Monday, July 2, 2012

Tsuro - The Game of the Path


  • Designed by Tom McMurchie
  • Published by Calliope Games
  • Plays with 2-8 players in around 15-20 minutes.
  • Recommended for ages 8+, but I could see younger kids playing it, though without much strategy.

Starting positions for a 3 player game
Tsuro is all about playing tiles, following the path, and staying on the board as long as possible.  Other players will try to send you off, or run you into someone else.  There's as much strategy as you want in this game, and even the unluckiest of people can win the game.

The components in Tsuro are fairly basic.  There's a board, tiles, and plastic statues which act as player pieces.  All of the components are well done and feel sturdy.  The artwork is clean and represents the theme well.  The components enhance the flavor of the game, and do nothing to detract from it.  What more can you ask for in terms of components?  A solid 7.5/10

A few turns in. Everyone in different areas
Each player has a hand of 3 tiles.  On your turn, you play a tile that connects to the open path of your piece.  You then move all pieces along their path until they go off the board, hit another piece, or reach an empty space.  You continue this until there is only one piece remaining on the board. There's nothing all that innovative here, but the mechanics are clean and work well for the game.  A solid 8/10.

When the game starts, there's no player interaction.  Players are on opposite sides of the board, and no one comes close to anyone else.  This quickly changes though.  Players start using tiles laid by other players, and may even end up close to another player.  The interaction between players is fairly subtle.  It doesn't drive the game, but it shows up at crucial moments.  7/10.

Tsuro has a Dragon theme going on, but you don't really notice it.  It's truly an abstract game of keeping your piece on the board as long as possible.  This isn't a bad thing, and some may even view it as a major plus.  I don't see how any theme would really help or hurt the game, aside from a marketing standpoint.

Several turns later, things still fairly distant
Learning Curve
Tsuro has a very short entry time.  The idea of play a tile and move your piece is simple.  There's some strategy in terms of what type of pieces to play early, and what to try to keep around for the end of the game, but new players have as good a chance to win as an experienced player.

Why I like Tsuro
The game is very easy to teach.  That's a huge plus.  It's simple enough that non-gamers will enjoy it, it's complex enough for gamers to enjoy, and it looks fun from a distance so people will come over and watch, and maybe even learn.  I played it at a family gathering, and one of my aunts came over and watched us play.  She didn't sit down to try a game herself, but I think if I brought it out again, she might give it a go.  The biggest plus, it plays up to 8 players in about the same amount of time as a 4 player game.  That's something many games don't do.

Why I don't like Tsuro
The tiles are limited, so at some point you feel like you've seen them all before.  You can run into the no-win scenario, but that's not a horrible thing.  I don't win often, and that's probably because I'm not trying to.  There's not a lot to do on your turn, but that does keep the game short.

There's some decent replayability here.  Different player groups will change the interactions.  It's also a game that is hard to play just once.  You finish a game, and inevitably someone says "let's play that again."  I don't know how much I'll play it in 2 years, but it's something I can play with anyone, and that means I'll be playing it a lot.

I like Tsuro.  I don't love it, it's not a top 10 game for me, but it's an 8 overall.  That's a good game right now.  I kinda see it staying about the same, maybe trending slightly down over an extended period of time.  It's something only time will tell.  I bought the game in May, I've played it 14 times, and I'm ready for more.  

Will you like it?
Black is confronted with the no win scenario
If you like short games where you have to think a little bit ahead, but not too much, then you'll like Tsuro.  If you're big on theme driving a game, then you probably won't.  If you're looking for something with 20 different things to do on your turn, and players having a lot of choices, this isn't it.  3 choices with 4 ways to play each tile seems to be the perfect amount of options.  Players have enough time to think without being overwhelmed with options.  

Final Thought
2 final thoughts today.
First, Tsuro of the Seas recently was funded through Kickstarter.  This looks to give a couple new options to the game, which I think will make it better than Tsuro.  If I didn't own Tsuro, I would have backed Tsuro of the Seas.

 The second thought, what Wil Wheaton is doing for boardgames on Tabletop, is great.  He does a show every other week where he and 3 guests play a game, talk about it, and have a good time.  I'm going to write an article all about the show, but for now, check it out on Youtube. Just search Tabletop, or go to the Geek and Sundry channel.

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1 comment:

  1. This seems interesting...
    The Ancient design looks better when it's used for gaming purposes.