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Subject: Is Tsuro of the Seas better than Tsuro? - The Board Game Family review rss

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Trent Howell
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Tsuro is one of our favorite family board games.

It’s simple to play, good for all ages, plays in under 15 minutes, has fantastic components, and can handle up to 8 players.

So when we heard a few years ago that Calliope Games had published Tsuro of the Seas, we were anxious to play it. Unfortunately it took us a few years before we finally played the game.

Well, now that we’ve played it a few times, we’re ready to answer the all important question, “Is Tsuro of the Seas better than Tsuro?

To get to that answer, we’ll first need to give you a quick run-through of the game itself.


How to Play Tsuro of the Seas
Tsuro of the Seas plays very much like the original Tsuro – in that 2-8 players are placing tiles on the board, moving their player piece along the path, and trying to be the last player remaining on the board.

So if you know how to play Tsuro, Tsuro of the Seas will be very easy to pick up and play. (And even if you don’t know how to play the original game, Tsuro of the Seas is still very easy to pick up and play.)

To start, each player chooses a ship color of their choice and is dealt 3 wake tiles (since the setting is now at sea rather than on land) to be their starting hand. The rest of the wake tiles are placed face down in a draw pile.

So far, this is just like the original game.

Then the unique aspect of Tsuro of the Seas kicks in – the Daikaiju.

Daikaiju are special sea monster tiles that will wreck havoc in the game.

Depending on the number of players, a different number of daikaiju are placed on the board to begin. For each daikaiju to be placed, the 2 dice are rolled. The result of the Gold die represents a column on the board and the result of the Blue die represents a row on the board. Thus, the two dice results represent the square at the intersection on the game board where the daikaiju is to be placed.

The daikaiju tile is placed on that square with a random orientation. And the rest of the daikaiju tiles are placed in the same manner.

The first player picks a starting mark on the side of the board and places their ship. The rest of the players then do the same in turn order.

From then on, each turn consists of 3 steps:
1. Roll the dice and move the daikaiju
2. Place a wake tile and move along the wake
3. Draw a wake tile

1. Roll for Daikaiju
This first step of a player’s turn is what makes Tsuro of the Seas unique from the original. The active player rolls both dice to determine if the daikaiju will move. On a result of 6, 7, or 8, the daikaiju will activate. On all other results, the remain where they are.

For daikaiju movement, the active player rolls a single die.
On the result of 1-5, the daikaiju will all move or rotate as indicated on their tile. On a result of 6, the daikaiju doesn’t move, but a new daikaiju tile is placed on the board (doing so just like in the set up).

To move the daikaiju, the player moves or rotates all the daikaiju tiles in ascending order. Each daikaiju tile has a Rotation number in the upper-right corner. If two daikaiju tiles on the board have the same number, the one with the gold arrow moves first.

So the player finds the tile with the lowest number and moves or rotates it. Then they find the next tile in ascending order and moves or rotates it – and so on until all daikaiju on the board have moved.

When the daikaiju move, bad things can happen.
* If a daikaiju’s movement moves them off the board, that tile is removed from play.
* If a daikaiju moves onto a wake tile, that tile and anything on it are removed from the board. Any players thus removed are out of the game and the wake tile is placed at the bottom of the draw pile.
* If a daikaiju moves to a square adjacent to the active player’s ship, that ship is is destroyed and removed.
* If a daikaiju moves to a square occupied by another daikaiju, the stationary one is removed from the board.
* If daikaiju movement cause there to be less than 3 daikaiju tiles on the board, a new daikaiju is placed.

When placing a new daikaiju, it may also destroy an existing wake tile and eliminate players from the game if they’re on such a tile.

Yep – the daikaiju definitely throw a nasty wrench in the game.

2. Place Wake tile and Move
After dealing with the daikaiju, the active player chooses one of their wake tiles and places it in the open space in front of their ship in the orientation of their choosing. They then move their ship forward along the wake to the end of that created route.

If the tile placement connects two players’ ship wakes, each moves to the open end of the new tile.
A player is eliminated from the game if the end of the route connects to the edge of the board or a daikaiju tile.

If opponents are eliminated as a result of a player’s tile placement, the active player can exchange any of the tiles in their hand for the same number of tiles from the eliminated player’s hand. Then the rest are placed at the bottom of the draw pile.

