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A 2-4 player game for players aged 8+  Designed by Shun and Aya Taguchi and published by Queen Games.
SKYLANDS combines the finest parts of classic games Carcassonne and Entdecker with the most enjoyable mechanics of man management and building games, plus the divergency of creating your own world from a helpful start-up or from scratch.
The game is set up to show an central island where all the worker meeples live in their own colourful regions, Blue, Green and Red. They are gained from these areas by players visiting the four large islands that surround and are attached to, jigsaw style, to the central land.
Each of these 'special' islands is like a factory where players can do one specific action; Create Islands, Convert Energy, Deploy Inhabitants or Discover Islands. Players may only visit one of these islands a turn so there is a prerequisite of thought before deciding the best action for you plans.
 You may place island pieces you obtain, either from Discovering Islands or from the 16 tile grid display (created at the beginning of the game) onto any empty space on your personal map-board. They don't have to be placed next to already/previously laid tiles but if they are they must fit the terrain any side is adjacent to. (exception; the sides to the edge of the board do not have to match the edge of the board). By having open sides like this means you cannot complete the island, and only complete islands are of any use to you (apart from at the end of the game where empty spaces count against you) so playing a legal tile into a no-value space actually saves you the points debit.
Each island has lightly shaded small squares on them; these are the only points on the islands where workers can be placed. Meeples are claimed from the central island regions when the Deploy Inhabitants island is visited.
On each player's turn they place their Boss meeple onto one of the four large islands and activate its ability. Once the player at turn has used the island's ability all other players can then do so. After all players have used the activated action then there is a Bonus for the player whose turn it is (the player who chose the island action in their turn). Utilising this Bonus well is vital to building and scoring.
I should point out that is very important to know the composition of the available island building tiles. The photo above shows the player is waiting/hoping to obtain an island piece that meets at top and bottom and is closed on the left and right sides (exactly like the one they played in square D3 (imagining A B C D across and 1,2,3,4 down). If they can get this piece they can complete a large island; D1, D2, D3 and D4, the tile in C4 is not attached and is part of another island in the making.
The problem is that there is only ONE of the required pieces for each colour; Green (woods), Red (mountains) and Blue (crystals) in the game, thus the wait will be in vain - the moral is, know your components and don't get yourself into this position. There are also Cities (Yellow) on the board that can be built and may give special bonus actions.
Different meeples do different things. Green and Red meeples are used for buying tiles from the display while Blue crystals can be converted into Energy. White meeples are shown as a cost on the Display tiles - this means any colour can be used (Red, Green or Blue).
There is much more to SKYLANDS than you may think after your first look and play through. You need to have a good balance of islands, by colour, so that you can generate the worker meeples as and when required. The player whose turn it is always has a small but useful bonus from their chosen large island. Getting yourself into a position where this turns that slight advantage into a huge advantage is essential for a good strategic win.
If you enjoy creative and logical man management games then there is no reason why SKYLANDS shouldn't become a favourite. There is enough in it to place it in any board gamers list of 100 great classic games for friends and family and gamers. It is friendly and bitingly vicious at the same time.
It can be found online for between £25.00 - £40.00. Personally I think anywhere around the £30.00 is a good price for a solid entertaining game. It has all the hallmarks of the quality Queen Games are renown for, plus it is visually attractive, easy to learn but complicated to master.
© Chris Baylis 2011-2015