I found out about Raptor through the ravings of the guys on Dice Tower saying how awesome it is. I watched a number of reviews before buying it. It has definitely been worth it.
I have played Raptor upwards of 40 times (my play logs say differently because I only just recently started keeping track). I have seen every win condition met but one (but it has been close to happening though). I have played both as the scientists and the raptors a number of times and won as both. My plays have been with my girlfriend except for two games with a friend.
With that said, on with the review!
First off, in case you are not aware, Raptor is a strictly 2 player game. One person takes on the role of scientists and the other takes the raptors. The scientists have to either capture the baby raptors or take out the mother. The raptors have to either eat all the scientists or get enough baby raptors off the board.
Raptor is a very easy game to teach and learn. It is a card management strategic board game.
Each team has 9 cards numbered 1 through 9, each with a special action. To start the game you shuffle the cards of your deck and draw 3 of them (after you have set up the board and placed the raptors and scientists). Both players choose a card they want to play and reveal at the same time. The player who played the lower numbered card gets to do the special action on their card immediately. After the special action is carried out, the player who played the higher card gets to take a number of regular actions. The number of regular actions he/she gets to take is the difference between the two numbers.
So for example, the raptor player plays an 8 (which has the special action of getting to scare two scientists on the board and lie them down), and the scientist player plays a 9. The raptor player gets to choose two scientists on the board to lie down (in fright). After that the scientist player gets 9-8=1 action. Looks like it was a big turn for the raptor player.
The card you played stays in front of you. When you run out of cards to draw or you play the card with a 1 on it (which also has a special action) you shuffle the cards you have played back into your draw deck.
The cards you play stay in front of you for the other player to keep track of.
One interesting thing about the gameplay is managing your hand. You can end up stuck with the lower cards 1 and 2 if you are not careful. When you have 6 cards in front of you the other player knows what cards you have in your hand. If you play the 6, 7, 8, and 9, they are sitting out in front of you, so the other player knows all your cards are low. You need to be careful what cards you play. If you play a 1 when the other player plays a 9… you are in trouble because the other player gets 8 regular actions.
The game can bounce back and forth quite a bit. One person can seem to have a huge lead and another player can come back from the dead. There is a balance, especially if the other player has not been managing their hand right.
The scientists are blocking off the baby raptors exit using fire.
Not only is Raptor a hand management game, but you also have to be aware of the board and the placement of your pieces. You have to be aware of the spaces on the board and how the pieces can move, otherwise you can get yourself stuck and in some trouble (especially as the raptors).
The scientists win if they can capture 3 of the 5 baby raptors, or if they can knock out the mother by shooting her 5 times. I have never seen the latter of the two occur, but it has been very close to happening. This being said, the raptor player had to protect their mother in those situations because of it (and subsequently lost).
The raptors win if either 3 of the 5 baby raptors get off the board, or if there are no scientists left on the board at any time (so they have all been eaten by the mother). I have seen and achieved both of these victory conditions.
The game is well balanced. Nowadays I find that I have just as much success with either the raptor or scientist teams, I just think it takes more time to get used to the raptor side. So if you have played and a new player is coming in, I suggest giving them the scientists. I realize someone might have a comment about this, but I am just speaking from my experience with the game.
The board can be randomized as well, as you put it together using tiles which can be rotated/shifted/flipped to randomize all sorts of combinations. There is a desert side of the board and a forest side.
Well… to say Raptor is busting with theme would be putting it lightly. Few games I have played have such an amazing theme which works so well.
The scientists get eaten by the mother raptor. The scientists have to put the baby raptors to sleep first before capturing them. The scientists can create fires to block the raptors. I could go on, but what I am trying to say is that all the actions and special actions in the game go along with the theme and make complete sense. Not only do they all make sense but they all work well with the gameplay.
I could sit here raving about the theme for a while, but I think I should stop. The theme is AMAZING, and possibly the best part of the whole game (although everything about this game is awesome).
