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If you walk into the middle of a game of Toru, you'd be forgiven for thinking something a bit odd was going on. You may consider you are witnessing some sort of witchcraft, the formation of a new sect, some wacky initiation ritual, or that everyone in the room is completely intoxicated and/or insane. You'll probably watch the people in front of you (clustered around a batch of colourful dragon figurines) all chanting toooor-u, toooor-u, toooor-u, and wonder what on earth is going on. No need to worry though, it's just a game - albeit a slightly unconventional one!
Toru is a Parker/Hasbro game for 3 - 5 people aged 8 and above. It's hard to miss in it's large black box with lots of colourful photographs on the front and sides of people looking happy/aggressive as they try to grab a dragon. You see, that's what the game is all about - grabbing those dragons. First of all though, the chanting must begin!
Setup: At the beginning of the game each player is given a coin rack and chooses 7 face down coins, which they can then look at once on their rack. The dragon statues are put in the middle of the circle, and every player must also choose a "dragon token", the colour of which must be kept secret from all other players.
Passing and Chanting: The first aim of the game is to collect a full house of coins (4 of one suit and 3 of another - the suits are different animals). In rhythm to the Toru chant, players pass a coin to the left and receive one from the right. Much hilarity and confusion usually ensues, as people go faster or slower that others, drop their coins and go the wrong way, until everyones gets the hang of it. The chanting and passing continues until someone gets a full house on their coin rack.
The dragon grab: At this point, that person can reach for a dragon. The only problem is, so can everyone else. A mad scramble ensues as everyone tries to get their hands on a statue.
Scoring: Getting one that's the same colour as your dragon token will net more points, but any colour is better than none. Each players score is kept on the slider at the bottom of their coin rack, and the game is repeated until one player reaches 10. This player is the winner of the overall game.
From the hippy chanting, to the dragon grab, Toru is one wierd game, but it's also extremely fun. Keeping an eye on the dragons as you pass coins makes you instantly suspicious of your neighbours. You must be ready to strike at any second. When someone does go for the grab, the mood instantly turns aggressive. It's kill or be killed and only the boldest will win. We have a rule when we play that all rings must be removed and all nails short and filed. It's easy to sustain injuries in Toru. If two people grab a dragon at the same time a battle of strength ensues, to see who can tug if from the others hands. Should you be silly enough to fall for the "fake grab" (someone can initiate a fake grab at any time during the game), you will not only feel the pain of losing points, but also the derision of your so called friends. The joy of getting one over on someone else should not be underestimated. As the box says "unleash the dragon in you".
This game is really good fun and a great laugh for a group of people to play. Toru can be made more complicated by the introduction of extreme scoring, something I would absolutely recommend doing, as it adds a higher element of risk. It's just a shame that more players can't join in the Toru fun.
Toru is a fast thinking and even faster moving family game. Collect your coins and be the first to grab the Dragon poles to win!