Recommend
56 
 Thumb up
 Hide
35 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Tobago» Forums » Reviews

Subject: SdJ? Not quite... rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tobago sounded like a really interesting game to me from the start. I was really intrigued as to how this game could possibly work. I was both excited at the possibility and concerned at how well it could be implemented. What I discovered is that both of those views had merit. Most of the reviews and opinions on BGG focus on Tobago as a family game or something to play with non-gamers. After a couple of plays, I think I can safely disagree with that opinion. So if Tobago is not for a family, then who does it cater to? Is Tobago a hidden treasure or just another false idol?

Rules

If you would like to read the rules, they are posted here on the Geek.

The basic gameplay revolves around playing cards to help find the treasures. There are always 4 treasures to be found (black, brown, white, and gray). On a player's turn, he can play a clue card into one of the treasures which will help narrow down where a treasure may be found. Once there is only one spot left, the treasure can be dug up and awarded to the players that helped find it.

That's the basic mechanism that moves the game. There are some additional rules such as moving your car or picking up/using an amulet, but those can be read about in the rules.


Components

Tobago starts off with a nicely illustrated map that is made of 3 interconnecting pieces. Each of the 3 pieces is double sided so there's a huge amount of variety in the board setup. Additionally, there are 4 wooden huts, 3 wooden trees, and 3 stone statues to put on the board. The statues are especially cool as they are made out of some kind of resin and have a nice texture and weight. Each player gets a small wooden Jeep to move around the board as well. The whole setup looks great.

The cards are small Euro sized and are nicely coated. The illustrations are very clear on the clue cards so its very easy to tell the different terrain types.


Gameplay

Clue cards - narrowing down the treasure location
The main crux of the game is playing your Clue cards to narrow down where a treasure is. Be warned: The first time you play this, its tough to figure out exactly how the cards work together. It gets easier with repeated plays, but expect new players to make many mistakes in interpretation. As I said, this gets easier, but for a new player it can be really hard to visualize the effect a card will have on the treasure's location. As such, expect your first game (or any game with new players) to take longer than it feels like it should.

Amulets
Amulets allow players to break the rules in various ways. If a player collects an amulet, he can use it to take extra moves with his Jeep, play extra Clue cards, or even remove location markers from the board. Amulets come out every time a treasure is found by finding the last hex on the island in a Statue's line of sight. After the amulets are placed, the statues rotate. This is one aspect of the game I can do without. Placing the amulets and rotating the statues just slows the game down. I also don't like how the amulets are always placed on the shore hexes as it detracts from players trying to find the treasures, adding time to the game. The extra powers of the amulets can be really helpful, but they can also be quite confusing to new players. The extra options can overwhelm new players when they will probably already have a hard enough time trying to grasp the concept of finding the treasure.

I've played 2 games with the amulets and one game without them. In my opinion, new players should probably play without them for a game or two until the rest of the game is second nature. Then, add in the amulets to ramp up the strategy in the game.

Fiddly
Tobago is fiddly. There's no question about it. Constantly adding cubes to the board and then removing them is fiddly. Fidgeting with the statues and amulets is fiddly. Trying to fit a Statue, a cube, and a Jeep on one small hex is fiddly.

You're going to spend a lot of time fiddling with bits in this game. The nature of using the cubes to show where a treasure might still be means that you will often have a lot of cubes on the board. And then you need to make sure that you don't miss any when narrowing the location down.

As I mentioned earlier, the turning of the statues for amulet placement is also a bit fiddly and time consuming.

Downtime
There can be a lot of downtime in Tobago. Many times, a player will need to take their time to find a Clue card they can actually play and will need to recheck their options several times. Also, the placement and removal of the location cubes can take time. To me, it feels like the game is constantly stopped every time it gets going. The constant stop/start of placing the cubes kills the pacing of the game.

Choices
A player's turn can have too many options: Play a clue card and where to play it? Move the truck and where to move it to? Pick up a treasure? Find an amulet? Use an amulet? Which power to use? For a family game, it may be a bit too much to digest. Most good family/gateway games offer simpler choices on a turn and I think Tobago may have a few too many options.

Player numbers
I've played this game with 2 and 3 players. I think it works just as well with both of those numbers. I think 4 would probably work fine as well.


Compare it to...

Man, I'm not really sure what to compare this to. I suppose its a deduction game at it's heart so any deduction game fits the bill. Tobago however, goes well beyond simple deduction and combines several other mechanisms to make a fresh new design.


Overall

It may appear, based on the above words, that I don't like Tobago. That's definitely not the truth. I like Tobago! I really do. It's visually appealing, the mechanisms are fresh and interesting, and there is room for choice along with a fair bit of luck. Tobago is a really interesting package of mechanisms that works pretty well.

