Back in 2009, a game called Tobago was released. It was pretty highly regarded, with its modular board, inverse deduction mechanisms, and very cool pieces. And then, nothing. No expansions. No further content. Nothing. That is, until last year, when we got
Tobago: Volcano is an 11-years-in-the-making expansion to Tobago, designed by Bruce Allen and published by Zoch Verlag. It adds a volcano, lava tiles, new clues, and terrain triads to spice up your experience.
If you’ve never played Tobago, here’s a brief rundown of how that game works: you set up a map of an island, then place palm trees, huts, and statues at various different points. On your turn, you can either move your jeeple around the island, or you can place a clue. When you move your jeeple, it has three movement points – either cross into a new terrain or move as far as you want within a single terrain. When you place a clue, you’ll take a card from your hand and place it next to a treasure. This helps narrow down where the treasure is actually located. When you’ve narrowed it down to one location, and move your jeeple there, everyone who has contributed a clue gets a chance to get a treasure. However, there are two cursed treasures somewhere in the game, and you don’t want to get those. In the end, whoever has collected the most treasure wins. There’s other stuff going on, like rotating statues that provide the possibility for amulets, but that’s the basics.
On to Volcano. To set this one up, you take the volcano and place it in the middle of the map so that it covers the seven spaces there. In future games, you can place it wherever you want. Each player gets a terrain triad, which is placed by putting one hex on a matching terrain hex on the coastline, the lava hex on another land tile, and the remaining terrain on the ocean, thus expanding the island. Your jeeple starts from the hex you placed on the ocean.
The game plays like basic Tobago with some changes. The first is the volcano clue cards, which are available to all players, rather than in your hand as the normal clue cards are. To play one, you need to play a clue that breaks at least one of the cardinal rules for placing clues – it must contradict another clue, it must not reduce the number of possible sites for the treasure, or it must eliminate all possible spaces the treasure could be in. You’ll cover your illegal clue with one of the volcano clue, which must not break any of the rules. Once the treasure has been found, you return the volcano clue to the display.
Next, it’s the lava tiles. Whenever someone collects an amulet, they collect a lava tile and place it next to the volcano, next to a lava hex, or next to an already placed lava tile. You can’t place on a jeeple, a statue, or an animal, but any other space is fair game. If it goes on a tree or hut, it burns up. This could change the possible locations for a treasure, so fix anything you need to.
Jeeples can pass through lava only if you spend an amulet, or your most valuable treasure if you have no amulets. If you do this, you basically spend your whole move to cross the lava.
And that’s it. There’s not a lot, but it’s something to spice up the challenge in the game. I like how the lava can change where treasures could be, which adds a new layer of strategy. The volcano itself doesn’t seem to do much other than block some spaces on the map and give you a place to put lava tiles, as well as to give the game some more visual interest. But overall, it’s an expansion that I want to check out so I could have an excuse to pull out one of my favorite games again.
That’s it for today. Stay safe out there, and thanks for reading!