Updated: Sep 30, 2019
- An abstract meets Euro game with a hint of Moana
Players: 2 - 4
Playing time: 30 - 45 minutes
Designed by: Reiner Knizia
Published by: Blue Orange Games
Sail into this breathtakingly beautiful game where you take the role of a village chieftain leading its villagers on an expedition to gain resources. In order for their tribe to thrive, villagers need to travel to the newly discovered archipelago to explore and settle on the eight new islands full of resources. Competing with tribes throughout Polynesia, only one tribe can be the best!
Blue Lagoon is an abstract game with Euro-esque features focusing on mechanics such as area control, route building and set collection. Released in 2018, its been one I've been looking forward to getting to the table.
- 1 Game Board - 24 Wooden Resources - 8 Wooden Statuettes - 1 Score Pad
- 20 Wooden Villages - 120 Settler Tokens - 1 Linen Bag
Overall, the components for Blue Lagoon are pretty good. After removing the lid you are transported into a brightly coloured production of wooden resources and wooden huts, which is perfect for the tropical theme. The game board is compact, fitting nicely into the provided insert which I love because inserts that actually hold all of the components well are a rarity. One of my main issues with the components is that I wish the board was double-sided, either to allow for more complex gameplay or simply just greater variance.
The tokens are cardboard punch-outs which work well for their purpose and there are four different colours to represent the four different tribes. They're a good thickness and have some artwork variance throughout the different colours, which is a nice touch. They're also double-sided to differentiate between villagers in boats and villagers on land.
The wooden villages are a lovely addition to the game they're small huts each with a brightly coloured roof and a small, arched door etched into the wood. There are a few slight manufacturing errors with some of the huts including oddly shaped roofs and the bases of the huts not being in the middle, but these are minor issues and the functionality is perfectly fine.
The resource tokens are individual meeples that represent Coconuts, Bamboo, Water, Precious Stones and Statuettes. Each have their own colour and shape which makes them really easy to distinguish from one another, this comes in handy at the scoring phase at the end.
The aim of the game is to have the most points at the end. This will be the player that has the most efficient tribe, thriving from all of the new resources they have gathered. Points can be earnt in the following ways:
Having a settlement token in 7 or 8 different islands.
Linking tokens through islands.
Having the majority of tokens on an island (each island is worth a certain amount of points).
Collecting either 2, 3 or 4 stacks of the same resource.
Collecting one of each resource.
Blue Lagoon plays out in two separate phases: the Exploration Phase and the Settlement Phase. During both phases, resources are randomly selected from the provided bag and then placed onto the board in each designated resource space. Taking it in turns, players will then place down their settlement tokens one at a time, starting on a water space with the boat side up. Players can then choose to either put down another token in a water space or a token/village on a land space next to an already placed down token.
When a player reaches a resource on the board, they can then take that resource and put a settlement token in its place. As well as resources, each player is trying to reach all of the goals that will get them points. Exploring as many islands as they can by placing lots of boat tokens and trying to keep one line of tokens to link as many different islands as they can. Due to the limited amount of turns and small board, it's impossible to get maximum points, so it's a good idea to plan out what you want to go for beforehand. This is a fun and puzzle-like part of the game and means you can try out different strategies each time you play.
The first phase ends when all resources have been removed from the game or when players have placed all of their tokens and villages. Then it's time to score for this round using the score pad provided. This should be pretty quick as the pad gives you a quick run-through of what should be scored. When this is complete, each player should take back all of their settlement tokens but NOT their villages (this will become clear in a moment) and the resources should be replenished on the board.
Now it's time for the Settlement Phase and this is pretty much the same as the first phase with the exception that your villages are already on the board. So now players may only place pieces adjacent to an existing village instead of starting off on a water space. It's important to remember this in the first phase and think ahead. You want to reach as many islands as you can so try to place villages around the board where most of the islands will be accessible. If your village is too far away from an island then it's likely an opponent will cut you off before you reach it and you'll miss out on a load of points.
After completing the second phase following the rules from the first, score up and combine the scores from both rounds to see which tribe chieftain was the most successful.
A simple game to learn and teach to others, plus set up is really quick.
Visually appealing game from the bright colours to the theme.
Quick to play through, most games only last about 30 minutes.
A strategic but light game which makes it great for both new and experienced gamers.
A puzzle-like game with tough but meaningful choices.
The components are mostly good with a great storage insert already included.
A relaxing game to play, turns are straightforward so there isn't a lot of discussion.
It doesn't play well with two players. The board is big enough for you both to do your own thing which takes some of the puzzle/fun elements away.
The game board is only one-sided so after a few plays of this, players tend to stick to the same patterns.
A few of the components displayed manufacturing errors. Mainly the wooden huts.
People who suffer from analysis paralysis may not like it due to the number of ways there are to get points and them having to make quick calculations for the best option.
If you're looking for a game that has a lot of player interaction then Blue Lagoon probably isn't for you.
Theme - The theme is one of the first things that caught my attention. I love how colourful the box and art are and the fact that the theme reminded me so much of Moana made even me more interested in the game. That being said, I understand there could be some controversy around cultural appropriation as Blue Lagoon displays a Polynesian theme but doesn't really include any Polynesian culture. This isn't an issue for me as the game is pretty abstract, but I understand this could be an issue for some and would love to see some games in the future that have accurate cultural representation. Other than that, the theme works well with the game. As a chieftain, you and your villagers are exploring other islands by boat, looking for resources for the rest of the tribe.
Complexity - Blue Lagoon is at the beginning of the complexity scale, it's easy to learn and even easier to teach. It can be set up in less than 5 minutes and downtime in between turns is minimal. I'd say this is great for younger children because it's simple for them to learn. I also think it is a great gateway game for people new to the hobby and want to try their hand at a casual area control and set collection game. If you do consider yourself an experienced player, don't write this game off just yet though. This game is a perfect filler game for a game night in between those long and heavy games when you're looking for a relaxing but engaging game.
Replayability - Due to the nature of the game and the many ways to earn points, it's pretty much impossible to get maximum points on all of the scoring requirements. So each time you play you can try out a new strategy, will you go for reaching the most islands and forming one strong link with your villagers or will you go for resources and try to beat your opponent to them. There are so many options in Blue Lagoon and this makes for great replayability. The only thing I wish they would have included is a double-sided game board. A different layout of islands would mean a completely new set of puzzles to work out and even more replayability.
Overall, I really enjoy playing Blue Lagoon. I love how fast-paced it is and how each move is like working out your own little puzzle. The theme and aesthetic are also elements that I really like, even though it doesn't dive too deeply into the theme it also doesn't feel like the theme is irrelevant either. I've shown this to a lot of different groups and everyone has mentioned how relaxing it is to play, it's the perfect filler game and I definitely recommend giving this one a go.
Disclaimer: Blue Lagoon was kindly gifted to me from Asmodee UK to review but all opinions are completely my own.