Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Tobago: X Marks the Fun

Within the realms of board game geekdom, there are games which are considered vastly more popular than others. This may seem weird to those people who don’t know much about board games beyond Monopoly or even those who think that more serious board gamers just play Catan. But within board game circles, there are varying levels of game popularity. Cliques within cliques, if you will.
Games like Carcassonne and Catan have been around for a while and are instantly recognizable. Other games like Small World, Ticket to Ride, and 7 Wonders gain instant acclaim and quickly become popular and are known by most gamers out there. But sometimes as a gamer its finding the smaller, lesser known games which can really put a smile on your face.
Which brings me to Tobago. Now, Tobago is not a completely unknown game and it does have a band of supporters. But it certainly hasn’t gained the notoriety of other games released around its time (Small World, Pandemic, etc.). However its a really nice game which can add a unique niche in your game collection. Its simple, fun, and looks great. It really is like stumbling upon a hidden treasure to be cherished.

Gameplay

Tobago is a game of deduction and uses this in an interesting way. Each player is a treasure hunter trying to piece together the maps of four different treasures. As more pieces of the map are added, the locations are narrowed down using various island features and landmarks. Once its known, its an ATV race across the Caribbean terrain to get their first!! When the treasure is claimed, each person who contributed to the map also gets their fair share of bounty.
There’s some interesting and unique things going on with the gameplay here. The deduction is cool in that there really is no definitive place where the treasure starts at first, unlike Clue where the culprit, location and weapon are hidden in an envelope. The players end up deciding the location depending on the treasure map cards they play. Also, the way that the treasures are dealt out is interesting as it is based on a take-or-pass system where you don’t know the value of each treasure.
There are always four treasures throughout the game to find. When one is found a new map for a new treasure is begun. This always gives you different options and also makes the game go by really quickly. This is actually one of the problems of the game; its goes by too quickly. Just as you are getting into your role as a jungle-exploring treasure hunter, the game is over.

Components

The components of Tobago really make this game stand out. The board looks thematic and dynamic, with hexes of all sorts of different island terrain mashed together. It really looks like some place where ancient treasures may have been buried and where Indiana Jones-like adventurers would scour to find them. Aside from the look, the functionality of the board is incredible in the way that it is always distinctive enough to aid in the deduction, despite the possibility of 32 different maps with only three map pieces!
The island landmarks are also true gems, especially the statues. They truly look like miniaturized versions of Moai-reminiscent statures. They even have the weight and texture! The palm trees, huts and ATVs also look fantastic. There’s some detail here, including carved grooves in the palm leaves and windshield’s painted onto the jeeps. These components truly make this board gaming treasure glimmer and shine.

Conclusion

Tobago is a nice little game which can be really good for a board gaming experience which is quite different from the norm. There’s some interesting mechanics in the gameplay such as the treasure-dealing mechanic as well as the deduction of the hidden booty.
This board-gaming treasure is slightly tainted however in that it is simply too short. The players need more time to get their feet wet, to dig into this wild terrain and really sink their teeth into this exciting treasure hunt.
Despite this flaw, the game is still bountiful. It will definitely have its own unique place among your other games it looks fantastic and is really enjoyable and fun. The journey of narrowing down the treasure spot and the race to collect it will be appealing to many players out there. Tobago and its lush, tropical board is a great place for board-gamers to visit.

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