Board Game Journal – February 20 2023

Another big week last week, running around and doing lots of things. At least it’s a more typical journal entry this week, and not just complaining about work! There still wasn’t as much time for board games though. There was some fun board game adjacent activities though.

One task last week might help with this in the future. I have been joking about my old man eyes for years, and now it’s official. I need reading and computer glasses. Oh, the ravages of time! The first board game rules I will sit and read when my new glasses arrive is One Deck Galaxy, which arrived on my doorstep last week!

20230220 - Journal February 20 - One Deck Galaxy
Kickstarter Deliveries – Yay!

But that’s what I am doing in a couple of weeks. What did I play last week?

One Deck Dungeon

If you follow JohnHQLD on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you would have seen that I did a little electronics project last weekend. This necessitated playing games on the Switch – oh the hardship! One game that I hadn’t realized I had stopped playing was One Deck Dungeon, and I had to redownload it and give it another go.

If you followed the site before the 2022 reboot, you would know my love for One Deck Dungeon. It’s a card and dice-based roguelike adventure where you can build upon set characters for a light campaign-like experience.

20230220 - One Deck Dungeon - It doesnt look like it here but all these choices and creatures are one single card
While split out digitally, the room, encounter and reward choices are all on a single card

It’s also one of the first times I put forward “If you play it solo, grab it digitally. To play with friends, play it on the table.” I have these thoughts about Cartographers. So much so, I don’t even count the games of Cartographers on my mobile anymore!

Well, for a time, I did this with One Deck Dungeon. While the game works on mobile, I do prefer it on a larger screen with everything laid out. So I used to play it on Steam and forgot I had grabbed it on Switch at all!

20230220 - One Deck Dungeon - It happens more in the Forest of Shadows but different effects can come into play
On the Switch I also have the Forest of Shadows expansion, adding new mechanics

One Deck Dungeon and the stand-alone expansion One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows offer so much flexibility for players. You can combine the two games for a greater challenge and to expand the adventure for up to 4 players. Building ‘maps’ from decks of cards makes life interesting. You constantly burn cards (dealing straight to discard) to guess what could come next.

20230220 - One Deck Dungeon - Poison is probably the biggest change with Forest of Shadows
Poison is probably the biggest mechanics change in Forest of Shadows

Playing One Deck Dungeon takes care of mid-game bookkeeping for you but does deny you the tactile satisfaction of dice rolling. For me, I can get two games in digitally for every game on the table, so for solo play, I prefer One Deck Dungeon digitally.

So while the round on the Switch was fun, I probably won’t keep playing on it. I need to put One Deck Dungeon on the Steam Deck and see how that goes. Whichever platform I prefer, I will probably reset the campaign progress and start again.

20230220 - One Deck Dungeon - Campaign Progression
You can choose a path to upgrade, but you only play one of the four paths at a time

So rediscovering One Deck Dungeon was a lot of fun. It was also well-timed with the follow-up game One Deck Galaxy sitting on my table, waiting to be opened!


Alpal introduced me to Tobago a couple of years ago. It was a game I enjoyed but quickly dropped out of my memory. I couldn’t quite remember why until Alpal asked to play it on Board Game Arena this week. Looking for buried treasure again sounded like a lot of fun!

I am going to get one large negative out of the way at the start. First, Tobago on Board Game Arena is TINY. It is hard to see squares, and pieces can disappear into the board far too easily. It’s bad enough when this happens with physical pieces! The Board Game Arena implementation should have highlightable components, like Isle of Cats.

20230220 - Tobago - The digital presentation could use some work
This is how the screen looks ZOOMED IN! Presentation could use a little TLC

The actual gameplay of Tobago is interesting. The board (not that you can see it here) is made up of various pieces, meaning there is a heap of potential ‘islands’ to explore. You explore the islands looking for buried treasure, but the location of the treasure will always be unique.

The part that makes the locations unique is that all players lay down clues as to the location. It’s a scavenger hunt, and the locations must be narrowed down as you play. A combination of luck of the cards and players weighing in share their way almost guarantees a different experience each time.

Tobago is, to me, a better treasure hunt than Treasure Island and a fun puzzle game similar to Cryptid (if you know it). The physical version has a lot of bookkeeping though. If you make a mistake with the potential treasure cubes, Tobago can fall over.

20230220 - Tobago - As long as you are in the group you can claim shares of the treasure
As long as you provide clues, you can claim part of the treasure. Just watch out for curses!

This is the part that will make games run longest on the table. All players take part in checking potential locations though, meaning the weight of ‘getting it right’ isn’t on one person’s shoulders.

Now a couple of other negatives. Firstly, if you think Tobago sounds interesting and would like to give it a go, Board Game Arena is going to be your best bet. Tracking down a copy will be interesting depending on where you live.

The other issue was in our second game, the Board Game Arena interface glitched on me. For about 4 turns, all I could do was move. Then a message came up saying there was an issue and I should refresh my browser. This is the first time I have ever had this happen, and it was on top of some unintuitive controls up front.

20230220 - Tobago - Even zoomed in, trying to see what is going on is difficult at best
Tobago is a great idea, that is hard to get physically these days.

Tobago works on Board Game Arena, and I enjoy the game overall. It’s hard to find games similar to it that work well, as almost all of them are ‘older’ games that are hard to track down. Sleuth, Zendo, and Cryptid all have similarities but are very different games.

So if you like the sound of Tobago, definitely give it a look. If you can track down a physical copy, try and grab Tobago Volcano as well and let me know how that plays!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know! 

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Until next time,