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Reviews - Toboggans of Doom
 
by Demian Katz


Toboggans of DoomToboggans of Doom
Published by Bucephalus Games
Designed by Stephen McLaughlin and Jeremy Holcomb with K. Joseph Huber and Dan Tibbles
Illustrated by Jason Engle
30 obstacle tiles, 43 upgrade tiles, 12 dice (two each of D4, D6, D10, D12 and D20), score tokens and rules
2-4 players (extra dice required to play with 3 or 4 people)
$19.99

I freely admit that I am a sucker. I like absurdist gamer humor, and few things will make me buy a product sight-unseen quite as quickly as a ridiculous title. Needless to say, Toboggans of Doom fits this category. Fortunately for me, I wasn't burned this time around.

The premise of the game is simple: you want to toboggan down a mountain (represented by a grid of face-down tiles). Unfortunately, this slope is populated by all manner of dangers: sharks popping through the ice, evil trees, caffeine withdrawal, and so forth. Fortunately, you have plenty of equipment (drills, flame throwers, cowcatchers, and the occasional video game reference) to help you navigate the obstacles.

Gameplay consists of two phases: upgrading and racing. During the upgrade phase, new equipment tiles are turned up, and each player rolls a set of six different sizes of dice. Players then take turns purchasing available tiles by spending different combinations of dice. Some tiles cost specific numbers, others can be purchased with specific die types, and you can always cash in all your remaining unspent dice for the tile of your choice. Once upgrading is complete, players choose a course down the mountain and begin resolving encounters. Tiles can be one of three types: over (meaning you must match or exceed a target number), around (get equal to or less than a target number), or through (you need to aim between two target numbers). To survive an obstacle, the player must have an available upgrade that matches the tile type and can yield the target number, either through a fixed value or the roll of a specific type of die. Some upgrades can be used again and again, but others are restricted to one use per race or even one use per game. If a player manages resources well enough to navigate all the hazards and reach the bottom, he or she immediately wins. A wipeout is much more likely, though, and defeated players will just have to accept whatever scoring tokens they earned for turning up previously unrevealed hazards or progressing far enough to reach score-worthy milestones. If nobody reaches the bottom of the mountain after three attempts, the player with the most points wins.

In case you can't tell from the description, this is a light dice-fest with a bit of strategy mixed in. It's not a game design that will change your life, but it's a reasonably good excuse to turn up tiles and laugh at them, which is really the point here. It doesn't hurt that production values are quite good, especially considering the price. All tiles are thick and sturdy, featuring attractive artwork in a pleasingly wintry color scheme. Two sets of decent polyhedral dice round out the package nicely. I have only two significant complaints. First of all, the "around" icon on the tiles is a dark blue that gets lost in the artwork and should have been made more visible. Additionally, the rules are printed in a very large font, and things could probably have been made more clear by packing in a little more text - a few extra examples explaining exotic tile interactions couldn't have hurt.

Conclusions
If you're looking for a nice seasonal filler game good for a few laughs, you could do far worse than this one. It won't become your group's new favorite game, but you should get your money's worth nonetheless. Just watch out for that snowman phalanx!

 
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