Early in my days of diving into the roll & write genre, Avenue was recommended to me. It became a fast favourite and I introduced it to a lot of folks. It was then reimplemented as Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodamas, which I then reviewed here! Since then, there has been a slew of roll & write/flip & write games to hit the hobby game market. From trains and railroads to castles and maps, and even more, there’s plenty of theme and variety in gameplay to fill your shelves.
I first got to try Trails of Tucana at BGGcon last year, and quite enjoyed it. When it came out in retail recently (import, but I believe the NA release is soon?), I grabbed a copy because I knew that it would be enjoyed by friends who had liked Avenue – and it’s one that can be played via a video chat right now too! (For now, that’s the only way I’ve been able to play it.) Trails is a flip & write that’s all about making connections on a map – between villages, and between sites. The path-making is a little less strict than Avenue because there are a number of things you can connect for points; sites are static icons on the map, and the villages are ordered randomly around the outside of the island using a starter card before the game kicks off (a nice bit of variability).
The basic game will be played on the Isla Petite side of the map, and consists of two rounds (twice through the deck of terrain cards). Every turn, two terrain cards are flipped over and players must mark a path that connects two hexes that match somewhere on their map. Connecting a site to a village offers points – and if you get the second one connected to a village, you’ll get more points and a bonus path to mark anywhere on the map. You’ll also collect game-end points for connecting two of the same lettered village together – and if you manage to beat your opponents to it, a small bonus too.
As it stands, the basic game offers some really nice, casual gameplay with strategy being driven by the site bonuses and there is just enough randomness with the village layout and terrain card deck to keep it from being hyper-competitive. Players can opt for a longer game on the Isla Grande side (three times through the deck), and/or add in the site connection bonus cards for some more competition. I didn’t mind the Grande side of the map but also didn’t feel like it’s needed. I suppose it’s a good option to have for people wanting to have a longer game – but I don’t feel it’s necessary to do if you’re including the site bonus variant. Regardless of the mix of map and variants, fun is to be had.
While I don’t think a lot of folks would need this in addition to Avenue/Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodamas, it’s got enough of a difference from them both to make me want to go back to playing it again and again. The art is charming (although what they call a Yeti… certainly doesn’t look like one?) and the production quality is nice for something that’s all paper and card. And of course, like a lot of its genre, Trails plays not only great solo but for up to a group of 8! Great for a group to play over video chat or whenever we’re back in the convention halls together again, friends.
Trails of Tucana is a ‘flip & write’ game for 1 – 8 players, taking approximately 15-20 minutes. Designed by Eilif Svensson & Kristian Amundsen Østby with art by Gjermund Bohnej, it is published by Aporta Games.