TOBAGO is a game about searching for hidden treasure by deducing where it has been buried through a means of clues and elimination. If all other probabilities have been excluded from your search then the only hex remaining is the one with the treasure.
TOBAGO came out in 2009, so it has taken 11 years for an expansion to arrive. This naturally brings up the questions; Why has it taken so long and Was the wait worth it?
The Why? Well that's a question I can't answer. Volcano is not a particularly complex or complicated expansion which only enhances the question, why has it taken so long?
Was it worth the wait? That's a different kettle of fish. If you had known 11 years ago that an expansion was in the pipeline and you have patiently waited those 11 years for it, then I think you would be disappointed. If, like me, the expansion came, as it were, out of the blue, then, for me, it revitalised the original game and made me bring it back to the top of the 'must play again' stack.
VOLCANO is an EXPANSION! This means it is NOT a stand-alone game. I make this clarification because there is a distinction between an actual expansion and the stand-alone/expansions many games have been offering these past few years.
VOLCANO adds a plastic model Volcano mountain that is placed somewhat centrally on the board so that it covers 7 hex spaces. Each player is given one of the tri-hex tiles, which in reverse Turn order they place onto the board ensuring that one of the three hexes is placed onto of the printed hexes of the same type (ie Mountain on top of Mountain), the Lava hex (of the tri-tile) covers any other tile type and the third hex has to cover one Ocean hex.
The remaining new components are 25 lava hexes and 4 volcanic clue cards. The game is then setup the same as the original game and plays virtually the same.
At the side of each treasure cube set (separated into colours) the players position cards that create the route (treasure map) to the treasure. After the first card (it may take more than one card in some circumstances) has been placed it may be possible to put the majority of that colour treasure cubes onto the board. These are placed according to the clues shown on the card - for example if the card shows a single blank hex adjacent to a Lava hex it means that the treasure can be found next to a Lava tile. If the blank hex has a cross through it then the treasure is not next to a Lava hex.
The 'special' Treasure clue cards are reusable and are put back on display for anyone to use once the treasure they were part of has been raised. The way that these cards come into play is that a player plays an 'illegal' card to the treasure map and then immediately places one of the special cards over it, of course the special card played must be legal.
Cards are legal if they advance the search for the treasure. Cards played must not contradict cards already played - so for instance if there is a card that states the treasure is next to a river, you cannot play a card that says the treasure is not next to a river. You can however play a card that says the treasure is next to a jungle as this cuts down the number of places the treasure can be - it now has to be next to a river and next to a jungle and there aren't many spaces on the board like that. All treasure pieces of that colour are removed from the board except those in places that match the clues.
Bruce Allen's VOLCANO adds the volcano clues, the ability to play illegal cards (as mentioned above) and, of course, Lava.
Unlike other games, the streaming, steaming, hot Lava in Tobago:Volcano doesn't flow from any specific staring place, in fact it doesn't even come from the top of the Volcano. It acts like it is chunks of Lava that have been spat out, landing next to any previously placed Lava tile/s or at the base of the volcano - the player who collects an amulet takes a Lava tile and places it.
Lava can land on Huts or Trees and destroy them, but may not land on player's AT vehicles, statues or amulets. Amulets appear after statues rotate, using the base game rules. In Tobago:Volcano amulets allow ATVs to drive over Lava but never rest on it. In some cases it is possible to use an amulet to drive across Lava, back onto solid ground, and collect an amulet from the hex you end up on. Evil players may even cause the treasure to go up in smoke before it is reached by an opponent.
The Volcano model is strong enough for its purpose but should not be mishandled as it is thin enough to crack/break. It has a top designed to take a lava tile but such tiles are not placed there during play. If the hole in the top had been made a little wider and deeper it would have been a great place to hold the Lava tiles.
It feels like the lava should have been part of the original game and is now just slightly more of an add-on than a full-blown expansion. However, having said that, it does add a good amount of fun to the game, player interaction has never been hotter!
Once you introduce the Volcano expansion to your Tobago game there is very little likelihood that you will ever play the base game on its own again.
You can pick up Tobago for around £27.00 if you look around, and with the average price for Tobago:Volcano being £18.00, the pair together make a complete £45.00 game. In today's market that's a more than reasonable price for a two to four-player game.