3. Draw Wake tile
The active player ends their turn by drawing a single wake tile into their hand.
Play continues in this manner until there is only one ship remaining on the board. That player is declared the winner of Tsuro of the Seas.


Can the whole family enjoy Tsuro of the Seas?
Tsuro of the Seas is a board game that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Like the original, the game play is simple enough that kids can join in the fun with the adults.

Also like the original, the game board, tiles, and playing pieces are fantastic to look at and play with.

That being said, if your kids don’t like games with player elimination or the thought of being destroyed by a sea monster, then they may not enjoy the game very much.


Is Tsuro of the Seas better than Tsuro?
Very often a follow-up version of a board game improves upon the original.

A recent case in point is King of New York. In our review of King of New York, we outlined the reasons why we enjoy playing the new follow-up game more than the original King of Tokyo. The additional elements provide more things to consider, evaluate, and do on a turn. And we really enjoy what those additional options bring to the game.

However, we’re sad to say we did not find this the case with Tsuro of the Seas.

Yes, Tsuro of the Seas adds more to happen on a player’s turn. But unfortunately, they’re just things happening to the players rather than providing more options for players to evaluate. Thus, each player’s turn is longer – but without any additional strategic depth of play.

One of the reasons we love Tsuro is because it plays quickly. It’s a light game of building trails and knocking others out. Turns go by quickly and it’s easy to play many games in a row in a short period of time. So increasing the length of the game in Tsuro of the Seas without added enjoyment doesn’t sit well with us.

Sure, the daikaiju don’t move every turn. But when we play, they definitely do move more often than not.

And very often players are eliminated from the game due to the fate of the dice rather than by their choices.

Granted, players in the original Tsuro are often eliminated because of the action of other players (that’s the point of the game). But when those situations occur, the players can see it coming and try to plan around it. Unfortunately, in Tsuro of the Seas, players have less control since the board can change considerably before it’s their turn again.

So if you like games with a bit more chaos, or don’t like how simple, short and sweet the original Tsuro is, then you may find Tsuro of the Seas to your liking.

But for us, if we’re looking for a light, fun board game to play with up to 8 players, we’ll keep it simple and continue grabbing the original Tsuro.

Does that mean we’re getting rid of Tsuro of the Seas?

No. It’s still sitting nicely next to the original on our game shelves. Because after all, just because it has daikaiju tiles in the game, doesn’t mean we have to play with them. We can use the cool looking board, tiles, and playing pieces to play a standard game of Tsuro without the monsters.


How does Tsuro of the Seas score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?
As you can guess from our brief comparison, Tsuro of the Seas doesn’t score very well on our “Let’s play again” game meter. Since we feel the additional elements add more randomness than we like in our games of Tsuro, Tsuro of the Seas will be played less frequently in our family.

But if you don’t own either game yet and are deciding between the two, you may want to consider Tsuro of the Seas because then you have the option of playing either a standard game of Tsuro or with all the daikaiju elements.

Thanks Calliope Games for a copy of Tsuro of the Seas for more family fun.



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Good review! I would like to point out a couple of clarifications for those who may not have played it yet:
TheBoardGameFamily wrote:
* If a daikaiju moves to a square adjacent to the active player’s ship, that ship is is destroyed and removed.
...
* If daikaiju movement cause there to be less than 3 daikaiju tiles on the board, a new daikaiju is placed.

The adjacent ship is destroyed if the daikaiju have not moved away before that players next turn.
...
A new daikaiju is placed at the beginning of the next players turn, not immediately.
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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I hesitated between Tsuro and Tsuro of the Seas. I finally purchased the latter for the greater flexibility but have yet not played with the daikaiju. On the other hand, I do think that the larger board of 7x7 squares gives more opportunities for strategic movements and prefer it to Tsuro's 6x6 squares.

What's your thoughts on this?
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Kevin Jonas

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nhjelmberg wrote:
I hesitated between Tsuro and Tsuro of the Seas. I finally purchased the latter for the greater flexibility but have yet not played with the daikaiju. On the other hand, I do think that the larger board of 7x7 squares gives more opportunities for strategic movements and prefer it to Tsuro's 6x6 squares.

What's your thoughts on this?


