Thoughts on Ninja: Silent But Deadly

Ninja: Silent But Deadly is presently on Kickstarter! This is a review of the Print ‘n’ Play available from the Kickstarter page. The game components are, therefore, a long way from the quality of the finished game! The Ninja: Silent But Deadly Kickstarter ends Saturday 13th February. The print and play is still available from here.

Matt: Chris, do you want a cup of tea?

Chris: Oh, yeah, sure!

Matt: Alright then, top up kettle – wuh!?

Ninja Kettle

Matt: Goddamnit!

Chris: Ha! Gotcha. Also I don’t even drink tea.

Matt: If you’re feeling confused then don’t worry because Ninja: Silent but Deadly is just a harmless game… of ninjas, death and, if you get the expansion, throwing cards at each other. It’s also a lot of fun… and utterly terrifying!

You know that feeling you have when you’re wandering around your own home, right? That general feeling of safety, security and comfort? You probably don’t even notice it. Well kiss it goodbye because anything could be the hiding place for an assassin. Starting to feel worried? You should be! But don’t try running, there’s probably one hiding under your shoes.

Ninja card

Ninja is part of a new breed of game, a “meta-game”, which can be played over the course of a game night while you play your common or garden board games. Each player gets a ninja card, emblazoned with the words “You Lose!”, and you are challenged to hide it somewhere in the room/house/building you’re playing in, and if anyone stumbles upon it they lose. Survive the night and you’ll win! Except if you get spotted in the act of concealment you can be called out and, naturally, lose! It is a game of cunning and of stealth.

Maybe you’ve finished a solid game of Terra Mystica to find someone has slipped a card under your playing board. Maybe you pop out to the kitchen for a drink and find a card in your fridge, or on your chair when you get back. The only limits are your imagination and your sneakiness. Over the weekend we were playing an (excellent) game of Power Grid, which involves discarding power plant cards to the box Chris had left on the floor. When it was my time to scrap a plant, I added a ninja to the box while everyone else was looking at the board, giving Chris a lovely surprise when he next looked in that previously safe space.

Ninja: Silent but Deadly is a tiny addition to a night, but it really does add a lot. Everyone will be looking at things with suspicion; you’ll discover quite how much you can do with your eyes closed. The bathroom will become a death trap! And every so often there will be a cry of anguish from somewhere in the house as someone stumbles into a trap, and that is just funny!

Chris: Come on guys, I’ve not put one in the brownies box… oh. Who put that in there?

Matt: Hehehe. But its not just the successes that are amusing, the failures can sometimes be even better: your friend sprinting into the kitchen to rescue a card from the pan of chilli because the evening’s chef hadn’t opened the lid when he switched on the cooker. Or everyone awkwardly standing staring out of the kitchen window making small talk because we all knew there was a card waiting on the table.

Ninja bathroom
This picture is not a meta-comment on the quality of the game!

The core game concept is great, but the currently available rules are incredibly vague and required significant house ruling when we played. It is important to note that this was just using the Kickstarter print ‘n’ play and the publisher has assured me things will be improved significantly for the finished game. But I can only review what is available! So!

  • If you’ve been killed, can you still place your card?
  • Is a Ninja placed in plain sight concealed when no one is around to see it?
  • Can you blunder into one of your own traps?
  • Can you replace a placed card?
  • If you see only the edge of a card, does that count as a loss? A literal gaming edge case.

It’s fine to come up with solutions amongst yourselves to this, it worked great for us! But not everyone finds this easy and if you come across an issue in the middle of a game, that can make things even harder and distract from the fun.

Personally, the current rules issues are pretty minor and I’m sure they will be ironed out before release, the print ‘n’ play being there to give you a feel for the core gameplay, which is both wonderfully simple and really hilarious. Secreting a card into a clever spot will have you cackling with glee, well, on the inside because you don’t want to give yourself away. You’ll feel great when you come up with a good idea, only to discover someone else thought of it first and you knock yourself out. It changes the way you look at your own house and that is great. It is also a super cheap game, only containing about a dozen cards, so other than shipping issues this is a Kicktarter you should definitely consider supporting. Unless you have a nervous disposition. Also, I’m never playing this at the same time as Mafia de Cuba.


Rating: You Win!


Ninja: Silent But Deadly is on Kickstarter until Saturday 13th, so don’t hang around!

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