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Frequently asked questions

The Isle of Cats

Welcome to the official FAQ for Explore & Draw, on this page you will find answers to all the frequently asked questions about the game.


Card clarifications

I have a question about a specific card:

You can find a list of card clarifications here.

Which cards should I use to play?

Family Mode

Use all of the green backed cards only.

Standard mode

  1. Place all of the lesson module cards to one side (see page 23 of the rulebook).
  2. Shuffle all of the remaining blue backed cards together to form your discovery deck.
    • If you have the Kickstarter pack (cards with the purple bag in the bottom left corner) you should include all of the non-lesson module cards everytime you play.
    • If your have the Late Arrivals expansion (cards with the brown treasure chest in the bottom left corner), you should only include these cards when playing with 5 or 6 players.
  3. Select 3 sets of lesson modules (each module contains 8 cards) and shuffle them into the discovery deck.
    • If you are playing with 5 or 6 players you should add an additional 2 lesson modules, 5 in total.
    • The first 3 times you play we recommend using lesson modules A, B, and C, after that we recommend switching lesson modules every 3 – 5 times you play to add more variety.

Solo mode

Form the discovery deck in the same way as the standard mode, you will also need the solo colour, basket, lesson and advanced lesson cards.

The rulebook says I have 150 discovery cards, but I actually have many more?

If you backed one of our Kickstarters, or have since purchased any of the available expansions, then you will have more cards than are stated in the rulebook. You can find a full list of them at the bottom of this page.


Public Lessons

Can I discard public lessons?

No.

Any cards that refer to lessons, for example “discard 1 lesson card” or “gain 1 fish for each lesson card” do not include public lessons.

Once played a public lesson does not belong to any player and is in play for the rest of the game.


Oshax clarifications

Do the Oshax have their own colour?

No. The Oshax are the colour that you choose for them when placing them on your boat, for example, red.

As such there are only 5 cat colours in total, and the Oshax do not have their own colour.


Discarding

If I have to discard a treasure from my boat, can I leave a gap creating 2 groups of non-connected tiles on my boat?

Yes.

Whenever you play a cat or treasure tile it must touch a previously placed piece. If you later remove a tile, it is ok to leave non-connected tiles on your boat.

Where do discarded treasure tiles go?

Discarded treasures are removed from the game.


Miscellaneous

How do I pack away the game?

You can find a video tutorial on YouTube here.

Can I target other players boats/cards with actions?

No.

Any card that refers to played cards, treasures or cats always refers to your cards and tiles only. You may never discard or interfere with other players pieces.


How many cards should I have?

Every card in The Isle of Cats is numbered, you can find the number in the bottom right corner.

The Isle of Cats game comes with 219 cards:

  • 001 – 006 Oshax cards (6)
  • 007 – 066 Rescue cards (60)
  • 067 – 097 Anytime cards (31)
  • 098 – 112 Treasure cards (15)
  • 113 – 126 Lesson cards (14)
  • 127 – 134 Lesson Module A cards (8)
  • 135 – 142 Lesson Module B cards (8)
  • 143 – 150 Lesson Module C cards (8)
  • 151 – 168 Family cards (18)
  • 169 – 173 Solo Colours cards (5)
  • 174 – 196 Solo Rescue cards (23)
  • 197 – 206 Solo Lesson cards (10)
  • 207 – 215 Advanced Solo Lesson cards (9)
  • 216 – 219 Cat/Map Reference cards (4)

The Kickstarter Pack comes with 36 cards:

  • 220 – 227 Lesson Module D cards (8)
  • 228 – 235 Lesson Module E cards (8)
  • 236 – 243 Lesson Module F cards (8)
  • 244 Treasure card (1)
  • 245 – 247 Lesson cards (3)
  • 248 – 249 Anytime cards (2)
  • 250 – 255 Rescue cards (6)

The Late Arrivals expansion comes with 70 cards:

  • 256 – 257 Oshax cards (2)
  • 258 – 287 Rescue cards (30)
  • 288 – 301 Anytime cards (14)
  • 302 – 308 Treasure cards (7)
  • 309 Lesson card (1)
  • 310 – 317 Lesson Module G cards (8)
  • 318 – 325 Lesson Module H cards (8)

The Kittens + Beasts expansion comes with 15 cards:

  • 326 – 333 Lesson Module I (8)
  • 157b Family card (1) this card replaces the existing family card 157
  • 334 – 339 Family cards (6)

The Kickstarter Pack 2 expansion comes with 12 cards:

  • 340 – 345 Rescue cards (6)
  • 346 – 347 Anytime cards (2)
  • 348 Treasure card (1)
  • 349 – 351 Lesson cards (3)

Card sleeves

I would like to sleeve my cards, what do I need?

