Shinobi is a game set in 16th Cenutry Japan, setting the stage for a time when feudal daimyos sought to subdue control of the land, and were clans were pitched in battle. Principally, Shinobi is a game that is light on the implementation, but one where the strategy is slightly more elusive than it first appears.
Shinobi is a tactical card game, where each player is a spy master, giving out secret commands to each and every army. Your objective is to use clandestine influence to ensure that your clan will have military dominance of the region: the clan that has the most troops on the board is the one that wins.
The game begins with each player is given an indication as to their clan, and four troops cards from the deck. He will control one of the provinces; one province for each player. Each turn, players will use a number of orders, which includes a deployment of troops, movement of troops, and an attack. The player starts by placing a troop card from their hand on any province, except their own. This will place one troops of a given clan into that province. This allows different armies to have different strengths through stacks of multiple troops.
If the troops placed in a province causes that army to be the largest stack in that province, it will provoke an attack; though the player may direct them in a direction that is obliquely beneficial. Through this technique it is possible to cause troops to eliminate your opponents’ forces at your behest. Oh, there are also three random ninjas that automatically destroy one troop.
The game ends when there are no more troop cards to draw, instigating one final turn where players reveal their clan colours. Troops are summed up, and the player with the most of their clan’s colours in the field is the winner.
The game serves, but doesn’t do anything substantially incredible. The art is nice, if basic, and the AI is sufficient to provide you with a good challenge. So for the most part my observations on the game has to be one of averageness: there are no glaringly bad errors, but neither is there anything that amazes me. I can say that I enjoyed the few games that I played, but didn’t really feel compelled to play many more than that.
As a commentary, it makes me wonder what are the stakes in competing with other board game adaptations on the iOS environment. Games like Shinobi, in physical format, offer incentives to play for their simplicity (compared to the larger more complex games), however with tablet devices providing the computing for your gaming, this undercuts some of that barrier. It is possible that the use of a tablet is eliminating how we make choices around our games based on complexity; even as that complexity has to be off set by presentation on a 9″ screen.
I do encourage you to check the game out. For what it’s worth the amount you’ll pay for it is worth the return. It’s a game that will bring you a bit of fun, but not something I consider to have high replay value.