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Board Game Guru Presents: Tsuro of the Seas

Welcome to another board game review! It’s been a while since we checked out a new game, but the gurus and I are still going strong and are ready to play some exciting and wonderful games. Next up on our list: Tsuro of the Seas, the daikaiju-dodging high seas adventure!

Game details:
Age: 8 and up
Players: 2-8
Time: 30 minutes

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The basic game play of Tsuro of the Seas is that players each have a ship that they want to sail — that is, keep on the game board — as long as possible. Whoever stays on the board the longest wins the game.

Each turn players add “wake” tiles to the 7×7 game board; each tile has two “wake connections” on each edge, and as the tiles are placed on the board, they create a connected network of paths. If a wake is placed in front of a ship, that ship then sails to the end of the wake. If the ship goes off the board, that player is out of the game.

Then there are daikaiju tiles, representing sea monsters and other creatures of the deep. Notably, daikaiju can move: each tile has five arrows, four for moving in each of the cardinal directions and another one for rotation. On the active player’s turn, he rolls two six-sided dice. On a sum of 6, 7, or 8, the daikaiju will move, while on any other sum they’ll stay in place. To determine which direction the daikaiju tiles move, the player then makes a second roll, this time with a single die. On 1-5 in the second roll, each daikaiju moves according to its matching arrow. On a 6 in the second roll, a new daikaiju tile is added to the board.

If a daikaiju tile hits a wake tile, a ship, or another daikaiju tile, the object hit is removed from the game. The more daikaiju tiles on the game board, the faster players will find themselves trying to breathe water…

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So what does all this mean for gameplay? Tsuro of the Seas is a relatively short game that boils down to random chance and luck. If your ship runs into a dragon-like monster, a daikaiju, you get eaten. Plain and simple. Sometimes it’s not fair, but hey, it’s a survival game. Better hope you have good luck rolling dice, otherwise you’ll find yourself surrounded by hungry and mythic sea creatures.

And let’s face it, life sometimes isn’t fair, either. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun!

The other gurus and I had a heck of a time with this one. Well, actually, just me. I was the first person “drowned” and “eaten” by (this is so fitting) the very sea monster pictured on the game board. Curse my bad luck at rolling dice! In case you didn’t know, I have notoriously bad luck in getting the dice numbers I want.

Naturally, being the first one eliminated because of my poor dice skills became a bit of a sore spot for me. Nevertheless, the game continued and was a fun experience for everyone. In the end, one of our other gurus (who shall remain nameless not just because of privacy reasons, but also because he’d probably take it as a chance to gloat even more) was the victor. He bragged about it and then everyone went home in good spirits.

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All in all, I give this game 8 out of 10 daikaijus. Why? Because despite being a well-conceived game, the randomness makes it extremely hard to strategize. Games that come down to luck are fun, but in this reviewer’s mind, not as fun as those that rely on strategy. However, if you are looking for a quick game where the outcome is excitingly unpredictable, then this one is a great choice for you. And one last thing: this game’s art is just gorgeous.

Now go out and play it with your friends!

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