Welcome to Board Games With OB, a somewhat profane, possibly semi-regular feature where OregonBeast gets a board game he likes and briefly explains how to play it and hopes you would be interested in playing it, too. Because board games are fucking awesome.
It’s been a couple of crazy-ass fucking days here at Planet Groupthink. So I thought about that as I decided what game to talk about next. I figured we needed something really light and really fun. So, I figured, hey, let’s go for Tsuro. It takes approximately 45 to 47.8 seconds to learn, you can play several games of it in under an hour, it can be a whole hell of a lot of people at once and if you thought playing with a FUCKING PANDA was awesome, in Tsuro you get to be flying dragons. Flying dragons with the sense of those shithead Lemmings, but dragons nonetheless.
So, let’s talk about Tsuro: The Game of the Path.
Players: 2 to 8
Gametime: 10 to 15 minutes, as long as you don’t have some asshole who suffers from major analysis paralysis.
Designer: Tom McMurchie
Story: The instructions have some lines about dragons and the phoenix and a quest for enlightenment. Far Eastern culture isn't my specialty, so I don't know if it's genuine or made-up. Basically, you’re trying to be the last dragon standing who doesn’t fly off of the board or crash into somebody else.
What do you do? The game board of Tsuro is essentially a 6x6 grid that players take turns placing tiles on. Each tile has lines on it that make up paths that must be traveled along by each player’s dragon stone. On each player’s turn, they must look over their hand of three tiles, choose one to play, and play it in a manner that forces their dragon stone to move along one of its paths. In addition, if their tile also adds to the path of another player’s dragon stone, it gets moved to. So you’re not always in control of where your stone is going to be on the board.
Players get eliminated in one of two ways: Either the path their dragon stone is traveling on takes them off of the board, or the path of two dragon stones meet and they crash, taking both players out.
There’s a little bit of strategy involved here (OB’s recommended strategy: STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM EVERYBODY ELSE AS LONG AS YOU CAN), but late in the game, you can’t always count on that always being the case, so there’s enough luck involved that a beginner can beat more experienced players fairly quickly. And if this happens to be a game with a lot of people playing (think from 6 to 8) attempts at strategy can turn into a massive shitstorm very fast.
So, what’s awesome about this game?
- Incredibly quick to learn. You place a tile, you move a dragon stone. Be the last one on the board. That’s it. That’s all you have to learn. It’s listed at ages 8 and up, but you can probably have even younger kids play it. Also easy to play while incredibly intoxicated, but that variant should probably have a different age limit.
- The game plays fast. Typical game is done in less than 15 minutes, so even when players get eliminated, they aren’t waiting around for long before getting to play again.
- That funny, inevitable moment when somebody goes, “Oh, shit!” out loud because they’ve realized there’s no way they can play one of their tiles without going off the board.
- This usually leads to what I call the “Blaze of Fucking Glory”. That’s when you know you’re going out no matter what, so you play a tile that puts you on the longest, switchbacking, loop-making path you can take off the board. This, also, is easy to do while intoxicated.
- Really good, quality components. The artwork is fantastic, the tiles are sturdy. All great things to have in a game that’s playable while drunk.
Playing online: A version of Tsuro can be played online at GameTable. The site costs money if you want to play against human opponents, but playing against computer AI is free.
Have something to say? Speak up in the comments, people! Oh, and this episode is dedicated to NinjaCate and her badassery.
Images via BoardGameGeek