Author Archives: Chris Leder

A New Twist – Tsuro: Phoenix Rising Takes Flight

The Tsuro series is a winding path, much like the ones on the tiles it features.  Now, the path is soaring upward to the skies in an exhilarating new adventure.

Tsuro: Phoenix Rising (on Kickstarter January 10th-February 9th) is the third game in the Tsuro series.  The first – Tsuro: The Game of the Path – was released originally by Wizkids in 2004.  It was later given a slight facelift and became the flagship title when Calliope Games was founded in 2009.  A second entry – Tsuro of the Seas – launched in 2012 along with its expansion, Veterans of the Seas.

Over the years, the original Tsuro has become a well-known gateway game, perfect for introducing new audiences to the world of tabletop games.  There’s a good reason for that: Tsuro is one of the simplest games anywhere, both to teach and to play.  Not much is simpler than “play one of your tiles to the board, move your pawn along the path you created, then draw a new tile…oh, and just try to stay on the board.”  That’s a pretty easy game to demonstrate to anyone, from children to grandparents, and everyone in between.

OG: Tsuro: The Game Of The Path

Owing to its simplicity and elegance, Tsuro has been used as a gateway and filler countless times.  There are other games that share its tile-placing, route-building aspects, but Tsuro is unique in how it delivers a fun, thoughtful experience in a compact amount of time for a very wide audience.  For many, the elegance – the zen nature – of Tsuro is its defining quality, and they embrace the game the way it is, no embellishment or additions required.  For others, they want a bit more.

Tsuro of the Seas was created to cater to those looking for a bit more unpredictability in the Tsuro experience.  The game transformed the pawns and board into boats and a mystic sea; introduced daikaiju (sea monsters); and added a pair of dice.  On top of the familiar Tsuro gameplay, there now existed a layer of chaos and randomness, as the daikaiju would rotate and move in an unpredictable manner, always threatening to chomp your boat if you didn’t watch out!  Tsuro of the Seas was the first game we launched via a relatively young crowdfunding service called Kickstarter.  It was unfamiliar territory, but became a joyful experience, both because it showed how many original fans wanted MORE TSURO, but also because we learned how the Kickstarter community is a passionate group who are very engaged and helpful with projects they back.

Tsuro of the Seas – A Watery Adventure

2019 represents the 10th Anniversary of Calliope Games.  During 2018, our team had several discussions about how to celebrate this milestone.  Throughout those talks, the main idea we kept coming back to was a new Tsuro game.  What better way to celebrate our birthday than with a new entry in the line that has defined us for a decade?

Some context is useful here, though.  We didn’t start from scratch a year ago to create a new Tsuro game.  The core of it has existed since Tsuro was first dreamt up by mathematician Tom McMurchie in the 1970s.  In fact, when the original Tsuro (then called “Squiggle”) was shown to Calliope Games co-founder Jordan Weisman back in 2001, Tom developed full second set of tiles shortly thereafter that were strategically set aside for a later release.  These alternate tiles had paths that would move through the diagonals of the tile, instead of through the flat edges only.  That tileset – which is dubbed the “Crossroads” set – changed the experience of playing, offering a soaring, freewheeling feel that moved your pawn quickly across the board.  In 2018 the time had come to put the Crossroads set to use… Calliope Games 10th Anniversary!

We wanted to craft a Tsuro experience that would set apart from both other games in the line.  Tsuro is perfect as an accessible gateway/filler.  Tsuro of the Seas involves the unpredictability of dice.  For the third game, we focused on the tiles themselves, thinking for the first time about how players could physically alter the paths on the board.  Perhaps the tiles could rotate…but what if they could do more?

Ray had been working with Bob Oswald, a longtime Calliope Games friend – and very talented CAD artist – on a design for a unique tile tray that would allow players to flip or rotate one tile in a grid without disturbing any of the neighboring tiles.  Once the design was finalized, it was patented and ready for use.  The new Tsuro game would be the perfect way to introduce the revolutionary new tray to the world, as it would allow the path tiles to be manipulated, creating new options for paths each turn.  Ray hit upon the idea of having one side of each tile feature traditional Tsuro paths – entering and exiting on the flat edges, while the flip side would feature Crossroads paths that sent pawns through the diagonal edges of the tiles.  Suddenly, players could strategize whole new routes, opening up fresh, speedy movement.

