In the time it took for you to process that image and read this sentence, a proper ninja would have devised four different ways to kill you. Who here thinks they can do better than that? Who here thinks they can stop a ninja?
Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan is a 2-4 player board game set in the universe of Legends of the Five Rings. In it, a whole castles' worth of soldiers and guards from the Lion clan are pitted against a lone Scorpion ninja, and his traitorous Lion accomplice. They must infiltrate the castle, search for the objective they came to complete, and exit before either time runs out or the Lion guards figure out where they are.
Core ideas for the game:
Hidden movement - the ninja and his accomplice are not actually visible until spotted, giving them free rein to mess with the guards' heads however they see fit. Did a ninja just play a card that lets them throw a rope over a wall? You can make your best guess and head to where you think it would be...although it could completely be a ruse to get you to abandon your post. The faster the ninja and traitor move, though, the more likely they are to be heard or spotted.
Action cards - Each side has a deck of cards that represent certain actions they can perform. Guards can play cards to listen for intruders, begin a patrol, or awaken reinforcements. Ninjas can use ropes to scale walls, throw deadly shuriken, and get guards good and intoxicated so they become worthless. The guards can re-draw cards that they play, but once a ninja or traitor plays a card, it's gone for good, so they only have a limited amount of equipment to achieve their goal.
Alert level - As the ninja gets sloppier or more desperate, he will leave behind evidence of his entry or, worst case, be spotted. This will alert the other guards in the castle that something is amiss, and raise the general Alert Level. The higher this level is, the more cards guards will get access to, and the more actions they can take per turn.
The ninja and traitor each have a randomly drawn objective. They have 20 turns to get in, find their objective, and leave the castle. If both do so before the 20th turn is up, they win. If only one manages this, the game is a draw. If both are either killed or do not escape in time, the guards win.
First, the ninja and traitor pick their objective secretly, at random. Each objective has a letter, A-F.
Then, each side creates their deck of action cards. The ninja may choose any 8 of his 12 cards, the traitor any 7 of his 10. The guard starts with a hand of 24 cards of his choice, the other 12 forming his draw deck. If playing with two guard players, each guard gets an identical half of the whole deck(18 cards), from which he must choose 12 to be his hand. The two guards cannot mix their decks together, or trade cards.
Next, the board is set up. The guard players place 8 sentries on the board, one at each zone that contains a red sentry post icon. Since there are 12 posts, some will not be manned initially. Then, the guard players set up 3 patrols of 2 guards each, which can be placed anywhere on the red Patrol track(the red footprints that form a figure-eight outside the inner castles). After that, the guard players can secretly place 8 sleeping guards at zones with the yellow barracks icon, no more than 2 per zone. These can be awakened later by action cards, so long as no more than 20 guards are on the board. Then the guards secretly place, in the inner castle areas, all 6 objectives, 2 traps, and 2 hidden sentries. No zone can have more than 1 of these objects, and they cannot be placed in a zone with a red sentry post icon. If playing with two guard players, each player has a type of guard - Sword or Spear. A guard player cannot play cards on a guard not of his type. This makes it advisable for patrols to have one of each type of guard present.
After this is done, the ninja and traitor set up. The ninja must start the game in one of the zones adjacent to the edge of the board, his choice. The traitor must start in a zone inside the outer moat area, although not in the inner castle area. Then, between the two of them, they may choose any two zones on the board to be connected via a secret passage. The only zones not eligible are moat zones.
The guard players may draw as many cards as the alert level dictates: No alert = no cards, Low = 1, Medium = 2, High = 3. If playing with two guard players, they must decide between them who draws how many cards. After drawing cards, the Alert Level downgrades by one, and the guards may play any or all of the cards that were just drawn. No guard may have more than one card played on him per turn(Exception: Kenjutsu cards, exp. later). Once a card is played, it is shuffled back into the guard's draw deck.
Guards Card phase:
The guard players may play cards from their hand, in any order. They may play up to two cards in this phase. If playing with two guard players, they must decide between them who plays how many cards this turn. Cards played are shuffled into the draw deck, as before.
Guards are paid to have a certain level of awareness. Therefore, if no cards were played in the Alert phase, and the guards choose to play no cards in the Card phase, then they may select one sentry or patrol to act as though the Sentry/Patrol Listen card were played on them.
Guards Patrol phase:
All guard patrols that did not have any kind of movement card played on them earlier this turn now move along the patrol track. They must follow the track, and their predetermined facing. They move two zones forward. When a patrol leaves a zone with a fork in the track, the patrol may choose which path to follow. They may not reverse direction and go back the way they came.
Both the ninja and the traitor move during this phase. They may move up to three zones. The further they move, however, the more noise they make, which makes listening for them much easier. Intruders can be heard from a distance equal to the number of zones they moved in the previous turn. For instance, if a ninja decides to run for 3 zones, any guard that is no more than 3 contiguous zones away from the ninja's ending location will hear them with a Listen card. Walls and moats do not affect listening, only distance does.
Intruders may play cards at any point during their turn. The only card that may be played out of sequence is the traitor's It Was a Cat (more details later).
