The party rushes into a cavern. Red glowing eyes stare at them from the blackness and they stop quickly. The bard opens her mouth and begins to speak but is quickly cut off as the dragon reaches it’s long neck out and chomps down, swallowing […]
Sometimes, as a gamer, you want something complex, strategic, and highly competitive — a game that will take you a few hours to play, and several sessions to really master. Sometimes there’s nothing like spending a whole afternoon really digging into a game and living in that world for a while. But sometimes, it’s even better to play a game that can be learned in a few minutes and played through in under a half hour — the kind of game that acts as something for friends to gather around while spending time together, rather than something that requires everyone’s undivided attention; a game that’s as enjoyable for its aesthetics as it is for its gameplay. When I’m in the mood for that sort of game, my favorite one to play is Tsuro.
As Peder mentioned in his post earlier this week, Tsuro is the perfect game for starting out a game night; it’s also great for those times when you want to play a board game but don’t have much time, or for introducing non-gamer friends to an unintimidating game.
The object of Tsuro is simple — be the last one standing on the board. To start, each player chooses one of the different colored pawns and places it on any of the tic marks at the edge of the board. The board is essentially one big grid; each turn, players lay down one path tile in front of their pawn, and each tile they lay down in subsequent turns must lead their pawn further along its current path. The path tiles each have a few lines on them that represent possible paths a pawn can take. Once a tile is laid down in front of a pawn, that pawn must follow it to wherever it may end.
Though no two tiles are the same, the game is designed so that the paths on any one tile can match up with the ones shown on any other tile. As the game progresses and players lay down more and more tiles, the paths they create eventually start merging — and affecting other pawns. Pawns must follow the path laid before them no matter what (starting to see the metaphor inherent in this game?), so if a player lays down a tile that connects to another pawn’s path, that path might lead them off the edge of the board, and they’ll then be out of the game. A path could also cause two pawns to collide, in which case, both pawns would then be out.
Players continue to draw tiles and lay them down until all tiles have been drawn and the final tile, known as the dragon tile, is revealed. The person to draw this tile gets first draw from the discarded tiles of the next player to go out of the game (the rest, if any, are then divvied up in order of play amongst the remaining players). After that, the players keep on until only one pawn is left on the board and all others have gone out by running off the edge of the board, colliding with another pawn, or even playing a tile of their own that forces their pawn toward one of these outcomes (this is often how most players meet their end — as more tiles are laid out on the board and fewer are left to play, sometimes the only tile a player has left is one that will cause them to lose the game).
As a game that requires little strategy and a small time investment, Tsuro is a great game for getting a party started, providing a low-key activity at a family gathering, or just getting your board game fix in a quick and relaxing way. What’s your favorite time to play Tsuro?
Casual Grade: A+
Gamer Grade: C
Overall Grade: A
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