Pirates versus Ninjas Rulebook – Version 1.


Play Area

The play area is the location where building cards will be played throughout the game. Initially the play area is populated with cards from the deck, placed face down on to the playing surface.

The Characters
Each player chooses a character that they wish to play as from the character deck. Players on the Pirate team must choose a Pirate character and players on the Ninja team must choose a Ninja character. A player’s total health is indicated on the card. In order to keep track of a player’s life total, each player should use some type of indicator such as spare change, beans, or some similar object. Each character also has a unique ability or effect. If any discrepancies arise during gameplay regarding a player’s ability, the information printed on the card overrules the general rules. Each character card also has a defense value printed on it. This number represents the amount of damage a player can sustain during one attack before they lose a life point. For example, if a character’s Defense rating is 7, when an opposing player attacks them, the attack must be greater than 7 in order to cause the player to lose a health point. Any ties between the attacker and the defender are awarded to the defender.


“Pirates versus Ninjas” is a light-hearted card game designed for 2 to 6 players. It does not require any set-up other than shuffling a deck and decent sized play area in which multiple cards can be laid out in a square pattern.

In “Pirates versus Ninjas”, two teams are competing to finish the construction of their Pirate Ship or Ninja Dojo, respectively. Players take turns drawing and playing cards to help take over the game board by constructing their base or by defeating their opponents. Whichever team completes their Pirate Ship or Ninja Dojo first, or eliminates the opposing team is declared the victor.

Set-up The Cards

Players divide up in to two teams (preferably with even numbers) with one team representing the “Pirates” and the other team representing the “Ninjas.” Once the teams have been decided, each player may decide which character they would like to play as. Players then sit themselves next to their team, as play will proceed back and forth across the play area.

There are a number of key features to every card in “Pirates versus Ninjas.” The name of the card will appear across the top of the card. The Health and Defense of any character is labeled right below the card name. In addition, any abilities or unique effects will be explained in the body of the text. If the card has a particular alignment to either Pirates or Ninjas, it will be indicated in the bottom-left corner. When deciding what cards to deploy during your turn, the number printed in the bottom right corner is how much of your Energy it costs you to put that card in to play. This is called its Deploy Cost.

Before anyone is dealt their initial hand of cards, one player will take the cards that have no information on them except the “Pirates versus Ninjas” logo and lay them down on the play area, using the diagram to the right as a guide. Each player then places their character on the nearest blank building area as a starting location. There is not a specific start location for each player, as long as they start their character as close to them as possible. For example, the first player on one team would be positioned at the bottom left corner, while the second player would be located at the bottom middle, followed by the third player placing themselves at the bottom right.

The Turn
Maintenance During this phase of your turn, the only actions that take place are the resolution of cards that may have had a lasting effect from another turn. Examples of this may be poison inflicted by the Ninjas, or Scurvy inflicted by the Pirates. After any of these types of effects are handled, you immediately proceed to the next step of your turn. No cards can be played by any player during the Maintenance step of any turn.

After the deck has been shuffled, each player takes a turn cutting the deck and revealing the bottom card. The person who receives the highest deployment cost goes first. Then each player is dealt 5 cards to begin the game.

The extra character cards should be set aside, and should not be shuffled in to the play deck.

Key Terms


At the beginning of each player’s turn, they have 6 Energy they can use on the deployment of cards, activating abilities, moving their character, and drawing new cards.


Characters may move across the game board by spending Energy per card location they wish to move. Characters can only move vertically and horizontally. Diagonal movement is not allowed unless specified by a card’s ability.

The second step of your turn is the Movement step. During this step you may expend Energy to move your character around the Pirate Ship/Ninja Dojo. Characters may only move in horizontal or vertical directions. Each space you move your character costs one Energy, and is docked from your allotted 6 Energy per turn. Players may not travel through a space occupied by another character unless specified otherwise. You may move as many spaces as you wish, provided you have the Energy to do so. Combat


These represent items that you have given your character. When you play an item you must spend the Deployment cost printed on the card before it can be put in to play.

Items that you have deployed are laid in front of you for reference until it is removed by another card or the effect ends (if it is a temporary item).

The Combat step of your turn is when you make offensive attacks against opposing players. In order to make an attack, you must be within the required range indicated by the weapon you are wielding. Each player may only equip 1 weapon unless a card specifically states otherwise. Most offensive weapons will state whether or not additional weapons may be equipped or if they do not count towards your limit. Declaring an attack or using a weapon that has been deployed does not cost any energy unless otherwise stated. After declaring an attack towards an opponent, you may reveal the top card of the deck. The Deploy Cost of that card is then added to the damage done by your equipped weapons. Generally characters do not have a base attack rating unless otherwise specified on the character card. If you have a damage total greater than the Defense rating of your target opponent, they lose one life point. If you were successful in lowering your target’s health by at least 1 damage, the attack was considered to be successful. In most cases, you will only deal 1 point of damage per attack. The Combat step may be skipped during a player’s turn if they choose not to make an attack. You may only make one attack per turn unless a card states otherwise. Deployment The Deployment step follows the Combat phase of your turn and is the time in which you may put new cards in to play. If you choose to deploy a new card, you must first check to determine whether you have enough Energy remaining to pay the card’s Deploy cost. If you do not have

Building Pieces

During each player’s turn, they may put in to play one piece of their respective building in to an empty space in the play area that is either at the same location as their character or an adjacent location. An empty space is defined as one of the cards that were originally laid out before the game began. During the game, existing building pieces cannot be modified or removed without the effect of an additional card.

