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Subject: Would You Like A Shuriken With That? rss

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Ninja Burger




This review is intended to be comprehensive – below you can find detailed descriptions of the game mechanics, components, and theme, as well as my own thoughts on the game and what I like or dislike about it. Ninja Burger is a simple game, so each section of this review is fairly brief.

Contents

1.) Overview
2.) Theme
3.) What's in the Box?
4.) What's NOT in the Box?
5.) Rules
6.) Components
7.) Quality of components
8.) Thoughts on the Theme
9.) Thoughts on the Gameplay
10.) The Final Word


Overview

Ninja burger is a light-weight game that combines two unlikely elements – ninjas and fast food – in to a goofy, laugh-out-loud game. When I say the game is “light-weight,” I mean players make simple decisions, roll a few dice, play an occasional card, and laugh at each other's misfortunes. Ninja burger is for 3-6 players and playtime is difficult to predict (the "30 minutes or less" listed on the box is very conservative; 45-120 minutes is more accurate).


Theme

Players are novice ninjas who must use all of their prowess to deliver burgers to an outrageous assortment of customers (window washers, pirates) without being seen. Bungling, non-stealthy ninjas will only bring dishonor upon the proud Ninja Burger franchise! The game ends when one of the players is promoted to branch manager.


What's in the Box

144 Cards including:

16 Ninja cards
72 Fortune Cards
56 Mission Cards

3 black six-sided dice





What's NOT in the Box

Ninja Burger is not a complete game out of the box. Players gain honor by completeing “missions” (burger deliveries) and are paid a salary which can be used to buy “ninja stuff” (fortune cards). The game does not come with any sort of tokens for honor or money; instead, the rulebook instructs players to use pennies or whatever else is at hand. It's pretty sad that Steve Jackson games could not even include a few cardboard tokens for such a simple game. angry


Rules

Players begin by drawing three ninja cards. Each player then selects their ninja and discards the other two cards. Each round, players are paid a salary, draw a mission card, decide whether or not to go to the staff meeting, attempt to deliver burgers, and are either honored for their success or dishonored for their failure. They may also purchase “ninja stuff” and play fortune cards to screw-up other players.

Each Ninja has set of skills including combat, stealth, climbing, disguise, customer service, and 'other stuff,' as well as a unique special ability. These skills each have a numerical value ranging between 9-14. Whenever a ninja uses a skill, he rolls three dice to determine success or failure, hoping for a roll equal to or less than his skill. For example, if a player is delivering a burger to a window washer, he must climb the building to reach his customer. If his ninja has a climbing skill of 12, he rolls three dice and hopes for a total of 12 or less.

Collect Salary

Every turn, players receive $100 (the most honorable ninja receives a $50 bonus)

Draw Mission Card

Each player draws a single mission card which lists their customer, the requisite skill(s) needed for the particular delivery, the reward for success and the penalty for failure.

Staff Meeting

Based on whether or not their ninja is well-suited to the mission they have drawn, players may begin their delivery immediately or go to a “staff meeting” at which players can trade missions. The decision to go to a staff meeting is made in secret. If a player turns out to be the only one getting an early start on their delivery, they get a bonus. If they turn out to be the only one going to the staff meeting, they also get a bonus. Players who attend the staff meeting draw a single fortune card, and players who do not get a second chance at completing their delivery if their first attempt fails.

Missions

Once the staff meeting has adjourned, players take their turns in clockwise order, reading their mission card out-loud and then rolling three dice to see if their mission was successful. After each player has gone, players begin a new round by drawing salary.

Game End

The game can end in three ways. After round 5, if the total honor of all players exceeds 10 times the number of players OR drops below 4 times the number of players, the player with the highest honor wins. After turn five, any player that is winning by 5 or more honor points immediately wins the game.

Fortune Cards

Players begin with a hand of 3 Fortune Cards. These cards include “Ninja Stuff” which players can buy at any time (usually items that improve their chances of successful delivery) as well as one-time use cards that can be played to screw up other players.

Components

Ninja Cards:



Mission Cards:



Fortune Cards:



Quality of Components

Quality of present components: very good. Quality of absent components (money and honor): non-existent.

The large-format cards included in Ninja Burger are attractive, pleasant to use, and easy to shuffle. Game-text is clear; flavor text is hilarious. Steve Jackson Games produced a very nice set of cards, overpriced it, and then neglected to include the other components necessary to play.


Thoughts on the Theme

Ninjas + Fast Food = ROFL. Until the humor wears thin after a couple of plays...


Thoughts on the Gameplay

After reading the rules above, you're probably scratching your head thinking “but doesn't that mean that I just roll three dice every turn and see how it goes?” More or less. You can angle for missions that fit your skill-set better, you can occasionally play cards that slightly improve your chances, and you can play cards to screw other players up, but you're still just rolling three dice each round. The gameplay here is so thin even a ninja couldn't hide behind it. The worthwhile part of the experience is the absurdity itself: reading the cards is what gets the laughs, rolling the dice is just part of the joke.

Though I prefer games that require some thought, I'll indulge in this sort of fluff if the humor is sharp enough, as it is here. If Ninja Burger has one fatal flaw even as fluff, it's that it can go on, and on, and on. The mechanics don't create any forward trajectory or momentum. This sort of game definitely wears out its welcome after 45 minutes, and Ninja burger will often run longer than that (imagine a two-hour game of card-reading and dice-rolling). I suggest setting a round limit (7-10) and giving the win to the player with the most honor at the end of the final round.

The Final Word

Ninja burger is a hilarious game that lapses into tedium. If you require some thoughtful mechanics even in light games, this one isn't for you. The game is incomplete out of the box, a serious mark against it in my book, and overpriced to boot. At most this game is worth $10 (not $25), and even then the replay value is minimal. You'll lose interest after you've seen or heard all of the cards.


Theme: 10/10
Components: 4/10
Gamplay: 4/10
Replay Value 3/10

Overall: 4/10
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Gregory Amstutz
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Nicely written. I think you nailed it right on. This matches almost exactly my thoughts on this game. However, I am currently working on some "house" rules that boost interactions between players, and give people more options. When they're done, I will post them on BGG.
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dogzard wrote:
Nicely written. I think you nailed it right on. This matches almost exactly my thoughts on this game. However, I am currently working on some "house" rules that boost interactions between players, and give people more options. When they're done, I will post them on BGG.


Let me know once they're up so I can take a look.
 
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