Theme and What is It?
Naruto Shippuden is a game that has player taking on the role of teenage ninja’s from the popular Naruto anime. The game takes place during the invasion of the Hidden Leaf village and has the player’s working together to thwart the various invaders, deal with traps, and ultimately fight off the invasions leaders.
The game revolves around the decks of cards that each player gets. The decks feature a mix of combat and support cards. Combat cards allow for the rolling of extra dice when attacking, the use of special abilities, and the generation of bonus effects. Support cards give players the ability to heal their character and others or to negatively impact the villains. Each hero has their own custom deck that does a good job of giving each hero its own feel but also representing the characters from the anime. Naruto has a well-rounded deck with a lot of high cost high damage cards with big effects and support cards that focus more on the villains than on healing. Rock Lee has few support cards and his combat cards are all inexpensive and powerful but with the drawback of inflicting damage on himself.
The game revolves around a nice map of the area and adds weight to the threat. A new villain is introduced at the beginning of each turn. The players then have three rounds to defeat them. The villains appear on the map in predetermined numbered spaces that tend to be on opposite sides of the map from one another. The players will need to balance fighting the villains with moving around the map and setting themselves up to face the next threat. While fighting the villains is easier with multiple heroes in the same space, traps placed on the board make navigating the map difficult. Players need to decide who will go to the next location, who will clear traps to make travel easier, and who will focus on the current threat.
I’m leery of licensed games. I’ve seen too many that we’re just no good. I’m doubly worried when it’s a property I like, such as Naruto. So to say I went in with a bit of trepidation isn’t an understatement. While the mechanics seemed good and the rules were clear with lots of examples I wanted to get the game on the table before fully committing myself.
Quality of Components and Insert
The components are quite nice. The cardboard tokens are of good quality, though some were a bit small. Card quality is good and they should hold up well to constant shuffling, though I could see sleeving these with as often as they are shuffled. Custom dice were readable and worked well. The Miniatures are passable. The plastic is iffy and the detail is barely there, I don’t see painting these as it would fill in too many wrinkles leaving a mostly smooth model. The insert is fantastic. It holds everything well and kept all the pieces in place through the dreaded upside down shake test. There’s tons of room in the box for more cards even if they’re sleeved. It’s enough to make me wonder if they’re planning on expansions; there are certainly enough missing characters.
At a glance, I thought the game seemed simplistic. Buy stone, save stone, build tower, rinse, repeat.
This oversimplifies the game because although that is the mechanic, it takes a whole lot more planning than building towers willy nilly. Stone is also a finite resource that is replenished through a card mechanic are varying amounts throughout the game, making each building session quite different. I was drawn to the art, and the building pieces just seemed to fit perfectly for the game.
I enjoyed the game. It’s more of a puzzle than anything else. I don’t know that it captures the mantic feeling of adventure and friendship found in Naruto but it’s certainly a playable game. There’s a good amount of fun to be had here and I’m certain that some level of that was my enjoyment of the source material. If you’re not a fan of Naruto you may be confused by cards such as the Sexy Jutsu, but it can easily be explained by a fan or quick google search if necessary.
Difficulty and Age Range Suggestion
The rules are pretty simple, the box says 13+ and I think that’s about right. Knowing when to play your cards and what challenges to face and when could be a bit complicated for younger children. Also thematically it’s obvious that you are killing people and that will put some younger players or their parents off.
Naruto Shippuden the Board Game is enough of a good time that I can recommend trying it out and seeing what you think. If you’re a fan of the show I think you’ll enjoy it. They have a good mix of characters for fans, I was certainly happy with the inclusion of Rock Lee, who is the best character in the anime. (Fight me.) While the game only features six playable characters I think it’s easily possible they may release more heroes if the game does well, so if your favorite is missing they may show up later. The puzzle of when to fight the villains and when to let them succeed so you can set yourself up for future battles is a good hard decision that feels impactful. The game does run a little long but I’m certain with repeated play-throughs that will improve.
All in all a good effort and a fun afternoon. Believe it!