Board Game Review: Tsuro of the Seas

It sounds in principle to be a pretty straightforward affair…

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The original Tsuro was a beautiful, elegant and simple game which involved placing tiles to move your stone around the board in the hope of being the last one standing. As tiles were placed, paths started to expand which your stone had to follow, and as the game progressed and players’ stones got closer together it was entirely possible to send an opponent’s stone (or your own) off the edge of the board and out of the game. Easy to learn, very very tough to perfect.

But what if you take such a nice game, send it to the sea and add sea monsters and dragon type… things? You get Tsuro of the Seas, that’s what, a game which takes the original formula of Tsura and adds a twist which does an amazing amount to make it feel like a very different game indeed.

The rules of Tsuro still apply, albeit in a different setting. Stones are replaced by ships, and the neat paths from before are now wakes in the sea, trails left by the big boats doing a runner from the daikaiju (they’re the dragons I mentioned earlier) which are hunting them down with the hope of having a nice crunchy boaty meal. Each turn you’ll choose from one of your three tiles and place it on the board, moving your boat (and any others affected by your tile) along the wakes, hopefully in order to keep yourself on the board (because if you fall off the board it’s game over for you) and avoiding the daikaiju in the process. It sounds in principle to be a pretty straightforward affair, but as more tiles get placed on the board your own choices suddenly link in with those taken at previous stages of the game. Not only that, but as the daikaiju remove tiles as they land on them your previously crafted routes, designed to guide you away from the edge as much as possible, also fall apart pretty quickly, forcing you to rethink your strategy as you go.

The daikaiju also bring dice into Tsuro, with a quick dice roll determining whether it moves or rotates, and as its movements are dictated by such a random event their upcoming movements are an absolute until they happen. It’s a very effective tweak to the Tsuro formula, and those who have spent years perfecting their methods when it came to the original will find this game to be quite literally a whole new beast.

What’s quite cool though is that you don’t need to put the daikaiju into play if you don’t want to. Maybe you want to get a feel for what the original Tsuro game felt like. Maybe, like me, you’ve got a much younger gamer who wants a simpler game with less to worry about. My 4 year old loved placing the tiles and tricking me into disappearing off the side of the map, but the daikaiju were an extra layer of consideration too far. In time we’ll bring them in, but right now they’re reserved for games against my wife and other family. It is, however, a game still accessible by younger gamers, which is always something I appreciate in a game.

So with its mere single page of rules to learn, games that can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 45, different ways to play and a very cool tweak to a game which was always easy to love Tsuro of the Seas is an excellent addition to the Tsuro catalogue. Whether or not it’s worth getting if you already own Tsuro is another matter, the daikaiju are cool and all but might not be worth the entrance fee alone, even if you do also get some neat little ship miniatures. But generally, for someone without a Tsuro game, this is great. It takes moments to learn, can be played by almost anyone and will make you want to come back for more once you’re done.

Tsuro of the Seas
Available Now, RRP £39.99
Find your local stockist here

 
 

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