- For ages 8 and up
- For 2 to 4 players
- Approximately 45 minutes to complete
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Strategy & Tactics
- Hand/Resource Management
- Worker Placement & Area Control
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Explore the surrounding seas and the islands to find new homes and resources for your growing tribe
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
American writer of weird, science, fantasy, and horror fiction, best known for his creation of the Cthulhu Mythos (All hail the great Cthulhu!), H.P. Lovecraft, said, “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” And yet, it’s in the very nature of humanity to gaze longingly at the horizon or attempt to glimpse other worlds in the stars above us. We are built to travel, explore, and seek out the mysteries of what we cannot see, for we are forever curious. Some of us even have the intestinal fortitude to act upon those urges and seek out the unknown. Brave souls. In this game, you will lead such a group as they explore the surrounding islands, making homes and discoveries along the way.
Blue Lagoon, designed by Reiner Knizia and published by Blue Orange Games, is comprised of one game board, 32 Resources and Statuettes, 20 wooden Villages, 120 Settlers tokens, one bag, and one score pad. The game board is thick and durable, as are the tokens. The Villages, Resources, and Statuettes are made of wood. Excellent quality throughout. Not included, but necessary to play, in a pen or pencil to write with.
Preparing to Explore
To set up the game, complete the following steps:
First, place the game board in the middle of the playing area and within easy reach of all the players. The gameboard shows the different islands, the open sea that surrounds them, and the mysterious Circles of Stone.
Second, place the Resources and Statuettes in the bag and give it a shuffle. Then draw one out of the bag at random, placing it in the space on the islands that look like a circle of stones. Continue to do this until each circle of stones space is filled on the game board. The items drawn from the bag represent the resources from the islands (coconuts, bamboo, water, and precious gems) and culturally important statuettes.
Third, have each player select one of the four colors and give them all the tokens and wooden Villages of their color choice. These tokens represent the settlers that will populate the islands on the game board. Any Settlers and Villages not used should remain in the game box.
Fourth, place the score pad off to one side of the game playing area for later use but visible to the players. The score pad will help identify what points could be scored later.
That’s it for game setup. Determine who will go first and begin.
Sailing Seas, Exploring Islands
Blue Lagoon is played in two phases. The first phase focuses on exploring the islands. The second phase focuses on settling the islands. Scoring occurs at the end of both phases.
The Exploration Phase: Placement
Starting with the first player and continuing in turn order sequence, each player takes one of two optional actions.
Option A: Place a Settler to the Sea
The Settler tokens have two sides. One side represents the settler on the land, and the other side represents the settler in a boat. If the player takes this option, they take one of their Settler tokens and place it in any open sea space on the game board with the Settler token showing their settler in a boat. This Settler token now acts as a point of entry onto the island, which is essential for future settlement.
Option B: Place a Settler or Village
On the other side of the Settler token is a picture of the settler on the land. A player may place a Settler token or a Village to an island on the land, but only if the space is unoccupied and adjacent to a piece they previously placed. This includes a land space that is adjacent to a Settler token that is in the water.
If the Settler or Village piece is placed on a space with a Resource or Statuette, the player removes it and keeps it. All collected Resources and Statuetts must be kept visible to the player and their opponents at all times. However, players should note that any Settlers or Villages placed in these stone circles will be removed during the game’s second phase.
The Exploration Phase: Scoring
The Exploration phase continues with each player placing one Settler or Village on the game board until one of the two following conditions exist:
- All Resources and Statuettes have been collected
- All Settlers and Villages are placed on the game board
If either of these two conditions occurs at the end of a player’s turn, the phase ends, and it’s time to score. So grab the score pad and start calculating! Players score points for the following:
A) Players with Settlers or Huts on all eight islands score 20 points, or 10 points if only occupying seven of the islands
B) Players score points for their chain of Settlers and Huts that “link” (i.e., connect) the most islands, scoring five points
C) Players score the points noted for the island if they occupy the most space (the island on the game board lists the number of points each island is worth)
D) Players score points for the matching Resources they collected (four or more matching Resource types scores 20 points, three matching Resouce types scores 10 points, and two matching Resource types scores five points)
E) Players score 10 points if they have all four Resource types
F) Players score four points for each Stattuette they collected
Tally up the scores and announce the totals—time for the second phase.
The Settlement Phase: Placement
Before you can begin this phase, you need first to remove all Settlers and any remaining Resources and Statuettes still on the game board. Next, remove any Villages that occupy a space with a circle of stone. The only pieces left on the game board should now be the players’ Villages.
