Overview: Are you a Master of Ninjas? Are you Tiny? Oh, and are you able to fight your enemy anywhere, anytime? Then Tiny Ninjas is the game for you! In this game, you are a master Ninja, training your ninjas and dueling your opponents in the mobile box that is the dojo. You must master the character cards, take risks, and rely on the shruiken dice to outwit your opponent- all while balancing your 10 lives.
Do you remember that old Preview of Tiny Ninjas? Well, there have been lots of changes to the battle in the box game by Ryan Leininger of 2niverse since then! Tiny Ninja’s Kickstarter Campaign ran back in Summer of 2018, and was supported by more than 1,474 backers! After the campaign ended, Ryan worked hard to manufacture the game, and we received it in December. So, what did we think of the game?
How We Review: As with any of our reviews, we put the game to the test with a variety of playtesters, representing various ages, and demographics. We consider multiple aspects of the game, including clarity of instructions, innovation, artwork, and fun!
Game Contents: The game includes 60 Ninja Cards, 2 Custom Dice, 4 Sensei Markers, 2 Health Trackers, the Rulebook, and the remaining pieces to build the box into a portable battle arena!
How To Play The Game: Tiny Ninjas is easy to learn and to play, but sometimes difficult to win! Each of the two players begin the game with 5 ninja cards in their hand. Players take turns attacking and defending against attacks, which is simply playing cards and rolling dice. Players each must have 5 cards, and when they get low, they draw more cards to replenish their hand. The attacking player, who drives combat, can play anywhere from 1 to 5 cards, at their discretion. The trick is that the attacking player can not draw more cards to replenish their hand until their turn comes back around again- so playing more cards can be a risk if the defending player survives your assault, because you can be left defenseless.
The various ninjas are all centered around “Blue” and “Red” Attack and Defense. Both colors are equally as damaging, but only Red Defense can block Red Attacks, and only Blue Defense can block Blue Attacks. There is the coveted “Yellow” Defense, which can block both colors. To complicate the ninja’s variety, each attack and defense is regulated by a different die roll and probability. Special ninjas have different abilities that can help (or hurt) you as well, such as healing and stealing cards. These games typically run quickly, perhaps between 5-15 minutes, depending on how conservatively or aggressively the players battle.
In addition to the traditional 2 player game, there is a Solo option, and a few scenarios to spice up your game in the rules. This allows for more abilities for each player, which may or may not also extend your game length. Also, at the end of the rulebook is a list of achievements. Various achievements come from different gameplay styles, so if you work your way through the achievements, you will have gotten a well rounded Tiny Ninja experience!
An Interview With The Designer:
Q: What inspired the concept of this game?
A huge part of my inspiration for this game came from growing up with Mighty Max toys. Playing with the toy INSIDE of the packaging – genius. Also a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel and Mega Man, haha. I played a TON of video games growing up so my influences come from many different gaming universes.
Q: What type of gamers is Tiny Ninjas geared towards?
Light/Casual gamers for sure and younger audiences tend to really enjoy it. Also, if you like to travel, the box was designed specifically for that!
Q: How did you determine which characters receive which stats?
Oh man, I’d have to go and look at each card individually, but each one absolutely has a story/reason. I’ll probably make a video in the future to explain each ninja and how it came to be.
Q: How long did it take to perfect your game concept and working design? How long have you been developing this project overall, from concept to production?
From concept to production was about 3 years. It is my first game though and I had to learn everything from scratch on my own so that took a ton of time. I have a level of quality and expectations for myself as well though which takes time to work out. The next games should be a bit more streamlined now that I understand things better.
Q: How did you build interest in this game prior to your Kickstarter campaign?
Using artwork on social media to build a bit of an audience. Having some contests, etc. Building an audience is definitely hard though and takes a ton of time. Everything just boils down to time and commitment, really.
Q: What was the most challenging part of making the game?
