Tabletop Tuesday: ‘Ninja Camp’
We’ve already played and fallen in love with two games from Action Phase Games – Heroes Wanted and Scoundrel Society. This week we’re jumping into the second entry in their series of ‘Small Box, Big Fun’ games: Ninja Camp.
This is a bright and colourful game whose family friendly design belies the diabolical challenge of this game. Everyone gets a ‘ninja clan’ that they will play as, each one a different animal. Amusingly enough they’ve gone with animals types not usually associated with martial arts, leading to the clans of flying squirrels, polar bears, puppies, platypuses and more. You also have a little team of ‘Ninjeeples’, awesome little Meeples in a range of wicked kung-fu moves. The rest of the game is made up of cards, each one featuring a particular ninja move.
During the rest of the set up the cards are laid out in a grid in the middle of the table and players take turns to place three of their Ninjeeples on the grid. You also begin with two basic moves – Evade and Sprint. On your turn, you select one of the cards and play it, then apply the action to one of the Ninjeeples. For example, Sprint moves a Ninjeeple in a straight line until they reach the edge of the grid or another obstacle. The turn ends by picking up the card your Ninjeeple moved off, adding it to your hand.
Each card will give you a new action to select for your next turn and comes with a point value with the higher points going to the less useful or more difficult to accomplish moves. Stealth, for example, allows a range of moves and gives you the ability to pick up two actions, but has zero points attached. The grid also features traps, which removes points and walls that can’t be passed. As the game progresses more impassable (without the Leap action) gaps between the cards and few spaces not already occupied by opponents, making them impassable, fill the play area making it more difficult to move. When you can’t play an action, or the special move your Ninja Clan grants you, you’re out of the match. When everyone is eliminated the game ends and the player with the most points wins.
What begins as a pretty simple and goofy game turns into a serious strategic challenge after about one round. Options for actions to play dry up, and if you’re not thinking a few moves ahead you’re going to find yourself stuck in a corner before long. You need to thinking of both points and usefulness when choosing the cards to aim for. It may start as a friendly competition but by the end all players will grab the chance to knock each other into the traps or pin them into a corner.
It’s a short, action packed game that we absolutely love. When you’re looking for a fun way to bridge half an hour between longer running games without it feeling like a filler game, this is perfect. Fast, colourful and very exciting.