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Dice Game Review: ‘Pirates vs Ninjas’

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In gaming, there is the wide spectrum between skill and luck. Games like computerized chess are renowned for their pure logic, deducing the best move. Chess becomes more “lucky” as a player starts to read another player, manipulating them into traps. Games more toward the luck end, like gambling such as Craps, are enjoyed by many, and there is a widening world of combat dice games pitting players against one another.

piratesvsninjasPirates vs Ninjas from the AvA Challenger Series mixes luck with a dash of strategy in fast-paced rolls where players can wear each other down over time or dominate quickly. AvA began with Army vs Aliens, pairing two of the most classic opponents against one another in a dice-based battle. PvN asks the great question that regularly baffles the internet and causes kung-fu-tavern battles to this day: who would win in a fight between pirates and ninjas?

From the mechanics of the dice rolling, no two games are precisely the same. While other combat dice games such as Daemon Dice are more complex with specific moves blocking others, PvN is based on a ranking system that makes it easy to learn while offering room for innovative tweaks.

Players roll their dice simultaneously, and the player with the most Rank 1 dice (the weakest) goes first, balancing the luck with the advantage of attack. Players destroy their opponent’s dice by knocking out equal or lower-ranking dice. A trio of one rank can defeat the next highest rank, a good strategy to eliminate high dice as well as clearing the table of lower-ranking dice that might be slaughtered. Rank 5 dice are Heroes with special moves, while Rank 6 dice have powerful special attacks. If players choose not to, or cannot, attack, they may reroll everything.

The playful aesthetic runs throughout the game. The lower-ranking dice have themed icons like cannons, shuriken, sea monsters, and dragons. The higher-ranking dice feature powers that go with the motif. On the pirate’s side, the Captain (Rank 5) can force rallies out of intimidation and three Jolly Rogers (Rank 6) can destroy all enemy Rank 6s. The ninjas, meanwhile, have a Master who can eliminate Heroes while three Kuji Shrines allow the ninja to disappear into the reroll and attack spontaneously the next round, mimicking a ninja fading into the shadows only to reappear in a deadly ambush.

Pirates vs Ninjas is a game for two players aged eight and up. The games are short, taking only about 15 minutes each, making it great for tournament-style play or “best two out of three.” To take it to a whole new level, PvN may be combined with other sets, having pirates fight wrestlers while ninjas take on robots. Each group has its own special bonuses, and players may strategize in order to figure out who best defeats one another as some of the greatest tropes in the world battle it out through the dice.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.