Well, at first, listening to critical and “negative” feedback. This was my first major creative venture and it hurt to have your creation ripped apart, but you learn very fast that it is totally necessary and a much needed part of the process. You develop a thick skin quite quickly and learn that it is impossible to make a game that everyone will like. Stick to your guns and you’ll be fine. Learn who your audience is and gear towards them.
Q: Are you planning on making more games in the future, or expanding Tiny Ninjas in some way? (I know that we have been playing around with the idea of a 4 player version, we would love to help work that out!- also I was personally considering a few options for solo campaigns. oh well, i digress)
There may be some expansions for Tiny Ninjas with new characters in the future. Right now though my focus is working on two new games: “Tiny Ninjas: Tactics” and “Tiny Ninjas: Tiny Tournament”. I’m aiming for January 2020 for the Tactics KS campaign. Still very tentative though!
And that sounds awesome about the 4-player variant and solo campaigns. Keep me posted, I’d be happy to post them up and give you credit 😊
Q: What was your favorite and least favorite part of making your game?
Favorite – Designing
Least Favorite – Shipping/Logistics
Q: Where can you buy the game if you missed out on the Kickstarter Campaign?
Q: Where can I learn more about the game?
Q: Were there any rules or concepts that you considered that didn’t make the final cut?
Through playtesting there were many things that changed throughout the design of the game. Funny enough it’s almost the exact opposite, it was concepts that I wasn’t planning on implementing that ended up being included with the final cut. I wanted to save things for expansions, but that was part of learning the Kickstarter landscape and catering to stretch goal demands. I am very happy it turned out the way it did though.
Q: If you wouldn’t mind, please tell us a little about yourself.
I run a company with my wife called One Wolf Creative. We work from home but do travel a ton for various shoots around the province. We specialize in volume photography and video production. I worked in radio for 7 years prior and have worked with audio now for almost 2 decades. I worked at a small recording studio for a bit as well. I also freelance for a company in the UK doing voiceover work and audio/video podcast production. My wife and I both quit our jobs in 2016 to pursue our dreams of being our own bosses. I play a bit of guitar, used to be a turntablist (mixing/scratching) and I used to draw a ton but not so much anymore. I am pretty much always on my computer now working on various things, but that’s the life of an entrepreneur! Who needs sleep?!
Q: Who else, if anyone, helped you with this game?
My incredible wife, Layla, helps me with a lot of the prototyping. Cutting, gluing, etc. She also helps me out at conventions to teach and demo the game which is an enormous help! Along the way I also received a lot of feedback from various people that helped shape the final product. I have given credit to these people in the rulebook 😊
Q: Is there anything else that you want our readers to know about your game?
Amazing things come in Tiny packages! 😀
What We Thought:
- The title is fun, the artwork is amazing, and the cards are laid out well. The material quality is very nice.
- The Box might be the highlight of the entire package- you open it up and create a portable playing field. The box gives you room for a draw and discard pile, as well as a place to roll and store your dice.
- There was a good variety of ninja cards to choose from, and the powers are balanced well.
- Gameplay was easy to learn, and you can begin play in minutes- maybe seconds. It’s a simple concept with enough variety, luck, and strategy to create a good balanced quick game.
- It is great game for on the go or to use as a filler game when a few people are in-between games.
- Both the Multiplayer and Solo Variant offer great game experiences, and are both worth the value of the game. We think it might be more fun with more than two people- we are looking into making a 2+ player variant. (stay tuned).
- Overall, a pleasant gaming experience! It was fun to help and watch this evolve during the process from creation to final product!
Comments from our Reviewers:
“Tiny Ninjas is a fun two player game with an innovative box!”
“Often 2 player card games are not that exciting, and sort of bland, however Tiny Ninjas is not the case! This game is very different by using lots of strategy, plus it’s a quick play!”
“My teenage son asked me to play and I thought it would be a game just for young people, but I really enjoyed it and asked him to play more!”
“Great short playing strategy game!”
“The feel, look, and utility of the box is very appealing and unique! Also, the game play is simple.”
“I like the look of the dice!”
(LoR’s Quote from the Tiny Ninjas Kickstarter Page)