Games that can accommodate 8 players and play to completion in 10 minutes or so are extremely rare. Throw-in the fact that the game is also entertaining and fun to play, and you have a winner. What is even more amazing is that the game – Tsuro – is released by Wiz Kids, a company that isn’t known for its board game excellence.
In spite of an attempt at a theme involving a quest for enlightenment along the paths of life, Tsuro is really an abstract design. Played on a board depicting a 6x6 grid, players alternate placing tiles and moving their pawn along the connecting pathways. The object is to be the “last man standing” by avoiding traveling off the edge of the board, or crashing into other players.
Players begin the game with their pawn – a small stone figure – located at a different spot along the edge of the board. Players each receive three tiles, and will follow the usual “play a tile, draw a tile” format.
Each large tile depicts four pathways, each of which connects to two edges of the tile. A player may only place a tile onto a space that causes his own stone to move, but it may also cause an opponent’s stone to move as well. Once placed, the player moves his pawn along the connecting pathway, following it until he reaches the edge of the pathway or crashes into another stone. If the pathway leads to the edge of the board or another stone is encountered, the player removes his stone from the board and is eliminated from the game. Any opponent’s stone that is encountered is also removed.
That’s really about it. The idea is to choose a tile that keeps you moving, and steers you away from the potential of crashing into an opponent. It is also wise to attempt to move towards areas of the board that still have several spaces available for placing tiles. This will usually keep your stone active for a few more turns. Getting caught in a small area with several other stones is generally a recipe for elimination.
Playing the game with just a few players gives players a bit more control over their fate, and makes for a more tense and challenging game. Playing with seven or eight players reduces one’s control, as your fate is often determined by the tiles placed by your opponents. Still, even with numerous players, the game is fun … and quick. I acquired the game primarily as a quick filler that can accommodate a sizeable number of players. It has proven to be appealing to just about everyone to whom I’ve introduced it. For me, that makes it a winner.
Elena, Gail, Greg Lull, Chris and I placed tiles and attempted to keep our stones active as long as possible. Elena proved to know the secret to a long life, winning the game.
Ratings: Chris 7, Elena 7, Gail 7, Greg Lull 6.5, Greg 6