Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Rules of Silent Ninja

The most popular game played at conference (at least among the people I hung out with) was Silent Ninja. It’s a little hard to explain how to play it online, but I’ll try my best to lay out what it’s all about. Perhaps you can try it at your New Year’s or Christmas parties!

Silent Ninja is a live action turn-based strategy game. I’m explaining here the rules we followed at syezd.

To play the game, you will need:
  • A large open space, preferably with some kind of padding on the floor.
  • A decent number of participants (at least ten)
  • A referee
The players get into a circle and reach out their hands into the center. They yell, “One…Two…Three…NINJA!!!” and jump back, freezing into various poses. At this point, all players have to stay in position, moving nothing but their eyes. The referee then begins with one player to start.


The players take turns and try to get each other out. This is done by using your hands to hit other player’s hands. The wrist does not count. 

During your turn, you can only move in a single fluid motion to attack. The person you’re attacking can defend himself, but again using a single fluid motion. After you finish your turn, both you and your target have to freeze in position. This can leave you wide open to attack, so be careful!

Various positions you can take during play.

Your position is key. Oftentimes you can’t see your targets (or your attackers for that matter) and you have to use peripheral vision and ninja skills. If your hands are out in the open, they will get slapped. Sometimes players stay in defensive mode by crossing their arms; this can get a little silly once there are only two or three players left.

The referee keeps track of whose turn it is. At first, all the players are in a circle, taking turns clockwise, but after all that movement things get jumbled up, so you really need a good referee to sort things out. However, you are allowed to move as soon as player before you moves: no permission from the ref is required.

Once there are two or three players left, things start heating up. Since you can move as soon as the other guy moves, the pace of the game gets much quicker. The endgame is all about reflexes at this point.

Last ninja standing wins!

Pictures taken from the 2010 conference in Jordanville.

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