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Subject: Rattus: A brief review rss

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Paul Shabatowski
Canada
Stittsville
Ontario
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Friday night, Friday the 13th no less. My gaming group feels it necessary to honour the occassion with the tradition of pulling out a copy of Arkham Horror or Fury of Dracula. Not being a fan of the cooperative game genre, I hoped for a large turnout for our club. Much to my suprise we had 12 turn out and break out into Arkham with 6, Age of Steam with 3 rail fans and 3 of us remained to select a game.

Friday the 13th being a theme of horror I couldn't think of a more suitable theme than the Black Death which wiped out more than half of Eruope.I had seen Rattus played a couple of weeks ago and I was intrigued by both the theme and the apparent simple mechanics. I noticed a posting in the forums, asking is this was a version of Pandemic, one of my only liked co-op games. I took a chance and I was pleased with the result.

Let me start by saying that this is not similar to Pandemic.This is definitely not a co-operative board game.

The board is a nice, small size that makes it ideal for compact playing surfaces. It is divided into territories and also contains a palace in the top corner. The object is to end the game with the highest population after being devastated by plague rats.

A black pawn representing the outbreak of plague is placed on a random. Players take turns populating the territories with cubes of their colour.In addition, one rat token is placed face down (ironic because face down means that the rat is the side showing) on each region Once all cubes and rat tokens. are placed play begins. I should also mention that the game scales so that some regions are removed from play should less than 4 people be playing.

Players take turns selecting roles which have special functions. The Peasant allows increased breeding, allowing one additonal cube to repopulate a region. The Merchant allows three cubes to be moved to an adjacent region. The wise Monk allows a player to move a rat token to an adjacent region.The KInight allows a player to move the plague pawn up to two regions away from its current location. The Witch allows a player to view2 face down locations and swap them if they wish.The King allows a player to remove one cube from a region not populated with a rat and place it in the palace. The only way to remove a role from your tableau is to have another player take it.

The first action is to take a role either from the selection or from another player.A player then can execute the execution the special action. Location of the plague pawn determines if repopulation cna occur. One can add population equal to the number of rat tokens in the active region. Finally, the player then moves the plague pawn to an adjacent region. If there is no rat token, nothing happens. If there is one or more, the fun begins.

Entering a rat populated region triggers the spread of plague. Place a nummber of rat token faces down on adjacent regions equal to the number of rat tokens on the active region. Flip up a token if any population tokens remain on the region. The effect is triggered according to the population limit on the top of the token. If less population inhabits the region, nothing happens. If there is excess population the plague triggers. Pretty simple really: the plague removes one population cube corresponding to each role that appears on the token. A witch hat represents the witch, a sheaf of wheat for the peaasant and so forth.Additionaly, the "M" and "A" symbols either affect the player with the majority of tokens in the region or all players. This is in addition to the roles affected and is resolved in that order.

When either all rat tokens have been placed or in the rare instance that a Player has placed all of their population cubes the game end is triggered. The triggering player can do nothing. In revererse clockwise order players are permitted to trigger the actions of the roles that they possess. The remaining rat tokens on the board then trigger a last hurrah orgy of destruction across all regions.

I liked that the rules are simple. The only clarification I want to get is whether a player can use every special action of the roles that they possess each turn or just select one. The rules don't seem to touch on that.We realized fairly quickly that possessing many roles can be a definite disadvantage because you become a target quickly for the plague tokens. The use of the King regularly allows a player to retain cubes safely in the palace so it seems like a firm strategy. We did not make excessive use of the Knight or Monk until late in the game but I think that was only due to the fact that we were still grasping the rules and mechanics.

The problems that I have with the game is the plague tokens. The population limit on the top is catered to a four player game and does not scale well for fewer players. You need to have four players with all tokens in play for the game to shine well. I realize that the designer scaled back on the number of regions in play but I feel that they did not scale back enough. I roughly figure that there should be one less region in play to make it really fun and I think I will propose that the next time I play with three. Additionaly, I find that the end game mechanism can unbalance the game. You want to strive to have as few roles as possible at game end.

The good news is that our group is intrigued enough to play it again and that bodes well. Typically a second play means that it will enter the rotation on a fairly regular basis. The game plays in about 45 minutes which also makes it attractive. Families could easily play this and it can act as a pretty good gateway game. It is, however, meaty enough to appeal to most gamers. I recommend Rattus to a wide range of players.
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Sean P
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Good review. The game looks interesting, though honestly, I would have preferred it if the players were the rats trying to infest the population. Just sounds more fun to me.
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micah qs
United States
Minneapolis
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Page 4 next to A: Pick a new class card - "Thus it may often happen that one player has more than one card at the same time. In this case he gains all the advantages of all the cards he has."

I have just played this game once, but I enjoyed it. Plays quick, turns are fast and I like the decisions. Not super complex but the decisions feel fun to me - where should I put these rats, which ability should I take this turn, how risky do I want to be in adding population to the board...
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Paul Shabatowski
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Thanks for the clarification. I missed that rule.
 
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