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Gencon Game Preview: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Board Game(s)

The Heroes in a Half-Shell return in a fully cooperative board game experience!

Raise your hand if you grew up watching/reading Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

While I was at Gencon, I had the good fortune of sitting down with some of the folks at IDW Games (connected with IDW Publishing) and playing a mission from their upcoming TMNT board game (all while eating pizza, which only made it better).

Ralph and I (Casey) were on patrol. As we made our way down a darkened alley, a shape suddenly darted out in front of us and scurried up the side of the building, heading for the roof. The flash of the bushy tail in the moonlight was more than enough for us to figure out who it was: Alopex. As we prepared to follow, we were quickly surrounded by members of her gang. Gritting our teeth, we prepared for a fight…

Each player takes control of one of the good guys (a turtle or one of their allies) and faces off against whatever challenges and obstacles the mission throws at them. You begin your turn by rolling custom dice to determine what actions you can take that round. Common actions are Move, Attack (close), Attack (range), Defend, and Recover.

What makes this game unique from most other roll-to-act games is that you orient your dice in a row so that there are distinct left, middle, and right dice. When the player to your left takes a turn, they may use the action pictured on your left die. Similarly, the player to your right can make use of your right die. And on your own turn, you get two extra actions: those depicted on the closest die to you from both your neighbors’ pools.

And you’re going to need them too. Play order is randomly determined each round (thanks to a deck of initiative cards) and many groups of baddies have more than one activation. Street thugs will pursue you relentlessly, trying to scuff up your shell. Gunners gang up on single targets from a long distance, making them a high priority target. And villains – well, they have high defense and health, so you’ll want to combine your might and make sure your hits really stick.

Each hero will sport dice with a different combination of faces, skill cards to improve their effectiveness, and a unique special ability, providing a fully customized experience for each character.

Savvy readers may notice the similarities to IDW’s original game, TMNT: Shadows of the Past. While the systems have many similarities, the stark difference is that there is no longer a villain player, lending the game a fully cooperative experience.

Enemy units will activate when their initiative cards are drawn and will follow the instructions of a built-in “AI” designed for the game. Sources at IDW also say that the included components will provide ways to use certain components from the previous game as well.

Between you and me, I am really excited for the changes.

The games will integrate into the existing comic book storylines by Kevin Eastman being released by IDW Publishing, and two games are currently planned: TMNT: Change is Constant, and TMNT: City Fall. The games will be launched in a Kickstarter campaign, though no estimated release dates have been provided.

Those who can’t wait to get their fix, though, can purchase TMNT: Shadows of the Past here. You can also Preorder Munchkin Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from various online retailers (expected to be released by the end of September).

About Eric Engstrom

Eric Engstrom is an avid board game lover and general tabletop enthusiast. He is also the owner and operator of Grey Dolphin Games, which focuses on supporting game designers and publishers.

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