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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Showdown Review

Quick Look: 

Designers:  Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu
Artist: Robert Atkins
Publisher: IDW Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-6
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 45 min.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

TMNT: Showdown places the Turtles in their most precarious situation yet!  This tile-laying, smash 'em up has players racing to the finish as either the Turtles or two of their deadliest foes: Bebop and Rocksteady.  The Turtles will have to use their intimate knowledge of the NYC sewers in a quest to save their friends, while outmaneuvering the threat that is hot on their heels.  Making a wrong turn could spell doom for the Turtles and their friends, or they may team up in order to overcome Bebop and Rocksteady.  Plan, Place, Move, Attack, and Rescue your way to victory in TMNT Showdown: Bebop & Rocksteady Madness.


The theme is what stands out in this box!  The box, rule book, and card art by Robert Atkins in a Kevin Eastman style gives a great feel for this game that's a throwback to the original comic art.  Playing as the Turtles in the sewers trying to save your friends (Splinter, April, Casey, and Angel) from the evil but bumbling Bebop and Rocksteady is a storyline that anyone who is even slightly familiar with the Ninja Turtles can jump right in to.  Pull up your favorite playlist or soundtrack from the many TMNT movies and cartoons and you're ready for some Turtle Power!

Opening the box, you'll find some interesting bits to punch out before your first play - two sheets of cardboard markers (pizza tokens, nunchuks, and more), but also a sheet of clear plastic character standees.  Take your time with this one - it may help to twist the cards as if you're taking a mini off a sprue.

Once your bits are punched out and your characters in their standees, setup is fairly quick.  The rules give you a nice breakdown for how to split the 6 characters in every game (the 4 turtles and 2 villains); for example, in a 3-player game, two players control the turtles (two each) and the other player controls the villains.  You'll find a similar breakdown for every player count from 2 through 6.

Each player takes the card or cards they'll need to control their character(s).  The character standees start on the board on their respective Home Tiles, spaces with pizza icons get pizza tokens; set out the dice and tokens, give the Map Tiles pile a shuffle, and you're ready to go.

Rules and Mechanics:
TMNT: Showdown is a tile-laying game.  The Turtles start out on their home tile in the center of the board and need to lay tiles and move in order to rescue three out of their four Allies from the corners of the board in order to win.  The Turtles can move from one tile to the next orthogonally over sewer grates but also through pipes.  Bebop and Rocksteady are trying to keep the Turtles away from the Allies and also to engage them in enough Showdown battles to grasp victory.  The Villains can only move over the grates, and can't follow the Turtles into the pipes.  Tiles can be placed in any orientation but must be played in the closest open space to the active character.  Placing tiles strategically is vital to moving your characters around the board to reach your goals!

The Showdowns are dice battles that happen when two opposing characters are on the same tile or two adjacent, connected tiles (where movement is possible between the two tiles).  For a Showdown, both the attacker and the defender roll one die and add that number to their attack (sai) or defense (shield) number on their character card.  If the attacker is successful, the Showdown marker for his team (Turtles or Villains) moves up one spot, and the defender gets sent back to his Home Tile.  If either team reaches 10 points on the Showdown tracker, they win.  If the board gets filled with Map Tiles, the team that has the higher score on the Showdown tracker wins.  If the Turtles return three Allies to their Home Tile, they win.

Each character has 2 cards available which give that character a score for Attack, Defense, Place Tile, and Movement, as well as a special ability.  Turns go from the Turtles to the Villains and back to the Turtles, allowing each team to decide which character (and which card) will go next, rather than being stuck in round-the-table order.  That interesting twist to the turn-taking mechanic added an extra layer of strategic thinking to the games we played.  Picking up a pizza token can give you another turn, too, which can further change the turn order.

Characters also have access to Nunchuks (Michelangelo), Chainsaws (Bebop), and Grenades (Rocksteady), which can change pipes into grates or water to open up tiles that were previously blocked.

Artwork and Components:
Anyone who is a fan of the original Eastman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and art will appreciate the box and character art here!

The board and cardboard bits are fine - sturdy and typical for modern games.  The map tiles were a little thinner than we expected but didn't cause us any issues during game play.  The pizza tokens might have been a hair too big to fit comfortably on the Showdown tracks.  The icons and text are bright and clear on all the cards.

We were a house divided on the plastic standees.  I enjoyed them and thought they gave a good flavor to the game when you could see the characters lining up together.  My husband didn't like the way they fit into the plastic bases (a hair loose and slippery) and my teenage son thought they were too big when they were all in one section of the board.  We did notice that the plastic sheet was covered with cardboard fuzz from production and they needed to be cleaned before use, and that some of the corners were sharp from removing them from the plastic sheet.  I stand by them, though, because they were so different from the typical cardboard standee or from the plastic mini.

The Good:
The theme is wonderful; the artwork does justice to the fandom.  The plastic standees, while they aren't perfect, lend a unique flair to the game.

The ability to play in teams of different sizes (from 1 vs 1 up to 4 vs 2) and to change turn order as it is strategically helpful makes this game a very good and interesting fit for lots of different group sizes.  I didn't enjoy it as much with only 2 players, because I shy away from 1 vs 1 conflict.  I enjoyed it much more when I was part of a team, working cooperatively to take down the other team.

The Bad:
We found that the rule book was hard to learn from, with some typos and a few lines that were simply confusing and thought it was generally lacking in deeper explanations.  As we played through the game a handful of times, there were some situations that didn't seem to be covered by the rules, and we had to come up with our best interpretation of some of the character's abilities or Showdown rules. 

Most confusing was whether the Turtles could be attacked while inside the pipes or on the other side of the pipes, so not actually reachable by the Villains, but still on the same or an adjacent, connected tile.  This and other confusing issues could certainly be fixed and cleaned up with a helpful FAQ or a glossary of abilities, but these moments of confusion did hamper our enjoyment as we tried to learn this game.

Final Thoughts:
Confusing rules may turn away some players who wanted to like this game.  For those who stick with it, the lush TMNT theme and interesting turn order decisions give the game some good life, and the different feels of the game at different player counts give it good replayability.  A clarified rule book could go a long way towards increasing its rating in my house.

Players Who Like:
Obviously, this game is a great fit for anyone who is already a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  In addition, it's good for players who like 1 vs many or semi-cooperative games like Scotland Yard, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2000), or Pandemic: On the Brink; or for groups who enjoy tile-laying, path-making games like Carcassonne, Tsuro, or even the classic Waterworks.

I am giving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Showdown 4 out of 10 Super Meeples.

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About the Author:

My name is Alexa: I'm a life-long game player and homeschooling mom to two awesome kids. I've loved board games since my early days playing Scrabble and Gin Rummy with my grandmother, and life only got more interesting when I married a Battletech enthusiast and fellow game lover. We've played games with our kids since they were small, and I helped start a thriving homeschool co-op where we have weekly sessions of board games with kids.  In a family with kids raised on Catan and Pandemic, life is sure to be fun! You may run into me on Twitter, BoardGameGeek, and other social media as MamaGames. Be sure to say hi!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Showdown Review Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Showdown Review Reviewed by MamaGames - Alexa C. on December 01, 2017 Rating: 5

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