Looks can be deceiving! This is also the case with Isle of Skye. When you see this game for the first time you think you are dealing with a Carcassonne clone, but when you start playing the game you soon discover that other game mechanisms in this game are much more important than laying tiles.
In Isle of Skye you use square tiles to build a landscape with which you try to earn points. Well you said it didn’t play like Carcassonne and this sounds exactly like Carcassonne. That’s right. The similarity ends here because you get tiles and points in a completely different way.
At the beginning of each round (after the players have received money) all players draw three tiles. One of them they throw back into the bag and the other two they place behind their own player screen. The players then determine the price of these tiles. Then the players may buy one tile from the other players in turn (so you should not overprice your tiles). You may then keep the tiles you have left, but you must pay the price you have set yourself (so you really don’t want to overprice your tiles).
Then you place your tiles in your kingdom. Everyone starts with a castle tile and around it the tiles have to be placed appropriately. And then points are awarded.
Every game is different. There are sixteen different tiles that determine what you get points for and of these only 4 are used in each game. Sometimes you get points for the number of sheep in your kingdom, sometimes just for who has the most ships or for who has the most completed landscape elements (lakes, mountains, meadows). The central board shows which elements are scored in which round. Each attribute is dealt with three times.
Besides these in between counts, you can also collect points at the end of the game. On some tiles there is a wrapper with on it something for which you get points (farms, whisky barrels, animals). And if your wrapper also lies in a landscape element, which is finished, you even score double.
Isle of Skye, be ready to go!
Isle of Skye is a game many will like very much. The game only lasts five rounds, but in each round you have to make difficult choices. Which tiles do you put back in the bag, what price do you ask for the tiles you keep, do you buy a tile and if so which one and where do you put your new tiles? Choices, choices, choices. The game works fine with two, but the following applies to this game: the more players, the better because with multiple players there is a chance that one player will buy both tiles (and thus swims in the money for the next round so that he can price his tiles dearly and/or buy the best tile) and someone else will have both tiles left (but probably has little money left). The fact that despite the short playing time (only five rounds, it’s really over before you know it), there is so much excitement and fun, is a very strong element of this game. This is not a game where you can get started calmly, you have to go ham immediately. But no one will complain about it either!