The components are very nice. The scientists and raptors you place on the board look very nice. Every scientist looks different which is cool. The fire tokens, rocks, sleep darts (for the mother raptor) and board tiles are all good quality.
Each player has a rule reference to put in front of them and there is a little to be desired in the quality of these. The art on them is nice, but they could be a little thicker. The nice thing about these is that they come in a ton of different languages.
The insert for the box is a work of art in itself. Which brings me to the artwork which is awesome. I believe it is the same guy who did Broom Service (which also has some lovely artwork). The box art is amazing, the art on the cards looks great… I will stop raving about the artwork now. I like the artwork (A LOT).
The rulebook is thorough. There are a couple specific rules you need to be careful about, but they are not that bad. You need to be careful, some of the rules are unclear on the the rule reference in front of you (which is given to each player and has each card’s specific rules). They are more thorough in the rulebook, but one does not usually want to grab the rulebook when you have a reference in front of you. My girlfriend and I played a bunch of games before realizing that we were getting two of the rules wrong because of this.
The rulebook has a couple of misspellings I believe, but that is forgivable.
My main qualm with the rulebook is how it exclusively uses “he” or “him” pronouns throughout. I realize the game designers made this game for anyone who wants to play it, but I dislike reading a rulebook that only uses pronouns for a single gender. It is the only part of this game I seriously dislike and hope the designers can change in future releases of the game.
Although my girlfriend enjoys Raptor, it is not her favourite game. She doesn’t like the aggressive tone the game takes. She told me after a few games of losing in a row that she can get frustrated. I on the other hand can deal with losing the game a bunch of times in a row because I enjoy the game so much and it is so quick.
The baby raptors have been trapped onto one side of the board.
My girlfriend tends to enjoy games which although competitive, do not involve direct conflict between players. For example she really enjoys Patchwork and Broom Service. Raptor’s gameplay is entirely aggressive, and I think that is why my girlfriend has some issues with Raptor. This being said, because it is so quick and she still enjoys it, Raptor gets to the table often which is great.
There is little wait time in the game. Both players decide which cards they want at the same time and usually don’t spend much time deciding what to do with their actions. It is usually clear that a few decisions are better than others.
Who Might Not Like Raptor
As I just said if you do not like aggressive games where there is continual conflict between players, this one might not be for you. That being said Raptor is not a take that game where you play a card to screw someone over.
If you like games which play more than 2 players, this one is not for you because it only plays 2 people.
There is a fair amount of strategy to the game, but it is not heavy by any means. If you are into long heavy games, look elsewhere.
If you have some sort of secret vendetta against dinosaurs or the movie “Jurassic Park”, you should probably stay away from this one. You know… because it has dinosaurs and scientists trying to capture said dinosaurs. But really… who doesn’t like dinosaurs? And didn’t the dinosaurs already go through enough pain? They went extinct, give them a break.
Raptor is a wonderful asymmetric 2 player game which is easy to teach and learn. It is fun and quick to play (coming in around 25 minutes a game on average). I usually find when I finish a game of it that I want to play another round.
Both sides to play as are unique and interesting, and the startup to the game is randomized. Raptor is an amazingly fun game to play and I find myself wanting to play it over and over again. I strongly suggest you check this one out if you are into 2 player games.
4.5 Stars out of 5
I hope you enjoyed this review. Until next time, stay honest.
I agree. This game is fantastic!!! 20 plays for me and I Love it. I don't find the theme violent at all, except for the mama Raptor devouring the scientists to their bare bone of course lol. But I interpret the scientists just taking the babies for research and then returning them to their old lady when they're done. People who have dismissed the game because of the Theme are missing out on one of the best 2p games out there.
I totally agree with you, it's an amazingly well made game. My only problem with it is that its quite pricey for what it is. I mean I can see why does it cost that much, but still the game I'm getting is kind of a filler game or one for couples. But yeah it's not a big deal because if I could trade a bit of productin value for lower price I think I wouldnt take the deal simply because its so nice to have and play games that are as well designed and high quality as Raptor.