I rate Tobago a 6.5/10 because of the above mentioned flaws. It's a good game with some great ideas, but the points I made above take a lot of the shine off of this game. In the one game I played without the amulets, I felt like the game improved drastically and I would rate it a 7 or 7.5. As it stands out of the box, I feel it needs some work to truly shine.

The reason for the negative spin on this review is because this game is constantly being billed as a great new family/gateway game. I think it could work for a family, but you're going to have some major obstacles in your first game or two. People talk about this game as the first real SdJ candidate for next year, but I think the fiddliness and tough learning curve make this one a poor choice for the SdJ. I'm sure we will see something that is more fitting in the near future.
42 
 Thumb up
1.27
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Van Zandt
United States
South Ogden
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
badge
PlayTMG.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't agree with the fiddliness assertation, but I do agree that removing the amulets (and probably the curses) from the game for your first couple of teaching games (especially with a family) sounds like an excellent idea.

I really do like the amulets/statue rotation mechanic overall though, and think it should be included whenever your group reaches a level where they can cope with it.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael J
United States
Folsom
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
As I mentioned earlier, the turning of the statues for amulet placement is also a bit fiddly and time consuming.


Comments like this make me wonder whether we are all playing the same game. It takes all of 10 seconds to turn the statues, for which you do maybe 5 times per game. Does touching game components with your fingers count as fiddly? I consider the tactile interaction with the game a positive. My goodness, you rate AGRICOLA A 10!!!! This is the fiddliest game I have every played, so much so that there are entire threads dedicated to how to make turn setup quicker. Yet you rate that a 10? And complain about rotating 3 statues 60 degrees in Tobago? My 5 year old son was handling this chore for us by 15 minutes into the game...
61 
 Thumb up
1.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Huzonfirst
United States
Manassas
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Best hobby, with the best people in the world. Gaming is the best!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yeah, I don't see those complaints at all, Steve. Tobago moves pretty quickly. If there's downtime in your games, you need to find another group or maybe get them just a bit more experienced with this one. But turns shouldn't take long at all.

As for the fiddliness, just don't put cubes on the board until the number of choices narrows down some. 10 cubes or less sounds about right. It shouldn't affect play and could speed things up.

I think the buzz is pretty much spot on: it's a fine, slightly involved family game. The luck factor is quite high (I've gotten insanely lucky with my treasure draws in my two games) and the amulets may be slightly over-powered, but if you accept the game for what it is, I think it's quite good. It's way too early to be talking about the SdJ, but this game should be a serious contender, particularly since Dominion's win may have raised the complexity bar a bit.
24 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Denman
United States
Katy
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Good grief! I disagree with this review in so many ways...

Many, if not most, of the "problems" you cite would only be a "problem" for a non-gamer just entering the hobby. I can't believe any gamer would even bat an eye at these "problems". I know nobody I played with did.

The clue card icons were understood in short order. The amulets didn't even remotely overwhelm anybody with the options they allow.

Fiddly? You're using a definition of the word that's unfamiliar to me. The only game I played during the con that I'd call fiddly was Colonia and that's mostly because of the need to slide the pieces around on the contracts. Your liberal use of the term pretty much makes all of the games I've ever played "fiddly".

Your complaints about downtime really hits a sore spot for me. I see whining about downtime all over BGG for various games and I wonder why these people stopped taking their meds right before gaming. Seriously, you'd have to have a bad case of ADHD to get all fidgety waiting for your turn here.

Too many choices on a turn?! Seriously?! It's at this point that I start thinking that you're actually writing a tongue-in-cheek parody of a game review.

I've heard many compare this game to deduction games before and I see what you mean about being hard pressed to find something else to compare it to. I think it's misleading though. You're really just using logic skills which do have some relation to deduction skills, but aren't quite the same thing. With a deduction game like Clue, there's a killer and the players have to gather data to determine who it is. That's a bit different in Tobago where it's more like the players take turns choosing who they want to be innocent until there's only one person left to call the killer (and it's known to all).

I think it's a fun game, but the effect of randomness on victory is what pushes the game more towards being a family game than a gamer's game. Still, I will agree with you that this wouldn't be my first choice for a gateway game.

14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Duff
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll toss in a "Downtime? " response along with the others. Most turns take 10 to 15 seconds. Plop a card down, remove a few cubes from the board. If there's treasure found, most everyone participates and is thus involved.

Fiddly I can kind of agree with, as you are putting cubes on, taking them off, having to remember to put on amulets (something we forgot a few times).
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Graham Dean
United Kingdom
Bedford
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
First of all I'd like to say thanks for the review. It's easy to read, and well laid out. You also give reasons for your opinions, which is vital.

I played Tobago at Essen (4 players) and very nearly bought it as a result. I didn't, although now I'm back home I wish I had. The reason I didn't buy it is covered by your 'Downtime' objection.

