Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Posts Tagged ‘Tsuro’

Food For Thought: Gaming With A 10-year-old Non-gamer

Posted by sodaklady on November 21, 2013

My daughter is dating a man with a 10-year-old son whose gaming experience, aside from video games, consists of Sequence. At least he has experience using his mind, and is learning gaming etiquette such as cheating is not allowed and how to be a graceful winner and loser.

Last weekend they were all to come over for the day but his dad unexpectedly had to work for a few hours so Cori brought Kaidan over and we showed him some games. I gazed with glazed eyes at all my gamer games, searching for some good choices for a youngster with no experience with such things. I finally grabbed Blokus Trigon and Tsuro, easy to teach, easy to understand.

Image by ealdrich


Image by merc007



These both turned out to be a good match and were played twice each.

The concept of Blokus tiles being placed only at points of the triangles caused no trouble once he saw it in action. We encouraged him to use his most “obnoxious” pieces (Cori’s term) early, and helped with finding spots towards the end.

Tsuro worried me at first since you’re given 3 tiles to choose from and I was afraid it would slow him down unbearably, but it didn’t. But I don’t think he was thinking ahead as we gamers are wont to do and that’s fine for a beginner. I chose to force him off the board earlier than I needed to, testing an important gaming skill–losing gracefully. He didn’t seem to mind and stayed engaged while Cori and I finished the game. He wanted to try again and this time, he and Cori tied, both facing the empty space once all the tiles were laid. Well done!

He wanted to see what else I had so back to the game shelf to find something else appropriate. Oh, yes, dice have not been rolled! I brought out Can’t Stop and Hey, That’s My Fish!  Can’t Stop is a game we’ve had since my kids were little so it was nice to see another generation pushing their luck. This game was also a hit and played twice, then again when his dad showed up. It is also the game that made me stop and realize the difference between a 10-year-old gamer and a 10-year-old non-gamer.

Image by Kirk Bauer

  It took Kaidan quite a while each time he rolled the dice to combine the four dice into two sets of two and come up with what numbers he could use that turn. At first I thought he just needed to work on his math skills but then it hit me: the pips are unfamiliar to a non-gamer. Whereas we look at the arrangement of little dots and immediately see “5”, he had to take the time to count them. How strange! You’d think they’d teach pips in school, wouldn’t you? 🙂


Hey, That’s My Fish! is a great family game, combining a spacial element with a simple movement system, and adding cute little penguins as well. Now if it would just set itself up!! It’s a simple game with enough depth to be a family game and a gamer’s filler game. No dice, no tricky corners to deal with, and no early elimination. We played twice and the second game was close.

Image by spearjr.

I hope he had a good enough time with these four games to be willing to play some more. This leads to me look at my game collection in a new light and since he isn’t experienced with these concepts, I can’t depend on the age suggestions on the boxes. Let me show you what I mean.

I chose two games from my collection, which seem like good candidates at first glance: Yspahan (ages 8+), and Aquaretto (a family friendly game) BTW, I don’t own Zooloretto which is why it isn’t up for consideration.

Yspahan sent up danger flags just from looking at the back of the box. Look at all the boards, each with choices to make and rules to remember.

There’s the main player board with special rules on where you can place your pieces. The Caravan track where you can score points, or give points to an opponent, so you have to balance the good with the bad. Under that is the main board used to decide which actions you will take. Lastly is the player’s personal board with buildings you can build for points and special abilities. Oh, and let’s not forget the cards you can acquire which also give you special abilities when used. This is just way too much for most 8-year-olds and even a lot for non-gaming adults. Heck, sometimes it makes MY head swim.

This is definitely out–not even on the list for the future.

Image by Gary James

Then there is Aquaretto, part of the Zooloretto family of family-friendly games but recommended for 10+ rather than the 8+ that Zooloretto states on the box.

On closer look at the rules, it seems like a game we could build up to, especially if we start with the parent card game, Coloretto, to acquire the skill to assess the loads on the trucks.

There are fewer areas to make choices in compared to Yspahan, but still plenty to keep track of for a new gamer, like managing your depot and watching other players’ zoos and depots. The hardest part, I think, would be seeing the best way to use your coins and where to place your workers. Thinking ahead to end-game scoring seems like something you acquire with experience so some of the workers won’t even make sense until he sees how they affect things a couple of times. I think 10+ is a fair recommendation provided the 10-year-old has had experience with such games.

