Most helpful positive review
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
A good, beautifully designed entry-level strategy game
on April 18, 2010
The premise is pretty straightforward: you and your compatriots are hunting the island of Tobago for treasure. The thing is, the maps to these treasures aren't maps at all, but collections of clues that are dispersed among all players via cards. Throughout the game, players add clue cards, one at at time, to four piles, each of which represents a treasure. Each card narrows the possible places on the game board where that treasure might be found. Once the location is narrowed down to a single spot, players can drive their miniature ATV there, pick up the treasure chest, and discover the gold inside. Except that the gold's not all for you; every person who helped narrow down the search gets a part of the booty.
There are other various elements, like creaky statues, the occasional cursed treasure, and magic amulets that help you defend against the curse or help you take an extra turn when you need it. The game ends when all the gold's been parceled out. Winner is the player with the most.
-- Beautiful board and pieces. Lots of the elements are made of wood, including some carved and painted items like statues and palm trees. If you're going to be spending an hour staring at and handling a game, it should look good, and Tobago does.
-- Relies more on turn-to-turn tactics rather than an overarching strategy. So it's not too overwhelming, and mistakes made early on can be overcome in later turns.
-- Involves just the right amount of cooperative game theory -- that is, basing your moves on how you think your competitors would play. This is an essential component of any quality game.
-- Variable board configurations. Because of the modular game board, there are 32 possible island configurations to play with.
-- Easy to explain. If you know how to play, it should take you 5-10 minutes to explain to a newbie. If you're starting from scratch, expect 10 minutes more. Which is pretty fast for this genre of game.
-- Just a little too heavy of a reliance on luck. Your power in the game comes from the cards you hold, which are drawn randomly. You can exchange them, but it's a still a random draw. I'm not sure how they could improve this, and to be fair, it's a minor quibble.
-- Relies less on an overarching strategy than turn-to-turn tactics. If you're a veteran of strategy games and want something intense, this may feel too simple.
This is a great entry-level game for families and gamers looking for something a step up from, say, Risk. It's roughly on the same complexity level as Settlers of Catan, maybe even easier.