Tsuro: Phoenix Rising (Kickstarter)

Quick history lesson. In 2004 Wizkids published the first edition of Tsuro: Game of the Path. In 2009 Calliope Games was founded, with Tsuro as its flagship title. Tsuro of the Seas soon followed in 2012. Now, to celebrate Calliope’s 10th anniversary, they have launched Tsuro: Phoenix Rising!

As I write this, less than 24 hours after launch, the project is already closing on 500% funded. Let me say, in no uncertain terms, that I’m not at all surprised. I bought one of the first-run Tsuro games on a whim, and 15 years later is continues to be one of the games I regularly recommend. It’s simple enough for anyone to play, with just enough strategy early on for “gamers” to relish without really being able to destroy the newcomers. Whether you play 2 player or 8 players it moves quickly, but the ensuing chaos of more players is extra fun.

The story behind Phoenix Rising goes like this:

Long ago, a vengeful god stole the stars from the night sky. To illuminate the night, brave people released glowing paper lanterns toward the heavens. This act of hope summoned clever magical phoenixes, who soared through the sky and raced toward the lanterns.

As the birds flew from lantern to lantern, their enchanted touch transformed the lanterns into brilliant new stars! Before the people’s very eyes, the night sky became illuminated with beauty, all because of the firebirds. The phoenix that creates a constellation of seven new stars will illuminate the night sky and once again restore balance to Tsuro…the path of life!

In the original Tsuro the objective was simple, build and follow your path to be the last player still on the board. Phoenix Rising changes that concept from a simple survival game to a race around the board transforming lanterns into stars, and the first player to create seven stars wins. As well as changing the goal, Calliope has drastically changed how the game is physically played. The game is played on a 6×6 grid, and the path tiles are double-sided. When you start your turn, you will either place a tile if there is not one in front of you or flip and/or rotate the existing tile is there is one in front of you. To facilitate this, the game comes with a molded board that is raised in the center of each tile space, allowed the tiles to be flipped without disrupting the rest of the board. Because of this, a player can actually find themselves in a closed loop, which removes them from the board as if they followed a path off the edge. Again, in the original Tsuro this would eliminate a player, but Phoenix are more resilient and can rise from the ashes, returning to the board a single time on their next turn.

The game ends when only one Phonix remains in the sky, or when a player has collected seven stars.

This looks like an amazing spin on an already amazing game, and I can’t wait to see how this campaign shakes out. $40(USD) gets you a standard retail edition, with $55 getting you the Kickstarter Exclusive version. $100 gets you the Kickstarter edition, plus a copy of both the original Tsuro and Tsuro of the Seas, along with its Veterans of the Seas expansion.

The Exclusive edition adds eight bonus phoenix pawns, in different colours, a higher quality game tray, and a three tile “Twilight Portals “expansion.

Shipping for the standard and exclusive editions is set up front, and deeply subsidized. You can even add a second copy for no extra shipping, although the $100 “Legacy of Tsuro” shipping is expected to be a bit higher, as would getting add-ons.

Speaking of add-ons, you can add on any of Calliope’s other games for a decent price. We haven’t reviewed all of them, but if you’re interested we have reviewed both DICEY PEAKS and 12 DAYS in the past.

Potential shipping costs aside, that $100 level is a great deal, saving over 20% compared to buying the same games as add-ons. If you have one or both of the other games already, and you’re backing this, you already know that an extra copy would make a great gift.

[UPDATE: as this CrowdFUNding Spotlight goes live, the campaign is fast approaching 1000% funded, with only a single stretch goal unreached -dc]

You can back Tsuro: Phoenix Rising on Kickstarter until February 8, 2019.

You can find Calliope Games online at www.calliopegames.com or on facebook at facebook.com/CalliopeGames.