The Isle of Cats game:

  • 219 sleeves that fit 63mm x 88mm cards.

Late Arrivals:

  • 70 sleeves that fit 63mm x 88mm cards.

Kittens + Beasts:

  • 15 sleeves that fit 63mm x 88mm cards.

Boat Pack:

  • 6 sleeves that fit 70mm x 120mm cards.

Kickstarter Pack 1

  • 36 sleeves that fit 63mm x 88mm cards.

Kickstarter Pack 2:

  • 12 sleeves that fit 63mm x 88mm cards.

If you have a question that is not answered above, then please post on our Facebook group, on Board Game Geek, or leave a comment below and someone will respond as quickly as possible.

As the questions come in, we’ll continue to update this page.


I have a different question

If you have a question that is not answered above, then please post on our Facebook group, on Board Game Geek, or leave a comment below and someone will respond as quickly as possible.

As the questions come in, we’ll continue to update this page.


How to play

Learn how to play The Isle of Cats by watching a video or download the rulebook for the game here.

Learn how to play



Videos

Watch The Isle of Cats being played and hear from independent reviewers about their thoughts on the game.

Watch a video


Leave a comment

If you have any card specific questions please include the full text from the card in order to help speed up responses.

Please keep comments friendly, any rude or degrading comments will be removed.

51 comments

  • Aesdhrill

    27th June 2023 at 11:07 am

    Hey!
    I’ve got a quick question for clarification about Isle Of Cats lesson cards 136 and 137 (get points if both captain’s rooms/bedrooms are empty). Does “empty” in this case refer to the scoring “empty” (aka, even a single empty square means the room is empty) or does it mean that no square inside the room can be covered? Thanks in advance!

    Reply

    • Frank West

      27th June 2023 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Aesdhrill,

      They require the areas to be completely empty, meaning not a single square can be covered.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

      • Connor

        5th January 2024 at 1:52 am

        Hey question! Do you still get deducted 10 points at the end of the game for leaving both of those rooms empty? So instead of 18 points it’s really 18-10? Or is it not deducted at the end. Thanks! Great game

        Reply

        • Frank West

          11th January 2024 at 10:28 am

          Hi Connor, you still receive the penalty points, yes. So, in your example you would get +18, – 10, resulting in a gain of 8 points, but with the benefit of not having to fill those rooms.

          I hope this helps!

          Reply

  • Gloria Zbilicki

    28th June 2023 at 12:07 am

    Hello Frank, first I wanted to say that I absolutely adore the Kittens Module + the Oshax kittens! It adds really excellent variety and great opportunities for new strategy without seriously impacting the difficulty factor. Plus they are SO CUTE!

    I am confused about Event scoring. Rulebook says add up the number OF point tokens – should that not say add up the numbers ON the point tokens ?

    Also in Solo mode with Events, Sis gets the specific number of points on the Event tokens and she also gets my total too?

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Frank West

      28th June 2023 at 11:54 am

      Hey Gloria,

      I’m really glad you have been enjoying the Kitttens + Beasts expansion!

      To answer your questions:

      Your sister gets the specific number of points shown on the event token only, she does not score the points you score for the event. So, you will work out how many points you personally get for each event, and then give her only what is shown on the token.

      For scoring yourself. While all the scoring for the game happens at the end of the game, events score during the rounds that they happen. Because of this, during each round when you score an event, you take the point tokens to keep track of how many points you earned. At the end of the game you simply add up the points shown on your point tokens to see how much you scored for events in total.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Heidi

    28th June 2023 at 1:40 am

    Hi the lesson modules cards do u have to play these in there sets of 8 ?

    Also on so u bid to win your turn via placing as many cards as u like down on rescue cats phase 4? To win top spot only.

    Heidi

    Reply

    • Frank West

      28th June 2023 at 11:48 am

      Hi Heidi, if you have just the standard version of The Isle of Cats without expansions, then you should play with all the lesson cards. The sets of 8 only applies when expansions are involved.

      During phase 4, when you play rescue cards to determine the number of baskets and boots you are playing, you may play as many cards as you wish. There is no limit, but all cards you reveal must be played or discarded, they do not go back to your hand for future rounds.

      I hope this helps.

      Reply

  • Heidi

    28th June 2023 at 5:08 am

    I’m confused how many and when to enter the cards that are lesson cards into the game and how .

