If you haven’t played the game yet, or perhaps haven’t heard about it’s mystery, then I would check on the review I have written. However, if you have failed a couple of times at that curious first puzzle, then here are my thoughts…
During the Game:
Learn Where to Eat; The first thing you will need to do as you learn the island is to learn where you can eat. Learning where to sleep helps (it refreshes the food!) but most of all you will need to get meat and cook it. The meat from a hunt is incredibly helpful, but cooking it doubles the value and being able to do that is critical.
Watch Out for Numbers; The information provided by numbers on tiles is exceptionally important. It reveals key options, the ability to move in certain directions and can be the difference between starving as you stumble in the wilderness or getting to the core of the puzzle. Check the tiles as you place them, and if there’s a few of you playing this could be a key job for one of you!
Boat Trips & Islands; There is a really limited amount of time in this game (well… in cards) and going the shortest route is important. Don’t stumble on to extra islands, and don’t force yourself to traverse extra terrain and difficult impasses. There are some shorter routes here and if you have played these missions a couple of times you will know what I mean. Seek these out and keep it simple.
One Trip; Same as above – keep it short. If you know you need things then get them. If you have been through this mission enough times to know what I mean, then you know where to go and how. It’s important not to take extra steps than those you need and use the energy to take more time and effort to construct tools for hunting or pass dangerous areas in the first attempt.
Remember the Traps; It’s obvious but you need to remember where the hidden dangers are and which traps offer opportunities for food. Take only the risks you need to, and take them only at times when you feel you have a good chance of succeeding. You won’t always be certain, but you will know what a reasonable risk looks like.
Build Tools; One way to help manage your risk is to build tools. Tools that will help you hunt, tools that will help set up a fire, tools that will help you cross dangerous terrain. Don’t build tools that add risk, but build the tools that will give you certainty or modifiers that can only help. Use them regularly and rebuild. These tools are instrumental to keeping your energy and winning the game.
Keep Certain Cards; Certain cards add stars – these are extremely useful and should always be kept. The allow an after the fact modifier. Powerful because risk will often be successful but when small margins put you on the side of failure you can avert the crisis. Be careful though; getting a tool and getting food are not the same importance.
Learn the Island; Some characters and some cards will unlock truths about the island. From my plays, these truths have had limited but important use. Some will tell you about resources for future tools while others are clearly more powerful. Don’t feel too bad expending energy on this though because a deep knowledge will compound through the game if you can use it. Sometimes it will be a red herring, but more often than not this seems to help you to the win.
Use Your Skills; Don’t forget the skills that you have within your character. Whether it’s healing, exploring or learning the island these skills will be material in getting from A to B safely and efficiently. If you are really having a tough time of the game then perhaps those three skills in that order are worth further thought!
Extra Effort not Extra Risk; One balance that you must decide is how many cards to draw for how many stars you want to achieve. Often the minimum is sufficient, but consult the table in the rule book for probability and when it really matters, take the extra card. One extra card to increase your odds meaningfully is better than 2 or even 3 extra cards when you have to come back and do the action a second time!