Take all the Resources and Statuetts (including those that the players collected during the previous phase) and put them back into the bag. Then, again, draw one piece from the bag at a time and place it on the game board wherever there is a circle of stones.
The player to go first is the player who is left of the first player in the previous round. Players place their Settler tokens on the islands using the same rules as the Exploration phase. The big difference here is that players build off their Villages first instead of Settler tokens they placed in the sea.
Continue to populate the islands and create chains, collecting Resources and Statuettes along the way.
The Settlement Phase: Scoring
The Settlement phase ends in the same fashion if either of the two previously mentioned conditions are found to be true at the end of a player’s turn. Points are then calculated, again using the same scoring as already mentioned.
A Home At Last
The game is over, and the players’ tribe thoroughly explored the islands and the surrounding seas. It’s now time to determine the winner, which is done by tallying the scored points from the first phase with the second phase. The player with the highest total of points wins the game.
To learn more about Blue Lagoon, visit the game’s webpage.
The Child Geeks immediately understood the game and jumped right in. The rules to Blue Lagoon are easy to grasp, and the gameplay is reasonably light, but none of that should suggest that the Child Geeks were nonetheless challenged. According to one Child Geek, “The game is all about getting as much land as you can, but I keep wanting to collect all the food meeples. I liked the game even when I didn’t win.” Another Child Geek said, “The game was fun. I liked how you needed to explore and got to put out all your guys the way you wanted to.” When the last settler had settled down for the evening around the fire, the Child Geeks took a vote, and all agreed the Blue Lagoon was a game they’d gladly visit again.
The Parent Geeks also found the game to be entertaining. Its casual gameplay appealed to them, as did the game’s level of depth and engagement. According to one Parent Geek, “This is one of those games that I can easily play with my children and not feel like I am playing a children’s game. There is enough to the game to make me think about my next move and enjoy the experience of watching my plans come to fruition. I’d play this again in a heartbeat.” Another Parent Geek said, “It’s a great game for the family and my friends when they come over. It’s lightweight enough to feel easy to get to the table and deep enough to make getting it to the table worth my while. The level of complexity and challenge only increases when you have other players at your same skill level. I really enjoyed myself.” The Parent Geeks all voted and decided that Blue Lagoon was the kind of place they like to be.
The Gamer Geeks found the game to be straightforward and slightly repetitive but engaging with just enough player interaction to make it competitive. The level of depth requires some thinking to develop a working strategy and tactical approach to island domination. According to one Gamer Geek, “Intuitive gameplay is mixed with a healthy dose of competitive interaction. It took about a minute to explain the game. That was the only minute out of the 30 or so minutes that I took to play the game that I found to be boring. Everything else, from the first play, to the last score, was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it and would play again.” Another Gamer Geek said, “I very much liked the two-staged approach to the gameplay, allowing players to set up for success or shoot themselves in the foot. Regardless of how well you planned, you still have half a game to recover from poor tactics or double down on your strategy. An excellent mix of control and decision-making. An intelligent and entertaining game.” As the sunset on the islands, the Gamer Geeks raised a glass and toasted the game’s success.
I enjoy this game. I’ve played it many times and always walk away from it feeling satisfied. My only big concern for the game is the scoring. At first blush, it can feel cumbersome, and more than once, I’ve seen players miscount or leave points on the table. Players at every level get good at scoring points quickly as it’s necessary not only for scorekeeping but also for being competitive. If you don’t understand how points are scored, you won’t do very well if you are competitive (he said, obviously). Regardless of how well your players know the game, expect the energy at your table to dip when you start scoring points. Everything up to that point is fast-paced and intuitive. When it’s time to score, everything comes to a stretching halt. One of our Parent Geek suggested it was like going through a tax audit, but with islands … and coconuts.
If we put the scoring aside, which isn’t that big of a deal once you learn how to score points, the game is a real winner. I’ve seen Child Geeks compete and give Parent Geeks and Gamer Geeks a run for their money. It’s not that the game is easy; the objective of the game and its gameplay are always apparent. How a player goes about it is always unique to the individual, but the overall requirement for each player’s turn is always to the point and obvious. I liken it to telling all the players to “take the hill” (or, in this case, the islands). How they said hill is up to them, but the goal is never in question.
I should also note that Blue Lagoon serves as an excellent gateway game. It introduces new and inexperienced players to the hobby a healthy mix of interaction and competitive gameplay that you won’t find in your standard run-of-the-mill games. So if you are looking to up your game, so to speak, and want to take others on the journey with you, consider visiting Blue Lagoon. We had a lot of fun with it and continue to enjoy it. It’s a keeper.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.