In the game of San, Ni, Ichi, you will be taking on the role of a martial artist who has mastered combat using the three elements: fire, water, and wood. Each game will engage you in a thrilling battle to determine the ultimate ninja master. The game is quick and light, seating up to 6 players and taking about 15 minutes to play.


San, Ni, Ichi is a quick and light trick-taking card game designed to be played as a "filler" game while waiting for other games to finish or when time is limited.

In this game cards represent attacks aligned with 3 different elements (fire, water, and wood). Each element is strong against one and weak against the other, forming a rock-paper-scissors arrangement. The cards also have numbers on them that represent the strength of the attack.

Players start out with a hand of cards and during a round take turns playing cards on other players, forming a stack. Cards placed on the stack must adhere to the strength/weakness rules (that is, a card can only be played on top of a card if it "beats" that element). At the end of the round the player with highest-numbered card showing takes their whole stack and adds it to their damage pile, and the next round begins. At the end of several rounds the player with the least damage is declared the ninja master and overall awesome person (also known as The Winner).

Read the full game rules here.


"It is very much a diamond in the rough and, for a light, filler game, it's in a bit of class of its own. The game is both clever and strategic. Players felt in control of their own destiny, regardless of the hand they're dealt. The game is darn near perfect example of a light, filler game that does something more. This game will definitely be on the will-play-again-a-lot list."
The Indie Game Report

"I am thoroughly impressed with the exceptionally crafted balance. San Ni Ichi is as close as fundamentally sound as it can get... This is a must have for your collection."

"It's quite fun to play but will also challenge you a lot more than your average filler... The artwork is simple and superb."
Art of Boardgaming

"Stunning game. The perfect filler and absolutely gorgeous game play."
Katie's Game Corner

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San, Ni, Ichi originally consisted of nine unique cards and three sets of cards in suits, with a Rock, Paper, Scissors meets Magic: The Gathering's 'counter-war' mechanic. Even though it had fewer cards than the current iteration, it was far too complicated for a small card game.

As the game was tested and refined, it became larger but less complex. Playtesting taught us many lessons in play experience while allowing the game to develop organically. Once the game reached a fully playable and extremely fun state, the only thing left was to fine-tune the mechanics and cards to make as smooth a gaming experience as possible.

Art came soon after. Michael, the game's designer, took months creating unique, hand-drawn, artwork to use for the game. The graphic design of the cards evolved to evoke the Japanese theme of the game as well as follow design principles from traditional CCGs.


From Michael himself:

"In 2010, I was in school studying to be a graphic designer. Looking for employment opportunities, I answered a Craigslist ad. Someone was looking for art development for a game they had designed. At this point, I didn't play table-top games and I could barely design my way out of a whatever-you-design-your-way-out-of. But still, I took the meeting and was eager to work.

"The the creator was fun and excited about his project. The game seemed really interesting. I was happy to help with the art. As I worked on the art project, my thoughts deviated from art production and I started to think of mechanisms and design. This opened the floodgates. Within weeks, I started working on my own game.

"I was hooked. I found that game design is a synergy of a number of my passions: critical thinking, problem solving, graphic design, fine art, social interaction, and rules-making. I have been making games ever since."