My first time playing this game last night. My friend that was teaching me had only played a couple times. Despite a quick rules reading we wanted to verify this sequence that happened to us.

  • After the board was laid out, we flipped 6 tiles, among them Fool's Landing.
  • I took my turn, but was unable to Shore Up the Fools's Landing
  • Waters Rise!
  • Fool's Landing is drawn and discarded.
  • We lost.

With a quarter of the land cards drawn to start the game this seems like it would be a fairly common occurrence.

Did we miss a rule somewhere? Are there ways to ameliorate this?


5 Answers 5


Starting off with Fools' Landing being flooded is certainly a set-back, but all is not lost!

Naturally, due to its crucial nature, if Fools' Landing does become flooded, shoring it up becomes a top priority. Your first option is to immediately move adjacent to Fools' Landing, if you can, and use an action to shore up. Failing that, any player can play a 'Sandbags' card to shore it up as a free action.

If, sadly, you can't move that far and no-one has any sandbags in their starting hand (as can happen easily in a two player game) - Fools' Landing is left somewhat vulnerable to a Waters Rise card, but even then it's not guaranteed that Fools' Landing is re-drawn and sunk.

Fortunately, it's pretty rare that you start too far away and have no sandbags and Waters Rise and Fools Landing is drawn - but if it does happen, take solace that your end was a quick one, and hope for better fortune next time.


You didn't mention how many players were in that game, but if I assume there were two, here are the probabilities of that happening to you: Step 1 - Having Fools landing be flooded before the game starts - 25% (1 in 4) Step 2 - Drawing a water rise card on your first turn (either 1st or 2nd treasure card) 24% chance - P(atleast 1 water rise card) = 1-(21/24*20/23) = 24% Step 3 - Assumed you started with a water level of 2 - Having Fools Landing come up from the first flood- 33.33% (1 in 6)

Therefore for all those three things to happen exactly in that order with the assumptions made, it would only happen 1.98% of the time.

There you have it! If you started with more players, or it was the 2nd treasure card on the first turn, or you started the game on a water level of 3 let me know and I'll re-calculate :)

  • 2
    You might want to check out this question. The current answers are close, but not the same. If you provide your own answer, it might be clearer which answer is correct.
    – user1873
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 21:07
  • I removed your mention of your blog, feel free to add it to your user page here. Thanks!
    – Pat Ludwig
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 5:06
  • 2
    Further decreasing the probability below 1.98% is the fact that you have a reasonable chance of the first player being within 3 tiles of Fools' Landing (including the 1/6 chance of the first player being the Pilot, placing him/her on fool's landing). That makes it less than a 1 in 600 (0.1667%) chance of losing under those conditions. Of course, this answer covers this. Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 3:34
  • There's a typo at the end of the first paragraph (1 in 6) should read (2 in 6), but the edit function requires a minimum of six character change! You'll have to fix it yourself.
    – Jontia
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 15:15

One way to alleviate the issue is to have the Pilot always take the first turn. Since they start on Fools' Landing, they can prevent the instant loss by shoring it up. In a 4-player game, you have reduced the chances by an additional 1/5 (in a 2-player game by 4/10).


I usually follow the Pandemic model when adding the Waters Rise cards so one doesn't show up the first turn. I create three equal piles after giving everyone two cards. Then I place one waters rise card in roughly the middle of each pile. I thought this was mentioned in the rules, but maybe I'm getting it confused with Pandemic.

Also what do you do if you draw two Waters Rise cards in a turn? Do you flip over double the number of land cards?

  • 1
    Its definitely not in the rules. It's a bit different from Pandemic, where you would only go through the pile once. Here you'll likely shuffle the deck a couple times during the game as well. Each Waters Rise card is executed separately, so the second one just ups the counter without having any additional effect (which is much less painful than consecutive Epidemics in Pandemic causing an automatic outbreak).
    – bwarner
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 21:42

Hah, we lost a game on the first round a different way. Two of the six tiles initially flooded were the ‘gardens of the wind’ tiles plus a couple other ‘treasure’ redemption tiles. First person shored up tiles close to them, none of which were the wind garden tiles. The first treasure card was waters rise and then the first two new floods were those ‘gardens of the wind’ tiles. Game over before it had really begun and nothing involving the Fools Landing square which gets so much discussion elsewhere.

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