Author Topic: Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King Review  (Read 703 times)

Offline dirk2112

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Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King Review
« on: June 13, 2017, 07:00:43 AM »
Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King is a really long and horrible name for a board game.  That is the only problem I have with this game, so I figured I'd get it out of the way first.  Everyone simply calls the game "Isle of Skye". 

Players
The game can be played with 2 to 5 players.  I have played it with 2, 3, and 4 players.  I hear 5 is awful, but I have never tried it.  Most reviewers say 3 to 4 is the sweet spot, but I prefer 2 to 3 for reasons I will get to later. 

Theme
You play as the head of a Scottish clan attempting to create the best territory in order to become King.  The theme itself is kind of weak because your clan territory will never butt up against another clan's territory.  To me it makes more sense to be on separate islands and competing to see who gets the most tourism dollars.  The art on the tiles is absolutely beautiful.  I would argue it is the best looking tile laying game out there. 

How it works

A round is played in 6 steps.  There are 6 rounds in a game (5 in a 5 player game).
1.  Everyone gets their money ($5 per round plus however many barrels are on roads leading to your castle)
2.  Everyone picks 3 tiles out of the bag and decides to set prices (see more below)
3.  Everyone discards the axed tile
4.  Everyone can buy tiles from other players and buy their own tiles.  (see more below)
5.  Everyone builds with Carcassonne rules (except roads can end anywhere).
6.  Score the round

Step 2 and 4  (the meat of the game)
In Carcassonne you can lose a game by being unlucky drawing tiles.  This game removes the luck aspect by the setting of prices.   When you get your 3 tiles, you have to decide which one to get rid of and how much the others are worth.  The other players can see your tiles, but your prices and which tile you plan to axe is hidden behind your player screen.  If you know your opponent has more money than you and absolutely needs one of your tiles, you can overprice it or axe it.  The game is won or lost during this phase, which is the main reason some Carcassonne players do not like this game.  Tile laying is secondary to tile procurement. 

During step 4 every player should have 2 tiles in front of them.  Each player can choose to buy another player's tile.  In phase 2 if you put all of your money down on your tiles, you won't be able to buy anyone else's tile.  This can be a fatal mistake.  Hint #1  Don't fall in love with your own tiles.  It is almost always worthwhile to buy someone else's tile.  In a 2 player game, the worst case scenario is you end step 4 with only 1 tile.  With 3 or more players, you can end step 4 with no tiles.  I don't think I have ever seen someone win who didn't walk away with at least 1 tile per round.  After players buy from other players, they must pay the prices they put on the rest of their tiles. 

Example below (picture 1).  My clan territory is the 8 tiles on the top.  I pulled the 3 tiles sitting in front of my screen.  I decided to Axe the tile with the broch (stone silo looking thing).  I valued the tile with the lighthouse scroll at $7 and the one with the mountain and barrels at $2.  During the buying round, my wife decides to buy my barrel tile for $2.  I take my $2 back and she gives me $2.  If I don't buy any of her tiles, I pay the $7 on the lighthouse tile and keep it for myself. 

End of Round Scoring
So we have laid our tiles down and we are going to score for the round.  On the scoreboard you will see 4 different scoring tiles labeled A thru D.  These are randomly drawn, so each game will feel and play different.  This is probably the best thing about this game and I can't say enough good things about it.  In my example below (photo 2) the tiles are A) 3 points for each water area with 1 ship and 1 lighthouse.  B) 1 point for each tile that connects to the castle by road  C) 3 points for each completed area (mountain, water, field) of 3 tiles or more.  D) 1 point for every sheep or cow that is on or adjacent to a farm tile.   

In round 1 you only score for A.  In round 2, you score for B.  In round 3, you score for A and C plus the players receive 1 extra gold for each player ahead of them.....In round 6 you score for B,C,and D and players receive 4 gold for every player ahead of them :o.  Hint #2 - always pay attention to what is going to be scored in the current round.

End of Game Scoring
After you score the last round, you score the points on any scrolls in your territory.  In the first photo I already have 3 scrolls.  I would score 1 point for every lighthouse and farm in my territory.  The scroll with arrows means I would score 2 points for every lighthouse that is orthogonally adjacent to that tile.  If a scroll is in a completed area YOU GET DOUBLE POINTS.  Also you get a point for every $5 you end the game with. 

