Naruto Shippuden: The Boardgame
Naruto Shippuden: The Boardgame is a… boardgame for 2 to 5 players designed by Nicolas Badoux and Cyril Marchiol, distributed by Japanime games. In this game each player takes on the role of one of the heroes in the Naruto universe and work together to stop the Akatsuki led by Tobi who are trying to revive the Gedo Statue.
Setup is a breeze for this game. Place 1 trap token face-down on each non-numbered space on the game board. You have a choice between easier or harder trap tokens. Shuffle the Akatsuki cards and place one or two (depending on the number of players) face-down on the designated space. Each player chooses one hero and takes it figure, reference card and deck of technique cards. Each reference card has two sides that are used for changing game difficulty. The technique cards are an assortment of fighting cards, which help you during a fight, and support cards which do all kinds of stuff like healing or immobilizing enemies. According to your stats you get a number of chakra cubes (used for paying technique cards) and start with a number of technique cards in your hand. Each player also starts with 3 health points and its experience starts at 0. The rest of the cubes and dice are placed in an easy to reach place.
A game will last for nine rounds and each round is comprised of a maximum of 3 or 4 turns depending on the difficulty you choose. Every turn is split up into two phases, the player’s phase where all players get to do their actions and the Akatsuki phase where the Akatsuki try to stop the players as much as possible.
During the player’s phase they can agree upon who will do their actions first, second and so on. Each player has two actions and has three actions to choose from: Move, Meditate and Fight. A move actions lets the player move up to two spaces but beware, when entering a Trap token or Enemy their move is interrupted. If this would be a hidden Trap token or the face-down Akatsuki cards then those are revealed and might trigger an immediate event or talent. You can only run away from an enemy by spending two actions.
The second action you can perform is the meditate action. This allows you to regain 1 chakra and if you are in the Hidden Leaf Village also 1 health except in the final showdown. The third action you can perform is the Fight action. This is done by rolling a number of fight dice equal to your strength. Your strength can be modified by playing one and only one fight card. After rolling your fight dice you need to have rolled an amount of shuriken equal to or more than the defense of the enemy to deal it one injury. When you have played a fight card it could be that a Power activates if you have rolled the power symbol. These powers might include immobilizing the enemy so that it can’t deal injuries during the Akatsuki phase or it might give you the option to reroll dice or help you in some other form.
After all players have performed their 2 actions it is time for the Akatsuki phase. Each revealed enemy deals one injury to a player in its area. If there are two or more players on the space than they can choose who will receive the injury. Now each player gets one chakra cube without going over their limit stated on the card. Before drawing your Techniques back to its stated number you have the option to first discard one Technique. After this is done it is time to see if you have won the round by defeating the Akatsuki. If you have defeated them, you place the round marker with the Hidden Leaf village showing on the score line, otherwise you move the round tracker to the next round. When you cannot move the round marker any further you place it on the score line with the Akatsuki side phase up and you place the Akatsuki members on the bottom of their deck.
Afterwards the black Tobi figure is placed on the next area, a new round token is placed according to the difficulty chosen and the new Akatsuki members are put into play face-down. This continues until round 9 where you face off against Tobi and the Gedo Statue in the Hidden Leaf Village. Defeat them to win the game.
The game looks great. All the cards are stills from the series which Naruto fans will appreciate. The board itself also looks beautiful and the paths are very clear. The minis are wonderful and when it is all set up it certainly has a visual appeal. The game itself plays real easy because you only have 3 actions to choose from. This makes for a game turn to go very quick once you get the hang of it. The real difference in between the characters is their Technique cards. These really define each character. Naruto has some super powerful moves but needs a lot of chakra to pull them of. Sakura on the other hand is the healer of the bunch. This is something that I love in games. That you might have different characters each game which feel completely different. This definitely is a game that you need to play a couple of times to get good at. The first time you will probably lose the game (maybe not on easy) but you will know what you did wrong. Afterwards you go in the game with a certain strategy but you will have to adapt this strategy during the game to be successful and this is mainly due to the fact that you never know what will happen. When you reveal the Akatsuki members it is always a bit of holding your breath to see what you are up against and the traps might give you an unexpected setback while traveling. It is at these times that you as a party must adapt your strategy to the things that have happened. I also love the different difficulty levels and the way that you can change them. You can choose harder trap tokens, a more difficult end-boss, a different number of turns per round, an experienced or inexperienced character and even a more difficult character to play with. This also brings me to a minor thing that we have noticed. The game is easier with an odd number of players on the standard difficulty levels because the setup for 2-3 or 4-5 players is always the same. But again you can easily mitigate this by for instance taking an extra turn with 2 or 4 players or taking an extra character which is controlled by all the players. All in all this is a real fun and easy to play cooperative game with the right amount of difficulty and lots of memorable moments. A must buy for Naruto fans and definitely something to look into for people who like to play cooperative games.
Play with honor