Wil Wheaton's TableTop, soon to start its 3rd season on YouTube, is one of my sources of awesome games (and one of my sources of lazy Sunday morning entertainment). Manhy of the games I've played with my family and friends have come from either that channel or my good friend Greg (one of our contributors on Gamer Dad).
It was TableTop in which I discovered this morning's game: Tsuro: the Game of the Path.
Tsuro is an impressively elegant game that is easy enough for my 6-year-olds to learn and even be competitive. The premise is simple: each player controls a little dragon. Starting from the edges of the board, each player in turn simply places tiles and moves their dragon along the path the tile creates. The more tiles that are placed as the game goes along, the longer each meandering path takes. The goal is simple: through strategic placement of tiles, force your opponents' dragons off the edge of the board and be the last dragon standing.
Beware! The longer the paths get, the more and more likely it is for you to have no other choice but to move your own piece off the board! Being too clever by half is certainly a pitfall for players.
This is a wonderful family game. One game takes maybe 20 minutes to play, and the twins stayed engaged because they could participate directly (rather than "help mom and dad") and enjoyed the challenge of making winding paths and moving their pieces along (and ours if we were unlucky enough to be on a tile that their new tile touched). In one sitting, all 5 of us played twice and 3 of us played a third time, all in less than an hour.
The game is built for 2-8 players, which is perfect for our family of 5. Though the box says it is rated for ages 8+, again, the twins (at 6) were not only heavily engaged, but Jacob won the first game!
As an aside, I love the artwork for this game. The simple, elegant lines of the cards and even the script suggest the swooping, graceful paths of flight of birds of prey, and the drawings and colors are rich and vivid. The game is as much a pleasure to look at as it is to play.
Simple, fast enough for short attention spans, and strategic enough to be puzzling and interesting, I highly recommend Tsuro.