Tag Archives: tsuro phoenix rising

Gamers Engaged With Food Lifeline

On Sunday August 9th, 2020, Calliope Games is participating in an incredible event with Gamers Engaged, the giving arm of Card Kingdom and Mox Boarding House, where we will be streaming and playing games from 10am-10pm PST to raise money for Food Lifeline.

Food Lifeline provides the equivalent of 134,000 meals every day, and every dollar we raise provides 5 meals. Our team goal was to raise $1,000, and thanks to your generosity we have already smashed that goal!! Along with an incredible donation was a challenge: “$1000 as a goal is too low. Aim high! We love each other!” So we’ve DOUBLED our goal! Now we want to raise $2,000, or 10,000 meals for Food Lifeline.

All throughout the day we will be playing your favorite Calliope games in a multitude of ways; from Zoom calls to good ol’ fashioned round-the-table gameplay. We are also thrilled to announce that Ruel Gaviola (whom you may remember from the Accommodations for Colorblind Players article) will be playing ShipShape with his family as our special guest. There also may be a super secret playthrough of an upcoming Calliope game that hasn’t even hit Kickstarter yet! If you want to know when it’s live, make sure you’re following us on social media, or sign up for the Kickstarter Preview newsletter in our sidebar –>

And just to sweeten the pot, every person who follows us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), signs up for that Kickstarter newsletter, or donates, is entered in a raffle to win some con-exclusive Calliope swag! We want to give our thanks to you all for joining us for this incredible event. We literally cannot do it without you.

We hope you’ll join us on Sunday, and that you’ll watch, comment, share, enjoy, and if your wallets can afford it, that you give back and make a donation. Remember, $1 provides 5 meals, so truly every little bit helps.

Stay Safe. Stay Kind. Play Games.

-Team Calliope

Making Board Games Accessible for Color Blind Players

It is estimated that over 300 million people worldwide live with some form of color blindness. There are various forms, from the most common deuteranomaly and protanomaly (commonly known as red-green color blindness) to tritanomaly, which makes blue shades less distinguishable. As we all are aware, color makes up a huge part of board game mechanics. If we want color blind players to enjoy playing games, it’s up to designers and publishers to make sure they are accessible.

I had a chat with Ruel Gaviola about his personal experiences playing board games while color blind, and it was a truly lovely and enlightening conversation. I thought my experience working colorblind accommodations into my classroom gave me a pretty strong foundation, which it did, but there is nothing quite like personal experience, and I was once again reminded of just how important it is to seek out that expertise.

We didn’t just talk about accommodations both common and uncommon, but also about favorite games, favorite gaming moments, and games that surprised him by being a lot more accessible than expected. Here are some fundamental insights:

Some basic accommodations that most games already use:

-Match each color with a symbol

This one is pretty straightforward: if you divide something by color, each color will have a corresponding symbol. As this is arguably the most popular accommodation, you can see this in tons of games, including Ticket to RideLanterns, and Calliope games such as Everyone Loves a Parade and Ancestree. For games light on theming, or games that incorporate this accommodation directly into their game mechanics, it’s barely noticeable for those who don’t need it, but highly appreciated by those who do. It is a simple but highly beneficial adjustment that ensures no matter how similar your colors are, all players will be able to tell the difference between sets. 

-Make the meeples/pieces different shapes

Similar to the color/symbol accommodation, if you have physical components that are different colors and need to be distinguishable, make them different shapes! You can see this in Tsuro Phoenix Rising with the three lantern colors: each color has a different design both in the drawings and the pieces that go on the board. The Mansky Caper has player standees that have distinct artwork and strike different poses, allowing players to locate their piece with more ease than colored pawns of the same shape.

-Don’t require color distinction in the first place 

This of course won’t work with every game out there, but for certain types of games, particularly party or word-heavy games like Hive Mind, or games that don’t require color grouping/distinguishing like Double Double Dominoes, the easiest accommodation is to make it so one simply isn’t necessary! For ShipShape, the different pieces you can collect (contraband, cannons, treasure) all have different symbols to indicate them, and while they are different colors, that’s simply because cannons are black, treasure is gold etc. You’re not trying to collect a certain amount of red cannons versus green cannons. 

These considerations carry a bonus: they are useful not just for players who are colorblind, but also for players of varying ages, language skills, and learning styles. Everyone benefits from having multiple methods of component distinction. For instance, I play games with my partner all the time, and we are VERY different players. He is a visual learner and immediately looks for pictures and symbols, while I read quickly so I look for words. We both do well with Spymaster because each type of card (Surveillance, Blueprint, Espionage, Dossier) have a corresponding color and symbol (which work for him), and the full card type written on them (which works for me). So what is an effective accommodation for colorblind players is actually a successful type of accommodation for multiple types of players. As game designers and creators, we want to make sure we have the highest amount of accessibility possible. There’s no downside to making these changes.

During my chat with Ruel, he gave three recommendations that were succinct and measurable:

1. Start Early. 

If you’re designing a new board game, it is 1000 times easier to work colorblind adjustments into the design than it is to put them in later. This is especially important when it comes to theming: if you know your game’s theme is going to result in a lot of similar colors, then you’re already aware you will need to do something to incorporate symbols or shapes to help distinguish those colors, and you can make those shapes theme-appropriate as well. 

2. Get Playtesters who are Colorblind.

Even if you’ve worked colorblind considerations into your game, sometimes you miss something, especially if you are not personally colorblind, or have only thought about one specific type of colorblindness. There are apps, websites, and lenses you can use to simulate it, but at the end of the day the people with the most experience are the people who live their lives this way. 

3. Think of it as a Challenge.

This was my favorite piece of advice Ruel had. He told me a story about chatting with a game designer friend of his and saying he basically dared him to put as much colorblind inclusion into the game as possible. Extra points if they feel truly integrated. He said the friend leapt at the challenge. It’s such a great idea! Designers love puzzles, and they love making their minds work! When he told me that, my heart swelled. What a smart idea.

There’s a lot of work to be done as a game designer. But thinking of creating colorblind accessibility as just another task to check off, same as “how does a play win?” and “how do different player numbers affect gameplay?” means that it’s not an extra task. It’s not something to be thought of as, “great if we get to it but if we don’t, that’s fine”. It’s important that we consider accessibility as something vital to gameplay. In order for everyone to feel welcome at the table, we must make everyone feel comfortable at the table.


Ruel Gaviola is a writer, podcaster, live streamer, and voiceover narrator for all things board game related. His name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. You can check out his blog and his board game geek profile.

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.