Gameday First Play – Ninjato

Posted on by Jesta

Another worker placement game? Or something different.

Wooden Shurikens say this is going to be a bit different…

In 12th century Japan, the Minamoto and Taira clans vie for power while retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa plays his rivals against one another. One of the three factions will triumph to impose the coming social order. In the shadow of these elite powers, a few ninja scheme to exploit the chaos. Daring raids, skill mastery, and subtle intrigue are essential to establishing one’s honour. When the new era dawns, one ninja will flourish as the Ninjato, the Invisible Sword of the ruling family.

As I said this is a worker placement with only 5 options but it’s still quite deep. These are the options.

Clan House

Raid a clan house to gain the treasure within. Each Clan House has has a number of random treasures and you choose to take it using either strength or stealth. Each guard has a number, if you choose Strength you use your cards (Labeled 1-5, the 3 also gives you +/1 one to another card you play) to BEAT that score, if you choose Stealth you must go UNDER that number.

Ninjato Shuriken

When you win the first one, which you should do seeing as you know the guards number and your cards, you then choose to go on. Or, you can quit and leave with the treasure you have.

Some guards have an alarm. This means you add a treasure to the Clan House and flip a treasure over to show it’s red backed side. This means when you go for THAT treasure you instead fight an Elite guard who, as you can imagine, is tougher.


Used to draw cards to replenish your hand. It also determines turn order for the next round.


Purchase a skill from one of 3 styles, once you buy a skill of a certain style, other skills of that style won’t cost you anything. These range from giving you that +/- 1 ability from the “3” card to being able to switch between Strength and Stealth in a Clan House mid raid, which you can’t do usually.

These skills can be used one each round.

Ninjato Gameplay 1


Use treasures you have stolen to claim an Envoy. Envoys come in the colours of the one of the three Houses they represent and their age. During the 3 scoring phases, you ‘control’ a House if you have the most Envoys of that House’s colour with their combined age as the tie breaker.


Pay treasures to claim a Rumour. Rumours are used for end game scoring and can be worth a LOT of points. They give you bonuses for certain things you have at the end of the game depending how many Rumours match that item and how many of that item you have.

So that’s basically it…

You only take 21 actions each though out the entire game and in true worker placement style you have to manage getting what you need now compared with what you may need later.

I really enjoyed this. It’s simple yet deep and I’d love to play it again


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