Shadow Strike: Ninja combat Game

Game Overview: In Shadow Strike, an upcoming game that will be available on Kickstarter as of June 30th <click here>, you take control of a team of ninja's as you battle against your opponents to claim Shadow Strike Mountain as your own by being the last ninja standing.  The battles are determined based on dice rolls (that sometimes can be manipulated) and item cards that you can obtain.  The item cards include shuriken, smoke bombs, energy bars, med kits, grappling hooks, swords, and armor.  In addition you will be obtaining action cards throughout the game that will give you special abilities.  They may allow you to reroll your dice, give a ninja an extra turn, avoid a wound, remove a wound, along with many other special actions.  Be the last Ninja standing and go down in history as the best ninja fighter.

Box Contents: The preview copy that we received, includes multiple high quality items.  This includes the cardboard tokens, the smaller sized cards that represent the pouch and equipment items, the wooden meeples for each ninja, the full sized action cards with excellent (and sometimes humorous) art work, the player cards, and the two board game sections.  The quality is what you would hope and expect to see from any game.

Clarity of Rules: The rules provided to us, are hands down the best rules manual that we have seen with a Kickstarter game review/preview that we have done.  It is well thought out and every situation is covered in detail.  Every question that we had, we easily found the answer within the manual.  There are many examples of game play by using pictures and it is full color throughout the entire manual.  One unique thing we saw is that the entire game manual was capitalized. Despite this, it does not create difficulty in reading of the manual.

Game Play:  Within the game, there are six different ninja teams that you can select.  The colors you use are based on the numbers of players, with players being set up opposite of each other on the game board.  Each player uses a player mat that matches the color of their team and are given two ninja meeples.  The player mats allow you to track any level ups and the number of wounds for each ninja on your team.  Each ninja is given three items that are stored in their "pouches".  They will receive a shuriken, smoke bomb, and an energy bar.  The shuriken allows players to attack from a range of three spaces.  The smoke bomb allows the players to potentially avoid an attack, and the energy bar allows you to take extra movements or take an extra attack. Each of these must be discarded after being used.  Each players turn follows a set of actions. For the first part of the turn, players draw the top action card.  The center piece of the board is considered king of the hill.  If on a previous turn you had taken over this space, you will get an extra action card.  These cards can be very powerful and may swing the game in your favor.  The next action is that you can move your ninjas up to three spaces.  You can then choose to toss an item from one of your ninjas to another if they are within two spaces.  Up next is throwing of the ranged weapons.  You may choose to throw a shuriken if you are within three spaces.  To determine if it is a hit, you must roll a single die.  You can also use a previously purchased grappling hook, if you are within three spaces.  The grappling hook allows you to steal pouch items or equipment from another ninja, based on your die roll.  Finally, you can choose to fight an enemy if you are in an adjacent space to another ninja.  This battles is determined by both players rolling a die.  The highest roll wins.  At certain times when you are being attacked, you can choose to use a smoke bomb. Using a die result, you can attempt to evade or flee the attack.  When in a battle with your opponent, your die roll results in a miss or loss, there are multiple ways to alter the roll.  Some of the action cards allow you reroll or add a certain number to your roll.  Whenever an action card is used, it must be discarded.

Either before drawing your action card or after your final action, if you are able to, you can purchase additional pouch or equipment items.  In addition to the items noted above, you can also purchase a sword, a medical kit, or increase your shuriken and sword level.  For the shuriken level up, you can now roll 4-6 to be a hit instead of 5-6.  The sword level up allows you to roll multiple dice instead of a single die and you always have the ability reroll a singe die. All items are limited in quantity, so you need to purchase them before they are gone.  In order to purchase items, you must earn strike chips.  You will get a single one when you draw your action card,  In addition, you earn one when selecting to fight your enemy. If you wish, you can sacrifice an action card for a single strike chip. 

During battle, if a ninja is wounded, they place a single wound marker on their player board.  Once that ninja has taken three wounds, they have been defeated. If they were able to purchase a med kit, you can remove a single wound at any time. Once a player is down to a single ninja, they have new actions as a lone warrior.  Instead of the limit of one fight, they can fight twice each turn.  They can spend two strike chips to increase their die roll by one.  In addition, they get an extra action card as soon as they take possession of the king of the hill board space.  Turns continue until there is a single player remaining.

Once you have mastered the basic rules, you are ready to move to the advanced rules.  Instead of two ninjas, you are now playing with three.  The backside of the player mat allows you track all three ninjas.  There is an additional action that you may take where your ninja can disappear, stalk, and then reappear adjacent to an enemy for an attack.  You are also able to update your shuriken and sword up to a level 2 abilities.  Now you only need to roll a 3-6 for shuriken and the sword allows you to roll three dice while still rerolling a single one, if needed.  You will also see a new piece of equipment come into play.  You can now purchase sacred armor.  Power ups are also randomly selected and placed onto the board that give you different benefits to your die roll or actions being taken when you stand on that spot.

Appropriate Audience:  The suggested age is 10+ and I think that is about right.  Our 11 year old easily caught onto the game play.  You do need to read and understand the action cards.  One thing to keep in mind is that there can be some ganging up on players to prevent them from winning, which may not be best for all children.

What We Liked/Didn't Like:  The thing that I like the best is how well thought out this game is.  I normally don't bring this up as I would expect this from a major board game publisher.  Here, Pure Fun Games is small group of guys.  The art is outstanding, especially on the action cards.  Being able to choose the path your ninjas take is a major plus with the items they will carry and how they will take on their opponents.  About the only thing we don't like is that there can be some down time for players, especially if they are not drawing attention of the other players to be attacked.  Also be aware that if you don't like dice rolls, dice do play an important part in the game.  However, you do have the ability to reroll and add extra die at times.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  n/a

      * A prototype review/preview copy was provided to us.  The contents of the game or rules may change with future releases.  Our review is based upon the game that we received and also take into consideration changes that the game designer noted to us that were not present in the review/preview copy.