Skip to main content

Tsuro (Acquire-To-Zendo)

🚶🏻‍♀️ The Long And Winding Road...



2004, 2-8 players
Complexity: light

Tsuro is another instance of what's referred to as a "filler" game--something to kill time between bigger games while other tables finish up. It plays in about fifteen minutes and doesn't require a whole lot of brain space, but it's still fun and challenging in its own way.

Let's See It In Action


In Tsuro, you and one to seven friends will take turns laying out the path ahead of you, trying to make it last as long as possible, and managing how it effects the other people you run across. So... a metaphor for life.


The game is played on a 6x6 grid. Each player starts at the edge of the board in the position of their choosing. On your turn, you place a tile from your hand in front of you and then follow the path until it runs out. If your tile advances you onto another tile that's already in play, you keep following the path. If you run off the edge of the board, you're out.


Tiles are square, so they can be oriented in four different ways. Every tile will have exactly four paths on it, each one connected to two ends of the path. They can go straight across, turn, or even loop back on themselves.


Occasionally you will find yourself face to face with another player. When that happens, you play your tile, move yourself, and then move any other players that the tile has gone in front of. This is an excellent way to run other players off the board.


Be careful not to run into each other. Since you both started at the edge of the board, if your paths merge, that means you necessarily will be running off the edge of the board. But since the active player moves first, this means you will be eliminated first.


There are 36 squares on the board, but only 35 tiles, meaning it is theoretically possible to end the game in a tie. It also means that towards the end of the game, the draw pile will run out. If that happens, the active player takes the Dragon tile at the end of their turn. This is just to signify that they will be the next player to take tiles into their hand once there are more tiles available (read as: when other players are eliminated).


The game ends when all players but one have been eliminated. As in real life...

What Makes It So Good?

I've talked about this in other posts, but games are fundamentally about managing some kind of scarce resource. In Tsuro, that resource is "escape routes." Every square you enter has eight end-points, less the one you entered on. Of the remaining seven, how many of them will lead you back to an edge? As the game progresses, things are going to get tighter and tighter, meaning you have fewer escape routes and fewer tiles with which to wrangle them. This presents a few alternate strategies. Do you want to try to avoid other players and burn turns while they eliminate themselves, or would you want to race towards them to try and run them off the board?

One thing that really stands out about this game is that it is exactly as fun with two players as it is with eight. It scales very cleanly. The components are pretty nice, too, given the price point. The tokens that represent players are unique and have a nice feel to them--considering they could have just used meeples, that's a nice touch. The tiles have a good heft to them, and the art on the board is lovely.

What's Not To Like?

This is an abstract strategy game without a ton of randomization in it. So, while gameplay isn't anything at all like chess, it fits into a similar kind of brain-space, and if that doesn't sound appealing to you, you'll likely want to give this one a pass. On the first couple of playthroughs, the strategy isn't immediately obvious, which can make it feel like you're winning or losing arbitrarily. This could be frustrating to some players.

Is It Expansible?

There aren't any expansions, but there is a version called Tsuro Of The Seas that has a storm that moves around the board and picks up tiles. I haven't played it, but I tend to not like abstract strategy games that add extra randomization.

Final Thoughts

It's a fun, simple, fast game that scales really well and offers some challenges despite its stripped-down rules.

Tune in next week when we discover the secrets of battle in War Chest...

In Acquire-To-Zendo, Kurt is going through his favorite board games in alphabetical order. Read the explainer or see more posts.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Alexandra Rowland And Bad Faith Accusations

This morning, writing twitter was blown up by a post from Alexandra Rowland accusing Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear of some nasty manipulative behavior. I have reason to believe that Rowland is acting in bad faith. Seven or eight years ago, Rowland and I were in the same writing group. I didn't know them well, but we became Facebook friends because that's what you do. At some point after we fell out of contact with each other, they made a post about an affair with an influential older male who had lied about being in an open marriage and proceeded to manipulate and gaslight and emotionally abuse them. I didn't know any of the people involved other than Rowland, but I was affected enough by Rowland’s post that I can still recall reading it all these years later. So when I saw Rowland's blog this morning, I assumed it was the same situation... except the dates weren't right. The Bear/Lynch events took place in 2016, but the post I remembered was older than that. So I

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Ramin Djawadi Title:   Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack Released:  2013 Genre:  DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld  has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned  catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above. While all of the soundtracks for GoT  are very listenable, this is m

On Getting Laser Eyes

Last week I got Lasik. I was looking forward to not having to deal with glasses getting smudged by my kids or slipping off my face. I figured that not needing them would be pretty convenient. However, the words I heard over and over from other people who'd already done it were: "life-changing." That seemed to be overstating a bit. Convenient, yes, but life-changing? I didn't get it. I get it now. I've had some kind of vision correction, either glasses or contacts, for the last thirty-odd years, which is nearly as far back as I can remember. And what I hadn't realized was the extent to which this had become part of my identity. It's not that I thought glasses were cool because I wore them--although I did and they are. It's that the ability to see was, for me, artificial and temporary. And my vision was pretty bad, so my natural state was one of... not so much "blindness" as "isolation." There was a layer of vagueness that sat bet