Prototype version of Tsuro: Phoenix Rising

The creation of this game was collaboration in its purest form.  The Calliope team – Ray Wehrs, Chris Leder, Zach Weisman, Andy Hepworth, Ken Franklin, along with a team of amazing playtesters – expanded upon the gameplay and tiles created by Tom McMurchie.  As the development of the board and tiles progressed, we concentrated on the goal of the game.  Survival has always been the winning condition in the Tsuro series: last pawn standing wins.  Player elimination – love it or hate it – is a hallmark of the line.  We contemplated ways to augment this goal, all the while thinking about the theme of the game.  The original Tsuro features dragon stones as the pawns, but the board features a beautiful phoenix.  What if we shifted the focus to the phoenix?  A bird in flight would make sense given the soaring nature of the Crossroads tiles.  Plus, it would allow us to consider a way for leaving the board to not mean the end of the game – after all, the defining trait of the phoenix is its ability to rise from the ashes!

During development, we struck upon the idea that you weren’t just flying around trying to stay on the board, but as a phoenix, you were actively trying to reach specific points on the board.  As the testing proceeded and the theme began to solidify, we loved the idea that the things you were trying to reach were glowing, floating, colorful lanterns in the night.  That image just seemed so beautiful.  And because we wanted to inspire a bit of positivity, we crafted the lore about how the world had been robbed of stars, but as you reached the lanterns, you transformed them into brilliant new stars that created bright constellations to enlighten your own personal path.  Instead of last pawn standing being the only victory condition, you could now win by creating a new constellation of seven stars, having brought light to a dark world.  It’s an overriding theme of hope and love of life. 

Tsuro: Phoenix Rising is a gateway/filler game in the same vein as the original Tsuro, and its predecessor Tsuro of the Seas.  One way to look at it: Tsuro is the quintessential zen-like gateway experience, Tsuro of the Seas is an exciting survival gateway game where you play against the board, and Tsuro: Phoenix Rising is a gateway set collection game where the board is a puzzle to solve.  Each game has its own level of complexity, but all fit perfectly within a casual game crowd or as a filler in the middle of the game night.  Though they are all built upon the same foundation, the experiences they provide are all unique.  Which Tsuro game will be your favorite? We love them all!

Tsuro: Phoenix Rising is now live on Kickstarter.

Announcing Tsuro: Phoenix Rising

To usher in our 10th Anniversary in 2019, Calliope Games is thrilled to announce Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, an exhilarating new entry in the legendary Tsuro series.  

In the game, each player is a phoenix, soaring across the board in an effort to reach glowing lanterns and transform them into new stars in the night sky.  The first player to collect seven star tokens wins the game!

Tsuro: Phoenix Rising builds upon the foundation of classic Tsuro – you must play tiles to extend your path, traverse the board, and be aware of your surroundings – but it adds exciting new features such as double-sided path tiles that can be flipped and rotated to choose your destination, as well as a revolutionary new molded board.  As a phoenix, you also have the ability to return to the board once per game, rising from the ashes!

The Tsuro series, featuring games designed by Tom McMurchie, has been a flagship brand for Calliope Games since our beginnings in 2009.  The original Tsuro: The Game of the Path was released by WizKids in 2004 and its follow-up Tsuro of the Seas was released in 2012 after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Tsuro: Phoenix Rising will launch on Kickstarter on January 10, 2019 at 2pm Eastern.

The April Calliope Games Newsletter of Awesomeness is out!

The newest issue of the Calliope Games Newsletter of Awesomeness is out!

Click Calliope and you will be taken to it!

Giant Tsuro-The Game of the Path made a special appearance at a wedding reception.  You will get a great look at the Bride, Groom, and their friends and family having a great time.  And Tsuro was there.

We also take a look at Capital City!  Designed by James Ernest with art by Brian Bowes, it is the rootin-ist, tootin-ist new game in the Old West!  The reviews are coming in and people are loving it.  If you don’t already have a copy, now’s your chance!

Want to win a copy of Capital City?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click the picture and enter!  Yee-haw!

Spotlight on Ancestree

The newest issue of the Calliope Games Newsletter of Awesomeness is out and it shines the spotlight on Ancestree by Eric Lang.  Click on the box cover below to find out about the game, read some reviews and learn more about how Ancestree won a Major Fun Award!

Roll For It! Now On The App Store

Roll for It! Hits the App Store

Boasting the Shiniest, Rolliest Digital Dice Ever!

