Monday, 20 July 2015

Beer, burgers and ninjutsu

I played a couple of games of Ninja - Legend of the Scorpion Clan this weekend, to punctuate a weekend largely spent drinking beer and eating red meat in the sunshine, which I really can't complain about, especially as the weather has closed in over the Sussex downs again.

Ninja comes out of the AEG board games stable, and makes plenty of use of hidden movement. I love hidden movement games. Readers are referred to Nuns On The Run (Mayfair) or Fury of Dracula (Games Workshop / Fantasy Flight) for other examples of the genre.

I've written on this blog about Ninja before, so won't be going into depth on how it plays. Suffice to say, consider this an after action report and nothing more.

In the first game I elected to play the guards. My opponent was learning the rules and made an early error, searching part of the grounds outside the core castle target locale, and thereby betraying the presence of the traitor samurai. All missions in Ninja can only be completed in one of the two castles in the complex, not the surrounding estate. I exploited said error, sending a sentry to search for the traitor. I wounded him with a kenjutsu card, but the traitor retaliated with kenjutsu, killing my sentry and diving into the moat before a nearby patrol of spearmen could respond.

The wounded traitor got into the castle with a rope, despite efforts by one of the castle samurai to find him, and stumbled on the castle well almost immediately, allowing him to fulfil his mission of poisoning the well. He then managed to sneak out again, and escape to freedom.

By this stage the ninja had revealed he was searching the other castle. I closed on him too, waking more samurai and sending a patrol into the castle to look for him. But he again struck lucky almost immediately, finding and killing the honoured guest and then escaping via the secret passage!

Down 0-1 I set up for the second game, this time taking the ninja and the traitor. In this case the traitor swam the moat and roped his way into one castle, stumbling onto some secret war plans which he realised were the objective of the ninja. He got out the way he came, circling around through the estate to the other castle, and drawing off a patrol from the main entrance. This allowed the ninja to shadow walk into the first castle to retrieve the plans, shadow walk out and escape via the secret passage.

The traitor used the drunk samurai ploy to get into the second castle through a side gate. He then used the 'It's Only A Cat' card to escape notice from one sentry, killed a second hidden sentry with his katana, and completed his mission (I think it was another well poisoning incident), and then escaped via the secret passage. Except he didn't. My opponent deduced where the entrance was by process of elimination, using a listening sentry, and then sent a patrol around the side of the castle - they found the entrance and went into the passage, discovered the traitor before he could get out, and killed him.

We were on turn nine, which meant it was possible to activate a second, inferior traitor in the castle grounds (a junior samurai or somesuch) and provided him with a new mission (house rule this, as otherwise it is possible to place samurai around the well and make it near impossible to succeed). The traitor got into the other castle using a drunken samurai card, killed the honoured guest (his new mission), but made the error of sneaking too close to the secret passage. I forgot there were still two samurai in there, cleaning their swords having just butchered one traitor. They suddenly emerged from the passage and did the same to the new traitor. Lucky break for the guards, not so good for the traitor.

Oh well...we called this a draw, leaving me 0-1-1, and it was time for supper.

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