Recap: Tsuro First Impressions and Party Games
So this last week I managed to sneak four birthday celebrations in even though I only had one birthday. One party with my folks, one at work, one with a gaming group, and one with my non-gaming friends. The only negative is that I have four unfinished birthday cakes in my refrigerator. And since the Wife doesn’t eat them, that means it’s solely up to me to eat and grow fat on baked goods.
With so many folks over – including non-gamers – it was a great opportunity to play some party games and such. The only negative was that, since I was entertaining guests as well as gaming, I didn’t have a chance to snap photos. Stock footage mode, engage!
Tsuro. A friend of mine purchased Tsuro after seeing it on TableTop. In Tsuro, each player has a hand of tiles, each with different paths on it. Each tile has two connections on each side, but they zig and zag in different ways. The goal of the game is to stay on the board as long as possible. If two markers collide, or if they fall of the board, they are out. Last man standing wins.
Tsuro was simple, short, and amazingly entertaining. It had a puzzle aspect as you tried to twist and turn tiles to a way that benefited you most. Meanwhile, you had to be aware of where the other players were. Even though you can only place a tile near your token, if that happens to connect to another player’s path, then it will move them as well. Part of the fun in our play was taking advantage of these opportunities, but also fearfully running from their potential lest someone else dictate your next move.
I really enjoyed Tsuro. Our five player game lasted no more than fifteen minutes. Even though there was player elimination, we all ended within a turn or two together. It doesn’t seem like the kind of game that would result in player’s being “out” for any significant time.
Battlestar Galactica. The B-Star is one of my favorite games, with Hidden Loyalty, great theme, suspicion and player interaction, and tense decisions to make. Jawesome. Of course, it also has a quite lengthy play time, can be punishing to new players, and my regular group has members that don’t appreciate it as much as I do. So I don’t get the chance to play often. But when I do, I love it.
This time, I was dealt a cylon at the beginning of the game. I was also the Admiral. This meant that I was able to slow down the humans considerably. I kept selecting one distance planets to jump to. Even though it made it unlikely that I would exhaust their fuel supply, that gave me so many more turns to do mess with them. They had to jump again and again, whereas if I had selected some threes and twos, they might have won. At game end, they were on the last jump to victory before they ran out of food.
But the best was that one player, Baltar, has the once per game ability to look at another player’s loyalty cards. He chose mine. “Great,” I thought. “Now I’m going to have to accuse him of being the cylon and it will be a back and forth. He looked at my cards and calmly declared, “He’s human.” AWESOME. Not only did that provide me with cover, but it also meant that we cylons knew who each other were. That’s pretty rare in Battlestar.
Although I had previously been concerned that cylons would always win, after the last game (where humans won) and this one, I feel its much more balanced. After all, if the Admiral had been human, the humans would have won. I think this underscores the need for the human team to ascertain the identity of the Admiral. That’s a lot of power in one player’s hands.
King of Tokyo. After two more plays, my feelings have changed little from my first impressions about King of Tokyo. However, it was a little disappointing to be eliminated in both games. In the first play, I was riding the line rather close. I entered Tokyo with only four health. I figured I’d get out after taking a swipe or two and then start the healing process. I was way ahead on points. But the player to my left got four attacks on his first roll and I was eliminated. Okay, that’s legitimate; I played it close and I lost on luck.
For the second game, I decided to play it super conservative. I actually didn’t intend to ever enter Tokyo. I got a power that let me re-roll threes, which meant that I could always attempt to get threes for points because, if I failed, I could re-roll them. So I started racking up points. I also got a ton of health and never entered Tokyo.
But then it came to my turn and Tokyo was absent. My goal was to roll threes and hearts (there had been a devastating attack from the Tokyo resident a few turns before). On my final roll, an attack came up. That put me into Tokyo (against my will) with five hearts. Once again, I planned to relinquish immediately and continue my meteoric rise in points. And, once again, a lucky roll produced five attacks. That was lame. I totally got caught by the dice on that one. And, unlike earlier games, that game continued for a good thirty minutes. Still, it was pretty aberrational, but it reminded me why I don’t generally care for player elimination.