Like A Thief In The Night: Ninjato and Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan

15 08 2011

The kids above may not look deadly – but they only mask the secret deadliness within. Or at least I think so.

Anyway, the Japanese shinobi or shadow warrior has been the topic of many a game – however, they’re mostly video games. Thankfully someone has decided to remedy that condition. Two someones actually. That’s right, two ninja board games are coming soon and they will definitely be added to my collection. They’re Z-Man Games’ Ninjato and AEG’s Ninja: Legend of The Scorpion Clan.

These two games deal with the same subject but approach the theme differently. Ninjato, the latest offering from the designers at Crosscut Games, takes a macromanagement look at the ninja business. Each player controls a clan of ninja – your aim is to sneak, steal, and intrigue your way through the game, trying to end it with the most victory points. You do this by stealing stuff from different households in hopes of using these items to gather the support of the noble houses to declare you as master shinobi. Of course, as you steal from these houses, you both decrease their power base and encounter skilled guards. The entire thing is a very skill-based game, with minimal luck involved.

The same cand said about Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan. Based on AEG’s popular Legend of the Five Ring’s setting, it assigns players roles; one is to be the Scorpion infiltrator, the other controls the guards. The game can play up to four, though, so it adds another group of guards and another infiltrator if you want to play the full game. Each game is played on a map of a Lion clan fortress and every game give the infiltrating side a random mission to accomplish. The goal of the defending side is to capture or kill the infiltrator – while stopping them from doing their objective. Hidden movement reminiscent of Nuns on the Run is the name of the game – which is no surprise considering they share the same designer. However the added twist of strategy cards adds another layer of complication which elevates the game from the party-game simplicity of  Nuns to a more cerebral game. If you like playing Metal Gear Solid, sneaking the entire way through – well this game should be right for you.




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