Oct 21, 2015

[Games] Tsuro of the Seas

There are a number of games in our collection that we selected primarily because of the number of players it can support. Since more games max out at 4 players, the value of good games in the 6-8 player range is pretty key. The average game night involves 6 players for us and so that can be tricky indeed.

Tsuro of the Seas is a actually a standalone expansion of the original Tsuro. The core game concept remains the same and I got to play the original game at a gaming event once. However it didn't feel quite compelling enough to own - something that changed with this expansion.

It's not exactly a hardcore favorite, but it's certainly a charming game to bring out on occasion. And since it supports so many players, it really goes a long way towards making sure we have something to play should we end up maximizing our table during a game night.

Tsuro of the Seas is standalone expansion for Tsuro designed by Tom McMurchie and Jordan Weisman. The game supports 2-8 players and already has one expansion, Veterans of the Seas.

Instead of dancing dragons, players in this game control ships trying to navigate the dangerous seas around Japan. Like the original Tsuro, the core gameplay involves playing tiles with tracks printed on them and having your ship figure follow the track to the end. The goal is to be the last ship sailing the seas. But on top of the core Tsuro game rules, this expansion introduces daikaiju that are additional threats to players.

Daikaiju are placed by rolling two dice and seeing where they match on the sort of coordinate grid. The board is first seeded with a set number of daikaiju before the first player gets to move. And not every player turn begins with rolling the two dice. If the result totals 6, 7, or 8, then the daikaiju first move based on certain moment rules tied to the numbers on the daikaiju tile and what had been rolled.

Daikaiju can totally consume other daikaiju should they encounter one another but have two few of them on the board and you'll be forced to replace them using the initial placement rules. Should a daikaiju encounter another wake tile, it is removed from play. Should a player's ship token encounter a daikaiju, that player is then eliminated. Thus all the more it becomes critical to navigate your ship away from the beasts before it's too late.

To be frank, the predominant play strategy is to stay along the edges of the board and hope that daikaiju don't get near you. This works most of the time, but thankfully not all the time based on the tiles you end up drawing at random. If anything, the starting daikaiju are never quite as deadly as those that appear mid-game since they have a higher chance of appearing in already constructed wake paths. And once they start moving again, they can really mess you up.

What this game ends up de-emphasizing is trying to eliminate other players through clever wake tile placement, as was a bit more of a strategy in the first game. The daikaiju tend to destroy paths before that can really happen effectively so I've seen more players just focus on running and win or lose in line with how the daikaiju rolls go.

Player elimination is always a tricky mechanic and we like the Tabletop house rule that eliminated players still get to roll the dice to affect daikaiju moment. Thus as more players are eliminated, the more the daikaiju has chances to move before your next turn comes around. It helps to keep them involved in the game.

Tsuro of the Seas is an excellent upgrade to the original Tsuro experience that does feel like an entirely different game. The expansion nicely gives you more options, but I'll probably cover that in another review. This game on its own still gets 3.5 deadly daikaiju of the seas out of a possible 5.


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