Publisher: Calliope Games Genre: Pathfinding Players: 2-8 Ages: 8+ Time: 20 minutes MSRP: $30.00
Asian themed painted dragon board, 8 carved stone dragon pieces, 35 heavy cardboard tiles, dragon tile
Tsuro: The Game of the Path is an excellent and simple introduction to the genre of tile laying and pathfinding games. It is an Asian themed game with beautiful dragon tokens and a pretty box and board design. Because the game lasts only 15 minutes, it’s a great game to use as an icebreaker to introduce new players to the pathfinding style of game (or to board games in general). The object of the game is to keep your flying dragon token on the board longer than anyone else’s and essentially be the last man standing. But, as the board fills up this becomes a challenge because there are fewer empty spaces and another player can purposefully change your path to an undesirable one.
In this game you are a flying dragon. Your dragon is represented by a colored carved token. Tsuro consists of tiles with twisting lines on them, a 6×6 grid on which to lay these tiles and a token for each player. Each player has a hand of tiles. On your turn you do two things: place a tile from your hand onto the board next to your token and move your token as far as it can go along the line it is currently on. You continue to move it until it is stopped by an empty space with no tile in (yet), the edge of the board, or if you collide with player’s token. If your dragon reaches the edge of the board or collides with another player’s token, you are out of the game. The goal of the game is to be the last player left with a dragon on the board. The strategy, therefore, consists of trying to drive your opponents either into each other or off of the board while trying to extend your own route in directions that will make it difficult for your opponents to hinder your path.
At first Tsuro seems like it’s a game of luck and chanced based on the tiles in your hand, but it quickly becomes a game of strategy and thinking ahead as more tiles appear on the board. This is where younger players run into difficulty. Often the adults were thinking two or three tiles ahead, and our young players got quickly turned about by not planning ahead. My 8 year old’s strategy formed around blocking his opponents and turning them around. Our six year old, on the other hand, was able to play the game and had a basic understanding of tile laying and movement, but he had no real concept of strategy and was often the first ‘out’.
Overall, Tsuro: The Game of the Path is simple and entertaining. The biggest draw was the overall look of the game and the ease of play. While it’s not the most challenging or engaging of the games we’ve played, it’s a great family game and very well made. The MSRP is a bit high, but because this is an older game and a multiple award winner, it can often be found on sale. Amazon has it for about $21 and we recently saw it on sale at a big box retail store for $17.99 over the Holidays.