Recently I had a chance to play a few games of Island Fortress from Frost Forge Games. You may recognize the name from our Kickstarter Roundup posts. While my copy of the game was a prototype, the game has now been fully funded on Kickstarter and will be produced soon.

So what is Island Fortress about? It’s about building building a fortress on a prison island, using the convicts as your labor force. At it’s heart, it’s a worker placement game that has elements of set collection added into the mix. It plays 2-6 players and runs around 60 minutes. The 60 minute play estimate is pretty accurate, though my first play went a bit longer (around 90 minutes) since I kept referring back to the rules on several occasions.

During the game you’ll be scoring points by building up the wall, completing rows, and having the most blocks in a completed row. Building patterns from Favor cards into the wall can also earn you extra income, points, and workings. There’s also a bidding element to petition for Governor, which let’s you take the first turn in the actions phase.

Building of the wall is handled by playing Role cards. There’s several types of role cards, each having several actions from which you choose one of when you play it. The roles are as follows:

Builder: Build a wall, replace a block, or complete a favor card
Planner: Buy wall block, draw a favor card, or remove reinforcements
Recruiter: Recruit laborers, collect 6 convicts, or collect from prison
Taskmaster: Move the taskmaster or repeat an already-played role
Treasurer: Collect jade or a treasure

During the actions phase players take turns playing these role cards until each player has taken 3 turns.

The game ends when the wall is completed of the supply of governors blocks runs out.

Now let me just say, the game is meaty, probably one of the meatier games I’ve played in a while. The rulebook may take a few reads before you’re ready to jump in and play, but it’s worth it. Island Fortress is fun, presenting great choices and a real feel of accomplishment when a plan comes together. While I can’t say much about artwork and components (remember my copy was a hand-made prototype) the game play itself is solid. My attempt to give you a brief glimpse of this game is just that, a glimpse.

Would I recommend Island Fortress? Yes. Yes I would. It’s a great game that looks to have shaped up really well.