Shadow Strike Melee

| Your Opinion
Category: Age: 10+ 5 - 10 Min 3 - 9 Players 2018

Game Summary

Set-Up Ease: Ninja Fast4 / 5 Gameplay Ease: We are all Ninjas deep inside! 5 / 5 Replay Value: There is only one shinobi path here, of fight! 1.5 / 5 Thematic: You can actually feel these back n forth battles. 2.5 / 5
Overall Rating: Extremely fun and ninja-fast 7 / 10

*See how the rating system works!

Shadow Strike Melee is now up on Kickstarter! In this game you are a student ninja starting his final trial. Will you succeed in completing this final test to become a full-fledged ninja?

Game Overview

“Shadow Strike Melee” is a light card game in which you must eliminate your opponents, either alone or together with your teammate and be the last one(s) standing in order to win the game. In the version that I have played, there are 120 cards in overall – 66 fight cards numbered from 0 to10, 42 item cards of 3 different types and 12 team cards that are used to form teams. A fight card on the front has an arithmetic value and on its back a wound icon. As this game is now live on Kickstarter there is a chance that more cards will be unlocked and thus make the game better and bigger.

Setting up the Game:

Each player draws 3 fight cards without seeing them and place them in their hands, with the arithmetic value facing out. They also draw 3 item cards face in so that they can see them, thus every player has 6 cards total. Shuffle the remaining fight and item cards in two separate decks and place them on the table, face down.

A player’s turn:

On your turn, you must first choose an opponent and then play a fight card from your hand (at first randomly as you have to clues). The chosen opponent must also choose a fight card from their hand and play it. Compare the values of the fight cards. Whoever has the highest number is the winner of this fight and emerges unscathed. The loser turns one of their face out remaining cards face-in, so that he can see the value of the card and their opponents can see the wound icon. This marks one wound. Both players draw a card from the deck and the game continues clockwise. When a player turns all his face-out cards face-in, they are KO’d and are eliminated from the game, as they have three wounds.

As you get damaged, you become stronger because you can now see part of your hand and can choose more wisely which card to play. In addition your opponents can`t see these cards, so they have less information than before. You also have the items, which can change the tide of the game in your favor. There are three different items in the game:

The Shuriken: Play it at the start of your turn and you get to choose your opponent’s card for the fight. With this item you usually choose a very low value card to make sure you are going to win the fight. You can also pick a high value card if you know that you have a higher card, in order to make your opponent lose that card. You can use the effect of only one shuriken, but if you have multiple in your hands you can discard them together. You can make an impact with this one.

The Energy Bar: You can play the chocolate bar in the middle of a battle, when you see that you are losing the fight. Draw the top card of the fight deck and replace your current fight card. You can use multiple bars in a row if you see that the new card is still lower than your opponent’s. A fun and helpful item.

The Smoke Bomb: Smoke bomb has two uses. You can use it at the start of your turn to discard 1-3 fight cards from your hand and draw an equal number of cards from the deck. The second use of this card is to play it in the middle of a battle in which you are not participating (4+ players). If you do, you join the fight and you must play a fight card too. The rules are the same, all losing players receive a wound. This item is good to use if you want to hurt two or more opponents at the same time or use it when playing in teams to protect your fellow ninjas!

At the end of anyone’s turn, if you do not have any items draw back to 3.

Team Play: Team play follows the same rules except that you can talk about the use of item cards (only) with your teammate(s).

Personal thoughts

Shadow Strike Melee is very light and simple and although there are not many strategic decisions that you can make, the game is very enjoyable! If you want to play something fast and have some laugh, I highly recommend this game. I now know why the publisher is named Pure Fun Games. Moreover, it has beautiful ninja art and the quality of the cards is above average.

Although the number of players can vary from 2-9, I believe that it is better to play it with at least 4 people. The mechanic of not knowing your cards at first is very interesting and becomes the fun factor of the game. As everyone gets damaged you have to think a little more whom you must choose, because a damaged player now knows most of their cards and you don’t. Yes, you may remember which card was turned over, but if it is used in a fight the owner of the card will draw a new one facing in to replace it.

I personally enjoyed team play much more than free for all mode. When you are on a team you can jump in a fight your teammate is losing and help them win without getting a wound. You can also sometimes jump in and play a card randomly as you hope to protect them and cause a wound to you both, by losing. When you join a fight, your opponents can also join, making the fight bigger and bigger. Energy bars are played all the time and until the final outcome of the battle is determined there is always some suspense and laughs here and there.  Shadow Strike Melee can be played with lots of people and although player elimination exists, the waiting time is not much. It is easy to learn and it can easily appeal to non-gamers.

The only drawback that I can find in this game is the variety of the items. Only 3 item types can make the game repetitive at times, but then again, the game is only 10-15 minutes (depending on the number of players). They have very basic and solid abilities that’s always good to have but I could sure use some more spicy effects, which possibly their campaign may offer.
I believe the goal of the designers has been achieved. They made a light card game that everyone can play in a matter of minutes.


– Fast paced

– Very fun


– Not enough different items

– Can feel repetitive

The rating of this game can go a lot higher depending on its success on Kickstarter. There are stretch goals that add more items, equipment, updated components etc. So, if you like the game support it and make it better.

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Chemical engineer that got into the beautiful work of tabletop games. Fan of games with lots of replay value and minimum luck. Working part time as game master while finishing my master.

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