Friday night, one of the nights that a small group of Bread Smellers gets together, a member of our group brought over a new game: Tobago.
She had found it at our local game store, and it was recommended by the clerk. The price tag did give her some initial sticker shock, pricing out at a little over $50. Lucky for her she had a discount she could claim, which reduced the hurt brought on by the expense, and allowed her to make up her mind in favor of purchasing this little gem.
So we sat down at my kitchen table, and ripped open the shiny cellophane wrapper (I love opening new games. Squee! The feel of the cellophane giving under your eager hands. Not knowing what treasures lie within. It’s better than Christmas.). We pulled out the rules, and together began deciphering how this game is played.
The first thing we noticed was, not that the rules were bad, but they were laid out very oddly. With the way the rule book unfolded, and the way the rules were structured in big colorful boxes, it actually made it a bit more difficult to decipher. But all and all, not the worst rule book I had ever seen.
After unwrapping the game, and reading through the rules, we started assembling the board and punching out all the pieces. And I must say, I then understood why the game cost so darn much. The components are quality. Wooden custom tokens, heavy stock cards, and a really well made customizable game board. My one and only complaint about components (come on! You know there had to be at least one!) is that the cubes used in the game are drab colors: Gray, Brown, Black, and White. Some traditional board game colors (like red, blue, yellow, and green) would have made far better choices, as they would have been easier to see on the board.
The heart and soul of this game doesn’t have anything to do with the rule book, component quality, or my love of tearing cellophane. This game is about logically narrowing down where a treasure is located to suit your own needs as a player. This is done by playing cards that tell you something about where the treasure is or is not. Such as “The treasure is next to a palm tree” or “The treasure is in the largest jungle” or even “The treasure is not next to the ocean”. Each of these cards narrows the possible places the treasure could be by a few hexes, just like in the child’s game “Guess Who” each question narrows down the possible people.
Once the treasure location is narrowed down to a final square, it’s time to go dig up your booty! The person who collects the treasure gets first shot at a cut of it, but each person who put a clue down as to where the treasure was gets a cut of the fun too. In this way, it pays to help find the treasure, even if you ar not the one to go pick it up.
I played this game four different times, with 2, 3, and 4 players in an effort to get a good feel for this one. I must say, that the game plays quite differently between two players vs a three or four player game. If you find that you don’t like it one way, try it with more or less players and give it another go.
Overall, while there was a big sticker shock, this was a good game. I’ve already played four rounds of it, and I would do it again still, which is something I wouldn’t say for all games, or even most games. If you have the opportunity to give this one a try, go for it.
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