MONTREAL February 21, 2018: Thunderbox Entertainment is thrilled to announce the release of our second digital board game: Roll for It!

For the studio’s second collaboration with Calliope Games after Tsuro, we went from zen to zany! The rules are simple: roll your dice, match them to a card, and score some points. It is quick to learn and designed to let kids and adults play (and win!) together.

The digital adaptation of Roll for It! is…

REAL! Physically simulated dice deliver the real feel. Shake your device to roll ‘em!

FAST! It takes only one minute to learn, and only one hand to play. Roll on the go!

FRIENDLY! Roll solo against crafty AI foes or with friends around one device or online.

The game is now available on the App Store and Google Play for $1.99 USD. For those who crave more, the Red Box expansion is available to purchase in-game, along with more fancy, fuzzy, flashy dice to roll in style!

Please visit the Thunderbox website for more info, download the EPK, and if you’d like to tell your readers about it, contact us for a review copy!

Based in Montreal and founded by Dan Taylor and Jules Morgan, Thunderbox Entertainment is a small team of seasoned developers with over 25 years of AAA experience. We are proud to partner with some of the most innovative and inspiring board game makers on the planet to bring old school fun to a modern world.

Our first app, Tsuro: The Game of the Path, was released in April 2016. It has since earned a 4.6 star rating on the App Store and has been the #1 board game app in over 90 countries.

JOIN THE MANSKY CAPER IN 2018! ROBBING BIG AL’S MANSION IS A BLAST!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! And Happy #ManskyMonday!  This week’s newsletter takes a look at Matt Franklin, the artist on The Mansky Caper.  We take a look at how he creates one of the characters in the game, Abraca-Deborah!

To see how this sketch becomes final artwork (and check out the Mansky Caper Newsletter), click on Abraca-Deborah!

This week, we get to meet Nine-Lives Nicky, the Gadgeteer of the crew.

Click the play button below to watch the video!

The Mansky Caper Kickstarter campaign goes live on January 11, 2018!  Don’t miss out on a great game at a fantastic price!

The Mansky Caper! Cronies, Cash, and KaBOOM!

#ManskyMonday fell on Christmas Day and our family took the day off.  But you can learn more about The Mansky Caper and Lucky Lucy on this very special Boxing Day edition of #ManskyMonday!

Click Lucky Lucy to read the December 26 Mansky Newsletter!

Click below to meed Lucky Lucy and watch the video!

The Mansky Caper goes live on Kickstarter on January 11, 2018!  Be there!  It’ll be an offer you can resist!

Ancestree, Capital City, and ShutterBug have arrived at Warehouse. Shipments beginning!

Calliope Games is pleased to announce that Ancestree by Eric M. Lang, Capital City by James Ernest, and ShutterBug by Mike Elliott have arrived at the Calliope Games warehouse.

Shipment of these games to our Kickstarter Backers has begin, followed by shipments to stores. If you have not already pre-ordered copies, please contact your Friendly Local Game Store and place your order now.

Ancestree by Eric M. Lang.  Click on the box to see more!

Ancestree, by Eric M. Lang, finally lets you answer the age-old question: Who’s got the best family? Through clever drafting and tile placement players will create a family tree that reveals the amazing people that all lead to them. The player with the most interesting generations, riches and marriages will claim the victory, bragging rights, and be able to say, “My family IS better than your family!” For 2 – 6 players, ages 8+, under 30 minutes.Capital City by James Ernest. Click on the box to see more!

Capital City by James Ernest. Click on the box to see more!

Capital City_, by James Ernest, brings together 3-6 Western Settlers, each hoping to be the Mayor of Capital City, the newest town in the Oooooooooolllld West! As one of the founders of Capital City you are building businesses on your street, bringing new residents to the town and hiring them to work at your businesses. This will generate money and influence in Capital City. The player with the most influence at the end of the year will be elected Mayor. Time is short so get out there and build the best Old West! For 3 – 6 players, ages 8+, under 30 minutes.

ShutterBug by Mike Elliott.  Click on the box to see more!

ShutterBug, by Mike Elliott, puts you in the roll of a 1932 American Photojournalist. Tabloids are clamoring for pictures of the monsters and mythical creatures that are roaming America. You will criss-cross the country over the next eight days, gathering tips and taking photos, putting together your portfolio, and selling to the highest bidder. It’s time to load your camera and snap the myth! For 2 – 6 players, ages 8+, 30 – 50 minutes.