Conclusion
I really enjoy this as a 2 and 3 player game.  I feel that it is very fair and fast paced.  In games with more players, the buying process can take longer and it is rather easy to team up and take the leading player down.  With the bonus money given to players to help them catch up, it is quite common for the leading player to be priced out of everything in the last round.  While this keeps the game close, it does stink to end a round without a tile.  In a 3 player game, I haven't seen this problem as much.  Unless you play very poorly while leading, it is unlikely you will walk away without at least 1 tile in any given round. 

In my wife's opinion, this is the best tile laying game out there.  She loves the tile procurement process and she prefers having her own little area as opposed to competing over a shared area.  I prefer Carcassonne because I enjoy everyone placing tiles in the same area.  This is my second favorite tile laying game though.  I recommend it to anyone who likes the price setting mechanic.  This mechanic is not for everyone.  People who can only concentrate on what they are doing and tend to ignore other players will fail miserably at this game.  You must focus on what each opponent is building, which round it is, and which tiles are available. 

There is already a thread here with some more discussion http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=2022.0

Expansions
As of this moment there are 6 expansions for this game.

1.  Adjacency Scrolls - one is pictured in the first photo.  You get 6 tiles with scrolls that give points for adjacent tiles.
2.  Themenpl√§ttchen - 6 tiles that highlight other board games (Agricola, Caverna, etc). This is available on BGG right now and I can't recommend it enough.  They are double sided which makes them very unique.
3.  2015 Brettspiel Advent Calendar promo - 2 extra scoring tiles.  This expansion is rare and costly  :(
4.  Kennerspiel des Jahres Promo tile - a single tile featuring 2 barrels and a cow
5.  Tunnels - 6 tiles that sort of act like the tunnel expansion for Carcassonne. 
6.  The Journeyman - the first full sized expansion for the game.  Available in Europe now and soon in the US. 


Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3392.0
« Last Edit: January 15, 2018, 10:11:46 AM by dirk2112 »

Offline Decar

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Re: Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King Review
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2017, 09:15:18 AM »
Nice Summary Dirk - I really do want to like Isle of Skye, though the core mechanic left me wanting more after my first play; I seemed to spend most of the game in catch-up after a tough first round, which annihilated my economy.  I won't be one to judge it on a single play though - so maybe I'll have to give it another try soon!

Offline dirk2112

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Re: Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King Review
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 09:30:15 AM »
Nice Summary Dirk - I really do want to like Isle of Skye, though the core mechanic left me wanting more after my first play; I seemed to spend most of the game in catch-up after a tough first round, which annihilated my economy.  I won't be one to judge it on a single play though - so maybe I'll have to give it another try soon!

In a 2 player game, the extra catch-up money amounts don't cause as much rubber banding as it does in 4 player games.   Having a bad first round can be the end.   My wife and I play 2 players more often than not.  The games are rarely close.  The last time we played, she beat me by 15 points and then I beat her by over 40.    The extra scoring tiles in the last game all involved animals.  For whatever reason, I was able to get a ton of sheep early on and I bought a sheep scroll from her late game (I had saved my money).  There was no coming back for her in that game. 

In the few 4 player games we have had, the person in 3rd place by the 5th round came back to win.   

Offline Decar

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Re: Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King Review
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2017, 09:56:48 AM »
The one game I played was 3-player with my wife and Rich the Fish.  Seems like a game you can't win by focusing on a single element.  I don't recall making that mistake  ???

Offline thodekey

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Re: Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King Review
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2018, 04:30:54 AM »
I don't own this game, but this weekend, i played it with 3 friends and i must say: it was a pleasant acquittance!  Some tile-laying combined with some strategic bargaining and finding a balance between short- & long-term scoring together with a graphical well designed game.  This will sure not be my last game of Isle of Skye.  :(y)

Offline dirk2112

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Re: Isle of Skye from Chieftain to King Review
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2018, 06:31:31 AM »
I finally was able to get my hands on the expansion.  We have played it several times and I must say it adds to the game.  I don't know if I like it though.  It makes the game longer and it makes it harder to really limit your opponent as it opens up a world of extra point options. 

I would say if you like what QueenDomino adds to KingDomino, you will like this expansion.  I could easily live without it.


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