The original is 6x6 because there is exactly 35 unique tile possibilities. So with the 7x7 there are tiles that are repeated. I am not sure how they decided which tiles get repeated. I've marked my duplicate tiles so I can play the original if needed.

Now, I do disagree that the monster don't add any new strategic value. It adds having to deal unforeseen changes. However, that can be good and bad. I think for a large group, the game plays up to 8, it is bad. It means the monsters can move several times before your next turn. However, with 2 or 3 players I find it great, you still have to plan to give the monsters a wide berth.

Now, start thinking outside the box. This game gives a good platform for making up your own rules. For example, my sister and I like playing a two player variant we made up. We find the tic-tac-toe tile and place it in a corner. We both then select one of the lines to start our boat on. We race to exit out the other corner of the map.

Another variant for 4 players we put the tic-tac-toe in the middle square. THen each person chooses a side and lane they want to start form. The goal is to exist out of the middle square opposite the way you start facing. So if you are facing to the left you want to exit out of the square int he middle right side of the board.

A similar variant is each person starts in a corner. The goal is to exit the opposite corner first. What makes this interesting is one of the exit lines you can't use because it would mean you run into another player. You have to watch how the lines are formed and try to get to a line that gets you out first.
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Brandon M
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nhjelmberg wrote:
I hesitated between Tsuro and Tsuro of the Seas. I finally purchased the latter for the greater flexibility but have yet not played with the daikaiju. On the other hand, I do think that the larger board of 7x7 squares gives more opportunities for strategic movements and prefer it to Tsuro's 6x6 squares.

What's your thoughts on this?


I also bought Tsuro of the Seas because of the bigger board and added game elements (daikaiju). Its easy enough to play straight Tsuro (use only a 6x6 portion of the board), Tsuro with the full 7x7 board, or Tsuro of the Seas by the rules in the box.
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Ernest S
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sirpoonga wrote:
nhjelmberg wrote:
I hesitated between Tsuro and Tsuro of the Seas. I finally purchased the latter for the greater flexibility but have yet not played with the daikaiju. On the other hand, I do think that the larger board of 7x7 squares gives more opportunities for strategic movements and prefer it to Tsuro's 6x6 squares.

What's your thoughts on this?


The original is 6x6 because there is exactly 35 unique tile possibilities. So with the 7x7 there are tiles that are repeated. I am not sure how they decided which tiles get repeated. I've marked my duplicate tiles so I can play the original if needed.

I have not played either, but my question is: Do you see a problem playing with duplicate tiles on the 7x7 board?
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David Janik-Jones
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Tsuro is much better than Tsuro of the Seas. Orders of magnitude better in my mind. Too much randomness going on in TotS.
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Michael Cozzolino
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I had both but got rid of the original as Tsuro of the seas can be played both ways. The first time i played Tsuro of the Seas i couldnt understand why you would want to add in randomness for the sake of having it and was not impressed. After a few games I found the group cheering on dragons to move in their favor and knock someone out. It also plays quicker now instead of the last 2 slowing laying tiles until someone falls off.
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Susie_Cat
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We like Tsuro because:

1) It is very, very easy to teach, to anyone.
2) It is a nice quick filler.
3) It plays 8 well.
4) Although it has player elimination, games are not long so it doesn't really matter.

We didn't like Tsuro of the Seas because on every one of the good points above it performed less well for little perceived gain:

1) It is more complex to teach.
2) It takes longer.
3) It really drags with larger numbers.
4) We had someone eliminated at the start of a 5-player game and they spent an hour and a half watching everyone else.

People say it plays 2-3 well, if we had that number, I'd rather play Indigo which does the same thing better.

Susie_Cat.
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Tsuro of the Seas is leaps and bounds greater than Tsuro. Regular Tsuro is the beta version of the game. Tsuro of the Seas adds more options that you can use or not use however you're feeling. You can play the old way and still have the option to play differently if the mood hits.

If both games were the same price I would say you're foolish if you buy Tsuro over Tsuro of the Seas.
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Susie_Cat
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I think it depends on what you want from the game. For us, the real pros of Tsuro are that it is quick, simple and really easy to teach to anyone and plays large numbers. Tsuro of the Seas performs less well on each account. Simply, if we want to play a deeper game, then there are other games we would rather play. Yes, you can play Tsuro with the Tsuro of the Seas set, but we got Tsuro first...!

