Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-5
Amount of time to play: 60-90 min
Age requirements: 14+
Set-up time: 10-15 min
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shadows of the Past is a one versus all miniatures skirmish game. Up to four players take on the roles of the Turtles and face off against the player using the forces of evil.
You start TMNT Shadows of the Past by picking a mission to play. This will determine the villain and minions you will face. To set up the game you construct the map and place the required terrain tokens for the mission.
Then you choose which Turtle you want to play. On your turn you roll the dice for your Turtle. The dice determine what actions you can take. But first you then arrange them in a line. The die you place on the far left can be used be the player on your left. And the die on the far right is available for the player to your right.
The villain player uses cards instead of dice to control his evil forces. The cards have symbols and sometimes special affects you use to combat your foes. The last two cards you play stay in play. So you must balance who you want to activate with the affects their card might grant.
Combat is quick and simple. When you attack someone in melee you roll combat dice equal to your Attack stat plus the number of melee icons on the action dice (or villain cards) you used for the action. The defender rolls combat dice equal to their Defend stat plus any action dice (or villain cards) they have showing the defend action. Ranged attacks require line of sight and works the same way. But the farther away your target is the harder it is to hit them. For every space beyond the second you reduce your damage by one. If your wounds become greater than your current health you are knocked out and must spend your turns rolling to wake up.
Everyone starts the game with Focus tokens. They can be used to re-roll action or combat dice, for your Turtle’s special moves, or for the villain player to re-spawn baddies.
Shadows of the Past comes with four story arcs which are broken into missions. How you perform in your current mission will determine some of your circumstance in the next mission. This is true for both sides.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shadows of the Past is a fun one vs many skirmish game. It has some unique mechanics that are interesting and encourage collaboration.
The components for this game are really nice. The maps, minis and art all look great. The rulebook is easy to read and full of examples. It is not perfect though and a FAQ has been released.
My favorite mechanic in this game is the dice sharing one. It forces the Turtles players to work together and make optimal choices for the group. It also helps mitigate some of the luck inherent in dice rolling.
The variety of the mission objectives is nice and I really enjoy campaign game that string missions together. It is cool that your result in mission one might help or hurt you in mission two or instantly send you to mission three.
TMNT fans will enjoy how much theme there is in the game. Each Turtle plays a bit differently and those differences make sense for the character. There are even expansion packs so you can play Casey Jones, April O’Neil and others.
There are a few things to be aware of. The game scales well, but with a full player count the downtime can be long. This is more of a skirmish game than a dungeon crawler filled with leveling up your hero. This is not a bad thing but some groups have complained the game play can become repetitive.
If you are a fan of board games and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I think you’ll enjoy this game. It is fun, has some unique mechanics and stay true to the source material.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 4 out of 6
Luck 4 out of 6
Player Interaction 5 out of 6
Replay Value 5 out of 6
Complexity 4 out of 6
Fun 5 out of 6
Overall 5 out of 6