Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Blue Lagoon


Reiner Knizia

Blue Orange

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

When I told Frank that I was playing the Blue Lagoon with my youngest son a few days ago, he asked in surprise if that would be the correct age to play the game. As a matter of course he linked the game with the romantic survival film by Randal Kleiser and with Brooke Shields as the main protagonist from 1980. Maybe some of you still remember the American film that became famous for its nudeness and sexual content. A lot of friends of mine fell in love with the actor, of course hoping in vain.

Blue Lagoon from BLUE ORANGE has nothing to do with the movie. There is definitely nothing liable to corrupt the young in the game, everything else would come as a surprise, regarding that Reiner Knizia is the author of the game. But one thing remains the same: the game as well as the movie take place at a Polynesian archipelago.

Let's leave the movie for this review and let's concentrate on the game from now on. We start with an empty map of the archipelago. It's still an unexplored island group there in the Blue Lagoon. But not much longer! Equipped with a horde of wild settlers and some few villages the players begin to conquer the land. As usually, it is our aim to claim as many different islands of the archipelago as possible.

And the mechanism to do so is quite simple. In the first phase of the game, the exploration phase, players just take a settler one by one and place the token onto any unoccupied space in the sea or next to a space already occupied by another settler of this player. If we place the settler on a field with a resource or statuette, we automatically collect it. Instead of placing a settler, it is also possible to place a hut (or correctly a village), obviously this is only allowed on the land. This procedure goes on until all players have placed all of their settlers or if there aren't any resources left to collect. It is as simple as it sounds: take a settler and place it onto the map. Even the smallest among us can perform this action.

But this wouldn't be a Knizia game, if there weren't any exceptional features in the game. For a start, we find these features in the scoring mechanism. Basically you get victory points for having the most (and second most) settlers on an island. The bigger the island the more victory points. And then you score for having collected sets of different resources and for each statuette. It is more than just placing the settlers randomly onto the land, you have to watch your opponents, block their ways with your settlers and keep an eye on the valuable statuettes and resources.

That applies all the more as there is a second phase in the game, the settlement phase. After the first scoring all settlers are removed from the map again and all resources are randomly distributed on the land again. The only thing that remains from the previous phase are the villages of the players. This second phase follows the same rules as the exploration phase with one small, but effective exception: in contrast to the exploration phase it is no longer allowed to start with a new settler on the sea. You can only start next to your villages or another settler that has already been placed onto the map.

As a result it is necessary to plan far ahead. The locations of the huts you place in the exploration phase are already the clues to win the game in the settlement phase. That's not complicated to understand, but it is more important than you would expect after hearing the rules.

There are a lot approaches to create simple but funny games out there. Over the years I have seen many, many games and spoke with a lot of authors who thought to have invented the ultimate mechanism, but only very few succeed with nearly every game. Reiner Knizia is definitely one of them. And with Blue Lagoon he once more has proven that you don't need many and complex rules to create wonderful and successful games. It's just so simple that my first impulse was to refuse the game. Only the name of the author and the wonderful design Tomek Larek and BLUE ORANGE have spent the game convinced me to take the game at SPIEL. But now, I am more than thankful that I didn't yield. Blue Lagoon has found a place in my game collection as a family game as well as a short, but intense tactical game for the more serious gamers.

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Copyright © 2019 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany