I love cooperative games. I love partnering with people, working together, sharing ideas, and tackling a difficult challenge.
But sometimes, I just want to play a cut-throat game that makes my friends dislike me for a little while. Sure, it’s my wife that I play games with most often, and sure, this is a terrible idea with her because she’ll totally hold it against me for a few hours. But that feeling of a plan that’s well-executed that ruins everyone else’s day? Oh, it’s a good feeling.
Where You Are
Blue Lagoon is a game from legendary designer Reiner Knizia and published by Blue Orange Games back in 2018. Two to four players take on the role of different tribes seeking to explore a group of islands. These tribes are represented by little double-sided chips in the player’s color, as well as a few small huts.
Blue Lagoon is played and scored over two somewhat similar rounds. In the first round, players start by placing one of their chips in the water. On their next turn, they must play a chip either in the water or adjacent to a previously placed chip. The game continues until the players have placed all of their chips on the board, as well as their huts.
As players are spreading out over the board, they are hoping to accomplish a few tasks that will score them points at the end of the round. Territory control is important, as players are rewarded for hitting at least seven of the eight islands, for the number of islands their longest chain touches, and for having the most chips on each island. Players will also be trying to pick up resources that are scattered throughout the islands. Sets of these items will score you points, as well as having one of each item.
Once the scoring is completed for the first round, all of the chips are removed while the huts are left in place. In the second round, players start from their huts. The scoring is the same as in the first round, so players must be sure that they are picking up resources, exploring as many islands as possible, and more. After the second scoring round, the points are tallied, and whoever has the most wins!
Let’s get this out of the way. This is Moana: The Board Game. Like, it’s crazy how much this is Moana: The Board Game. The artwork will strongly remind you of the film, and even the concept of traveling around to islands to explore is a bit in the theme of the movie.
These stylistic connections to the recent Disney movie may cause you to think that this is an easy-going game for the whole family. However, Blue Lagoon’s gameplay is entirely based on each player taking moves that benefit them and/or harm their opponent. Each turn, you’re making sure that your move will get you points or set you up to get more points on a future turn. You’re trying to spread out your influence while also making sure that you don’t forget to get resources or to try to hold control over bigger islands. You’ll never be able to do everything you want, so it helps to have a plan for what you hope to do.
But, while you’re working on your plan, you also need to be trying to decipher what your opponents are doing. You will constantly be fighting over resources and territory. In doing so, you’ll want to cut off your opponents whenever you can. Given the relatively small size of the board, this ends up being a fairly frequent occurrence.
This element is where the heated rivalries can begin in Blue Lagoon. There are several moves that you will take that lead to a little twinge of guilt followed by the absolute joy of furthering your plan while disrupting the plans of another person. These feelings can be augmented in scenarios where you can completely shut off part of the board to another person in the second round. Since players must start from the huts that they placed in the first round, it can be pretty easy to see where your opponents will be headed. If you can keep an eye on them while also making sure that you don’t get trapped yourself, then you’ll likely find success in this game.
I am a big fan of this game for many reasons. First, the cut-throat nature of the game gives me an opportunity for fierce competition that I don’t have in much of the rest of my collection. Second, the artwork is great and the theme is wonderful. I just have to be careful not to sing. But most of all, it’s just really, really fun. You’re really not making super complex decisions here – just put a chip down on your turn – but there’s plenty of strategizing and scheming to be had.
I can certainly see how many people might not like this game. You certainly have the opportunity to be malicious, and plans that you have made will definitely be ruined by others. Some people prefer more of a solo experience, even if they’re playing with other people. I would say this game is definitely not for them.
But all of those things are reasons why I really like this game, and why I believe many others will, too. So go break out a copy of Blue Lagoon, put on the Moana soundtrack, and have a great time.
You can purchase Blue Lagoon at your local game store or online through Amazon.
- Great “take that” mechanics
- Wonderfully thematic artwork
- Easy to learn
- You’ll want to play it again and again
- Can be easy to gang up on one player