Reviewer Chris Globus
Designer Henrik Berg, Åse Berg
Artist Alexandre Roche
“Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.” – William Safire
When I sit down to a game, I like a big board. Massive. Plenty of space for pieces, tokens, what have you. A war room sized map with push sticks sounds great to me.
Imagine my surprise when I picked up a copy of Rattus off BGG. The box was about a third the size of what I expected, a bit larger than Eight Minute Empires, for example, and like that game, they packed a fair amount into the box.
You play Rattus by placing population cubes and rat tokens on the board. You win Rattus by having the most population cubes on the board when you run out of rat tokes. It is in the play that hijinks ensue.
On your turn, you may take one of the six role cards, either from in front of another player or from the bank. This card will stay with you until someone else claims it, so you will be able to use its special ability each turn until that happens. You then place cubes on the board in one space, up to the number of rat tokens in that space. During this step, you can also use the abilities of your role cards, except the Knight.
After placing your cubes and using your abilities, you must now move the Plague marker to an adjacent space (the Knight lets you move two spaces). This may cause you to add rat tokens to spaces adjacent to that one. If the marker is in a region with cubes and rats, you resolve the rats, potentially killing cubes. This completes your turn.
You determine who is affected by each rat token by flipping them. On the back is a series of symbols that tell you who, if anyone, removes their cubes. While that may sound a tad complicated, the symbols are clearly understood after you have resolved a few.
The art is functional, if not particularly compelling. The map has a Middle Ages feel, as do the cards. The cubes are cubes. The rat tokens have rats on them.
There are five expansions. Having only played the base game, I won’t comment heavily on them. They add additional players, different or empowered abilities, and some new mechanics, which is a nice variety of options so you can tailor your game to your group. As a completionist, I will likely be getting them all over time.
I can’t say that there is a flaw, as such, in the game. It’s a light strategy game, good for playing while waiting for other people to show up. If that’s what you want, that’s what this is. Well, there is one. The rules state to randomly place the Plague marker in a starting space, with no mechanic on how to do so. We used an appropriate sided die, and arbitrarily numbered the spaces. A D8, D10, and D12 are suitable for that.
I can recommend this game with that preceding caveat, but if you are looking for a game you can play on your lunch break, then this is a good go to. Its small size, ease of explanation, and short play time are perfect in this scenario, and it’s not so competitive that anyone should get crushed. Our last game ended 10-8-8.
This is a buy. You will probably be able to find the space for this in your collection.
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