Of Knights and Ninjas by Josh McBride (Blue Fox Games) is a perfectly weighted, filler card game that offers plenty of take-that and some nice tactical decisions to make throughout. You play in the days of yore. On each turn, you can either fortify your defences by adding a castle/archer. Alternatively, simply attack your opponents. You can choose to pass but this will cost you a card. All players guard their five jewels carefully, since the first player to collect at least ten jewels wins the game.
On their turn, players start by drawing two cards. Players choose to either; 1) fortify by placing either a castle and or an archer in front of their jewels. Or 2) attack another player. There are many different cards they can use. And as all good take-thats play, you can keep on attacking until the defending player stops responding and gives up some of their jewels. Once jewels have moved, the turn is over and play continues with the next player drawing two cards.
This game is brilliant as there are so many great choices to make. Winning requires some tactical thinking. When attacking, you can use one of four main types of cards of varying strength. The peasants are the weakest. Attacking with a power of one (although they can be teamed together to create a powerful revolt). Maybe you will use your knight (attack strength of three), or even your king (attack strength of four) since these are more powerful. The attacked player can play the same cards in response to minimise losses.
Only when you defeat your opponent by delivering more attack points than they can defend, will jewels be passed. If you attack with a knight (for three jewels) and he responds with a king (protects four), you gain no jewels. However, because no jewels have moved, you can continue your attack. If you then attack with a king (for four jewels) and all he can respond with is a peasant (protects one), you win by three and take three of his jewels.
However, attacking is not always simple. A fortified kingdom is far more difficult to get into. If there are archers on the castle wall, these must be shot down by your own archers, before you can attack. A castle wall cannot be easily scaled. You will need to destroy it with the catapult (or climb it with a ladder) to allow your knight to attack.
The game has some amazing attack cards which are brilliant, if you are lucky enough to draw them. Burn a castle and take two jewels with the dragon, or scale the walls, steal two jewels, and kill an archer on the way back down using the sneaky ninja. Beware: if the opponent has a princess, she can charm an attacking dragon and will take your card to use later. She can also win the heart of an attacking knight, stealing the card from you as she steals his heart.
There are also a number of other cards including the traitor (which turns an attack from a player back on itself), and the highwayman (who can be played out of turn to steal jewels in transit).
Due to the number of available options, this game has high replayability and is a hell of a lot of fun. If you love take-that with a bit of push-your-luck element, this is a perfect game for you. It requires some strategic thinking. You have to work out whether to fortify or attack. In addition to what order is best to attack your enemies.
This game will fit well with more established gamers seeking a good quality filler. The decisions around when and who to attack make this a little more of a challenge than many other similar games. It scores high with me and my group.
The artwork and rulebook are spot on, featuring cartoon-style and whimsical illustrations that really compliment the theme. The rules are simple and easy to understand with examples of each combo. Players know what can be used and when.
This game was a blast! We played at three different player counts. Larger player counts bring a greater complexity and slightly longer game and the take-that element becomes more brutal as you seek revenge on those who have stolen from you, whilst still needing to carefully balance simple revenge with an overall strategy that ensures there is not a run-away leader.
So… what’s not to love with a game full of whimsical charms, castles, princesses, revolting peasants, dragons and ninjas! Make sure you take a look at the Kickstarter as this will fill a spot on many shelves. Make sure you back Of Knights and Ninjas. You can start playing your cards to see if you have what it takes to become the richest ruler. By destroying, sneaking, and stealing your way to victory.