Treasure Maps, Tricky Clues, and Wily Pirates Abound in Deduction Game Treasure Island | Casual Game Revolution

Treasure Maps, Tricky Clues, and Wily Pirates Abound in Deduction Game Treasure Island

Treasure Island

Can you crack the clues to find the buried treasure? Will you beat your opponents to its location?

In Treasure Island, one player is Long John Silver, who has hidden his treasure on the island but is currently in prison and unable to reach it. The other players are pirates, trying to find the treasure before Long John Silver escapes and makes it to his treasure first.


The game board, showing a map of the island, is placed in the center of the table. During the game players will be using dry-erase markers to write on the board itself. Each player also receives a mini-map that they can write on during the game, and a player screen to hide it behind.

At the start of the game, each pirate player choses a character (each character comes with his or her own unique abilities) and places their character on its starting location. Long John Silver then chooses where on the map the treasure is buried. It cannot be within a certain distance of any player's starting location, in the deep sea, or in the impassible mountains. It also cannot lie within the border of two different districts (sections) on the map.

Once Long John Silver has decided where to place the treasure (and marked it on his own mini-map) he then shuffles the district cards. Each district card shows a different district on the board, and he will remove the one that shows the district that the treasure is in. Long John Silver will deal one to each player, so that each player begins the game knowing a location where the treasure is not located. Players must keep these secret.

There is a calendar of nineteen days, which players use to keep track of events and turns. Each pirate player has a player token on this calendar, and at the start of each turn the player whose token is farthest behind is moved to the next empty space and it will be their turn. Some calendar days also trigger special events when a player moves onto them. For instance, Long John Silver may have to play a hint card (he begins with a hand of starting hint cards, which tend to be easier for the pirate players, however as the game progresses he will switch over to the black spot clues which tend to be more tricky). He also has information tokens which he plays facedown with a clue, indicating whether he is telling the truth or possibly bluffing (either truth or a lie). The two bluff information tokens are gained during the course of the game.

Clues might be things such as naming two types of terrain that the treasure is not in, or choosing a player and saying if the treasure is north or south of them. Some clues will involve drawing on the board. On the nineteenth day, Long John Silver will escape prison and if he beats the other players to the treasure, he wins.

On a pirate player's turn, the pirate may take either one or two actions, depending on the calendar space she is on. Actions include movement on a horse, movement on foot with a small search, or a large search.

When moving on a horse, you use the ruler to measure up to six 'miles' in a straight line on the board, using your marker to draw the path you take and then an 'x' to show where you stopped. A short movement is only up to three miles. For the short search, you place the game's smaller search circle on the board so that the center of the x marking your current location is visible inside the circle. With your marker you then draw around the inside of the search circle. The large search works the same, only the circle used is bigger.

If the treasure is inside the circle you drew, you won the game! If the treasure is not in the circle, Long John Silver chooses to either say so, or to award the player a chest token. Chest tokens give players bonuses such as allowing them a one-time extra movement or additional small search. However, some of Long John Silver's clue cards show a chest icon and may only be played if he has awarded chest tokens, and these clue cards are more helpful for him.

Treasure Island Components


Treasure Island embraces its theme and runs with it. The idea of taking a game about pirate treasure and making the board a map you can actually write on is perfect, and it’s great as the game progresses to see the map fill up with lines and circles and x’s.

At its core, Treasure Island is a deduction and bluffing game. The pirates have to put together the pieces of information they’re given, try to guess the secret information the other players appear to be operating on, and attempt to figure out when Long John Silver is more likely lying. It always ties in well however with the theme and atmosphere of the game.

Long John Silver has a trickier role of choosing which clues to give at which moments and choosing when to uses his bluff tokens, so as to confuse players the most. New players will find it more difficult to learn to play well, though it is a quite satisfying role when the pirates are stumped or tense when they just manage to miss the treasure.

Aesthetically, the game is also highly thematic and gorgeous. From the artwork on the map and cards to the rules and search circles, all the components look beautiful.

There are a lot of little minor rules you’ve got to cover when teaching the game, which is going to make setup take a little while, and the gameplay (particularly the first few times you play it) is going to run long, especially when you add more players.

But if you enjoy deduction games, Treasure Island is one you need to try out. It’s got a great concept and a perfect blending of mechanics and theme.

Pros: Great blending of theme and mechanics, looks amazing, fun deduction gameplay

Cons: Playtime can run long, takes a while to teach, new players may find the Long John Silver role difficult to play

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.

I've only played this once but I am eager to try it again.  I really enjoyed the unique methods of clue giving and clue tracking.  I also liked the race element once Long John Silver got out of prison.

I can see this being a little quirky to teach and potential slowness if there are AP gamers but overall I had a lot of fun with this and think it would go well with my fellow gamers.