Review: Ninja Dice

Ninja Dice Review

Everyone loves Ninjas, except Pirates, Pirates hate them. Also other Ninjas don’t like Ninjas that are from another Dojo. They are always trying to 1 up each other to prove that their Dojo is the best. So to determine once and for all which Dojo is the best they have arranged a contest. The Dojo that accumulates the most wealth is the winner. It’s a no holds barred contest, with Ninjas stealing from each other while they are trying to steal from wealthy houses.

Created by Rocco Privetria in 2013 Ninja Dice is an easy to learn yet fun push your luck game. It’s fairly quick and can be a lot of fun for players of all ages.

For the TL;DR version click here.

Opening the box

Specs on the box:

  • 2-5 players
  • Ages 8+
  • 30 min (less if you have fewer than 5 players)

There isn’t actually a box. The game has a rather cute little die shaped pouch, with a ninja face on it. It’s small, a little too big to fit into a pocket but it’ll fit into a small hand bag easily enough.

Ninja Dice Review
No you don’t get a car when you buy the game, I’m just using the keys for a size reference.

Inside there’s a fist full of dice a small baggie with plastic coins and a rule leaflet. I love the fact that the components are not wood or paper. That makes them highly resistant to damage. My family always takes games with when we go out to eat and once had a waiter spill a drink on our table. Luckily we were playing Ninja dice and we just rinsed off the components and continued our game.

Theme

As I’ve already mentioned the game is about different Ninja dojos each trying to prove that they are the best. So they each set their sights on random houses to attempt to steal any treasure within. While they are busy the other ninjas will run interference, trying to steal from them, and each other, or slowing them down so that they run out of time and have to abort their mission.

Ninja Dice Review
Excellent components. I wish I could get more coins to use in place of tokens in other games.

Gameplay

Simple setup, give each player 3 copper coins to start with and then place all of the dice in easy reach.

The game lasts 3 rounds. The player to the right of the active player gets to build the house that the active player my rob this turn. The black dice are used for the houses, 4 in round 1 then adding a die to the pool for each of the remaining rounds.

The black dice are rolled and the symbols on the dice will determine what’s in the building. Each die face can have multiple symbols on them which represent obstacles that require different ninja actions to overcome.

The Samurai Helmets represent guards who you need to either sneak past or fight. The symbols that look like people are residents who you can also sneak past or fight. You might be asking why 2 different obstacles that are the same. It is because they form sets. If you have multiple guards or residents then all the guards/residents have to be bypassed in the same manner you can’t fight some guards and then sneak past the rest of them.

The last symbol is a lock, locks need to be picked.

After the building is setup the active ninja rolls his Skill dice, white dice with black symbols, and all of the other players each get to roll a dice for themselves too.

A lock pick will bypass a lock. Surprise!

The shuriken are used to fight guards and residents.

The silhouette with lines running across it is actually used to represent hiding/sneaking used to bypass guards and residents without fighting them.

There’s a Ninja face which is a wild symbol that can be used to represent any of the symbols above.

Ninja Dice Review
Yes, the helmet is upside down. With these rolls there will be a fight with the guard but the resident will be safe in bed.

Now is important to note that you only have 5 Skill dice, you often have more obstacles to overcome than you have dice to roll, which is where the fortune symbol comes in. It can be paired with any other die that has landed in front of it, or those that land at least partially in front of it, to quadruple their facing!

The last face is a hand catching an arrow which is used to deflect an incoming attack. The other players each have a die to roll too, a Threat die. These have 3 different faces. An arrow which allows the person to roll it to steal 1 copper coin from any player whose die has landed in front of his die BUT anyone who rolls a catch is immune to this attack. The catch is also one of the pair of faces on the Threat dice.

The last face is an hourglass. If a threat die rolls this face it’s locked on that side and that die cannot be re-rolled. Once there are 4 hourglasses then the active player’s time is up and his turn is over.

If there are less than 4 hourglasses then the active player my chose to either abandon the house, scoring coins for each house die that he bypasses or to keep rolling. If he elects to re-roll he does not need to re-roll all of his dice. He can choose which to re-roll and he can move the remaining dice anywhere on the table, he might get lucky and have a fortune pointing to 1 of them. The other players will get to re-roll their dice too is they are any left that are not locked.

Ninja Dice Review
The fortune allows all 3 locks to be picked but the 4 threat dice end the turn!

If a player successfully bypasses all of the house dice then he gets extra coins equal to the current round, so 1, 2 or 3. Additionally there is a bonus coin for the super sneaky ninjas who can do it without being seen i.e by sneaking past all guards and residents.

At the end of 3 rounds the Dojo with the most coins is the winner!

Conclusion

Fast, fun and at times funny. It’s very good game that’s highly portable and not that rough on the wallet either. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. There’s a very high luck factor, as you would expect from a push your luck kind of game. Don’t let that fool you though it is tactical. Knowing when to withdraw and when to press your luck is key to winning.

The ability to steal from other players does help to come back from a losing position and you can get political to try to get everyone to gang up on the winner. It’s not often that the game is decided before the 3rd turn but that has been known to happen.

I really like the fact that it’s so easy to get a game going that you don’t mind when you lose because you can just have another go at it. It’s also easy to teach to children and you don’t have to worry about the components getting damaged. Even the bag, if it gets seriously messed up you can just chuck it into the wash.

Ninja Dice Review
Quite a bit of fun in a very small package.

Can I braai with this?

Very easily. This is one of those games that you can play with one hand. So you don’t have to put down your beer, or tongs 😉

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