Although in my own play I didn't find any downtime at all, I'd like to point out my only experience so far has been with gamers. At home I have a number of different groups I play with, and the two main ones include people (my wife and 6 year old daughter in one, and my father in the other) who would have real difficulty in visualising the effects of the cards on where the treasure cubes might be.

Tobago doesn't require a lot of abstract visualisation, and it probably won't be a problem for the majority of families - it just would be for mine. I have tried, and I know to my cost that my family's strengths lie in other areas.

Like you, I liked the game, and also could appreciate the game mechanics and production values. I don't agree with most of your other points - for example I didn't find it fiddly at all. But thanks for the review.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lauren Stein
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The first time many people play they do have some trouble with the icons on the clue cards, at least at first - to counter this I printed/laminated the player aid here. I've noticed that beginners like to have something to refer to consistently, and that seems to have done the trick. I'm planning to introduce this game to my family at Christmas, so I'll probably print out one or two more so everyone can have one.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Lundström
Sweden
Täby
flag msg tools
Now who are these five?
badge
Come, come, all children who love fairy tales.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Count me among those who generally agree with the points in this review. Not that it's fiddly, but I can't say this is a family game. I like it a lot, but the target audience is narrow. It's a big step-up in complication from Catan and Ticket to Ride, and doesn't cater to the new gamers. Seasoned gamers probably want more tactics and less chaos in their games. So the biggest flaw with Tobago as I see it is that it has one foot in each camp and will only be a good game to those who stand in between.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Taylor
United Kingdom
Cambridge
CAMBS
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow Steve? I bet you're beginning to wonder why you bothered writing the review? :(

Whatever happened to "having your own opinion"?

Nice review Thanks
19 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andreas Krüger
Germany
Krefeld
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
It's a big step-up in complication from Catan


When Catan got the SdJ award, it was pretty complicated and fiddly for its time. Much more options and more setup than Auf Achse ;-).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks everyone. This review was definitely as the Devil's Advocate. I like the game, but all the points I mentioned were things I found wrong that nobody else seems to experience.

@ Visathon - That is exactly why I wrote this review! I like the dialogue.

I think the game is actually pretty good. I just don't see this as SdJ material and I don't feel that it's nearly as family friendly as TTR or even Catan for that matter.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mjacobsca wrote:
Quote:
As I mentioned earlier, the turning of the statues for amulet placement is also a bit fiddly and time consuming.


Comments like this make me wonder whether we are all playing the same game. It takes all of 10 seconds to turn the statues, for which you do maybe 5 times per game. Does touching game components with your fingers count as fiddly? I consider the tactile interaction with the game a positive. My goodness, you rate AGRICOLA A 10!!!! This is the fiddliest game I have every played, so much so that there are entire threads dedicated to how to make turn setup quicker. Yet you rate that a 10? And complain about rotating 3 statues 60 degrees in Tobago? My 5 year old son was handling this chore for us by 15 minutes into the game...


Michael, I know it sounds contradictory to penalize this game for fiddliness and give Agricola a 10. But in Agricola, there is so much tension and hard choices that the level of gameplay makes up for the aggravating chore of repopulating the board. I don't get that feeling in Tobago. It just feels like too much work for such a lightweight game.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jae
United States
Bryan
TX
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
stormseeker75 wrote:
in Agricola, there is so much tension and hard choices that the level of gameplay makes up for the aggravating chore of repopulating the board. I don't get that feeling in Tobago. It just feels like too much work


The funny thing is your description of Tobago is my description of Agricola and vice versa.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Zimeon wrote:
Not that it's fiddly, but I can't say this is a family game.


Interesting - my sons had no difficulty picking up the game, and were interested in playing it again soon after. While I'll grant that my sons are more fond of games than most, when they pick something up so easily I tend to think of it as a fine fit for a family game.

If Tobago does manage a SdJ nomination, though, I'm going to claim to be the first to suggest such a possibility. (Though, honestly, I don't see much reason to expect Alcazar or Assyria to garner one at this time.)
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Crispin
United States
Wilmington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My initial rating was only a 7 compared to Steve's 6.5 but still I would not describe the game as fiddly. Its flaws do not lie in that direction.

SdJ?, nominee probably, winner? depends on the competition.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Harris
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have to say Steve, that I rarely disagree with what you write, and we usually seem to follow a lot of the same games, but this review is not meshing with me.

It is well written, as always, but it almost feels like you were stretching to find enough negatives to qualify this as a lower scoring game. (Turning statues as "downtime" and fiddly?)

I for one think this is a very strong game, and will do quite well in the SdJ, and so far is my pick to win!

