Night of the Ninja Review

Night of the Ninja review

There are two careers that I’ll never have because of my height and lack of agility. One is a gymnast and the other is a ninja. Thankfully, Brotherwise Games helps me live out my dreams of being part of a ninja clan and taking out all who oppose me.

A Tale of Two Houses

Night of the Ninja is a social deduction game where players are divided into two houses. If you’re playing with an odd number of players, one person will take on the role of the Ronan. While the blue (Lotus house) and red (Crane house) houses fight for dominance, the Ronan just wants to stay alive to earn an honor token (victory points).

Each player is given their house card (which is kept secret) and 3 ninja cards. You’ll draft a ninja card from your first hand and another ninja card from the players hand on your right. The remaining ninja card is discarded. Ninja cards will give you special abilities that trigger during the different phases of the round. So what do these unique ninja cards do?

Night of the Ninja player hand

Spy – This card is the first phase after the draft. If you play a spy card, you get to look at another players house card. You’ll know if they’re on your team or if they would make a good target to take down later in the round.

The Mystic – The Mystic appears next, which allows the player to look at another players house card and one ninja card. This ninja card is especially powerful when you get to see a ninja card that might shake up the game.

Trickster – There are six unique trickster cards that are disruptive, devious, and so much fun to play.

Blind Assassin – This ninja card gives you the power to kill another player at the table. Do you have enough information to make sure you’re not killing your own house member?

Shinobi – Finally, the Shinobi allows you to look at another players house card and then choose to kill them or let them live. Only players who live until the end of the round will get the chance to play this card if they drafted it.

Night of the Ninja - ninja cards

Numerical Supremacy

House and ninja cards contain a number from 1 to 6. These numbers are incredibly important. The lowest numbered house cards have the most power and they must be protected. At the end of the round, the players who are still alive reveal their house cards to see which team won, and the team with the lowest number on their house card wins. For example, if the red team still has numbers 1, 4 and 5 alive, they’ll win against the blue team that has numbers 2 and 4 alive. Even if you died during the round, if you’re on the winning team, you’ll get an honor token from the bag.

The ninja cards in Night of the Ninja all trigger based on the number on the card. During the spy phase, players get a chance to use their card in numerical order. During the blind assassin and shinobi phases, this is huge because you can kill an opponent before they are able to use their card. When a player is killed, they tip over their standee showing that they are dead, but continue to keep their house card a secret.

Night of the Ninja - Lotus house

The number system and how this plays out gives the game structure and guides new players along nicely. It’s so satisfying to take out another player just before they get to play their ninja card.

Not so Silent Night

When Night of the Ninja released toward the end of 2021, it wasn’t a game that was on our radar at all. Like a stealthy ninja, this one snuck up on us and is now a top-tier party game in our house. It takes no more than 5 minutes to teach all the rules and talk about the flow of each round. Having a table full of kids and adults adds even more to the fun.

Night of the Ninja - honor tokens

When players lean into the table talk (which is encouraged in this game), there’s a tension and excitement to the game. Players can lie about the house card they saw just to encourage a team to take out a friendly player. The Trickster cards can give up a players identity or even switch the house cards of two players at the table. Night of the Ninja even has 3 specialty cards that can counteract a kill or give a win to the losing house.

A full game of Night of the Ninja will take about 40 to 45 minutes to play. Obviously if players are more talkative, the game can feel a little long in the final round. Once a player earns 10 honor points, the game comes to a close. Party games are usually known for getting into and out of a game quickly. That is not this game. While the game moves at a quick speed, you need to let players know that you’ll play 4 or 5 rounds that last around 10 minutes each.

Night of the Ninja - overhead shot of components

Night of the Ninja has twists and turns that keep players coming back for more. For weeks now, this is the game that has hit the table when a group of people come over. Like some of the best party games, friends and family tell stories of epic rounds of Night of the Ninja. If you’re not a fan of social deduction games, I highly doubt this will change your mind.

Unlike a real ninja, this game gets loud and wild. Just like our family likes it.

You can pick up a copy of Night of the Ninja at your local game store, on the Brotherwise Games website or on Amazon today.

This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.

Highs

  • Table talk is encouraged and so much fun
  • Even players who died earn points if their house wins
  • Easy to teach and get into the game
  • Use spy and mystic cards to find people you can trust

Lows

  • The game can feel long toward the end
  • Trickster and specialty cards are intimidating to new players

Complexity

2.5 out of 5

Time Commitment

3 out of 5

Replayability

4 out of 5