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    Review: Tsuro

    October 27, 2014

    Tsuro is a beautiful and elegant little strategy game that satisfies in a number of ways that few others can. On any give Board Game Night here in the store, there is a good chance this will get pulled out at least once. And that’s the first way that Tsuro delivers: it’s a great way to start up a game night or when you’re looking for a fast transition between other games. A  full session can be played in 15-20 minutes, and it can accommodate up to eight players – a feat few games can match. And even with lots of players and such a short playing-time, Tsuro still offers good, strategic play. To understand that we need to look at the game play itself.

    Elegance is the key word here. The board is made up of a 6×6 grid of square tiles, which is created and built-up as the game progresses. Each tile on the grid has eight path sections (which look like squiggly lines) printed on it, ending along its edges and leaving two open paths on each side. To start, players choose a piece to represent them on the board – lovely, colored “stones” that look like they belong in a Zen rock garden. Players place their stones on any path-end printed along the border of the board. Each player then takes three tiles into her hand, keeping them secret from everyone else. Now we’re ready to play!

    Tsuro is called The Game of the Path for a good reason. On each turn, players choose a tile from their hands and place it in a configuration of their preference in front of their stones. This extends the path each stone is traveling, regardless of configuration. Stones then move along the paths created in front of them onto the new tile. If that path leads off the board, the stone’s corresponding player is eliminated from the game. Tiles can be placed strategically to move other player’s stones, as well, as long as it also moves the active player forward. After moving all the appropriate stones, a new tile is drawn and the turn passes to the next player. Play continues like this until there is only one player remaining on the board, so the  trick of the game is to send your opponents off the edge of the board while keeping yourself safe. Of course, no one survives the board once it’s complete, as all paths lead off the edge at that time. There is probably some sage analogy to life one could make here, but that’s beyond this simple gamer.


    Tsuro is not the only path-laying game out there, but it’s our favorite. No small part of that is because of the game’s production quality. Everything from the playing pieces to the cardboard tiles to the gorgeous artwork on the board is top-notch. And now you also have a choice of versions! The latest offering from Calliope Games is Tsuro of the Seas, a stand-alone base set where players sail across tumultuous and treacherous waters. This new edition introduces the Daikaiju, giant sea monsters that roam the board, seeking to destroy players’ ships – which also eliminates those players from the game. The Daikaiju can pull tiles off the board as they move over them, which can dramatically change strategies and makes building and predicting the board more difficult. Both editions are readily available from the manufacturer, and each one has its advocates that swears theirs is the best version. Either way, you really can’t go wrong.

    Tsuro is one of the best quick “filler” games out there. If you want to kick off your game night fast and get everyone involved in a quick, creative board game, this should be the first thing you pull out. Don’t believe it? Come by the shop on a Thursday night and we’ll show you what we mean.


    If you like: Jigsaw Puzzles, Metro, Carcassonne
    You’d definitely enjoy: Tsuro
    MRP: $29.99
    Designer: Tom McMurchie
    Produced by: Calliope Games