Preview: Tao Long

A circular abstract-like game in which both dragons are bound together, for each action taken leaves different options for your foe.

I like the Title of the game Tao Long, and then the sub description of it being a circular abstract game. A circle is not abstract… it’s a circle for gosh sakes. That’s like saying a square is a far out whacky shape that they didn’t use to map the boundaries of Colorado (edit: for those outside of the US, Colorado is a perfect rectangle, not a square) It’s like I said when I was 10, it’s that’s a TOYota, how big is a real Ota? (edit: he really said that at 10, no idea why he keeps repeating it) Sometimes the things that designers love about their games, have no impact on the enjoyment of understanding of the game. I’m making a big deal out of a simple tag line because there really isn’t much else to complain about. (edit: and he gets paid by the word. btw HA HA HA HA HA HA is not 6 words)

Tao Long is not a complicated game that will involve dozens of players but what it is, is an elegant game that keeps to the theme. Around the ranch we love games that dive into the deep end of the pool for their theme and Tao Long does that. Let’s take a closer look at the game components:

Board, it’s beautiful

Portal tiles: they’re beautiful

Cardboard Dragon tiles, they’re beautiful

Distance ruler, it’s beautiful

Cardboard rocks… they’re just rocks, but they’re beautiful

Element stones… they’re just red and blue… but they fit so well with the rest of the parts, they’re beautiful.

I could go on and say the same ting about every component, including the box, but you get the idea.

At a look at the box, it’s beautiful! If you pull this game out and someone at the table doesn’t say something like: “Oh wow”, just get up and leave, you need better friends. You’ll always be held back by the opinions of these negative people. (edit: true, but…) Maybe not negative, but they don’t appreciate game art, that’s for sure. This game will be pretty to play every time you play, first to many times. This game will stop the folks at Starbucks and say something like: “Wow, did you get that here?”, gawd.

Tao Long rules! Actually, I mean, the rules for Tao Long are available on the champaign website, and of course, the layout is beautiful.  Reading the book there are a number of things that become clear:  the board provided is split into two sections, the Human part and the Ba-Gua.  The black and white (edit: they look grey) wood stones are tied to the two dragons.  The arrangement of the stones on the Ba-Gua part of the board give your opponent different play options.  And of course, he’ll do the same for you. This is all to move the dragons around on the main board showing dominance over the other dragon.

Confused yet? Well, it’s a circular abstract game… so don’t expect to get it all the first time, but it will all come back around again. Each player controls a Dragon, the black or white. In the theme’s story, only one dragon can control the fate of the human world. While you’re moving stones to give your dragon dominance, the other’s control is diminished. And on their turn, they’re doing the same to you.

Abstract games require abstract descriptions…

There are a number of reward levels which gives you some great options for playing the same game.  Around the ranch here we LOVE playmats vs. any kind of hard cardboard board, even for games that don’t have a board at all. (edit: so true) If you back the Deluxe version, a playmat is included. There us yet another higher version, the Golden Bundle,that includes the 4-player expansion and a few other goodies. Changing the game to include another 2 people is huge and well worth the add-on price.  If you pick the retail or deluxe version you can always add the 4-player option if that’s the only extra that you want. But go for the… Gold!

There are some great stretch goals too. What we love about a well balanced stretch goal list is that they cover both game play changes, as well as improvements to the basic components And this list, is perfect.  While no one will say the game plays better because of a special insert, it LOOKS better and as I said earlier, the game is beautiful and this just adds to it.

The list includes new components as well as improvements to existing pieces, such as thicker wood pieces and a linen finish to the playmat. What we don’t like is that we don’t know ALL of the stretch goals. As of this writing there are 20 days left, plenty of time for you to grab that Golden Bundle.

How can you say no to all of this? You really shouldn’t… what you should do is to do what we have done and back this game!

You can go right to the campaign by clicking the link below.