Ninja tasks get different – murder, exploration, kidnapping. But they all are pursuing the same objective, to gain power for their own clan above the others. It is like a family for this warrior of darkness. And he will be fighting for his family to the last breath. He would die for the family.
All of those tasks and more are awaiting players, who pick up box with new card game called Shinobi Clans. Its author is Jürgen Mayer and it was created under auspices of Posthuman Studios. Unique illustrations are adorned work of Nen.
Box was probably originally white, but someone got a katana and then it happened. And so, the whole lid is covered with splashes of blood and illustrations of one character, who is to blame. You should wipe the box thoroughly and after opening, cardboard components will peek back at you – contract tokens and gold. But main compartment offer visitors cards. There are goals, rewards (five), but mainly combat card (87 pieces).
Cards are differentiated by type in their upper left corner, but also show combat power in the lower corners – concrete values depend on whether it is a guardian card or does it belong to the side of the assassins. But all cards may also include additional icons, that allow attacking or interfering.
Each player gets contract tokens of one color for the beginning, showing five goals, whether its murder or something else. In the middle of the table is space to put shuffled martial deck, that includes not only killers and defenders, but also weapons or events. Cards of goals and rewards are laid aside. Game is now ready for launch.
Individual rounds (there are three) start by determining targets. Players shuffled deck of five cards, randomly pulled out a set of three (or four in a five-player game) characters and set them out on the table. Each target is also accompanied by one reward card. Now is the time for every present ninja to receive resources. Therefore, everyone gets first set of cards. But from larger menu, everyone can only keep one card and send rest to his opponent on the left. Players perform draft, keeping one card and passing others along until all cards have their owner. Now, they can finally keep these cards.
Based on the goals and their cards, each participant then chooses two of his contract tokens and puts them face down in front of him. After that, its right time to play cards. Most of these will be attached by players directly to their chosen targets, but with their value down (including weapons). Exceptions are events, that are immediately evaluated. Players do this until they have played all the cards or passed.
One after the other, targets are then evaluated from perspective of both sides. Players initially reveal their selected contracts for the character. Individual cards are divided into sides – offensive on the right and defenders on the left. Gradually, players use effects of cards, add up their values and compare them. If killers have gained more power, target is killed. Players with this task will then receive a reward in the form of gold coins (possibly splitting it) depending on the task, amount determined on the token can vary due to the ability of meddlers assigned to this position.
At the end of the round, players can keep rest of uplayed cards. Battle for targets continues to the next round. After third round, it all ends. Players have to find out, who is the richest. This one is the winner.
Shinobi Clans is a murderous entertainment, which in the first stage reigns combination of chance and draft mechanic. Only their combination determines, what chance will the player have in that round. He needs to get lucky, but he also usually has a choice of more than ten cards and can strategize and keep some for subsequent rounds.
Here at last, we start to smell a hint of options for tactics. Attaching cards, while secretly, allows you to play more or less safe. Moreover, their choice of assignment will influence, how difficult their task will be. But despite all this, whole game is very random and without a sense of greater control.
Unfortunately, due to frequent evaluation, the entire course of the game feels slows. The game could definitely be much more dynamic. It becomes better in higher numbers, while three have not enough contact with each other. But at the same time, time needed to evaluate it all also rises.
Greatest asset of the whole box is its physical content. Cards have beautiful illustrations on them. These are reason, why you will consier keeping this game despite its mediocrity. However, eventually it is not the deciding element, because you can’t see pictures inside a box on a shelf. And it will simply not be coming back to table, because there is nothing much of interest are there are much better games to choose from.
Shinobi Clans is a game full of secret informations. Virtually no cards except targets are public during playing and it is here, where the main attraction should get a grip on you. Unfortunately, complete randomness and length of the game are pulling back the whole impression.
+ lots of secret information
+ both players can attack and defend
+ great illustrations
- luck, whereever you look
- lengthy rounds and total playing time