Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game, An In-Depth Review

8.3 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 8/10
Player Interaction: 7/10
Visual Design: 8/10

Fun new mechanics in addition to the popular Cerberus Engine system. | Colorful cards with eye-catching designs.

Card stock feels a little plastic-y. | Lack of expansions will shorten the game's lifespan.

Physical Tabletop

$36.18 for physical game on Amazon.com - View on Amazon

August 20,2014

English

The Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game allows you and your friends to unleash your inner ninja! In this deck-building card game, you can play as Naruto or one of his many allies and challenge S-Rank criminals such as Nagato and other members of the Akatsuki. You begin the game with basic abilities and will need to craft a powerful deck of Allies, Equipment, and Techniques to be able to take down your archenemies.

Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game uses the “Cerberus Engine” found in many of Cryptozoic’s published deck-building card games. Players use Power as their currency to defeat and acquire new cards for their decks. However, we are also introduced to Chakra, a secondary resource that allows for alternative strategies. What strategy will you focus on for you and your character?

How does this deck-building card game compare to other fan favorites? Read on to find out…

Core-set

The Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game comes complete with iconic characters and archenemies from the popular anime series, but doesn’t require any knowledge about the franchise to enjoy the game.

GAMEPLAY

Naruto is a popular anime series from Japan that has spawned a variety of merchandising. The Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game uses the same “Cerberus Engine” that is seen in other Cryptozoic deck-building card games. This engine typically uses a single in-game currency to purchase available cards to add to your deck. However, Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game adds the new Chakra and Positive Attack mechanics for even more diversity.

These new additions bring about a new way to play, but also a few issues with remembering how much of what currency you have at any given time. These issues are short lived once you get into the rhythm of the game.

As with many deck-building card games, you start with a basic deck of cards that are your primary resource generators at the beginning of the game. In this game, there are three key places where you can acquire cards. The Line-Up is your primary place of card acquisition and is formed of 5 cards dealt from the Main Deck. Unlike other popular deck-building card games, if a card is purchased from the Line-Up it is not replaced until the end of the turn.

Starting-hand

You can set up the play area however you wish. Though, this was the easiest layout for myself and my group. Pictured is also the Starter Deck for each player: 7 Punch cards and 3 Vulnerability cards.

The Stack is the second place where you can acquire cards but is also home to the archenemies and Weakness cards. Archenemies must be defeated from the Stack and are then placed into your discards when they are. When a new Archenemy is revealed you must resolve any Group Attack effects, if any. This gives the game some risk when taking on an Archenemy and could have significant consequences if you can’t defend yourself from a Group Attack.

Lastly, the Main Deck can be interacted with by many cards in the game and thus should not be overlooked. Once empty, it is also the target of a card with a separate win condition, so you’ll want to keep an eye on its dwindling size throughout the game. The Main Deck consists of 111 cards with many of them repeated so that all players have an opportunity to build a strategy around specific game mechanics.

Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game also uses over-sized Character Cards from the anime series. Before you begin playing you will choose one of these characters. All of them have different abilities that can be triggered when you have enough Chakra. In order to earn Chakra, you will need to play a card to one of the four relevant slots on your Character Card, Play a Hand Sign card, or earn it from any of the other cards you play that turn that have a printed Chakra ability. The Chakra system adds a fun side resource to the game with some really cool abilities that you can trigger if you can collect enough Chakra in a single turn to pull them off.

Locations-remain-in-play

Locations remain in play for the duration of the game unless they are destroyed. They will give you benefits on each of your turns that you can choose to trigger at any point during that turn.

All other cards can be played in front of you and you must resolve their effects in the order you play them. Some cards can carry out an attack against your opponent(s). Attacks of any kind will usually result in the accumulation of a Weakness card from the Stack.

However, there are cards that carry the Defense keyword that allow your opponent to negate the attack and they will often gain an additional card and/or effect for doing so. Positive Attack cards work in a similar fashion but affect you instead of your opponent. However, your opponent can still play a Defense card to cancel out the effects if they deem them to be too beneficial.

The pacing of the game is very fast with most turns taking mere seconds to complete. As your deck and strategies grow, you will have streamlined your deck to the point where turns may take a little longer due to the intricate combos you’ll want to chain. The learning curve is relatively short but the time it will take to learn which strategies are best will take several games – giving the game a decent longevity.

The main objective of the game is to have the most Victory Points in your deck at the end of it all. The game can end in two ways: defeating all Archenemies or depleting the Main Deck so that there are no more cards left to draw. One card in the game allows for you to win if you own it in your deck and the Main Deck is depleted, as an alternative win condition. This seems to scale better with more players depleting the deck faster, so in a two-player game it’s not likely to be a viable strategy.

Take-advantage-of-combos

Spotting combos early will be crucial to pulling ahead in the game. Though you really shouldn’t load up on too much dead weight for the sake of possibly pulling off a sweet combo.

DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY

Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game has a diverse number of strategies you can adopt and these will evolve as you play the game. Not many deck-builders allow you to shift the focus of your strategy throughout the game and you are often punished for doing so. This game, however, almost encourages you to do so as some of the cards you buy early on will need to be destroyed in order to keep your deck functioning at an optimal level.

Your initial starter cards are highly expendable (in most cases) and you should destroy these as soon as you can. Destroying a card removes it from the game permanently. The more cards you buy, the larger your deck becomes, and you’ll either need a way to ensure you can cycle through most of your deck on one turn or eliminate dead weight from your deck at the earliest opportunity.

Ensure you build your strategy around your character’s Chakra power and what cards they need to be able to meet the cost of that power every turn. For example, the Naruto Character Card requires 3 Chakra to be able to pay 3 less Power to defeat an Archenemy that turn. Naruto has one Starter, one Ally, and two Enemy slots where you can play your cards to gain the Chakra required to trigger his ability. This makes holding some of your Starter cards a key strategy, instead of destroying them.

Sadly this game doesn’t gel too well with other “Cerberus Engine” games. This is because of the inclusion of the Chakra points and the over-sized Character Cards. You can try to do so, but you will need a Character Card to act as your other games’ Chakra point generator. You will also be diluting the combos you could pull off if you add in another Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game’s contents into the mix. In short, keep the game as pure as you can!

Weakness-will-slow-you-down

Weakness cards serve as both a means to slow down your opponent’s combos and to reduce their Victory Points at the end of the game. Ensure you obtain some defensive cards so you can protect yourself from the Attack cards that put these into your deck!

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you’re a fan of Naruto or Cryptozoic’s “Cerberus Engine” games, then you’re going to really enjoy Naruto Shippuden Deck-Building Game. It has all the right ingredients for an enjoyable deck-building experience without consuming too much time, with most games lasting around forty minutes. If you’re at all familiar with other deck-building games, it only takes a minor glance at the rules to see how the Chakra system works before being able to pick up and play. I found it very similar to Ascension and other deck-builders of that ilk so it was a breeze to get going with it.

The artwork is hi-res images taken straight from the series itself. The card template works well with the game’s theme and the cards have a gloss finish to them. The back is a neutral one that fits with other “Cerberus Engine” games so you can mix and match without sleeving.

As far as deck-builders go, this is a pretty enjoyable one. I especially love the Chakra system with the varying slots and powers on the character cards to influence what card types you should buy from the purchase row. It’s a great deck-builder even if you’re not a fan of the source material, so if it sounds at all appealing, you should check it out!

For more screenshots, click here.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by
Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

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