Theme and What is it?
*Note* Copy of the game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
The prince and princess have come of age. The King, despite his misgivings, has decided it’s time for his children to marry. However, he’s kind of a helicopter parent and has never let his children actually leave the castle. Instead, the King assembles a group of suitors and sends them out into the kingdom to prove their love. Players take on the role of one of these suitors set out to gather the things they need to prove their love by visiting the various magical creatures, tournaments, and craftsmen around the kingdom.
Touria’s primary mechanic is action selection. It’s also the game’s most unique feature. Each of the board’s corners hold one of four towers. Each tower is four sided with a different resident of the kingdom featured on each side. On a players turn they decide which of the four residents facing them they wish to visit. Once the choice is made, the party marker is moved along the roads to that person and the tower is rotated. This changes the available options for each player. It also means that players will usually have four options each turn but it is possible to have as few as two based entirely on what tower sides are facing them.
Even though it sounds like the choices are limiting, there’s actually a lot of depth to which resident you choose to visit. First off, you may only move the party marker three spaces for free, for each space past the third you must spend a gold piece; move five spaces and it will cost you two gold. Since gold is one of the things you need for victory you’re going to want to try and choose characters near where you are at the start of your turn. However, it’s possible to get extra gold and this makes the extra movement more tempting. It’s also possible you can’t use any of the closer characters.
Additionally, as you move around the map you’ll move through mines. When you pass through a mine you have to take a gem from it. Gems come in six colors, four are used to fill orders at the trader, purple lets players take an action twice, and the black ones are cursed. Usually you get to choose which gem you’ll take, unless there’s a black one available; you have to take those.
The other decision that comes from the game is when do you spend your resources? You need seven hearts and gold to be able to attempt to woo the royal heir of your choice. However, in order to get the things that you’ll have to spend some of your resources to get the others. The purchase and selling of the various resources in the game focuses your choices. You can spend gems to get gold if your get the right combinations. Gems also purchase hearts if you get enough of one color. You can get hearts from facing the dragon, but to succeed you’ll need to spend a specific color of gem as rolled on a dice. When do you collect gems? Which ones do you take? What do you do when forced to take a black one?
This all leads to the end game. Once you have enough gold and hearts and have no black gems you may return to the castle. Once there you spend the resources and choose one of nine doors in hopes of finding the siblings beyond. If you choose the right door and find the twins you may marry whichever you choose and win the game. However, if you don’t find them then you have found one of the other residents of the castle. Each member of the castle has a specific desire. If you have the thing they seek, then you pay that item and may choose another door. This process repeats until you have either found the twins or don’t have the price to pay and your turn ends. This then leads to another choice for each player. When do you return to the castle? Do you gather enough resources to pay each of the castles residents letting someone else go to the castle before you? Do you return early knowing that each door you open will make finding the twins easier for other players? These choices keep the game interesting.
I wasn’t sure what to think about this game. After reading the rules I was worried about a couple of things. I didn’t think I would like the randomness of the final choice with the doors. I was also unsure about the party marker. There is only one marker showing where all of the players are. Each player moves the piece on their turn. It felt like that would extend the length of the game since each player would have to wait to see where they were before being able to decide what they would do on their turn. I did think the towers were a neat idea and was interested to see that in action.
Game Build Quality
The pieces for the game are quite good. The player shields are sturdy and hold up well. The towers are well built and clear from across the table. The gems included for the mines are of nice quality and easily identifiable. However, there’s no real way to tell them apart for certain kinds of color blindness. Overall the production is pretty good.
The rules are well written and clear. They come in multiple languages. Player handouts were useful and worked well. I think the quality here was watched with real care.
The art here is decent. It has a fairy tale quality I liked and the use of color and shape makes everything easy to identify as you play. The towers were well set up and clear. I liked the art.
It’s not particularly aggressive since choosing your action to prevent someone else from using theirs will usually only cause you to waste a turn. It also helps that there are ways to alter the towers at the beginning of your turn.
Ultimately, this felt like a nice table game. As your turn approaches you need to pay a bit more attention but otherwise you can socialize with the other players. Decisions aren’t very difficult but you can get really focused on your turn if you want to play that way.
Age Range & Weight
The box says 10+ and I think that’s a pretty good call. Younger kids might get focused on picking the character they want to visit and not focus on what they need to do to win. There’s very little luck in the game so it mitigates that level of frustration. You can prepare for pretty much anything and as long as you pay a little attention to what you need to do then decisions are pretty easy. I’d call this a lower end of middle weight games.
I like this game. It’s fun and I enjoyed my time playing it. It has interesting decisions and I found myself continuously waffling back and forth between two good decisions. Even at that I never felt that any given decision was bad. Even the least advantageous decision had positive gains attached to it. I will admit that the first few rounds feel a little uneven and it is possible to have only one real choice in the beginning based on where you’re sitting. This is mostly due to the need for resources to complete actions. In the beginning you don’t have any gems or sword and the lack of these things will restrict what you can do. However, after a round or two you shouldn’t have that problem anymore.
Different player counts make the game interesting. Two players is quicker and more streamlined, plus there’s less change in the tower positions so you know most of your choices won’t change by the time it’s your turn again. In a four player game, the towers move more before your turn making it harder to plan but there should still be good choices.
The one sticking point I can see in this game for some people is the doors at the end. I can see where choosing the wrong door at the end can feel like you’ve wasted your turn, especially if you don’t have the necessary item to choose again. There are people this will put off. However, I ended up liking this. The balancing act that ends up coming out of this is pretty neat. Since you can gather the necessary resources to be ready to just open all of the doors and pay the price until you find the twins it’s possible to mitigate the randomness. However, it takes time to get those resources. If someone else wants to chance it they can go for the castle as soon as they meet the games end conditions and try for the right door. The odds are they won’t find it and have to give up their turn. However, every door they open makes it easier for everyone else. They can get lucky and find the twins right off but they’re taking a chance that they’ll lose their turn.
In the end I think Touria is a good time. If you get a chance to give it a try please do. I think most people will enjoy it.