Quick Look: Wild Island: My Father’s Dragon
Designer: Maja Milavec
Artists: Cartoon Saloon, Clara de Frutos
Publisher: Value Add Games
Year Published: 2022
Wild Island – My Father’s Dragon is a family board game based on the film My Father’s Dragon. Each player represents a team of boy Elmer and dragon Boris. The island on which they find themselves is sinking, shaking, and changing shape all the time. But there is still time to save the island by smartly moving around the island visiting different animals and finding the right energy source. The first one to do so is the winner of the game.
The island consists of 16 tiles, randomly placed in a 4×4 grid. Each tile has nine spaces with trees and paths. Players move around the island by rolling a special die trying to reach their objectives. From the second round, the island starts to shake intensely and the tiles are shifted and moved by the players. There are multiple icons that can help players reach their objectives faster: Elmer and dragon Boris can go into the caves and come out in any other cave on the island, fly icons allow dragon Boris to fly to any other adjacent tile, and courage icons represent their bravery when trying to save the island. With them, they get courage tiles to be even more flexible when moving around and shaking the island. Some of them have to be used immediately and some can be saved in Elmer’s backpack and used in one of the later turns.
The objective tiles each player has, are in the shape of jigsaw puzzle pieces. When the player visits their objective, they are turned around and when all four objectives are reached the image of a saved island is assembled as a small jigsaw puzzle.
Wild Island feels like a fresh take on the Labyrinth classic. Modern illustration and slight improvements are entangled in known mechanism that children will love.
Donjon crawlers have different boards every time you play them, just as tile laying games because the board is constructed one turn after the other. So most players are accounted with the idea of a board that is different during each play through.
Nevertheless, they are not much tile sliding board game, games in which the board does not change by adding new tiles but by taking one and slicing it in another place. When I first read about Wild Island, my first thoughts were to my childhood and the Labyrinth game, because to my humble knowledge it was the only game that used that mechanism well I was not exactly wrong but I was not exactly right either. While researching for this review I found out that a few others shared the similarities. A few others that have the map altered turn after turn, but if you exclude the one that has nothing to do here, like Arkham Horror the Card game for example (BGG failed me), I found out that most of those have release dates between 2020 and 2023.
So tile sliding seems to be back on track for amazing games, combining what was learned by the industry this last few years with classics to make the modern boardgames we crave and want our children to have. Wild Island just creates a children boardgame that does so.
My Father’s Dragon:Wild Island – as such
Wild Island is a competitive children’s game of tile sliding in which each player will move around the sinking Wild Island to find help in saving it. During each turn, players will move part of the island away and slice it back in, pushing other tiles in the way. This will make the path on the island and position of objectives and object move on turn after the other.
After changing the island, players will roll a dice once or twice to move on the island and try to get to their four objectives. The first one to get to all four of them wins.
On the way players will have the opportunity to pick up courage bonuses and move fast on the map through the tunnel and flying abilities.
This short well-constructed children’s game can be played under 15 minutes. This is not one that you will enjoy playing with adults only, that’s why I described it as a children’s game and not a family game ☺.
But as for all children’s games, let’s talk about the benefit of playing it. Wild Island introduces pattern recognition and needs to count ‘til 4 but it can also help enhance future forecasting, because of the moving tiles and 2D space orientation, which in terms leads to map reading, because the tiles can be turned around before getting plugged back in.
In that way Wild Island is a great complement to fixed map board games your children might have.
Universe and Material
Universe & Art style
My Father’s Dragon is an animated movie that released on Netflix in November 2022. My Father’s Dragon: Wild Island makes direct use of the movies images for the design of the animals as well as the box art. The board and back of the tokens are well integrate in terms of colors and design and fit within the movie’s art style perfectly.
No cards here, everything comes out punch boards, which is a great idea when making a children’s game because cardboard is much more difficult to destroy by mistake and will last much longer (for much more plays) in the hand of small ones.
Special shout out to the designer of the outer layer for including dummy proof connections, like in a 4 pieces puzzle it is impossible to have it mounted wrong. The layout also includes recesses that allow taking the tile and moving them easily. All in all a really good use of cardboard tiles !
Obviously there isn’t as much material in a children’s game then in Gloomhaven ☺, the box is way smaller too. But unlike adult/family games, children tend to receive a special treat: on all in printed box with art style strait from the movie in the bottom of the box and the inside of the lid. This might seem stupid to most adults but it makes the object “the game and its box” more beautiful more like an object of art than a dull cardboard box, something to be cherished somehow.
One last remark
When playing wild Island I kept feeling the connection with Labyrinth, although it is definitely a fresh take on the matter that make good use of Nora Twomey’s animation art and style.
This will be loved by children, certainly if they enjoyed the movie and is most likely complementary of the other type of board games they got.
Find out more at BGG.
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QuelqunQui (literally Someone who in French) is an eclectic who can’t stop doing more than one thing at a time.. Quelqunqui is a harpsichordist and gamer at heart that doesn’t abide by rules he doesn’t believe in. When not playing he’s traveling the world for the Belgian Air force.
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