Recently I’ve been playing Ninja Dice from Green Brier Games with my kids quite a lot so I thought it was about time I wrote a short review. Ninja Dice was a Kickstarter launched in 2013 and it rapidly achieved and then smashed its funding goal.
The first thing to notice about the game is that it’s production is lovely and very well thought through. The dice are large enough and the printing clear enough so that you don’t have to peer too closely to see the symbols, the little plastic Koku (Japanese coins) look and feel right and to top it all off it comes in a natty little square Ninja pouch!
To play the game the players in turn have to beat the “house”, in other words by throwing the black dice one person creates a “house of obstacles” that the next person clockwise (the active player) has to beat by rolling five white dice. To beat the house the active Ninja has to roll symbols that counter the house’s security. So..the house may have rolled two guards, four servants and two locks….the active Ninja would need to throw enough fights, sneaks or keys to match in order to beat the house. If the Active Ninja beats the house they get a koku for every dice they’ve beaten, an extra koku for beating the house and still another koku if they do it by sneaking past everything (no fighting). The active player can continue rolling any combination of dice until he either beats the house or the other players drive him out of time.
Now here’s the clever bit…where the dice fall matters! So when the active player throws his white dice all the other players also roll a single die with coloured symbols. If an arrow turns up this symbol has a horizontal line in front of it and any player with dice in front of that line can have a Koku stolen from them unless they’ve thrown an arrow catch symbol.
There is also a Kanji symbol on the white active player dice that has the ability to multiply white dice that fall in front of it making it easier for the active player to beat the house.
Each of the die with coloured symbols on it has an hour glass symbol on one of the sides. Whenever one of these is rolled it is taken out of play and placed next to the house. All the players roll their dice at the same time as the active Ninja either rolls or re-rolls. Once the house is beaten or all the coloured dice have rolled an hourglass the round ends and the house and Active Ninja dice pass clockwise. Note that if all the hourglass symbols come up before the Active Ninja has beaten the house then the round immediately ends and the Active Ninja gets no Koku!
Once everyone has been the Active Ninja the turn ends and the next turn begins adding a sixth dice to the house which makes it harder to beat. A seventh die is added in the third turn.
This is a great space filler game…it takes about 20 minutes to play and is good fun but don’t try and overthink it! If I had any criticism at all it would be that if you don’t like luck in games then Ninja Dice may not be your thing. The game also has a “locations” expansion and a Kage Masters expansion (recently on Kickstarter) neither of which I’ve tried yet but they apparently add a lot to the game! So my recommendation 4/5, go and buy this game as a great little end of evening game.
You can find it here: