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Strawberry Ninja: Can You Help Catch the Sneaky Fruit?

Strawberry Ninja Card

Can you find the sneaky Strawberry Ninja?
(All photos of Strawberry Studio product were taken and edited by KristaG)

Strawberry Ninja is literally a cat and mouse game…except there is no mouse; there’s a ninja! This sneaky strawberry is brought to us by Strawberry Studio and is currently on Kickstarter with a little over 2 weeks left of its campaign. In this 1-4 player cooperative card game, players work together to help Kitty find the Strawberry Ninja hiding in the strawberry field. However, as easy as this sounds, this strawberry is, indeed, a ninja and ninjas can be quite elusive! Can you catch him before time runs out and he escapes Kitty’s grasp?

Strawberry Ninja is an excellent filler game for solo play or co-op amongst families. The set up is fast and painless; the game play light and cute; and the mechanics are easy to learn! To get started, separate the 4 movement cards from the deck and shuffle them. These will form the

Strawberry Field Set Up

An example of the strawberry field set up using the print and play.
(There are card backs included in the print and play files, we just sleeved our cards and played with them instead)

Movement Deck and, while random at first, will later become key to helping Kitty catch – or miss – the Strawberry Ninja! After shuffling the small deck, place them face down within easy view of all players. Then place the Round Tracker nearby with the Round Marker on the “1” space. This, also, needs to be in easy view of all players. Next, remove the Strawberry Ninja card from the deck and shuffle the remaining 13 cards. Remove 3 cards at random and set them aside as they will not be used in this game. Add the Strawberry Ninja back into the deck and shuffle them. Once finished, deal the cards out to make a 4×3 grid, leaving 1 space of the players’ choice empty. This will be the strawberry field where Kitty is hunting for the Strawberry Ninja. Players may set Kitty on any face down card in the grid to start.

The first player is determined by who last ate a strawberry, with any dispute being settled by who enjoyed their strawberry the most. Turns consist of 4 mandatory steps (Shift, Shift Again, Reveal, and Move) and 1 optional one (Pounce), which I will get to a little later.

Strawberry Field Cards

Several examples of cards that can be found in the strawberry field with text on them that must be resolved before Kitty can move.

When shifting, the active player shifts any of the cards that are adjacent to the empty space into said space. If Kitty is on that card, Kitty moves too. If Kitty was in the originally empty space, Kitty is placed on top of the moved card. This step is repeated with a second card being shifted into the new empty space (same rules apply). The second card that was moved is then revealed. Should that card have any text on it, the text is resolved before moving on to Move step. When moving, the top card of the Move deck is drawn and Kitty is moved in the given direction. If Kitty would be forced off of the grid, the move is ignored. The Round Marker is then moved up one space. If the Round Marker reaches turn 12, the player must Pounce (reveal/claim the card that Kitty is on top of). Otherwise, this step is optional and should only be used if players think/know that Kitty is on top of the Strawberry Ninja card. If players guess wrong or are unable to catch the Strawberry Ninja by round 12, he escapes and the strawberry field is reshuffled and the game begins again. To win, players must catch the Strawberry Ninja twice, but if he escapes twice before they can catch him, the players lose!

Move & Pounce

Once Kitty makes its downward movement, we can pounce and successfully catch the ninja!

With all of that explained, I do want to point out that there is actually some strategy to the game. After the first 4 rounds, all Movement Cards have been revealed and are, therefore, pretty set in stone unless players come across a field card with text that says otherwise. Once players know or think they know where the Strawberry Ninja is, it becomes a race against the clock mixed with the puzzle of sliding cards to get Kitty’s movements lined up properly so Kitty ends on the correct card to pounce. Until those first few movements are accomplished, the game has a lot of randomness and simplicity, once they are all revealed or the Strawberry Ninja is revealed, the depth of the game changes entirely. I will admit, this was a little weird the first time we played it as it seemed like a switch was flipped and it became a very different game, but, upon playing it a second time, it made more sense and we enjoyed it a lot more.

I want to start out by saying that I love the artwork on this game! Though some may find it unusual or a bit “weird,” I love the visual aesthetic! The colors work well together and the characters look like something I’d find in a children’s book, a Tim Burton animated film, or, perhaps, a Pixar short. The art in Strawberry Ninja is an attention grabber for sure and is a large part of what pulled me to the Kickstarter page to begin with! That being said, I also really like that this is a game I can play with both children and adults as I have a pretty solid mix of both in my game group. The game variants make for a more strategic game as well as provide some good starting points for creating your own home brew variations. As the game doesn’t take up a lot of space, it’s definitely one for me to consider adding to my list of games that come with me on my long flights back and forth between the East and West coasts because I can play it by myself while on the plane using just the tray table. For $10, this game is definitely worth every penny!

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