Anyone who knows me well – or has been a long term reader of my articles – knows that I have a particular fondness for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Combine that fondness for my love of board games and we should be into a winner, right?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Showdown is a tile laying game, in which 2-6 players form into two teams (our heroic turtles vs the mutant villains, Bebop and Rocksteady), with the aim for the good guys to rescue three allies from the sewers and the goal for the bad guys to win ten rounds of combat (the ‘showdowns’ of the title). The turtles can also win if they win ten showdowns, but they’re a little less powerful in combat than Bebop and Rocksteady (which doesn’t make much sense from a thematic point of view, though does ensure that the game is a little more balanced). If the map fills up with tiles before any of those victory conditions are met, whoever has the highest showdown points total wins.

One thing you’ll notice straight away is that the game is beautifully designed and packaged, with some absolutely fantastic illustrations throughout. Character cards and tokens are well designed – with the tokens being nicely illustrated transparent plastic pieces. Character abilities fit with the game’s theme and general lore of TMNT really nicely, but it’s a shame in some respects that allies such as Casey Jones and Splinter are in the game but can’t be used to assist in combat – they’re just passive characters to be rescued. Another issue I found was that the sewer tiles were a little too thin to stay in place, which meant that they were easily knocked out of place, making for a messy board that only gets messier as you proceed through the game.

There’s also a few glaring omissions in the rulebook; movement rules, for example, don’t do an adequate enough job at describing how turtles use the pipes that appear on tiles that are laid each turn. Nor do they give enough of an explanation of special tokens such as grenades, chainsaws and nunchucks, which some characters can use via special abilities.

The game moves quickly enough and the basic rules are easy enough to pick up, however, with players choosing a character to activate, then placing a tile if they can – or tiles, if their character stats allow them to place more than one – moving at least one space, then initiating a showdown (if able – rolling one die and adding the result to their attack value, with the defender doing the same with their defence value) and/or using their special ability if they choose to. Using a pizza token that’s been collected – which can be found on some spaces on the board or awarded for 2, 4, 6 or 8 showdown wins – immediately grants the active player another turn, which can be extremely advantageous.

So, given how simple the general turn order is to pick up, it’s a real shame that the issues with movement, some abilities and the oddly useless (in my experience) tokens such as nunchucks are present – and lead to situations that recur over and over again in games and really do hamper enjoyment of it. Being nitpicky, there’s also no reason for the ‘home’ tiles, which are marked in fixed positions on the board anyway – it just means using more thin tiles that are easily knocked out of place.

That said, it’s a visually pleasing game and, as long as players can agree on how to handle the unclear situations that pop up due to the not especially comprehensive rules, fans of TMNT should still have a good time with it. It’s not the deepest or most satisfying game in the world but it’s lovely from a visual point of view and the theme is relatively well implemented. On another positive note, you can pick up TMNT: Showdown at a very cheap price at the moment, which certainly makes it a far more attractive proposition.

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