An enormous shadow passed over Wu Shen, blanketing him in a sudden and total darkness but he was not afraid. Like so many times, the dragons were at it again today, soaring high above in the afternoon sky. They drifted lazily through the clouds, narrowly missing each other as they flew silently through the heavens. Gazing upwards, it seemed to him that each was dedicated to its own direction, almost guided by some predetermined course from which it would not deviate. Each one stubborn and set in its ways, refusing to yield, and sometimes with disastrous results. Just then, Wu Shen heard a great crash from high above, looking up only to see two less dragons in the sky.
Puzzled, he ran to ask grandfather why they would not give way, even it meant failing, even if it meant falling from the sky. The wizened, elderly man closed his weary eyes, remembering back to his days as a boy, watching the very same dragons though much younger eyes and pondered. After some time his tired eyes opened and he spoke these words.
"At times there are many paths laid out before you, but only one can be yours. Only those that risk failure can ever achieve true victory. And only those that stay true to their own path can ever reach its fated end."
Before Wu Shen could pause to think about these thought provoking words, his grandfather smiled and added one more pearl of wisdom..
"And sometimes a dragon's just being a dragon..."
- Players: 2 - 8
- Duration: 20 mins
- Difficulty: Easy
- Type: Board Game
- Tile Placement
In Tsuro, each player takes control of one of those dragons and like the story above, good or bad, it will always follow its path to the very end. But be warned, there's only so much room in the sky, and players paths are bound to intersect. Crash into another dragon or leave the edges of the board and your flight comes to an early end. Only by finding a way to navigate the crowded skies and survive can the last remaining dragon seize victory and rule the heavens above.
To begin, each player chooses a dragon, represented by one of eight colored stones. They then each choose one of 48 tick marks around the edge of the board as their entry point to the 6x6 field of play. You may place your dragon at any of these entry points around the board but there may be only one dragon on any one of them.
From a shared pile of tiles, each player is dealt 3 path tiles to begin the game. Each tile is unique and represents a variety of possible paths your dragon may take. Each tile consist of 4 lines, each representing a possible path. Once all starting positions are chosen and starting hands of tiles dealt, the game begins.
The starting player chooses a tile from their hand, places it on the board in front of their dragon, and then proceeds to move it along the path that was created. Take into account, you may only place a tile in front of your dragon during your turn, However, as the game progresses, you may find that by playing your tile, you may also affect other dragons that come into direct contact with it. In that case, ALL players will move their dragons to the end of their path. There are three possible outcomes to playing a tile; Continuing on your way, exiting the field of play, or colliding with another dragon.
If the path in front or you is unobstructed and remains on the field of play, your dragon continues on its way and takes it to its end. This is true for all dragons in contact with the tile. The player that placed the tile then draws a new one from the stack and play passes to the left. If the tile placed results in a path that exits one of the four sides of the board, that players dragon follows the path to the end, exits the field of play, and is removed from the game. This is also true for all dragons that leave the board as a result of the tile being played. This can and sometimes does include other players. Lastly, you may find that by placing a tile, two dragons may end up on the same path resulting in a collision. All players whose dragons have collided are removed from the game.
Each player will place a tile, move, draw and play will continue as long as their are two or more dragons still on the board. At times, the last two dragons may collide, resulting in a simultaneous removal. If this happens, the game is declared a draw. But if you can manage to be the last dragon remaining you claim victory!
Your journey lies before you, meandering through the sky. Can you manage to stay true to the path placed before you or will you falter and lose your way? Or worse yet, find yourself starring into the jaws of another stubborn dragon as you both tumble from the sky. Find out if you have it takes to rule the heavens. Choose your path wisely and you may come out on top. Choose it poorly and you may find yourself like Wu Shen, merely watching them from far below.
The sky is full of dragons today, will you be the one to rule them all?
