By White Goblin Games and designed by Henrik Berg and Ase Berg
Rattus is a game for 2-4 player aged 10+ about a grim topic: the spread of the plague or the “black death” in Europe and the players are tasked with building and protecting as much of your population as possible to achieve victory.
Ah but things are never quite that simple as you are also able to place the spreading carriers of the plague, the rats, in different areas on the map of Europe but depending on the impact of the rat population and the number of population, your own people may get wiped out! You can take on different roles such as King, Peasant, Witch etc. each of which allows you to do certain things which can help you and hinder the other players.
Each turn you need to move the plague piece to a new area and you will need to consider where that placement will do the least damage to you and most damage to your opponents. A very nice mechanic is that there is limited knowledge about the rats that you place as one side of the rats disc just has a picture of a rat and their impact is only known when you reveal the other side of the disc. When you do, icons and letters indicate who may catch the plague.
Also, you have to think about where to place your population as the more people that are in the same area, the more likely the plague will take hold. We found ourselves taking the King role often to save our people within the walls of our castle but another nice mechanism is that you can steal a role from other players and use it immediately. You can also have as many roles as you want until someone steals them. However, the more roles you have, the more chance of the plague destroying your population. This makes for some tense choices. having said that, we mainly just kept taking the King role from each other so I’m not quite sure of the value of the other roles. As we played a 2-player game, I would expect the other roles to have more of an impact in a game with more players. here are expansion roles available as well which I think will add a bit of fun to the proceedings as they include Merlin, Robin Hood and the Pied Piper.
The game comes with adequate components. The map of Europe is rather bland. The obligatory cubes are functional and the Plague piece is, eh… bland. Kinda seen it all before. The rat pieces and role cards have nice artwork though.
Did it work for me?
Yes, Rattus is a fun, fast-moving game, with just the right level of mechanics to make for an interesting situation. The 2-player version worked very well and I look forward to playing with more players with more role choices. A straightforward design with a couple of nice features that keep things challenging. Having said that, the look and feel of the game is generally bland. One recommendation I would have would be to have a “grim reaper” piece to represent the plague. Perhaps a more detailed, oldy-worldy map of Europe would be more appealing.
Well yes in terms of ease of play and short game time but, I would have thought there are other games that would be more fun and appealing.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6 out of 10