Nothing feels worse than losing control of your boat. I did a bit of rowing in college and thought I was better than I actually was. I took a single person boat out to the river, throwing caution to the strong wind blowing that day. I flew downriver, the strong gusts at my back. Getting back to the boat house was another matter. Try as I might, the wind would not let me get back to safety. (A teammate eventually tugged me back with a motorboat). This game reminds me of those long minutes in the best way possible. I thought facing into the wind was bad, but clearly I hadn’t faced a dragon.
I love the story behind this game, but I’ve played with people who don’t care for it. In the game We’re sailors in the Emperor’s Navy out on a mission to spread word of his power. Unfortunately, the daikaiju (dragons) will not abide his hubris and threaten to sink the sailors who would spread the emperor’s message. The game cleverly creates indirect competition by placing each player in an individualized fight to survive. The game does not provide much more than the basic fight-to-survive story. I enjoy creating stories based on my actions in the game, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The game is tremendously fun if you can imagine yourself in this sort of struggle (which I could all too easily do). If you can’t immerse yourself in the scenario, you might want to skip this game.
This is a semi-sequel to the game Tsuro, a great introductory game for new players (it’s like Tsuro of the Seas, but without the daikaiju). Tsuro of the Seas is very simple to pick up and requires as much luck as it does strategy. A turn consists of primarily rolling dice and placing a tile on the board. It’s that simple. I’ve seen people with little gaming experience pick up the game in ten minutes. Players who live for deep strategy will really hate it when a simple dice roll suddenly summons a dragon right above their boat thereby immediately ending their game. It’s this sort of randomness that will either make or break this game for people. I don’t mind my elaborate plans unravelling before me because a daikaiju moved in front of my boat thereby pretty much sealing my fate. I understand that this really puts some people off, but not every game requires the seriousness of Twilight Struggle or Pandemic. If you need a palate cleanser from super serious gaming, you should consider this game.
Art and Pieces
The aesthetic is completely appropriate for the theme of the game. The best thing about the art is its resemblance to ink paintings from feudal Japan. The daikaiju are wonderful to look at and the calligraphy is beautiful. The ocean paths on the tiles are a weak point in my opinion. They do an adequate job of representing the paths, but the blues are sometimes difficult to tell apart. However, I do admire the developers’ ability to create so many paths and make each tile compatible with one another. The boats are full of little details that I really appreciate, like the wooden planks forming the deck, or the detailed stern at the boat’s bottom. They are not particularly durable, but they will not break if you step on them. Overall, the game has a few stand out elements and the pieces, while bendable, are a little more durable than what you’d expect for a game of its price.
This is not a quick game like its predecessor, partly due to rolling die and resolving the daikaijus’ movement on every players turn. However, it is still short enough to really capture the tension of having dragons chase after you. You can easily play a few rounds in a night, or one between longer games. Turns are fairly quick so no one has to wait too long to make a move, and the daikaijus’ regular movements keep everyone engaged. The game supports two to eight players. The game is most fun with four to five people. Anything more and the ensuing chaos ensures victory to luckiest person playing. The game is well paced and lasts long enough to be fun without taking over the entire night.
I really like it when I can spend about $20 for countless hours of entertainment. I bought Tsuro of the Seas because it was in effect two games. I could play it as it is, or I could play it as the original Tsuro. I bought my copy on Amazon for about $20. I’ve played it a few times and loved every moment, but a significant portion of my regular companions did not share my sentiments. It’s a good game, but not an absolute must have for your library. Even though it’s relatively inexpensive, I’d recommend being cautious and play or watch others play before buying.