Tiny Ninjas is a heads-up two player card game where players take turns playing ninja cards in an attempt to deal damage to their opponent. One of its coolest features is a transforming game box that not only stores the game components, but makes it portable so you can take your ninja battle anywhere (even in the car!)
How Do You Play?
Players are dealt five card hands. They then take turns as the either attacker or the defender as they play cards into the arena. The attacked goes first by playing a card, follower by the defender. Then the damage is resolved by comparing the two cards (and any associated die rolls). The attacker can continue to play cards from their hand to try and deal extra damage, but they have to be careful because the player on defense can draw back up to their starting hand size when they switch roles, but the attacker cannot. That hand management is crucial.
The Tiny Ninjas website features several wonderful how to play videos that are even highlighted in their rulebook.
- Check out the how to play video from Cardboard Rhino!
- Check out the how to play video from Learn to Play Games!
Tiny Ninjas is meant to be a portable board game experience so everything is made with that in mind. The box would likely survive being hit by a car (although we didn’t specifically test that). The cards are of great quality that won’t bend easily. The custom dice are large enough that they are easy to find when dropped in the back seat of a car (we did, unfortunately, test that).
The component list includes the following:
58 Ninja cards
2 reference cards
1 shuriken die
1 kunai die
2 connector walls
2 health dials
4 sensei markers
1 transforming game box
Is it a kid’s game?
The box says the game is for ages 8+ and I agree. In fact, I think game savvy kids could play this game at any age as long as they are familiar with numbers.
Tiny Ninjas does include an advanced rule set that will need to be reserved for more skilled players/readers, but the base game has very little reading at all.
Will kids want to play it?
We live in a world that is crowded by two player card combat games that cover all sorts of themes. Tiny Ninjas does a great job of battling its way to the top of the heap.
First, it is impossible to talk about this game without addressing the art style. Put simply, we loved it. Ninjas will always be a hit in our house, but the Tiny Ninjas took things to another level. My youngest was actually disappointed to find out that it wasn’t a licensed game with a Netflix show to binge watch. The characters all share the same template (tiny body, giant round head), but they were still infused with personality.
Second, Tiny Ninjas is surprisingly deep. I mentioned hand management above, but it is worth mentioning again. Managing your hand to ensure that you are applying pressure to your opponent while also leaving yourself cards to defend yourself is very important. The cards don’t all deal static amounts of damage, because of their reliance on dice rolls. This means that, at any time, your opponent could draw into a very explosive hand. It is incredibly risky to empty your entire hand on offense. As we play tested the game for our review, we found that there was never a right answer. The different card combinations kept anyone from “solving” the game.
Lastly, we really enjoyed the fact that this small box included, essentially, two games in one. The advanced ninja rules add another layer of depth by allowing players to use more complex ninja cards and play with cool Sensei Abilities. These add even more complex decision to the gameplay.
Tiny Ninjas is a great addition to your board game collection. I particularly recommend it for families looking for additional options on long road trips. The transforming box is made of thick cardboard and easily set up in the back set of a car to keep kids occupied without electronic devices.