Games of the Ninja 2008
Why honor these dark warriors with a Games of the Ninja feature?
You say you prefer pirates? Bah! The drunken fools won't even know what
hit them when the ancestral clans of silent warriors come for them. You
can't throw an anchor in a fight, and smoke bombs are far more portable
than cannons. It's just more practical to be a ninja - you don't even
need a boat.
Read on, and learn of a select group of games for the ninja enthusiast.
The game that best displays the ways of the ninja will slowly be
revealed. But don't blink, or you'll miss it - those ninja sure are
slippery little buggers, and they're more likely to gouge out the public
eye than remain in it for long.
Okko: Era of the Asagiri
Hazgaard Editions/Asmodee, $34.99
Based on the comic of the same name, Okko brings the furious
combat of the storyline to tabletop gaming. Set in the feudal
Japan-styled Empire of Pajan, players assume the roles of either Okko
the ronin and his demonhunter companions, or evil Oni and other
mercenaries. This two-player skirmish miniatures game allows for some
team recruitment and equipment options on each side, which increases
replay value. In addition, Okko has several missions to play
through on six double-sided map tiles of traditional family homes,
shrines, and gardens. To top things off, prepainted miniatures are
available to replace the full-color chipboard standup figures. Yes,
since Okko revolves around the adventures of a ronin samurai, it
isn't really a ninja themed game - but there's a couple of ninja figures
in it. And a ninja would sure enjoy trying to kill the samurai.
Cash 'n' Guns: Yakuza
One of the best party games to hit game store shelves in the past few
years was Cash 'n' Guns, which gave players foam guns to point at
each other. The obvious way to expand on this is with more weaponry,
right? Repos and Asmodee agreed, and brought us Cash 'n' Guns:
Yakuza. Once again, weapons are brandished by all players, though
the selection now includes three Shuriken (which must be thrown at their
targets), three Tanto swords (which can only reach a player next to the
wielder), and a Shotgun (which can hit two players at once). Often a
hilarious game, Cash 'n' Guns: Yakuza offers variant rules,
special ability cards for yakuza characters, and the grim satisfaction
of knowing you'll have to eliminate your rivals to get the cash. Sure,
this isn't strictly a ninja game, but when else are you encouraged to
throw shuriken and hold swords at your friends' throats?
Ninja versus Ninja
Out of the Box Publishing, $24.99
This straightforward two-player strategy game is simple to learn, and
can played in under 20 minutes, making it a perfect warm-up before a
night of other games. But putting this game aside will be hard - the
cute, hand-painted figures of ninjas and their masters will lure in the
unwary gamer. Each player assumes control of either the red dojo or
black dojo, and tries to score points by making quick incursions into
the opposing dojo's territory. Ninjas score more points for surviving
deeper incursions, but each risks being killed by having an opposing ninja
land on him. If these ninja students fail to return to their home dojo
within three turns, they die - by seppuku, presumably, to avoid capture
and all that. The first dojo to reach seven points, or wipe out the
other side, wins the game. As a bonus, this addictive,
deceptively-simple game provides a pair of the coolest dice ever,
permanently impaled on ninja swords to insure proper balance. By far,
this game has the highest concentration of ninja goodness this year, and
should appeal to strategy gamers and casual players alike.
Those are the ninja sightings the Cave dwellers have chosen for this
year. If we're lucky, perhaps we'll live long enough to report more
sightings next year. Wait, our names are on the site, aren't they? Oh...