Pirates, Ninjas, Robots & Zombies--A Double-Take Review

"Pirate, Ninjas, Robots and Zombies, oh my!"

--Not from The Wizard of Oz

Today we're going to shake down the tile placement game for 2-4 players Pirates, Ninjas, Robots, & Zombies from Rather Dashing Games. As with most tile-placement games, players are trying to lay out their territory to score points while also trying to break up their opponents' attempt to do the same. Let's take a look!

Title - Pirates, Ninjas, Robots, & Zombies

Designer - Mike Richie

Publisher - Rather Dashing Games

Number of players - 2-4

Ages - 8 and up

Play time - 25 Minutes

Category/Genre - tile placement

Availability - At your FLGS.


  • 58 tiles

Good for...

  • Family? Yes!
  • Youth Group? Sure! Maybe a small group.
  • Gamers? Maybe! This is a nice filler.
  • Nongamers? Absolutely! This would be a great game to play with nongamers.

Preview copies provided to Theology of Games.

The game is made up of tiles, each of which is broken into four sections that will feature any random number of pirates, ninjas, robots, and...wait for it: zombies! There are also power-up icons for each team (treasure chests, throwing stars, batteries, and brains), and there are four tiles that each feature a base for each team as well. Arch Enemies (krakens, dragons, military, and hunters) also appear on tiles, and they count as negative points in the final scoring.

Jeremiah--The tiles look great--the artwork is bright and colorful, and the tiles are super thick and rugged.

On their turn, players play a tile down to the table--it can either be the player's base, or one of the three tiles each player has in hand. The tile must connect to at least one full edge of a previously placed tile--no halfsies and no diagonals. A player can also, instead of playing a tile, pick up their base--if they've played it already, obviously--and move it to a different location. 

Firestone--The base is a unique mechanism. You want to make sure it's part of your biggest grouping of tiles, but you can move it if necessary. Of course, moving it will cost you one turn vs. your opponents, so make it count. 

Some tiles have one of three different icons; when a tile with one of these icons is played the player may then take that action, as well. Those actions are: Rotate, which allows you to rotate any one previously played tile either 90 degrees in either direction or 180 degrees. Swap, which allows you to swap any two tiles (including the one they just played) and place them in any orientation. Replace lets a player pick up any tile that's on the table and replace it (in the same spot) with another tile from their hand.

Firestone--Just like any game where only some tiles have these extra icons, with extra actions, I don't really like that there's a chance only some people will ever see one. They're pretty powerful. But this game is light enough that it's not a huge deal. 

After a player has taken their turn they draw another tile from the stack--unless they've moved their base this turn and haven't played a tile from their hand.

Once the stack of tiles has been depleted everyone gets one last turn and the game ends and the scores are tallied.

You only score points for your highest-scoring group of icons/tiles on the table. When scoring tiles, players score one point for every regular icon (pirate, ninja, robot, or zombie), three points for power up icons, 5 points for their base, and negative one point for every icon adjacent to an arch enemy.

Jeremiah--I'm a fan of tile placement games, and this is a great gateway into the genre and fun for kids as well. The rules are super streamlined, and the special abilities give everyone a chance to get back into the game if they fall behind.

Firestone--Well, the special abilities give everyone who gets one a chance to get back into the game. :) My kids really liked this. (And the 6-year-old had no problem with the gameplay.)They immediately wanted to play again, wanted to introduce it to Mom once she got home, and wanted to play it every day for week. It was a little too light for my gamer group. 

Jeremiah--I've played with my boys, and with the whole family, and it works very well. There's some take-that, for sure, as people are messing with your sections in order to make theirs better.

Firestone--The take-that never felt overly harsh. You'll get picked on (especially if you're Dad!), but it's usually not disastrous. 

Plotting against Dad...

Plotting against Dad...

Jeremiah Final Verdict--This is a very quick-playing tile-placement game that's great for kids and family. It's quick and easy enough for kids to pick up easily, while keeping adults interested in the game as well. Gamers who enjoy lighter games might like this, too. It will definitely scratch your tile-placing itch, with almost zero setup time, a super-fast learning curve, and some nice tactical play! 

Firestone Final Verdict--PNR&Z is a good family/nongamer tile-laying game. It doesn't break new ground, or change the genre in any way. But my kids sure liked it--and I did, too. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked playing this. And the $19.99 MSRP seems like a fair price point. Well done, Rather Dashing Games. 

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