Susie_Cat.
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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EnigmaProphet wrote:

P.S. The 7x7 vs 6x6 grid makes no noticeable difference gameplay wise, except maybe giving you one extra turn.


Interesting, I found that the larger grid added a new strategic dimension to the game. When I play, I try to enclose areas, prevent intrusion, prepare own escape routes etc. - things I had neither room, nor space to do on the smaller grid. Didn't you experience this?

That said, I haven't bothered about the dragons so far and the copy I bought was priced the same as old Tsuro.
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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On a 6x6 grid, 4 players will fill the board when they played 9 tiles each. On a 7x7 grid, they will be able to play 12 tiles each. At least in my experience, this gives me the time I need to prepare "my" area before getting contact with other players. Yes, other players have time to come in but I have time to set up traps that will either lead them out of the board or give me time to take the only way out of the area (after filling it with tiles first).

I shared some strategic ideas in the strategy section. Perhaps your gaming group would disprove my strategies easily but so far I've played with four different groups and only lost one game. This makes the game slightly better than Blokus (which I still like very much), where it's more difficult to get out if two opponents block you in a corner.

In your games, what do you feel determines the winner? Luck in tile draws? Clever tactical tile placements? Strong overall strategies?

That said, I'm not sure an even larger grid would be better as it would take too long time before the players get contact.
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David Casas
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I highly recommend adding the Veterans of the Seas expansion to Tsuro of the Seas. The added elements in it (Whirlpool, Cannons, Tidal Wave, and Portal) give Tsuro of the Seas that edge that it needed.
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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masuabie wrote:
I highly recommend adding the Veterans of the Seas expansion to Tsuro of the Seas. The added elements in it (Whirlpool, Cannons, Tidal Wave, and Portal) give Tsuro of the Seas that edge that it needed.


Thanks for the recommendation, I'll add the expansion to my wishlist.
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Brian Urgo
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Susie_Cat wrote:

...We didn't like Tsuro of the Seas because on every one of the good points above it performed less well for little perceived gain:
...
4) We had someone eliminated at the start of a 5-player game and they spent an hour and a half watching everyone else.
...
Susie_Cat.


If it's taking you 90min's to play the game, you may be playing it wrong. Even with moving the dragon each turn, the game shouldn't take that long imho
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Susie_Cat
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buffburgo wrote:
Susie_Cat wrote:

...We didn't like Tsuro of the Seas because on every one of the good points above it performed less well for little perceived gain:
...
4) We had someone eliminated at the start of a 5-player game and they spent an hour and a half watching everyone else.
...
Susie_Cat.


If it's taking you 90min's to play the game, you may be playing it wrong. Even with moving the dragon each turn, the game shouldn't take that long imho


I think we played it right, it was just that we aren't the quickest and, once one person had been knocked out, we all played v-e-r-y c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y!

Susie_Cat.
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J. V.
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Amen! My thoughts exactly.
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You're review is thorough and articulate, and I can definitely see where you're coming from. I hold a different view, however. While I DO enjoy the original Tsuro, I always enjoyed it best when there is more players. 5 to 8 players always seemed like the sweet spot for me. But 2- and 3- player games of Tsuro usually lacked drama early in the game. Tsuro of the Seas really adds something to the game when there is a low player count. (I haven't played it yet with more than 3 players). I like the chaos that it adds in those circumstances.

Of course, you can always make house rules to change the number of daikaiju that are placed on the board if you find that it's TOO chaotic with the suggested number. I haven't had to resort to that.

While the new mechanics don't improve the game in the same way that you mention King of New York improved over the Tokyo version (I know of some who disagree), I think that it offers a somewhat different experience than the original, and a very fun experience it is.

Update: I have since played a couple of 6-player games of Tsuro of the seas - including a precocious 4-year old. Every single one of us really enjoyed the daikaiju mechanic, an while it did introduce some randomness into the game, it was no less fun than the original. Even my son, who thought he would hate this version, said he likes it better than the original.
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I'm in the boat that feel King of New York is a more well rounded game.

Tsuro of the Seas, is that more rounded? Not necessarily. I will agree that it plays different. The original has a foreseeable end whereas the sequel can keep the fun going longer. The sequel is not limited to the board size when the Daikaiju can remove tiles and the paths can change.
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