Ninjitsu! Board Game Review

Game: Ninjitsu!
Publisher: Jellybean Games
Designers: Peter C Hayward
Illustrator: Kelly Jo
Board Game Types: Party Game & Combat Game

Players: 2-5
Duration: 5-10 minutes
Recommended Age: 6+
Our Recommended Age: 7-8+
Time to Learn: 5-10 minutes

Sneaky is the name of the game here. Or you could just attack the crap out of your friends.

Sneaky is the name of the game here. Or you could just attack the crap out of your friends.

Ninjitsu! Board Game Review

Soon to hit a Kickstarter near you, Ninjitsu! is a fast-paced, chaotic card game for 2-5 players looking for mischief and sneakery. The game moves quickly and control spirals back and forth through the course of the game, making it feel like a train getting ready to fly off the rails. If your game nights get stuffy like a 70's prog rock band on occasion, pull out Ninjitsu! for an aggressive, fun and addictive punk rock experience. The Ramones would love this game.

Gameplay

You'll be the attacker and the attacked in this game, sometimes within the span of 30 seconds. Try not to take it personally.

You'll be the attacker and the attacked in this game, sometimes within the span of 30 seconds. Try not to take it personally.

I could get into the nuts and bolts of the rules, but somehow that feels contrary to the spirit of this card game ball of chaos. Let's just say that you split your time in this game between concealing your own hidden treasures, stealing treasures from other players and doing everything you possibly can to sabotage them and make their lives miserable. A few seconds later, they'll do the same to you.

You'd curse your opponent, but you know that you'll have a chance for revenge in about 30 seconds. Of course, then they'll do the same to you. And then you'll reciprocate. Vengeance comes with high frequency in this game.

Verdict

Ninjitsu! is an enormously promising game, dealing out levels of chaos that would make The Joker proud. The art style is equal parts cute and ferocious and it's fast-paced style makes it a great appetizer game ahead of a more serious tabletop experience. It's kind of like a classic SNES game like Super Bomberman combined with slap jack, topped off with a shot of espresso.

Gateway Game Score (what's this?) - 8/10
Overall Rating - 8/10

Pros

  • Chaotic, fast-paced and surprisingly lighthearted for such a bloodthirsty game
  • The perfect length for an appetizer game
  • Fun art. Who would have thought aggressive watercolor could be a thing?
  • Great for kids who don't mind losing. They'll be right back to stomp you, anyway

Cons

  • I liked this more than some in our game group. Fortunately, they're delusional and don't know what they're talking about
  • Right now, it's strictly a card game. Adding a board with some "loot" tokens could really push this over the top

Board Game Review by The Happy Strategerist, who is eyeing you suspiciously, mulling over whether he should steal your loot or pull out his katana and just destroy it for fun.

We'd normally ask you what you think here, but this hasn't hit Kickstarter yet and we've reviewed the prototype, so we know you haven't played it. Sucks to be you. Let us know how bummed you are in the comments below.