Tsuro of the Seas (Calliope Games, 2012)


Played: February 17, 2019

The gist of the game: The emperor sends you out to explore and make known that everything he can reach, he owns. As you sail along, your ship creates wakes that you glide along. Beware the giant monsters (daikaiju), though. If you said into one or one moves into your path, you’re dead. And if you get carried along by the wakes and drift off the edge of the board, that’s the end of you, as well. On each turn, players roll to see if the daikaiju move (they do if you roll a 6, 7, or 8; if they move, you then roll a single die and move each monster according to the directions on the monster tile). If the player survives their move, they place a wake tile and move to the end of its current path. Wake paths can intersect as players lay more and more tiles. The tile art is fine, but the art on the actual game board (mostly visible above) is amazing. M points out that the main strategy may just be to not make any obviously bad move, as there’s a considerable luck component, given the randomness of the daikaiju movements and the wake tiles you draw.

Color commentary: The main impetus for playing this now (which we got through the Lexicon online flea market last April) was to see if we liked the game, because I’ve backed a sequel on Kickstarter. One could argue that we should have figured out if we liked it before we committed to the sequel, and one wouldn’t be wrong, per se, but significantly less adventurous, right? Fortunately, it was a pleasant game. We were able to play three rounds before I insisted on writing this blog. We may play a few more rounds, or I may force us to learn another new game.

This is probably one of slightly-more-complex games we’ve collectively figured out the fastest. The daikaiju movement mechanic was a little confusing at first (the instructions kept mentioning a singular daikaiju, but the premise would really only make sense if you moved all of them), but we got that sorted out pretty quickly. I was consumed by jerk-ass daikaiju in fairly short order in our first two plays. The third game lasted significantly longer, and we got to experience intersecting wake paths (my paths intersected with M’s earlier tiles, and M intersected with some of my earlier tiles), which was a pretty neat feature.

The game can be played with 2-8 players, but honestly, the thought of playing with 8 stresses me out. M points out that each player would have a lot fewer turns, and the wake paths would probably intersect much more quickly. On the other hand, games with more players start out with fewer monsters, so they have that going for them.

Estimated game time is 20-40 minutes. I think our first two games probably lasted less than that, because as soon as someone goes off the board or gets eaten by a daikaiju, the other player wins. More players would probably extend the minimum game time. Our third game probably lasted a solid half hour.

And now, at M’s request, he would like the story told of his ship (olive green, in the lower right quadrant of the picture) in the third game.


He valiantly skirted the edge of the board and monsters several times. He intersected my previous wake path and managed to forge a new path forward, back toward the center of the board and away from certain doom. And then, on his turn, the daikaiju moved. When it became obvious what was going to happen to the ship, the musicians firmly planted themselves on the deck, playing their violins until the last. The daikaiju acted quickly, eating the crew in such a way that they did not suffer, but rather bravely followed the sextant to the captain’s quarters in the sky. After the daikaiju was done snacking, the other ship could hear “Taps” playing softly as the agitated sea whipped against its sides.

One thought on “Tsuro of the Seas (Calliope Games, 2012)

  1. I’ve seen original Tsuro at Barnes & Noble many times without having the slightest idea what it might be like.

    I liked the story of M’s olive boat, ignobly sunk by a martini-seeking daikaiju.


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