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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Tsuro – The Game of the Path

Designers – Tom McMurchie
Number of Players – 2 to 8
Publisher – Various (currently Calliope Games)

A game in progress, Stones following their paths to destiny! (or ignominious defeat)

Straight to the point – A simple mechanic makes for an interesting game, but lacks true strategy.

Tsuro is the tile-laying game where players lay the path they will follow, avoiding going off the edge of the board whilst hoping you opponents have a bad sense of direction!

Play takes place on a square board divided into squares. Each player picks a Stone to represent them on the board, and a hand of 3 square cards featuring four pathways. The clever part about the cards is that each pathway enters and exits at the same 8 points on the edges of the square. This means, no matter which way you place it in the board, the pathways will always connect.

Each turn, the player places one of these pathway squares on the board and draws a new one. The only rule is that the pathway must continue from where their Stone sits on the board; in this way, each player’s Stone moves around the board. But beware! If at any point your path leads to the edge of the board, or puts you onto the same path as an opponent, you’re out! This includes your opponent placing cards next to your Stone, so make sure you don’t get too cosy with your neighbour!

And that’s it in a nutshell. Play continues until only one Stone is left on the board; as players go out they hand their cards to those remaining, marking the next recipient using a special square card with a different design.

With a set number of cards and positions on the board, play time is kept consistent at 10 to 15 minutes. This makes Tsuro ideal as a filler game or an evening starter, something to play until Jimmy-come-Lately turns up.

With its simple mechanics and fast play time, Tsuro is also a perfect game to crack out when some of the players are not your typical hard core board gamer. However, there is only one tactic in Tsuro: don’t let your opponent dictate your Stone’s path. Even with a hand of three cards to pick from, this is basically what this game comes down to. For me, this lack of strategy is a sticking point I can’t quite get over. Don’t get me wrong; I like this game, it’s just the inability to plan beyond my next move can sometimes leave me frustrated. This can be a frame of mind i.e. don’t come into it thinking Tsuro is more than it claims to be. Just be aware that randomness can rule.

A highly stylised game.
A highly stylised game.

The artistic design of this game is understated with a limited colour palette. Rich golds and reds, crisp black and whites and simple, bold calligraphy stylings make for an elegant board game. It’s just gorgeous to look at, and everything looks perfectly understated. The card stock is heavy duty and will stand up to many, many play-throughs (watch out though, the brown Stone looks like a half chewed toffee…… might just be me…)
A short and sweet review for a short and sweet game. A nice filler game which oozes a sophisticated style; just don’t expect to spend all evening playing it!

Images courtesy of Boardgamegeek and Calliope games

Bevan Clatworthy
Bevan Clatworthy
An avid board and card gamer, this displaced Cornishman has spent way too much time playing games and skulking around his local hobby shops. He later escaped to Swindon, the land of roundabouts, where he currently designs games whilst infecting those who stand still too long with his gaming lurgy.

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