is a fruit.

Tags takes this little quirk and make a fun challenge.  There is a grid of marbles with five categories and four letters (well, mostly letters).  You then have 15 seconds to match the conditions on the grid to keep that coloured marble – e.g. Things that people are blackmailed for that start with J, or Something Romantic that includes ‘in’.

This is the second game this week that makes a great low player count party game, and a trend I hope continues in new releases.

Tags 20181112
It's hard to describe Tags except as a lower player count party game - and it's worth every second you play it.

Roll Player

So Roll Player was all the buzz in gaming circles a little while ago, and Alpal got a copy at a ‘reasonable’ price (it’s been over AUD$100 for a while!).

Alpal took me through a game, and I am hooked, with my own copy making it’s way to me soon.

The gameplay itself looks minimal (as in ‘so where’s the game?’) but once you start playing, the depth of choice is immediately apparent.

Solo you try to score a perfect score of 40 (with 38+ being the highest achievement title), while multiplayer you go for highest score wins.

More will be discussed on Roll Player over the coming weeks – be sure of that!

Roll Player 20181112
Surprisingly fun and tense at the same time, Roll Player takes Dice/Worker Placement to higher levels while remaining quick and fun

Forbidden Sky

So I have played this a couple of times over the last week, and I have mixed feelings so far.

Now I really wanted to play and enjoy Forbidden Sky – it’s on my most anticipated games list for 2018.  And I did enjoy it to a degree.  The first game at max player count had a couple of small issues with rules (my reading ability not the rules themselves), and we seemed to thump the game.

Try again after some more extensive reading and clarifications in a two player game, and it was better.  Much better.  I will be playing this a few more times and a full review will be coming soon – after the original Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert reviews!

Forbidden Sky 20181112
A game I have been waiting - Forbidden Sky has arrived. And it has flipped the 'Leacock Standards' in a surprise move.

Tetris Effect

I jumped on this as soon as I got home last Friday.

Tetris Effect is gorgeous to behold, and playing in VR is a completely immersive experience that allows you to focus to new levels.

Which is also it’s downfall.  I don’t normally suffer motion sickness in VR, but the gorgeous world did throw me for a loop and I couldn’t play this for more than about 40-50 minutes without conceding to physical complaints.

It’s fun, and I do recommend playing – but maybe in a dark room with headphones instead of VR?  I haven’t tried this yet, but a full review will be coming in a couple of weeks.

Tetris Effect Feature
Screenshots Coming!

Diablo 3

It was a quick round of Diablo this weekend on the couch, climbing to Level 4 after clearing the first area.

While not much was played, all of the groundwork was set and now Rabbit and I can play multiplayer through the week, so this will probably keep creeping in a bit in the future.

Well, until this weekend, when Pokemon Let’s Go may overtake all of Rabbit’s Switch time 🙂

Diablo 3 Banner
Another game where I didn't snap a shot, but Rabbit and I are now setup to multiplay 🙂

What have you been playing?  Let me know on the Facebook Page or @ me some pics on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Prepare to face the storm in Forbidden Sky!

Forbidden Sky Box Art

Nothing is an enticing as something Forbidden.

The Forbidden series of cooperative games have been great additions to a games collection for a few years now. It started with Forbidden Island, gained massive sales momentum with Forbidden Desert. And at long last we know what is coming next – Forbidden Sky.

As with most of these reveals it’s hard to know a lot about the game as there isn’t really any information other than the box art. Gamewright seems to have gone all out with a teaser video though, a little outside the norm for bard games.

Based on Matt Leacock’s previous titles and the box art, there is some information we can safely guess. You will be playing with up to five people this time around on a board that will change as you play. In Forbidden Island, you were sinking. In the Forbidden Desert, you had sandstorms and thirst. From the looks of Forbidden Sky, this time the dynamic board will be taking place in a storm, with electrical dangers.

As US Summer is only a couple of months away, it won’t be long until firmer information comes along and I will be sharing as Matt Leacock is one of my favourite designers.

Oh, and the Forbidden Town Hall was a comment made during a Dice Tower panel where people were suggesting the next location.

Enjoy the teaser trailer below!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Forbidden Sky Box Art