Snow drifts, sinister trees, ex-girlfriends… Toboggans of Doom indeed.
We here at Guilt Free Games tend to shy away from wasting time on games we dislike, or games that didn’t really ‘click’ with us. Some companies release products and we are inclined to look at the game in a positive light based purely on their track record, without any doubt that it will, somehow, be totally awesome. Other publishers we view with a wary eye based on experiences in the past (sorry Looney Labs). Why am I rambling about this? Well, recently Bucephalus Games hooked us up with a care package of several titles, and to be frank, in the past we have tended to look at their products with said eye. There is just something that doesn’t click with us most of the time with the exception of Kachina, which I pretty much want to have children with.
With an eye on the weather, we busted out Toboggans of Doom for some season appropriate fun. Surprisingly, we dug it. It might not be without problems, but at it’s heart it is a silly romp down a mountainside of death and destruction. There are three random paths down the mountain in question which are split up into three blocks. The goal of the players is to get to the bottom first by the end of three rounds of play. Between each round players can buy an assortment of accoutrements for their sleds, up to a limit determined by a series of die rolls. These objects increase the chances of circumventing one or more of the three basic types of obstacles represented on the board.
Our first hurdle was with the notation, which isn’t bad, just unclear until you spend a minute or two looking back and forth between the tiles and the brief rules pamphlet. Once we got comfortable with it, the other issue we had was that the art work on many of the tiles tends to include many shades of blue and black. While this isn’t always an issue, sometimes it makes reading text or symbols on cards a little frustrating. The other issue we had, once we buckled down and started playing it, was that the success rate being based on your die rolls can be extremely frustrating, as there is little you can do about it most of the time. Nonetheless we pressed on! By the time we wrapped up round three, none of us having made it to the bottom of the slope successfully, our minds were made up: This game was not for us. It is for someone though. It is for the casual gamer, or for a gamer who is trying to supplement his entry level game collection in order to lure friends or a significant other into our dark and dangerous world.
This is not a bad game. It is very silly, and very entertaining once you get past the quirkiness in the design. What would make this a standout game for the target audience? Include a couple more sets of dice instead of requiring them to come from elsewhere. Make it easy for four people to play who don’t have a full dice set. Then they won’t regret picking it up on a whim. Another Thing That Would Be Awesome™ is having a couple of toboggan minis to move down the mountainside as your run progresses. It brings nothing to the game mechanically, but it does add a tiny bit of immersion that can work wonders. So the final verdict really depends on who this game is going to. If you enjoy a light game of Age of Conan on weeknights to break up your hardcore wargaming, take a pass. If you occasionally supplement a Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers based diet with an occasional trip to the island of Catan or the kingdom of Carcassonne, then Toboggans of Doom may be up your alley. Toss this into the mix during a game night and enjoy the ridiculousness. Just beware of evil trees, ex-girlfriends, or viking operas on the slopes.