Players who are on the Pirate team may not play a Ninja location, and vice versa. During the Clean-up phase of a players turn, they may discard a location card of the opposing team and draw a new card.

Building Pieces may have a positive or negative effect for the player occupying a location, depending on the building piece and whether the occupying character is a Pirate or a Ninja.

Card Alignment

Many cards have an alignment printed near the card’s text. These cards will state whether or not the use of the card is limited to be used by Pirates or Ninjas.

Pirates versus Ninjas Rulebook – Version 1.0

enough due to a lingering effect, or you used too much Energy during your Movement and Combat phases, you may not put that card in to play. Scurvy If a player is affected by Scurvy, during that player’s Maintenance phase, they must reveal the top card of the deck to all players. If the Deploy number on the card is an even number, the effect ends and the card revealed from the deck and the card that caused the Scurvy are placed in the discard pile. If the number was odd, that player loses one life point and continues their turn as normal. The effect remains until the beginning of the player’s next turn, in which they would repeat the above process. Poison Poison is handled similar to Scurvy. During their Maintenance step they reveal the top card of the deck to all players. If the Deploy number is even, both the card drawn from the deck and the card that caused the Poison are placed in the Discard pile. If the Deploy number is odd, both cards are still placed in the Discard pile, however the poisoned player begins this turn with 2 less Energy. Bleeding Any character affected by the Bleeding ability has -2 Defense until the end of the current turn.

The Deployment phase always follows the Combat phase so that cards deployed may not be used until the following turn. There are cards that will allow you to deploy items during your combat step in order to use them on the same turn.

Players also have the option of placing a piece of the Pirate Ship or Ninja Dojo. Players may place a piece of their respective building on any empty location that their character currently inhabits. To play a Building Piece, simply place the location card on top of the card used as a placeholder at the beginning of the game.

No player may ever place more than one building card during their turn. If you plan on playing a Building Piece, you may not deploy any other cards. You may still move as normal.

There are cards in the game that will allow players to remove existing pieces of their opponents building and replace them with a piece of their own. These cards have the details of their use printed on the card. If any discrepancies arise regarding building replacement, use the text on the card being used as authority.

Character Death
During the course of the game, as players take damage from attacks or effects, they have the possibility of dying. A player is eliminated if their life total becomes zero. If your life total becomes zero during another player’s turn, you are eliminated and you place any cards in your hand and items in play in to the discard pile and remove your character from the play area.


The final step of a player’s turn is the Balance step. At the end of a player’s turn after they have finished deployment they must discard enough cards from their hand so that their total does not exceed 5.

If a player has fewer than 5 cards, they may spend any remaining Energy they have to draw cards at a rate of one Energy per card.

No cards may be played during the Balance step unless it is specifically stated on the card.

Other players do not have to Balance their hand during another player’s turn. The discard and draw effect only applies to the person who is currently taking their turn.

If the draw deck runs out during the course of the game, reshuffle the discard pile and place it as the draw deck again.

If an effect may cause you to die during your turn, you may continue your turn in an attempt to regain consciousness. You may play cards as normal, but you may not attack or move your character unless the effect causing you to die happened after you have already done so. You must still follow the play order for the turn. If your turn ends and you were unsuccessful in regaining at least 1 life point, you are defeated and must place any cards in your hand and cards in play in to the discard pile as well as remove your character from the play area.

In order to be victorious in “Pirates versus Ninjas”, there are two roads that you may take. The first option is to complete your Pirate Ship or Ninja Dojo first. If a player plays a Building Card that would cause the entire board to be the Pirate Ship or the Ninja Dojo, that team is declared the winner. The alternative method to winning is by defeating the other team. When all the opposing players have been eliminated, the remaining team is declared the winner.

Your turn is divided in to five different steps (as outlined above) that must be performed in that order. Certain actions can only be performed during certain portions of your turn unless a card specifically states otherwise.

Unique Ability and Effect Keywords Variations

Some characters or cards may have a keyword listed on the card. These keywords indicate that the character has a special ability or that a card may grant that ability through various circumstances. These are the definitions of the special abilities that you will find on the cards.


If this character makes a successful attack against an opponent (It must deal at least 1 point of damage to the character), they may make a second attack using the same weapon against a different opponent without paying the Energy cost (it must be a valid target).


You receive an additional +2 Defense after drawing a card for an item. This effect ends at the beginning of your next turn.

In some situations you may find that you have more people wanting to play “Pirates versus Ninjas” than the game is designed to support. And who can blame them? “Pirates versus Ninjas” is a great party game! In order to accommodate your eager Ninjas or Pirates, simply print off the card sets a second time, and increase the play area by one row and column for each additional pair of people wanting to play. Additionally, following these guidelines, there is really no limit on how many people can play “Pirates versus Ninjas” at the same time! Just remember to have fun!


All players in adjacent locations to this character receive one additional Defense point.


Any character that is the target of a melee attack from this character has their Defense reduced by one until the end of combat.


If attacking with a melee weapon, this character may choose not to draw for bonus damage. If they do so, their target may not draw for any of their defensive items. Other cards can still be played as normal.


A player may move their character one additional location without paying Energy if they already moved at least 2 locations through conventional movement rules.


Receives an additional +2 Defense when using a weapon with a base range of 1.


Receives an additional +2 Defense when using a weapon with a base range of 2 or greater.

Some cards may have an effect that lasts until another player’s turn, or until the start of your next turn. These cards will have a keyword printed on them that will reference one of the descriptions below, or will be explained on the card’s text.