An archipelago filled with ancient sights and creatures just waiting to be explored. The question is; will we find our inner Indiana Jones or will we be forever lost to the island’s unchartered terrain? Let’s grab our compasses and find out!
La Isla Bonita
By way of introduction, Trails of Tucana is a colourful, fun addition to the increasingly popular flip and fill genre. Players take on the role of intrepid explorers who have found themselves on a tropical island. Creating trails to link up villages, archaeological sights, and exotic creatures.
Sun, Sand, And Set Up
First players decide whether the game is going to be set on the easier “Isla Petit” or the more challenging “Isla Grande”. Each player takes a single-use double-sided paper map and a pencil. After somebody has been declared “the Mayor” of Tucana, the setup cards are shuffled, and one is selected at random.
Each player then prepares their own map by filling in the village hexes with the letters as set out on that card. Going in a clockwise direction. They'll be starting from a different point so that every map has a unique layout.
After the maps are prepped, the setup cards are discarded. The terrain cards are then shuffled and placed in sight of all players. The blue village bonus cards are also laid out. This is done by only using only those marked #1 for a game with 2-4 players but all for 5 or more.
Thereafter, with the fate of your trails in the Mayor’s hands, the game is on!
Toucan Play At This Game
Played over two rounds, on each turn the Mayor flips over two terrain cards – these will depict either water, mountains, desert, or forest (note that there are a few wilds too!). Each player must then draw one section of their trail across the revealed combination (from centre hex to centre hex). The line drawn can be anywhere and need not link u to previously drawn trails. If a player’s map doesn’t have the combination available, they’ll be checking their water supply and energy bars until the next turn!
As the aim of the game is to link up as many villages and sights as possible, players will need to be aware of the positions of the villages on their own maps as they relate to each other and the printed sights and creatures.
Given the number of villages and sights, however, scoring starts happening quite early on in the game. Points are awarded for linking villages to sights as well as bonus points for matching village to village connections.
The first round ends when only one card remains in the terrain card deck. Once that happens, players total their village to sight connections points for round one before shuffling the terrain cards and beginning the final round.
Importantly, sights are counted in both rounds. So, whenever a player links a type of sight to a village, they circle the no.1 next to the corresponding sight icon in the scoring box. If the second sight of the same type links to any village later in the game, then the higher score value is circled and that player also gets to draw a bonus trail segment across any two adjacent terrain hexes on the map.
Village connections and bonuses only score at end-game, however, and the extra blue village bonuses are only available to the first player who achieves the relevant connection.
Fun Flip and fill-er
Trails of Tucana is a fun filler level from Kristian Amundsen Østby and Eilif Svensson, the designers who brought us the meaner Kokoro; Avenue of the Kodama and the founders of the publisher, Aporta Games.
This game has easy to understand rules and a mixture of instant scoring gratification and delayed bonuses. It also has the ability to play just as well over video conferencing as around the table. this makes Trails of Tucana a great fifteen minutes of fun. It also has a great price point.
With luck of the draw determining terrain availability, replayability is high. This is amplified by the use of asymmetrical maps, different islands, and extra special red cards. Plus the presence of a beat-your-own-score solo mode is a great bonus.
Now, admittedly, this game isn’t going to give your brain serious sunburn. But I don’t think it is meant to be that kind of game. The box states a suggested age range of 8+, our 5-year-old son was able to pick it up quite quickly. Players with a colour vision deficiency may also find differentiating between the desert and mountain terrain types tricky. Although there are unique patterns and printed symbols. Bear in mind these are also quite small.
The race to secure one-off bonuses does mean tactics can come into play. The unequal distribution of terrain types is interesting for more experienced players.
Overall, Trails of Tucana is a fun game and a great option for when you have a wide range of ages and experience levels around the table.