Blue Lagoon by Blue Orange Games

Theme and What is it?

The island people of the Pacific Ocean are in search of new areas to explore and settle. Your tribe is one of many seeking out the islands that offer the best resources and greatest chance of survival. Embark on a journey to explore this newly discovered chain of islands and expand your settlements all throughout the island system. 

Gameplay Mechanics

Blue Lagoon is a territory, exploration and control game. Each player is assigned a tribe. In the exploration phase of the game, players enter the islands from their boats and start to spread across the land collecting resources, establishing villages, and creating links to other islands. The goal is to collect resources and statuettes while linking as many islands together as possible with player and village tokens. The exploration phase ends when all resources or all player tokens are gone. The round is scored based on the following criteria: Number of islands a player is on, the longest continuous link of islands, the number of same resources, having a full set of resources, and each island awards points for the player who controls it (has the most tokens on it).

Play then continues to the settlement phase. Everything on the board is removed except the village tokens. Resources are redistributed across the board. Players must now place their player tokens starting at settlements and moving across the islands. This is the biggest difference between the exploration and the settlement phase. Play from that point continues just as it did in the exploration phase, but players have to always place next to an adjacent token. Scores are tallied at the end of the settlement round the same as they were at the end of the exploration round. The player with the highest combined points is the winner.

Initial Impressions

I was very excited to play Blue Lagoon after I saw the announcement from Blue Orange. It seemed to have great looking art, and the game play seemed like something I would be interested in. After receiving my copy and reading the rules, I started to wonder if I would like it. I was afraid that because the rounds were so similar, it may get old too quickly. After a few play throughs, I laid that fear to rest. The rounds are very similar, but the way players interact with the other players and because the board changes often enough, this gives each round its own flavor. Once players see the strategy they each take in the exploration round, they find ways to disrupt those strategies in the settlement round. The game never feels redundant and the people that have played it want to play it more. 

Game Build Quality

Hands down my favorite components are the village tokens. These mini huts look great and are made very well. Huts are matched to player colors. The other components are very nice. The resources are all wood cutouts and each type of resource is its own unique shape and color. There is not anything to really take issue with in the Blue Lagoon box.

Artistic Direction

The best aspect of the art is found on the box. It depicts a scene that will remind most people of a random scene from Moana. The artwork inside the box is a little more muted. The board looks nice, but is not necessarily inspiring. The player tokens only have a couple different islanders depicted on them. I did not find myself stopping to admire any of them. I would just make sure I had the correct side up as I was laying the token on the board. Luckily for Blue Lagoon, the excellent gameplay makes up for the lackluster artwork.

Fun Factor

Blue Lagoon has the appearance of a lite game and that can lend itself to using it as a gateway game. Once players have a chance to get a few games in, they will start to see some extra depth within the game. There is the strategy of expanding your own exploration and settlement while finding ways to hinder the other players. It makes for a very fun, dynamic experience and I found it to be the highlight of the game. I really enjoyed hosing the other players. Seeing your islander chain spread out across the map is exciting. So many times, it was a race to resources or much needed passageways that got players blood pumping. Overall, Blue Lagoon is an amazing experience.

Age Range & Weight

Blue Lagoon has an age recommendation of 8+. Although there is not any reading involved, I would still recommend introducing the game to players 8+. There is plenty of strategy that involves being very mindful of the other player’s movements. From my experience younger players have a hard time with this type of recognition. They usually focus on their own game and strive to do their best. Blue Lagoon doesn’t allow for that or players will soon find themselves stuck in a position that will be nearly impossible to escape from. As long as younger players can plan a few moves ahead and consider what others are doing, they should be able to play Blue Lagoon and enjoy it. 

Conclusions

Blue Lagoon seemed fairly lite when I first started learning to play. After a number of plays I have come to realize how wrong I was. There is great depth in Blue Lagoon. You focus on your strategies while finding ways to disrupt others. It can move fast and get emotional. Blue Lagoon is so close to getting my trifecta of board game awesomeness. It has amazing components and wonderful gameplay. For me it is lacking in the artistic aspect of the game. The art is not terrible, it is just missing the wow factor for me; however, it does not take away from the game at all. Blue Lagoon is one of my favorite GenCon 2018 games. I highly recommend you give it a try.

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