You really only have two actions on your turn. play a card, or move your jeep. An amulet might give you some other options, but half of the amulet actions are...play a card or move your jeep. if anyone tries to make this game any more difficult to grasp than Zooloretto, Dominion, or Keltis, they are trying too hard!

Two suggestions I have for teaching this game, and have both worked very well

A) Use a nice player aid to summarize the different cards (EvanMinn has done a very nice one already, that even got good reviews and comments from the game designer) this helps reduce follow up questions and misplayed cards by over 50% in my teaching so far.

B)Don't explain the amulets at all until after the first treasure is raised. You don;t need to know what they do until then, and all it does is confuse the learner to have stuff explained that they aren't going to use for a while. After the first treasure is raised, I explain how the next treasure is started, then I go into my schtick about the Moai raising the amulets as the treasure of the island is disturbed...then i explain how you pick them up, and what you can do with them.

Works very well for me in my 4 teaching games so far!
6 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darryl Boone
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
flag msg tools
badge
Reading your recent posts has been like dipping my bottom over and over into a bath of the silkiest oils and creams.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thamos von Nostria wrote:
Quote:
It's a big step-up in complication from Catan


When Catan got the SdJ award, it was pretty complicated and fiddly for its time. Much more options and more setup than Auf Achse ;-).


Don't you think 'bout badmouthin' Auf Achse! I'LL CUT YOU!!!!

/me smashes beer bottle
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cornbread46 wrote:
I have to say Steve, that I rarely disagree with what you write, and we usually seem to follow a lot of the same games, but this review is not meshing with me.


Josh, thanks for your opinions. You're right, we are usually right on par with our tastes, but not in this case. I felt like this game had a lot of negatives. So far, nobody has touched on them at all and I wanted to highlight some of the problems I see.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jens Hoppe
Denmark
Frederiksberg
flag msg tools
The current moderation is unfair and one-sided...
badge
... So I am not supporting BGG in 2019
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Zimeon wrote:
Count me among those who generally agree with the points in this review. Not that it's fiddly, but I can't say this is a family game. I like it a lot, but the target audience is narrow.


Precisely my conclusion!

The central clue card mechanism in Tobago is complex, and I have seen even experienced gamers for whom it didn't 'click'. I can only imagine how non-gamers or casual gamers will react. On the other hand, the game is quite light and random, and even with amulet manipulation etc., it doesn't really work as a proper gamers' game. In essence it falls between two chairs, and as Zimeon says, the target audience is really narrow.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
flag msg tools
It's a love/hate relationship.
badge
Check out my board game instructional videos on my YouTube channel: "The Game Explainer".
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As to the statues and amulets introducing downtime, here is what I do:
- At the start of the game, place 3 amulets on the treasure card stack. This is done to avoid forgetting to place them when the next treasure is raised.
- When a treasure is raised, one player places the amulets and rotates the statues while another player distributes the treasure cards.
- Place another 3 amulets on the treasure stack.

This way, the statue/amulet activity doesn't introduce any additional time to the game length, and therefore can't possibly fit the definition of fiddly.

I agree the clue card mechanism is hard for some to grasp. My buddy is a strategy gamer, but he just couldn't visualize how the string of clue cards narrowed the location of the treasure. This was especially true when several "not" clue cards were placed first.

However, my wife (light-medium gamer) and my friends Robert, Michael, Gary and Paul (medium gamers) had no problem catching on to the game and they all liked the mix of meaningful decisions (clue cards) and randomness (treasure cards).
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I'll toss in a "Downtime? " response along with the others. Most turns take 10 to 15 seconds. Plop a card down, remove a few cubes from the board. If there's treasure found, most everyone participates and is thus involved.

Fiddly I can kind of agree with, as you are putting cubes on, taking them off, having to remember to put on amulets (something we forgot a few times).


I've played it with 2-players (twice) and 4-players (three times), and I don't find if at all fiddly. A player with severe AP can slow things down ondering the clue cards, but in general, the game moves at a good pace.

Placing cubes on the board, rotating the 3 stonesheads and placing amulets takes a matter of seconds.

I don't think it's an SdJ candidate, but it's a novel, well-designed deduction game (of sorts).
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Agreed Bill. Interesting game with some new mechanics, but not SdJ.

I'm glad my review was able to generate some good discussion. Thanks to everyone for having a great conversation.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Железный комиссар
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There might be something about the appearance of the game that gives off the illusion of complexity, but this is a very simple, light-hearted, good-for-passing-the-time game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Will chime in here and agree with the sentiments of the original poster. I played this game once, failed to see the excitement here and am frankly a little surprised at this much favorable buzz for what seems to be a fairly lightweight game. I found the stuff with the movement of the statues to be quite fiddly and difficult to follow (I am not adept at spatial games). Will probably play again, but don't see Tobago as making my list of favorites among the newer crop of games anytime soon.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.