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This anime adaptation is the first in a new series of expandable card games built on designer Ryan Miller’s Chrono Clash system. The system will be familiar to players of last year’s Crystal Clans, using a similar resource of ‘time’ to play cards; a central track shifts back and forth between the players, with more expensive cards pushing the tracker further onto the opponent’s side, giving them more opportunity to play cards on their turn.

It works smoothly as a built-in balancing mechanism, with every card able to be played from the off – albeit with the risk of handing your rival more of a window to retaliate. Here, cards can also be willingly discarded from the field to summon more powerful battlers from a separate deck of oversized cards, setting up interesting strategies and combos as you try to run down your rival’s stack of facedown guardian cards, which activate as a last defence with their own individual powers.

Card effects activate like programming code, with a line of icons depicting when things happen, what they happen to and what they do. You’ll almost certainly read them like a robot to begin with: “When attacking. Your battler. In your discard pile. Goes back to hand. Draw one card from extra deck.” Most of the symbols are relatively intuitive, although a couple are less obvious at a glance and take a little more effort to learn. Once they click into place like a second language, the universal system’s strength is revealed – it’s a satisfying and streamlined way of executing chains of effects, keeping the action frictionless throughout reasonably tight matches.

As an expandable rather than collectible game, each of the two core sets comes with enough to play with two people – though you’ll likely want both to allow four-player matches and to open up options for long-term replayability thanks to the approachable deck construction.

Your mileage with the Naruto card game will likely depend on your personal affiliation with the anime, but with a Godzilla follow-up already on the way and more spin-offs a near-certainty, it’s a strong start for the Chrono Clash system as a whole.


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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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