FTW Staff Picks - Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

Genre: Bidding / Tile Placement

Designer: Andreas Pelikan & Alexander Pfister

Player Size: 2 to 5 Players

Game Length: 50 minutes

For fans of: Carcassonne, Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Pandemic Legacy and T.I.M.E. Stories are two games that rocked the tabletop scene when they arrived in 2015. Both titles topped many end-of-year lists, including our own. So it may surprise you to hear that the Kennerspiel des Jahres for that year was awarded to the lesser known Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, beating out both. And to add to the prestige of winning it that year, it was the second consecutive Kennerspiel awarded to the design-duo of Andreas Pelikan & Alexander Pfister who had won the year prior for Broom Service. If you're wondering if this was some sort of travesty that it pulled off the win, over the other two fan-favourites, rest easy knowing it was anything but. The answer to "was Isle of Skye a worthy winner?" is nothing short of a resounding yes. 

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Isle of Skye is compared often to another popular tile-builder, Carcassonne. You connect roads, land and water trying to build the highest scoring kingdom. But the game plays more similarly to Castles of Mad King Ludwig. The road to victory changes every game due to the randomized scoring tiles. And to add more diversity, those scoring tiles only come into play on specific rounds of the game. No two games are the same. And strategies shift from round-to-round. 

Isle of Skye takes the master builder concept from Castles and applies it so that every player acts as one. They secretly price the tiles they're given at the beginning of each round, and if no one wishes to pay for the tile, the player gets to buy it at the price they set. There's a great dynamic of figuring out how to price players out of a tile, while still keeping it affordable for yourself. And since a lot of the action takes place semi-simultaneously, the game plays at an enjoyable pace all the way through.

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It's no secret that we're huge fans of Broom Service at the cafe. It took us longer than we care to admit, to try out Isle of Skye but now that we have, it's easily placed itself atop our list of favourites. Dubbed by some as a Carcassonne-killer, I actually believe that there's value in keeping and playing both. The games don't really overlap much beyond the aesthetic. If you enjoy auction games, you should definitely give Isle of Skye a run. 

Earl OliverosComment