Wednesday, August 31, 2011

#80: Tobago

  • designer: Bruce Allen
  • publisher: Zoch/Rio Grande
  • date: 2009
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 184/7.25
  • position on my top 100 in 2005: did not appear
  • age: 10+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: out of print (which surprises me!)
  • cost: used copies are not difficult to find through BGG
It's a treasure hunt on an island populated by Easter Island heads... and some of the buried treasure has been cursed. How can anyone not immediately engage with that theme?!

I certainly did. And the amazing bits (the aforementioned statues, the wooden palm trees & huts, the gorgeously illustrated 3-piece multi-sided board) only added to my enjoyment of this innovative family game.

That's right: it's a family game. Yes, there are things you can do to better your position. (Strategy tip #1 - make sure you're helping to locate all of the treasures - don't put all your eggs in one basket - ahem, treasure chest.) But the treasure dividing process has a lovely push-your-luck/luck of the draw whimsy about it that can cause your plans to"gang aft agley" (in the words of Robert Burns).

The creative method by which you find the treasures (players add to the map by narrowing the location of a treasure with card play) has a similar effect on the game - you can exert some control but you're often at the mercy of the actions of the other players.

Those who insist on treating Tobago as if it were yet another Tikal (a game with a similar theme but much more gamer-y gameplay) are going to be sorely disappointed. The rest of us will enjoy the mad dash to build the treasure maps & race for the treasure.


huzonfirst said...

In my gaming circles, Tobago was Flavor of the Month, but then almost entirely disappeared. One possible reason for this was that it's neither fish nor fowl: a little too involved to be a true family game and too luck-ridden to appeal to gamers. There were also false expectations on both sides. The amazing components scream out "family game" and you'd expect something simpler. The innovative and somewhat involved mechanics lead gamers to believe there will be more control than there is.

I still like it and appreciate it for its uniqueness and enjoyable play. But you have to accept the game for what it is and recognize that good play will often not be rewarded.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Larry: "You have to accept the game for what it is & recognize that good play will often not be rewarded."

Me: "You have to recognize that playing this 'experience' game is its own reward." :-)

Chevrolet Silverado Turbocharger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.