The Isle of Cats game description from BoardGameGeek: “The Isle of Cats is a competitive, medium-weight, card-drafting, polyomino cat-placement board game for 1-4 players (6 with expansions).
In the game, you are citizens of Squalls End on a rescue mission to The Isle of Cats and must rescue as many cats as possible before the evil Lord Vesh arrives. Each cat is represented by a unique tile and belongs to a family, you must find a way to make them all fit on your boat while keeping families together. You will also need to manage resources as you:
- Explore the island (by drafting cards)
- Rescue cats
- Find treasures
- Befriend Oshax
- Study ancient lessons
Each lesson you collect gives you another personal way of scoring points, and 38 unique lessons are available. Complete lessons, fill your boat, and keep cat families together to score points, and the player with the most points after five rounds wins.”
Player count: 1 to 4 players
Playing time: 60 to 90 minutes
Complexity: Low to Medium (depending on which mode you play)
Why The Isle of Cats is a peaceful game:
One of the first things you interact with when you play The Isle of Cats is a big cloth bag filled with tetris-shaped cats. You need to take cats out of the bag in order to populate the island where they live. However, these are not ordinary cats. These are cats from a fantasy world where cats come in colors such as green and purple. Some of the cats even have antlers or vines growing out of them!
I think this initial impression you get from The Isle of Cats makes it a very welcoming experience. The cats are depicted in a variety of cute and friendly poses that help set a relaxing tone for the game. Cats are often thought of as laid-back, carefree animals and this thinking extends into the game. As you play the game, I feel like you take on the qualities of the cats and experience their relaxed and playful nature.
The Isle of Cats is also a very tactile experience. Throughout the game, you are constantly interacting with a variety of components. There are linen finish cards, wooden cat figures, cloth bags, and smooth cardboard cat tiles. I feel like the combination of all of these different textures and shapes help keep me grounded in the present moment during the game.
Lastly, The Isle of Cats is a very rewarding game where you eventually end up with a boat filled with cats and treasure. I feel content after each round because I am always able to fill up my boat just a little more. You also get the satisfaction of sliding the tetris-shaped cat pieces together and seeing how you are able to uniquely fill your boat.
Not so peaceful qualities:
During The Isle of Cats, you are rescuing cats from their island home before the evil Lord Vesh arrives to destroy the island. This is the only aspect of the game that I do not find peaceful. It’s not an overt feature of the game, though, and you can easily ignore it and come up with an alternate story. You are only reminded of it by a black boat that acts as the round marker, which could be swapped out with something else. One alternative story I came up with is that the island is sinking because of some natural cause, and you are rescuing the cats before the island sinks. That story feels more peaceful to me.
Goodness of fit:
The Isle of Cats is a good fit for almost everyone. It has a regular mode of play, a simpler family mode, and a solo variant. I’ve played all of these different modes and found each one to be engaging and satisfying.
What’s your favorite type of cat from The Isle of Cats? Which component do you enjoy the texture of the most? Let me know in the comments below!
My favorite type of cat is the Blue Hissnipper because it reminds me of a ragdoll cat I know. I really enjoy the texture of the cat tiles – the finish on them feels particularly smooth.
This post is part of my peaceful game series where I discuss tabletop games that I believe have a noteworthy amount of peaceful qualities. Click here to read my previous entry in this series: Unsurmountable.