For now, I hope the four games we’ve already played will see more play in the future. And I want to try Coloretto, Forbidden Island and Ticket To Ride as they seem the most likely next steps.


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Game Day: Aug. 28th– Let’s Deck-build

Posted by sodaklady on August 29, 2011

“Look, I’m no longer uni-plegic,” Dave announced as he came through the door holding up his two hands. The splint and wrapping that had hindered him last game day was gone, replaced simply by a bandaid on two of his fingers. This was great, ‘cause he was gonna need two hands for rolling dice and holding cards.

My husband, Richard, had to work so it was just the three of us. We started with a neat little game called Tsuro. This simple, fun game is a good way to start since you can talk while you’re playing, catching up on what’s been happening, discussing games you’re looking at and what you’ve been playing. I was the first to force someone off of the board, unfortunately for Dave. Then it was just a matter of seeing who had the best, read luckiest, cards in hand. Turns out it was me!

Tsuro closeup

A closeup of a Tsuro piece and tiles. I love the pieces!

Then Mike was anxious to show me his newest game, Quarriors. This is a light deck-building game using dice rather than cards. The dice represent your minions and spells which are activated to destroy your opponents’ minions. For each of your minions who manage to survive the round, you score glory points at the beginning of your next turn. I usually don’t do well with dice but in this game, they hated Mike to such a degree that he rarely rolled a minion but rather had more than his share of quiddity (the currency of the game). Any minion he did roll was soon eliminated. Dave and I fought it out, almost neck-and-neck, until I finally reached the finish line first. This is a fun little game, the only decision of note being which spell/minion to buy each turn, but if you yearn to roll dice and trash talk your opponents, this is a good choice.

Keeping with the deck-building theme, I brought out my newest game, Nightfall. This is also a confrontational game but it is not light. In fact it’s not light in two ways:  it will make you think, and the theme is dark. Nightfall is set in a world gone dark which is now peopled with werewolves, vampires, ghouls, and the people who fight them.

What makes this different from the few other deck-building games I have been introduced to? Your participation is not limited to your turn, and how much or little you decide to do on other people’s turn can make a big difference. This twist is accomplished with a mechanism called “chaining”, which is very cool in my opinion.

Nightfall cards

A sample of chaining. Notice that the Kicker kicks in on Grim Siege.

Each card has a color, represented by the large moon in the upper left corner. A card whose color matches either of the smaller moons can be linked to it. In this way the active player can introduce new minions into his play area and cause various actions to take place. Once the active player has played all the cards he wishes, the next player to his left can continue the chain. This chaining continues around the table until everyone has had the chance to add to it, then the text on each card is resolved in reverse order. If the moon on the bottom of the card matches the main color of the previous card, the “Kicker” text is also applied.

Chaining keeps people involved during other players’ turns, influences what you decide to buy, and I think it can also be a help to someone new to the genre, allowing them to buy cards by colors rather than totally understanding how the text works. And it makes you stay on your toes because being resolved in reverse order can cause you painful problems if you’re not paying attention. And sometimes even if you are!

The game was a hit. We all three started slowly but got a pretty good feel for the flow of the game after a few rounds. Mike and Dave both like the deck-building genre and this one really hit the spot. For myself, I haven’t been really impressed with the other games I tried (Dominion and Puzzle Strike) but this was fun, vicious, meaty, and quirky. Did I win? No. Dave won; Mike and I tied for wounds with Mike having the most of one type.

As Dave had something else to do, we only had time for one more quick game. Mike wanted to show us Take Stock, a Z-man Games card game. It was quick and mostly painless. Nothing special and a little annoying since the luck of the cards can really beat you up. Or maybe it’s just not my type of game.

Richard came home shortly after Dave left, and Mike and I were dying to show him Quarriors and Nightfall. I was amazed to win Quarriors again, barely beating Richard! And again, Mike barely got on the scoreboard because he could NOT roll minions. Seems there’s actually a dice game that I’m good at! 😉

Nightfall was such a hit that we played it twice more. I still didn’t win but I just don’t care. It’s that kind of a game.

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