Combat To Go: Battle With Cards And Dice In Tiny NinjasMarch 12, 2019
As a sensei leading your ninja warriors into head-to-head combat with an opposing sensei, you’ll match wits over the types of ninjas you fight with, how many to send into the fray, and when to use your special sensei abilities to change the course of battle. Will you emerge victorious in this fast-paced card-and-dice game?
In Tiny Ninjas each player receives five random cards from the dojo deck. You’ll select a sensei with special abilities, from attack modifiers to healing powers, that you can use three times in a game. Set your health meter to 10 and let’s get ready to rummmbbblllleee!
On your turn as the attacker, play one ninja card faceup and determine if any damage has been dealt. Depending on the type of ninja, you may do either red or blue damage (both subtract health from your opponent). However, the damage may be a fixed value or you may have to roll either the shuriken or kunai dice to determine the amount of damage caused.
The defender may now choose to defend the attack by playing a card. If it matches the color of the attack, then it will have a value for the damage it defends against. The defender may also choose to just take the damage and save cards in their hand.
The attacker then decides on whether to continue playing ninja cards to attack. When they decide to end the round, they become the defender and their opponent is now the attacker.
And here’s the big twist in Tiny Ninjas: when you go from defender to attacker, you draw back up to the hand limit of five cards, but your opponent (the former attacker) does NOT draw any cards! They’re stuck with whatever was left in their hand after their attack. If they survive your attack then they’ll be able to draw back up to five cards.
The game continues until one player loses all of their health.
Tiny Ninjas is a terrific hand-management game that plays quickly and you’ll often hear “I want a rematch!” at the end of a match. The artwork and components are top-notch, from the colorful and cute art to the chunky dice and the collapsible dice tray built into the box. I love the fact that you can literally play the game inside the box, which is about the size of a paperback book: simply attach the walls of the dice tray and draw five cards each. As you play each card, it can go right back in the box!
It’s easy to learn yet offers plenty of interesting decisions during its short playing time, thanks to the brilliant decision to allow only the defender to draw back up to five cards. Instead of the typical card combat game of trying to figure out how cards combo off each other, it’s more of a push-your-luck element to the fighting. Do you try to finish off your enemy by playing all of your cards in a round, leaving you with no cards to defend against their attack? Or do you go for the win, hoping the dice give you the damage you need to conquer your opponent? It’s a fun balancing act that takes no longer than 15 minutes to resolve.
I love tiny games and I cannot lie: they’re cheaper, take up less shelf space, and are easier to transport than their bigger brethren. Along with Oink Games’ Deep Sea Adventure and Gamelyn Games’ Tiny Epic Galaxies, Tiny Ninjas is the latest small-box game that provides a big-box gaming experience.