Gameday First Play – La Isla

Always like games I can’t really compare to other games….

…this is one of them.

Ready to start exploring a previously uncharted island? Good! You and the other players each have a team of five scientists, and you want to capture animal species so that you can study them — and, of course, score points.

This is a card game I guess… card driven anyway. You’re placing Scientists onto the board to ‘encircle’ species to capture them. But how it’s done is very interesting.

You draw 3 cards and you’re going to use them all, each card has 3 sections which are used in the 4 phases of a round.

You take your 3 cards and put them under space A, B and D of your player board… Obviously you often want 2-3 of them under the same space and some you don’t want to play at all! But you have to place all 3 so you do the best you can… but sometimes you take a hit.

La Isla Player Area

In phase A, everyone takes the card they placed in space ‘A’ and slots in top of their player board (covering the unneeded bottom section of the card) in an empty slot. You only have 3 slots so eventually you’ll start covering up previously placed cards. This means as the game progresses choices can start to get difficult and you end up covering a decent ability with a no-so-decent one.

The abilities, while vast and unintuitive in cases, do tell you which phase they activate in which helps a lot. There is a crib sheet with them all on but it can b hard to find them as they all look pretty similar.

The card placed in phase ‘B’ let’s you know which colour cube (goods) you can take… Why do you need cubes? For the next phase…

In Phase C you don’t need a card but your cubes. This is where you place your guys on the board.

La Isla Board

You need two cubes of a matching colour to place in a space. If you surround an animal tile you pick up the Species token and gain points equal to the number printed on the tile. (Which is the number of Scientists you need to score it)

If you have all of your guys on the board, you can move one instead. If you don’t, you can just take a cube of any colour.

In Phase D you’re increasing the value of an animal, the animal shown on the card you placed in Space D on your board.

This is going to be how much each Animal is worth at the end of the game.

La Isla Score Track

When you move it up  over a point threshold you’re increasing the value of each token of that creature each player has collected.

When the total of all of these reaches a certain amount depending on the player count the game ends.

Most points wins.

Mechanically I liked this one. Turns are VERY quick as selecting your cards and placing Scientists on the board is the only thing that takes time. Phase A, B and D takes 10 seconds total. I like how the game plays with card selection etc and that it’s quite light, especially for a Feld, lighter than the light Bruges.

But, I won without really knowing what I was doing which usually makes me scratch my head. I was playing against an experienced opponent too…

I wouldn’t hesitate to play this again though to see what happens, it’s a really enjoyable game.

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