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Subject: Rats! rss

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Paul S
United Kingdom
West Yorks
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I've spent a good few hours today ploughing through Chs 2, 3 and 4 so feel inclined to report about it, with a few "review" pointers included so here goes:

I think that the closest I've been before to M&M is Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game - so my comparisons will be to that. And naturally some SPOILERS follow, since it's a session report.

I've previously played Ch 1 - 3 times - 2 wins and one flat wipe courtesy of Brodie at the top of the initiative tree pouncing on a badly-grouped set of mice and rolling 3 hits... And I've won Ch 2 once.

So I set about Ch 2 again today with my son, who is 9, and he's played Ch 1 once and liked it.

It's worth saying again what's been said elsewhere - this is a great game to share with kids. The "story moments" have him enthralled, and the rules are plain enough that he feels he can participate without being told what to do. It is a co-op that does not, in my view, suffer at all from the "alpha gamer" problem.

We had a blast with Ch 2. We were lucky, too, to be fair. We finished still on page 1. The Cheese just did not appear - apart from for us. We cruised through it quickly and as will be apparent from the Page 1 point, no surges = no Brodie so not a hard episode at all.

But the Lily-on-her-own idea is terrific - and even though we'd powered through the other tiles, we started to think that we'd lose the game towards the end when Lily kept missing the roaches. Very tense, very thematic, great fun - every die roll matters. Yes, of course, it's random. But I still feel that I'm playing the game, not having it play me.

The only bone of contention was to discuss the relative merits of levelling up vs spending cheese to use abilities - but that's one of the trade-offs of the game. My lad at level 3 is now happy to spend it rather than keep it, and I think that's sensible.

I decided I'd tackle Ch 3 on my own (post-bedtime).

Amazingly good solo experience.

My luck did not hold out as it had in Ch 2. The minion cheese wheel was filling up rapidly. I surged and Brodie kicked mousey ass this way and the other. 15 minutes into it and I was out of it. Time to restart - having now lost, of course, those shiny items that I'd searched for before.

2nd time was much better. The difference, I think, was the starting room encounter - a bunch of roaches instead of the rat/roach combo last time - so we were into Tile 2 with maybe 1 cheese on the wheel.

I guessed that a disguise was the right way to go - so got to play dice with the rats in the dining room. Great fun, very thematic, and quite different from what had gone before. The game keeps surprising me - I have been very careful not to read ahead in the story book, and I think that's wise.

I took all 6 rats out through gambling - though I was fairly conservative so ended up maybe just 1 or 2 cheeses up at the end. I decided I wouldn't get caught out by a zero-bet; I also figured I could use the usual "free action" to swap tokens. I liked the "push your luck" element here.

I am not sure that the "2 pieces of information" thing quite works. It's a great idea. But with a party of 4 and a 50/50 chance to have a vision in the crystal caves, you are (almost) always going to get your 2 even if you don't play dice. I understand that - since you ought not to be penalised for choosing the fork instead of the disguise, but it does make the 2 out of 3 thing meaningless, I think.

I was surprised when I came into the last room. Lots of elites, lots of ranged attacks, and all of them on red/yellow protected areas - and I'd not brought Lily (mind you... so far she can't hit a barn door at 20 yards so...)

I was already bashed up. 2 or 3 out of 4 mice injured. Not a lot of cheese per rodent.

So I took a gamble - initiative had Maginos at the bottom of the list, and none of the others had ranged attacks. I had the others search, and Maginos hit Vurst and one of the guards on the shelves with chain lightning, then used a Teleport scroll to get the whole party up onto the table for the start of Round 2.

I thought that was it, and took out the other shelf-rat in the very next round.

But Vurst is a tough cookie - and he rolled more than one cheese so as to get a second attack.

I decided to concentrate all my efforts on him - and eventually took him out but was down to 3 mice. 3 rats left. I rolled the "run away" dice for all 3...

No star. No star. No star.


So kept on keeping on. And eventually the dice turned and hated me a bit less.

With 2 mice standing I took the last (+1 surge) rat out.

We were on Page 8, I think, with the end marker having moved during the game to Page 9 - the furthest I've seen it go. I decided to let my mice celebrate with a few special searches at the end, to pick up a potion and scroll for Ch 4.

As to which... I think I feel a 2nd post coming on.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. 3 sessions, 2 successful (and the other mercifully short). Several hours' play, about half solo. Yes it's more fun with someone else, but I like it solo too, and I play a good few solo games.

I prefer it now to CR. I like CR, but it lacks the theme and story that M&M offers. I never much liked the "auto-monster-initiative" in CR, though I understand the mechanic. I very much like the initiative list in M&M. I also do not feel - as I often do in CR - that you are being perpetually beaten about the head with a big stick every time you turn over a card. So far M&M is tough, but fair. CR sometimes feels like masochism, if the dice are not with you.

I love the minis - keep thinking I should get 'em painted. And I'm just beginning to see the level of variety (and hence gameplay options) in the Search deck - I've seen well less than half of it after a good few games, so there's a good bit to look forward to.

More about Ch 4 in due course.

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Richard Channell
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That was great Paul. That's exactly how I feel when I play. I now take a photo of all six mice and items at the beginning of the chapter in case of a fail and I can restart as I was before the level.

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Ken Marley
United States
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Great report. I love the dice game as well.
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