In order to find their objective, they must search the castle. The ninja or traitor, after moving, may choose to Search the zones they were just in. They can search any two zones that they either moved into or out of this turn. To search, simply announce to the guard player which zones you are searching, and which intruder is searching them, and they must truthfully respond whether the zone has nothing, a trap, a hidden sentry, or an objective.
If it has a trap, the Alert level is raised by 1. The trap remains where it is, in case a foolish ninja searches there later in the game. If it is a hidden sentry, a guard is placed in the zone, and the intruder has one chance to neutralize him by playing either a Kenjutsu, Shuriken, Shadow Walk, or Potent Sake card.. If not, the Alert level is raised to High. If it is an objective, the guard must inform them which objective is present. If it is the objective the intruder player is searching for, they must immediately announce that they have accomplished their mission. An intruder player cannot accomplish the mission of his partner. If an intruder has accomplished their mission, they may leave the board by moving to a zone that is on the edge of the board, and spending one more point of movement to move off of it. You must tell the guard player when this happens. Once you leave the board, you cannot come back for the rest of the game.
If a guard moves into the same zone as an intruder, his movement ends immediately, and the Alert level is raised to High. His token is also placed on the board.
If an intruder moves into the same zone as a guard, he can play cards to neutralize or evade the guard. If not, the alert level is raised to High and his token is placed on the board. When an intruder enters a zone with no guards in them or eliminates all guards in his zone, his token immediately is removed from the board and he becomes hidden again. The alert level does not change.
An attack can occur when a guard enters or starts in the same zone as an intruder, or vice versa. The active player is the attacker. If the attacker is an intruder, discard one Kenjutsu card to remove one guard. Move the Alert Level up by one or two, as indicated on the card. Note that the intruders have a limited number of Kenjutsu cards, thus they must avoid being involved in too many combats. An intruder does not have to kill a guard just because he enters the zone. If he chooses not to or cannot, raise the Alert Level to High. There can only be 20 guard figures on the map at any time. This includes drunk guards. If there are 20 guards on the map, sleeping guards cannot be awakened. If there are 20 guards on the map and an intruder triggers a hidden sentry, first the intruder has a chance to kill the hidden sentry. If he does not, the guard player may select any one guard (even a drunk guard) and remove it from the map so that he can place the hidden sentry on the map as a guard. If the guard player chooses not to do this, the intruder is still detected and the Alert Level moves to High.
If the attacker is a guard, the guard player can play as many Kenjutsu cards as he has guards in that zone. He can do this even during the Guards Patrol Phase. Kenjutsu cards do not count against the one-card-per-guard limit. It is perfectly legal to play a Sentry Search on a guard to move him into a zone with an intruder, and then play a Kenjutsu card to attack that intruder. However, each guard can attack only once per turn. When a guard attacks, the intruder gets a wound. Place the Kenjutsu card in front of the intruder player to track how many wounds the intruders have suffered. The Alert Level goes to High. The ninja dies when he has been attacked 3 times. The traitor dies when he has been attacked twice. When an intruder dies, place any Kenjutsu cards being used to mark that intruder’s wounds into the guard’s discard pile.
If the intruder player loses a character before turn 10, he continues with a new copy of that intruder at the start of his next turn (the dead intruder is considered to have been a clever decoy). Each intruder only gets one new life per game. Select a new starting position in the same manner as for the start of the game. The secret passage remains at the same location. The intruder can move on the turn he restarts. Select new cards: 6 cards for a ninja and 5 for a traitor. These cards are selected from all the cards provided (i.e., you can select cards that you did not choose when setting up). Once the starting location and starting hand have been chosen, shuffle the dead intruder’s mission goal with the unused mission goals. Draw a new mission goal for the new character. You might already know where the mission can be found, but the mission is not considered completed until that intruder searches that zone.
The guard player selects up to 5 cards from the cards in his draw deck and discard pile, and adds those cards to his hand. He also gets 3 extra sleeping guards. Remember, there may be no more than two sleeping guards per barracks, but you may place these new guards in barracks that have had sleeping guards wake up and depart. All ropes, drunk guards, etc., left by the dead intruder remain. When an intruder dies on turn 11 or later, no new intruder character gets created and the guard player gets no bonus.
The Secret Passage:
At the start of the game, only the ninja and traitor know the location of the secret passage. The secret passage has two entrances; it does not connect to the map in any other zone. The secret passage is considered a single map zone. If a guard and intruder are in the secret passage at the same time, the intruder is detected. A figure cannot move through the secret passage in a single turn. As soon as you move into the secret passage, your movement ends.
When a guard finishes his turn in the same zone as an entrance to the secret passage, the intruder player must reveal its existence. From then on, the guards are able to use the secret passage too. Discovering the secret passage does not raise the Alert Level. If the guard passes through the zone of the entrance to the secret passage without stopping, he notices nothing. When you wish one of your figures to enter the secret passage, place the Secret Passage card face-up in front of you and place your figure upon it. Each figure needs its own card to use the secret passage. The ninja and intruder cannot use each others Secret Passage card, but if there are two guard players, they may.
