Review – Shinobi: War of the Clans from RightGames
Design and Art – Danila Goryunov
Rightgames provided a copy of this game
I guess you could say that card games were”in” for me at Essen this year. There were lots of choices, that’s for sure. I came across this game when I was at the RightGames stand and they were kind enough to let me have a copy to play and review for you all.
I tend to like games with a Japanese theme and the box art caught my eye.
Shinobi: War of the Clans iis a game for 3-5 players age 12+. What’s it about? Read this intro from the rules –
In the tactical game “Shinobi” players will take on the role of secret agents of the most powerful clans of feudal Japan. Each of the five clans is struggling for domination of the country, wishing to unite Japan under his banner. But even the most numerous and heavily armed force can be rendered useless if it receives fake orders, gets ambushed by the enemy while on march and if it loses its commander. You can influence any of the five clans but who the player serves will be a mystery till the end of the game. Players will need to be cunning and plan ahead to bring their clans to victory.
So its a game of conflict between opposing clans but not quite as simple as I expected it to be…
I found the art to be top notch. Very impressive. The cards are very colourful and come with very nice depictions of ancient Japanese warriors. As you can see, the cards are grouped by colour. The cards are sturdy and of a good quality.
The object of the game is to have the most of your clan cards surviving across any or all of the provinces.
At the start, the players randomly choose a clan card and the identity of the clans are kept secret until the end of the game. Each player then randomly draws 4 cards as their starting hand. The table area in front of each player is their own province where cards are played.
During his turn a player gives 3 orders to the clans’ troops:
The First order is the troop deployment order. Choose any clan card from your hand and place it face up on any province except your own.
The Second order allows a player to play a card in his province OR move a troop from another province.
The Third order is the attack order. A player must attack if he can. You can give the order to attack only to troops deployed in your province. You can attack armies in other provinces. You can only attack weaker armies that have less cards than you play against them. This gets harder if you allow players to build armies so the attack order is critical. Trouble is, the luck of the draw doesn’t always allow you to build up your attack strength.
You see, the thing is that you may be playing cards of your clan or other players’ clans to bluff your opponents and keep them guessing as to which is your clan. you need to consider where and how you will place cards and attack at the right time. Subtlety is the key I think. If you are too obvious, you may give things away and the other players will guess which clan is yours and hammer you.
There are 3 Ninja cards in the deck. A player may play a ninja instead of his first order. He chooses any stack in an opponent’s province and discards a card from there and his ninja card.
Once there are no more cards in the deck players take a final turn. The game is then over and players reveal their secret cards. Clan cards are summed up and the the player with the most cards in all the provinces wins.
Did I like it?
I really had fun with this game. The secrecy aspect really made Shinobi: War of the Clans stand out for me. Because of the secrecy, the card play, which could have been fairly mundane, becomes very tricky as it becomes a game of bluff and counter bluff, attack and counter attack, as the players strive to cleverly place their cards, all the while hoping to have as many of their own cards as possible survive to the end. Its so much more than a game of smacking each other. You really need to try and be thoughtful and clever. I generally don’t like “thinky” games but I can’t help but like Shinobi: War of the Clans because it has just enough “thinkyness” for me.
It is really touch and go until the very end. You are not quite sure whether your card play will get you through as everyone is essentially trying to outwit each other. Very clever game and a load of fun.I can’t see any 2 games being the same and I expect lots of replays. This could be the best game produced by RightGames so far.
A good game for new players and experienced gamers alike. If you like bluffing and clever card play, this could be a good game to pick up.
For more information go to – http://www.russianboardgames.com/