This is a Shuriken preview post. We are beginning to get some of the artwork in for the Shuriken board tiles, from the fantastic Cyril Van Der Haegen. Here is the first tile to come in, the Zen Garden:
The Shuriken game board is made up of 12 of these tiles (each tile is 8″ by 8″) laid out 3 tiles wide by 4 tiles long. Each tile has a 1″ grid of squares, and each square can hold one ninja figure. In addition each tile has a special ability that affects ninja on that tile.
The Zen Garden is one of only two tiles that can’t be destroyed during the game, in which players may not fight each other, and into which any play may place new Unarmed Ninja.
These two starting tiles are mechanically important because they give players a safe place to regroup after a particularly bloody battle and ensure that players will always be able to bring new ninja into the game (outside of the starting tiles, players may only bring new ninja into a tile on which they already have ninja).
Tiles & Combat
One of the ways that Shuriken makes combat fast and easy is by embracing the notion that ninja are martial artists who can leap through the air, off walls, and attack from range or up close. When a player initiates combat, all of that player’s ninja fight all of the opponent’s ninja on the same tile.
This way there is no counting spaces or determining who is adjacent to whom — you can very easily see all of the ninja that participate in the fight at a glance.
Combat is dangerous, however. Not only might you lose to the opponent, but if the dice take a bad turn you could end up damaging the tile itself. Every damage result on the dice (1 in 6 chance) places a damage marker on the tile. If a tile takes 5 damage, it is destroyed. A destroyed tile is flipped over to the destroyed side and all ninja on the tile are returned to their owner’s pool of available ninja.
This mechanic is both fun and practical. Fun because you can see the board slowly get destroyed over the course of the massive series of battles. Practical because it creates a danger to attacking with a huge force of ninja at once. Saving up a giant unstoppable force is likely to wipe out the tile and your forces with it — instead this mechanic encourages players to strike with smaller (but not too small!) forces of ninja, which keeps the action happening. It also sometimes presents interesting tactical choices: perhaps it’s worth engaging in combat not in an attempt to win, but just in an attempt to finish off a tile that’s already heavily damaged, and thus wipe out a chunk of the competition.
Players catch on very quickly to the dangers of trying to save up too large a force — and quickly afterward begin to see the possibilities of using the mechanic against others.
With 12 tiles in the game, the Shuriken game board uses 22 unique pieces of art (10 double-sided tiles, and 2 single-sided ones). Awesome Enterprise has invested to have Cyril begin the board artwork, but the Kickstarter will be needed to pay for the entire collection of board art.