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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 70-90 minutes 3-4

Designer(s): Martin Wallace

Manufacturer(s): Kosmos

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Product Description

In the eastern Mediterranean area, in the ancient city of Tyros, lies the origin of the Phoenician people, who lived 4000 years ago. In the course of their history the Phoenicians founded trade colonies in North Africa, Sardinia, Sicily and Spain. Following in the footsteps of these people, the players explore the seacoasts with their ships. They establish trading posts and develop these into cities in order to be able to open new trading routes from there. In order to build and sail their ships and to establish cities, there are certain goods required. Whoever trades most skillfully and places trading posts in the best locations, will be the worthy successor of the Phoenicians.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Martin Wallace

  • Manufacturer(s): Kosmos

  • Year: 2002

  • Players: 3 - 4

  • Time: 70 - 90 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 714 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. An English translation of the rules is provided.

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.5 in 2 reviews

Fun with Mobile Phoenicians
May 27, 2002

This is a neat little game.

The Mediterranean is the home for several growing empires, but the players are in the postion of trading with them, not running them. Starting at Tyre, on the right hand side of the board, the players build galleys, sail them across the map, and found cities where they have gained, um, naval supremacy. There is no combat in this game, but there is a similar effect where players shadow each other's galleys to prevent them founding cities. No more than two galleys can share the same undeveloped space, so if you can get two of your own galleys into position you have staked an unstoppable claim to that site. Galleys are built in Tyre, but once you have built a city you can build more galleys there, proabably costing less to build and in a more central position than Tyre

All this activity is restricted by the availability of cards. You have to play cards of the corresopding empire to sail to that empire, found cities there or build ships there. The players take it in turns to perform an action, spending or trading cards, or pass, and if all the players pass in succession the round ends and a new hand is dealt. There is a limited ability to hold cards between rounds, but for the most part you use or lose what you have.

At the game start, faced with long voyages to reach the infant empires, you are likely to find some of your cards are useless, but by the middle game there is almost always ~something~ useful to do with all of them.

While its possible to trade cards with other players or from the draw pile (which rapidly becomes exhausted each round), in practice it this doesn't happen much. You might be able to tweak the hand you were dealt, but you won't be able to change it significantly.

The players control the growth of empires by placing terrain tiles. When the map fills up, the game is over. Victory points are gained for each city you found, with cities in bigger empires scoring more. Failing that, naval control scores fewer points. This comes down to building lots of ships, getting them to the right places and gathering enough cards of the right empires. Tricky.

A light game with real meat
January 22, 2003

It took quite a while, but Martin Wallace has finally got himself noticed by German game publishers, first with Volldampf and now Tyros. He's mostly known for producing quite heavy games, such as Libert and Der Weisse Lotus, as well as umpteen rail games. In contrast, Tyros is one of the lighter games in his repertoire, but it is by no means fluff. But interestingly (and I think undeservedly), this light-heavy game generated barely a blip on gaming radar when it was released in 2002.

The game is one of Kosmos' new half-box 'Spiele fr Viele' series, all games which pack quite a bit into a reasonably small space. Tyros manages to squeeze in a four-fold board, depicting the Mediterranean, as well as a deck of cards and various sundry player pieces including very cute plastic galley ships.

The theme of this game is that of the Phoenician diaspora about 3000 years ago, from the city of Tyre across the entire Mediterranean. The Phoenicians were regarded as the premier seafaring race of the time, and this is borne out in this game. While you are building cities across the board, you are reaching these cities by sea, using ships that you have built. (Actually, the theme makes more sense if you think of the cities as trading posts instead.) Having cities (and to a lesser extent, ships) is how you earn victory points, and thus what you need to do to win the game.

There are four neutral empires (colours) on the board, which begin in four rectangular grid spaces (into which the map is divided) and grow as the game progresses. These empires have matching cards, and it is from this deck of cards that players get their action points. You spend cards to perform actions, and usually the cards' type must match the empire you're working with.

With cards you can build extra galleys, move galleys to grid spaces and build cities in grid spaces. But these require sets of cards, all of which are the same colour. Thus there is a need to trade, which fits in well with the whole Phoenician theme. You can trade cards with other players or the bank. Of course, the trouble with trading cards is that it takes a turn, so you might find that the thing you were saving up for gets taken before you were ready. It's a clever mechanism that introduces tension and increases player interaction.

The four-empire division also introduces a wrinkle in scoring. Not only is the first city built in each of the empires given bonus points, but there's more points to be had for owning more cities in an empire than anyone else. This element of competition balances against an equally-necessary element of cooperation: the larger empires garner more points, so two players who both have a stake in an empire will both want that empire to grow at the expense of smaller empires. The end result is that it's very difficult to be certain who is ahead at any point.

When the empires have occupied all of the Mediterranean, the game ends, and players score for spaces they control: more for cities, less for galleys. Usually the eventual winner is something of a surprise.

While there's no brand-new machanism in this game that stands out, all of the systems in Tyros work well together: the set-collecting aspect makes for a degree of cooperation between players as they trade cards; the empire-growing system allows players to have a small amount of control over how the map develops; the occasional need to block another player surfaces, but the game never gets vindictive.

Tyros is a polished game that feels like part Acquire, part Andromeda. It certainly deserves more attention than it got when it was first released.

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