It is hardly surprising that Reiner Knizia tops the list as the designer of my favourite game for 2018. He a prolific designer that has the ability to make old mechanics feel new or simply designs new mechanics. His games range from light filler games to heavy euro styled games. Blue Lagoon published by Blue Orange Games is on the lighter family side but has plenty going on that many of my heavy euro friends find satisfying.
In Bue Lagoon you play as a civilisation settling islands. As you do you will collect treasures and establish your civilisations dominance. Knizia masterfull blends together area control and set collection to create a game that will offer a depth of strategy and replayability. Blaue Lagoon is played over two rounds. In the first round, you will send your people out on boats and have them survey the lands and collect treasures. The round will end when all treasures have been collected or when each player has used up all their people.
This sounds simple, but one key factor to keep in mind is that at the end of the round all your pieces will be removed except for any huts you build. The huts remain on the board and are your home bases for launching your campaign in round two. As you send people out you are trying to ensure you can get a presence on as many islands as possible, try to use your people to connect as many islands as you can, and ensure dominance on the best islands, all of which impact scoring. The treasure works in sets and as you expand you also want to collect sets of treasure because big points can be achieved there.
The genius of Knizia is that he can provide multiple paths to victory but ultimate success will hinge upon reading the board state and responding appropriately. The game feels light and but really can provide a real challenge. I have played it with casual groups who played it quickly in 30-45mins and with heavy euro gamers who took 2 hours. All groups I have played it with have been satisfied and eager for another game. This is what I love about Knizia, in a market that is moving to heavier, component driven games he can release a simple design with few components and offers a depth of play and broad player appeal some of these bigger games fail to achieve. I love pulling this game out and in the short months since having it I have managed to play it more than any other game in my collection for 2018. If you have not tried this game yet I highly recommend giving it a go.