When a guard enters the secret passage, the intruder player does not need to tell the guard player where the other exit is; the guard player can only find out by luck or by sending a guard out the other exit. Next turn, figures can leave the secret passage by either exit (note that guards still need a Sentry Search or Patrol Search card to move out of the passage). Exiting the secret passage counts as one zone of movement. When a figure leaves the secret passage, leave the Secret Passage card face up in front of that player. Treat the secret passage as a new zone. You must still stop your movement when you enter the secret passage. Guards outside the secret passage cannot hear intruders that
are in the secret passage. Guards cannot listen for intruders while inside the secret passage. Guards cannot enter the secret passage for the first time without the Secret Passage card. Once they play that card, one guard can move in or out of the secret passage by using a Sentry Search card.
Cards can only be played on their owning player's turn, with the exception of It Was a Cat.
Secret Passage(x1) - Place this card face up in front of you and put your traitor figure on it. Only the ninja can use this card. The ninja's move ends as soon as he enters the secret passage. When the ninja leaves the passage, retrieve your figure from this card, but leave the card in front of you.
Kenjutsu(x3) - Play to kill a guard in the same zone. You can kill several guards at once by discarding one Kenjutsu card per guard. Increase the Alert Level by one per Kenjutsu card you play. You can only play this on your turn.
Rope(x3) - Play to place a rope over a wall. Indicate the location of the rope on your private map. When the ninja crosses a wall using a rope, his movement stops. The rope can be used by both intruders for the rest of the game to cross between those two zones.
Shadow Walk(x2) - Play to move through a zone with only one sentry without being detected. The ninja may not stop in that zone, but may search it. Do not reveal which zone was affected.
Shuriken(x3) - Target a solitary sentry in the same zone or an adjacent zone(not across a wall). Remove the sentry from the map. This does not raise the Alert Level. The ninja can move no more than one zone on the turn he uses this card. You can only play this on your turn.
Secret Passage(x1) - Place this card face up in front of you and put your traitor figure on it. Only the traitor can use this card. The traitor's move ends as soon as he enters the secret passage. When the traitor leaves the passage, retrieve your figure from this card, but leave the card in front of you.
Rope(x1) - Play to place a rope over a wall. Indicate the location of the rope on your private map. When the traitor crosses a wall using a rope, his movement stops. The rope can be used by both intruders for the rest of the game to cross between these two zones.
Kenjutsu(x3) - Play to kill a guard in the same zone. You can kill several guards at once by discarding one Kenjutsu card per guard. Increase the Alert Level by two per Kenjutsu card you play. You can only play this on your turn.
It Was A Cat(x2) - Play when you discover a trap to avoid raising the Alert Level. You may also play this card when the guards play a Patrol Listen or Sentry Listen card. The guards automatically hear nothing. This card is no help when guards enter the traitor's zone.
Potent Sake(x3) - Play when entering a zone with only one sentry. Replace the sentry with a drunk guard. The drunk guard cannot have cards played on him. Whenever an intruder enters the drunk guard's zone, you must reveal the intruder's position, but this does not raise the Alert Level. You cannot play this on a guard that has been in the same zone as the traitor this turn.
Kenjutsu(x6) - Play to wound an intruder in the same zone as your guard. Place this card with the intruder to track his wounds. This does not count as one of the two cards you can play during the Guard Card phase. You can play this card even if that guard has already had another card played on him. A guard can only play one Kenjutsu per Turn. Raise the Alert level to High.
Sentry Search(x6) - Move one Sentry up to 2 zones in any direction to search for intruders. If your sentry enters a zone with an intruder, place the intruder figure on the map and raise the Alert Level to High.
Sentry Listen(x8) - Choose a sentry to listen. The range depends on the speed of the intruder and his location: Standing still - undetected, Sneaking - 1 zone, walking - 2 zones, running - 3 zones. If the sentry hears a noise, he can move 2 zones, and the Alert Level is raised by 1.
Patrol Listen(x4) - Choose a patrol to listen. The range depends on the speed of the intruder and his location: Standing still - undetected, Sneaking - 1 zone, walking - 2 zones, running - 3 zones. If the patrol hears a noise, they can move 2 zones, and the Alert Level is raised by 1.
Patrol Search(x6) - Choose a zone with a patrol in it. Move at least 2 guards from that patrol up to 2 zones in any direction. The guards must stay together. After moving, choose the facing of the patrol if it landed on a patrol track. If your patrol encounters a zone with an intruder, place the intruder on the map and raise the Alert Level to High.
Awaken(x4) - Play this card to wake up a sleeping sentry. Eliminate one "S" from your hidden map, and place a guard in that location. Move that guard up to 2 zones. If 20 guards are on the board, sleeping guards cannot wake up. If all sleeping guards have been awakened, this card can turn a drunk guard back to a normal guard.
Secret Passage(x2) - Place this card face-up in front of you and put your guard figure on it. Only one guard can use this card at a time. The guard's move ends as soon as he enters the secret passage. When the guard leaves the passage, retrieve the figure from the card, leaving the card in front of you.
We'll be using admanb's handtracker
for this game. After the end of each turn, the discards will be shuffled back into the deck.