Ninja Galaxy

Ninja Galaxy is a new game from the Stein Thompson company.  I came upon this game quite by accident.  The designer of the game, Randy J. Thompson, saw a message I posted on Board Game Geek a few months ago about my interest in space-themed games, and he sent me a copy of the game for play testing and my evaluation comments.

Introduction

This is a game targeted chiefly at families and kids.  It’s really new and should be available any day now.  It’s a game for 2 to 4 players, aged 9+.  The game takes about 45 minutes to play.  Here’s descriptive text from the game designer’s site.

AD 3017 – In the Ninja Galaxy it has been discovered that the four main star systems are becoming unstable. A destructive virus is spreading. The Ninja Elders have decided that only one star system can be saved. The other ones must be quickly neutralized. Which ones? To decide, the four Ninja Clans will battle each other at the Galaxy Power Rings. The winner’s star system will be saved.

Advance RING-LEVELS by going through PORTALS. Sabotage your opponents with PORTAL-BLOCKERS, and VAPORIZE blockers in your way. Battle your opponents up close with LASER SWORDS, or eliminate them with LIGHT STARS. Finally, neutralize the other star systems with the very powerful NEGATIVE ENERGY DISCS (NED).

Ninja Galaxy is a fast-paced, space-battle game for the whole family and “gamers”. A game of strategy, chance and fantastic finishes!

 

What’s in the box?

I took some pictures when we played the game last time.  The quality of the bits is excellent.  This game is made exceptionally well and easily compares to the level of production found in games made by companies like Days of Wonder.  They really did a good job for a first impression.

The board is interesting.  It has holes in it.  You can see how the dark coffee table surface shows right through the holes in the board rings.

The game comes with little wooden Ninjas, 3 for each player.  The player colors are the 4 primary paint colors, red, yellow, blue and green.

There are some cool looking dice, a special colored one for each player.  There’s also a translucent purple die used by all the players for certain game actions.

And there are other pieces used as weapons – wooden stars and cardboard laser swords (a.k.a. Light Sabers) and “Port Blockers”.

As I was saying, the components are first-rate.  The colors are vivid and primary.  The board is a nice thickness and very sturdy.  There was no evidence of board warping like seen in many recent game releases.

Game Play

So what’s playing the game like?

Well, the truth is it’s a “roll and move” game with weapons.  The Ninjas begin life on their own home stars at the corners of the board.  With the proper roll of the die, Ninjas can enter the board beginning on the outside ring.  On a turn, a player can roll a die and move their Ninja around the ring, seeking a square of the same color.

You can see how nicely the board cutouts provide resting spaces for the Ninja.  The Ninjas can choose to move either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the ring and when they land on a space of their own color, they jump to a ring either closer towards the center or further back out to the outer rim.  The general objective is to journey into concentric rings, reach the center, pick up a star-destroying weapon, work your way back out to the outer rim and then destroy the home star of your opponent’s Ninjas.

Along the way the player can battle with enemy Ninjas, or block portals with their own colored discs which fit nicely into the ring openings, prohibiting use of that portal.

There are some strategy choices.  You have to decide when to bring your Ninjas onto the board, and keep an eye on what your opponent is doing, either blocking his choices or destroying his Ninjas.

The game plays very quickly.  I found that the rules, took a little while to walk through, but you could start a game and get things going with little effort.  I felt that there were a number of features included in the rules that were there to make the game more appealing to the strategy gamer too.  You can play just fine with a lightweight interpretation of the rules when playing with kids.

Conclusion

Well, the truth is this is not my kind of game.  On first impressions, I would never choose a game with “Ninja” in the title.  And look at those colors!  While well produced, I generally prefer a more toned-down look to a game.  But then I’m an adult (most times).

However, the game has tremendous appeal at the market it’s intended to reach.  After playing the game I asked my 12-year old son what he thought of the game.  It was amusing.  Here are his comments about the game:

He loves that the game has Ninjas!  It’s cool how the energy discs work for destroying the enemy stars.  He loved the bright colors.  He thought it was easy and fun to play.  He rated the game a 9 out of 10 and has frequently asked me when we can play again.

So there it is.  This game is a hit for it’s target market.  He loved every feature about the game that I found unattractive.

As a parent, I’m delighted with this game.  It provides entertainment for kids that’s easy to approve.  As an occasional family game, it’s a good choice.  After all, the theme is fun.  It’s about space and has Ninja Star weapons, and dice rolling for lucky moves.  The colors are striking.  It’s just not my own personal game preference.

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