When I think of dragons one of my first thoughts is of their fiery breath. A mighty blast of their searing breath is more than capable of laying waste to many a castle. Katie thinks the same thing about mine after I enjoy a nice healthy dose of horseradish. That was the inspiration for our Dragon's Breath Horseradish Havarti Cheese Dip. With a foundation of cream cheese, shredded Havarti, and horseradish it's already got a little bite. Add in some jalapeno and it's just about ready to kick that breath up a notch. Grab some of your favorite chips and feel that tasty heat. Then cool off a bit with a Two Brothers Prairie Path Golden Ale. A smooth and refreshing ale that counters the horseradish nicely. Staying true to this path will surely get you where you want to go. And for those of you wanting something a bit more adventurous, give the Wounded Dragon a try. A drink almost as ferocious as it is beautiful this one falls more in the shot category than a true cocktail. While it may be wounded, don't let this layered mix of Grenadine, Midori, and Rum fool you, it still has some fight in it. A couple of these and you'll be the one who's flying. Not one for the faint of heart!
Tsuro is yet another of the games in our collection that I bought after first seeing it on Tabletop. I had already picked up Castle Panic after watching it played online and I had a feeling Tsuro wouldn't be the last game to land on my doorstep courtesy of a Tabletop suggestion. That would prove to be a vast understatement. But this isn't a review of Tabletop so I'll get back on point here. Tsuro.
First up, the components. The first thing you notice when you look at the box is the exceptional artwork. The beautiful dragon on the cover is amazing. I'm a big fan of Chinese dragons so this was a instant plus for me. Upon opening the box, you see that artwork continues over to the board as well. A huge depiction of an ornate phoenix covers the board in its entirety. It's almost a shame to start covering it up as the game progresses. The dragon tokens are a nice hard plastic and very durable. Each is its own distinct color and it's very easy to differentiate your piece from the others regardless of how many are on the board. The board and tiles are both made from a very heavy cardboard. The rules themselves are printed on heavy card stock , are very well written and very easy to follow.
Next up, the game play. It's very easy to pick up and play. A full game only runs 15-20mins and that's short enough to play multiple times over the span of a game night. Turns go quickly and there's very little downtime. The simple nature of play, move, draw keeps the game moving along. Even if you do find yourself knocked out you don't have much time to wait to start a new game, especially in games of 5 - 8 players. In 2 - 4 player games, there's a bit more strategy involved since you can space out and plan your route a bit better. It's also a bit easier to think further ahead with fewer players on the board. As more players join, I do find that it becomes a bit more luck dependent on the tile draws. That by no means detracts from the game though. To me, Tsuro is fun without taking itself too seriously.
Finally, overall thoughts on Tsuro. I find that it's always a blast to play with my friends and family. It's one of those games that I can break out no matter who's over to play that night. The game is extremely easy to teach regardless of a players skill level. It's also a game that doesn't overly intimidate people that don't play games often. I've taught it to my niece and nephew and they love it. I've also taught it to my mother-in-law who then quickly proceeded to drive me from the sky. I couldn't think of one person I've played with that didn't enjoy it. Sure, it's not very deep but that's the thing, it doesn't try to be. Some people would define it as a gateway game and I'm inclined to agree. But that by no means is a fault. By being simple enough to pick up and play, it allows me introduce it to new players and draw them into the board gaming hobby. And for that reason alone it will always have a spot on my table.
There were several reasons why Dave and I started this website. One of which is that we really want people to learn that there are so many more games out there beyond Scrabble, Monopoly, or Yahtzee. There are plenty of games that you can bring out that are quick and easy to learn for almost any age. Tsuro is one of those games that I like to bring out when family is over or looking to play a quick and uncomplicated game. For example, We had my mother, who is not a gamer, over for dinner. After dinner, we decided that we wanted to play a game instead of sitting on the couch and making uncomfortable small talk or worse, watching NASCAR. The first game we brought out was POO. Hilarious game but not for this crowd. My mother is such a nice woman she refused to throw any poo cards at anyone. She said, " I just can't throw poo at my son in law". Ok mom, lets play a different game. We grabbed one of our many zombie games, too complicated. So we brought out Tsuro. It took 30 seconds to teach and about 5 minutes for her to kick our butt. She loved it and we were so excited that she was having so much fun. My only disappointment was that I thought this would make a great Christmas present for her and her friends but she had already gone out and bought it. It was going to be another ugly sweater Christmas.
Overall, this game is quick and easy to pick up. I actually think the age range on the box could go down to 8 as my niece also picked the rules up really quick. I use Tsuro as a gateway game any the time that we have our non-gamer friends over. However for us, we can occasionally get tired of it and have to let it rest ever so often. I highly recommend Tsuro for families, very casual gamers and overly polite mothers everywhere.