    Also the treasure cards and oshax

    Thanx heidi

    Reply

    • Frank West

      28th June 2023 at 11:46 am

      Hi Heidi,

      If you have the standard game for The Isle of Cats and no expansions, then you should use all the cards with a blue back. This includes all the treasure, Oshax, and lesson cards.

      The only time you will need to change the number of lesson cards is if you buy extra expansions that include more cards. In this situation the rules on page 23 of the rulebook should help with how to manage extra lesson cards from expansions.

      I hope this helps.

      Reply

  • Gloria Zbilicki

    2nd July 2023 at 11:45 pm

    Oshax clarification needed! We were playing with the kitten module and an Oshax kitten was on the kitten board. In the rare finds phase, can any player with an Oshax card use it to take that Oshax kitten?

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Frank West

      3rd July 2023 at 11:09 am

      Hi Gloria, you cannot use Oshax cards to rescue Oshax kittens, they can only be rescued in the same way you rescue kittens.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Stagg

    21st July 2023 at 8:05 pm

    Could the Boat Pack be used to bump the game up to 7-10 players if I use the other expansions in conjunction with it?

    Reply

    • Frank West

      21st July 2023 at 10:09 pm

      Hey Stagg, I’m afraid it is unlikely to support extra players, even if you include other expansions as well. You will find yourself short of treasure tiles, fish tokens, and running out of cards.

      Reply

  • David W

    23rd July 2023 at 1:44 am

    Hi there;
    Just a quick clarification – for the card that says “Discard 2 common treasures, and the add 1 permanent basket.”
    Do I need to have the 2 common treasures to discard before I can get the basket? If I have less than 2 common treasures on my boat, is this card unusable?

    Thank you in advance.

    Reply

    • Frank West

      24th July 2023 at 10:49 am

      Hi David,

      That is correct, you must have 2 common treasures on your boat (which will then be discarded) in order to play this card.

      I hope that helps!

      Reply

  • Emby

    29th July 2023 at 5:14 pm

    During Rescue Cats phase, do players HAVE to play green cards?

    Reply

    • Frank West

      31st July 2023 at 10:37 am

      Hi Emby,

      At the start of the rescue cats phase, players should choose which cards they plan on playing and then all players will reveal those cards.

      You may choose not to play a card, and in that case you should not reveal it.

      All cards that are revealed must be played.

      I hope this helps.

      Reply

  • Michelle

    30th July 2023 at 6:06 am

    We purchased the bix game Isle of Cats. When we play with 4 players, there are not enough cards to deal 7 cards to each player for the six rounds. The cards we deal have the blue on the top side. What did we miss we miss in the instructions?

    Reply

    • Frank West

      31st July 2023 at 10:38 am

      Hi Michelle,

      It sounds like you are playing an extra round, the game plays over 5 rounds.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Electrocreative

    4th August 2023 at 3:51 am

    Hi Frank –

    Can you please clarify some points on Lesson card #309 from the Kickstarter Expansion Pack (Cat Diplomacy ~ 10 points if you have the most families).

    Is this card intended to be used in decks only with 5-6 players? Can it be used with less than 5 players, or for Solo play?

    Thanks much.

    Reply

    • Frank West

      8th August 2023 at 12:15 pm

      Hi Electrocreative,

      All of the lesson cards can be used at all player counts.

      For Diplomacy, in solo mode, you will need to have at least 3 families.

      Reply

  • Hayden Low

    5th August 2023 at 4:53 am

    Hey there,

    When I am in the rescue phase and revealing speed, is the revealed speed discarded or does it carry on with me throughout the game? Also, if I use a card with both speed and a basket do I have to choose what I am using it for?

    Reply

    • Frank West

      8th August 2023 at 12:13 pm

      Hi Hayden,

      All revealed cards get discarded at the end of the rescue phase, so the speed does not carry through to later rounds.

      When you reveal cards, you get to use both the speed and the basket, so you do not have to choose which you are using it for.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Michel

    10th August 2023 at 2:41 pm

    Hi

    I have the base game + kickstarter pack from the first kickstarter campaign and Veteran 2 (kitten, beast, boat pack,..) from campaign 2 but I do not have late arrivals for 5-6 players.

    Is it still possible to play with 5 or 6 players with the above without late arrivals? which cards to add?

    Thank you Frank!

    Reply

    • Frank West

      10th August 2023 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Michel,

      I’m afraid you will still need the Late Arrivals expansion in order to play with 5 or 6 players. This is due to the number of fish and treasure tokens needed, along with the cards.

      Reply

  • Chris Palacios

    10th August 2023 at 3:36 pm

    Hello,
    First off, let me just say that my two adult kids and myself just love playing this game! We play it 2-3 times a week! A question came up yesterday. When we were in the Rescue phase and running out of cats to rescue, my daughter “passed” because there was only 1 cat left to rescue and she didn’t want that one. On my turn, I played the “Add 4 tiles from the bag” card. After I rescued the cat I wanted and my son took his turn, she wanted to rescue one of the new cats. My son protested and said since she had already “passed” she could not rescue any more cats because her turn was over. I said that now there were more cats to rescue so she could still rescue one? So who is right? Thank you!!

    Reply

    • Frank West

      10th August 2023 at 3:56 pm

      Hey Chris, thanks for the message, I am really happy to hear you and your family have been enjoying the game!

      This is a great question and this specific scenario adds a lot of power to the “Add 4 tiles from the bag” card.

      Once someone has passed, they may no longer rescue cats for the rest of the current round, so in this situation your son was correct. Even though new cats became available, as your daughter had already passed, she was unable to rescue any of them.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Den

    20th August 2023 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Frank,

    Great game, we’re having lots of fun over here!

    Quick question: When placing an Oshax onto a treasure map tile, if we declare the Oshax to be in a family that is the same color as the treasure map does the Oshax then qualify for the treasure map’s effect of instantly taking and placing a common treasure?

    Reply

    • Frank West

      21st August 2023 at 9:43 am

      Hey Den, I am glad to hear it!

      I can confirm the Oshax will qualify, assuming it is the correct colour. So marking an Oshax as green and placing it on the green treasure map will reward a common treasure.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Bart

    20th August 2023 at 11:31 pm

    Hi,

    Lesson 141 says score your third largest family twice.

    A player has 4 cats in his 3rd largest family. Does this mean they get 11 points (score a 2nd time) or 22 (which seems like an extreme amount for a 2 cost card, and force focus on 3 families).

    I like the game, but balancing does not seem fair on many aspects, so we play it as a for fun game, can’t go competitive of “for the win” for this one.

    Reply

    • Frank West

      21st August 2023 at 9:50 am

      Hi Bart,

      In your example, they will score an additional 11 points for the lesson card. I hope with future plays you’ll be able to explore more strategies within the game and discover the balance you are looking for.

      Reply

  • Tommy

    24th September 2023 at 12:57 pm

    Hi Frank,

    When playing the treasure card “take any rare treasure or take 2 common treasures”, can the rare treasure be taken directly from the discovery bag or does there have to be one or more already removed and placed in the play area? Thanks

    Reply

    • Frank West

      25th September 2023 at 9:51 am

      Hi Tommy, it has to be a treasure tile that has already been removed from the discovery bag and is in the play area for selection.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Sandy

    4th October 2023 at 1:43 am

    Hi Frank,
    Love the game. I have two questions:
    1. If somebody plays either anytime card letting them draw 2 or 3 cards, after they had already presented their baskets ( maybe after they even already played some of them), can they use those baskets that round?
    2. If someone turns in two Lesson cards to get a permanent basket during the Rare Treasure phase, can they go back & use that new permanent basket that round?

    Reply

    • Frank West

      4th October 2023 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Sandy, I’m happy to hear it! To answer your questions:

      1. They can not. Once the baskets have been presented for the round, no more can be added that round.

      2. They can not. Once the rescue phase is complete, you can not go back and rescue more cats if you gain more fish and/or baskets.

      Typically speaking, once a game step has completed, you can not go back and add to it with new things you gain. You can only use those new things in future steps.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Dakota

    23rd October 2023 at 12:17 am

    Hello! I have a clarification question on Lesson card #324 “2 points for every Orange or Green cat on your boat, whichever you have Fewer of.”

    I finished a game with 5 Orange cats and 5 Green cats, so I gave myself a score of 10 points, as my cats are tied.

    My opponents testified that because neither group has fewer, and that they are tied, that I failed to meet conditions to score at all, and that I should score zero points for the lesson (as I have fewer of neither).

    If this card is a tie, do I score for one color’s cat total, or do I lose out on all potential points? Thanks for you assistance and for a great game!

    Reply

    • Frank West

      23rd October 2023 at 12:36 pm

      Hi Dakota, in the instance of a tie then you would score the points.

      So in this case, you would have scored 10 points as you had assumed.

      I hope this helps and I am glad to hear you have been enjoying the game.

      – Frank

      Reply

  • Ashley Hill

    5th November 2023 at 1:15 pm

    I have two questions that game up playing yesterday. Like the previous person inquired about, I had 11 orange cats and no green cats and played the lesson “2 points for each orange or green cat that you have fewer of”. I assumed that since I had NO green cat, my orange would count. The opponent assumed with no green cats the lesson was no longer valid.

    Second question is, with a card saying “discard a permanent basket to receive 4 fish” can the basket being discards already have been used that round?

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Frank West

      5th November 2023 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Ashley,

      If you have 11 orange cats and 0 green cats, then the lesson card would score 0 x 2, resulting in no points.

      For your second question, the permanent basket can already have been used that round, that’s absolutely fine.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Isaac Smith

    7th November 2023 at 6:28 am

    Hi Frank!

    I was watching a rules video for this game the other day, and I was intrigued by the order of tiebreakers (Fish or share the victory if still tied, I believe).

    Is there a reason why player order on the center board wasn’t used as the secondary (or primary) tiebreaker in Isle of Cats? Player order is a relatively important and competitive game element, so it makes sense as a tiebreaker (as opposed to a relatively unimportant game stat such as rats that remain uncovered, for example).

    Also, player order is an absolute tiebreaker. Even if players are tied in every other element of the game, they will never be tied in player order. One of them will be higher up on the board than the other. Thus, this tiebreaker eliminates the need for players to ever share the victory from the game.

    I imagine one of the reasons why you didn’t choose it as a tiebreaker is because it does slightly perpetuate first-player advantage, though. The player who starts the game has a slight advantage in turn order, thus the tiebreaker would also be slightly biased, giving players an advantage based on elements that are outside of their control.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the idea. Thanks. 🙂

    Reply

    • Frank West

      7th November 2023 at 10:36 am

      Hi Isaac,

      A big part of the decision around the tiebreaker was trying to find something that wouldn’t impact strategy too much. Things like biggest cat family, most completed lessons, or as you say, first in turn order are all things that will be easier to achieve with certain strategies. As a result those strategies become a little more powerful as choosing one over the other could cause you to win in the case of a tie.

      By choosing fish, it kept the core strategies of the game more equal.

      Reply

      • Isaac Smith

        8th November 2023 at 4:12 am

        Thanks for your response. That’s interesting, I hadn’t considered how the choice of tiebreaker could affect the balance of the game. That might be why many games use minor game elements as tiebreakers rather than major, strategically critical game elements that players are already incentivized to pursue.

        Reply

  • Sandy

    12th November 2023 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Frank,
    Love the game.
    My gaming group had a dispute yesterday about scoring Orshax. You play them during the rare find mode. When scoring, do you score them as a rare find at 3 per Orshax? Some of my friends say no, that they just get scored with their color family.

    Reply

    • Frank West

      12th November 2023 at 6:19 pm

      Hi Sandy, I’m glad you hear you’ve been enjoying the game!

      I can confirm you do not get the 3 points per Oshax, you only score them for their cat colours.

      The 3 points per, is just for the rare treasures.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Fred

    3rd December 2023 at 11:28 am

    Hi, this game is great and we enjoy playing it.
    Yesterday, we were playing 4 players, and i got multiple action cards “Rescue 2 cats instead of one”
    Can i use them all in one rescue turn, meaning, if i own two cards, i can take up to 4 (2*2) cats at the same time, and if i own 3 cards, i can take up to
    2*2*2=8cats in one turn ?
    Or can i play only one single action card by turn ?

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Frank West

      8th December 2023 at 10:11 am

      Hi Fred,

      You can use multiples of these cards at the same time, assuming you have enough fish and baskets to use them. However, please keep in mind the cards are effectively +1 cat.

      Each card allows you to rescue 2 instead of 1, so the first card allows for a total of 2 cats, the second card would increase that to 3 and so on.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • James

    25th December 2023 at 4:27 am

    For Card 075 (Anytime cards) – Randomly draw one tile and immediately place it:
    Does this placement follow the normal rules for placement? Or can it be placed anywhere? By “normally” I mean it must be placed connected to existing tiles, unless you have first played the “place your next cat or treasure anywhere” card?

    Reply

    • Frank West

      2nd January 2024 at 12:04 pm

      Hi James,

      This tile would follow all the usual placement rules for having to be connected etc.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

  • Jessica Placy

    29th December 2023 at 3:30 am

    Hi,

    We’re playing the family version and need a clarification on the “Rat Lover” (#166) card. Do you add 2 points for each rat that isn’t covered and then still subtract the 1 point later (basically scoring 1 point per rat) or do you score the full 2 points without having to subtract any?

    Thanks,
    Jess

    Reply

    • Frank West

      2nd January 2024 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Jess,

      You gain the 2 points per rat but still lose 1 point per rat, so effectively the card is +1 point per rat.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply

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