By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
Let me start right at the beginning by saying I have not played Rattus, the very popular board game about the The Black Death that darkened Europe in the 1300s.
So comparisons between that game and this card game from the same general period, Rattus Cartus by White Goblin Games won't be included other than to say that I watched Rattus being played and have been advised by people who have played both that they are very different experiences.
Rattus Cartus can be played by 2 to 5 gamers, ages 10 and up in 30 to 45 minutes. It will be time well spent.
The idea is that the King has succumbed to the plague and now princes are trying to drum up support throughout the land to become the new ruler.
In gaming terms, this is done through a series of card plays much of which revolves around a deck of 60 building cards. These buildings fall into 1 of 6 classes (royalty, church, bourgeoisie, chivalry, peasantry and magic). Players will use cards from their hands called population cards, which are also divided into those same 6 classes.
In each round (and there will be 8 to 12 rounds depending on the number of players) several of these buildings will be made available to the players. The players choose which building to visit and how many population cards to commit to that visit. There are four different special cards mixed into the population cards that have different effects. For each card committed, the players gains influence in that class. But for each population card committed that way that doesn't match the class, a rat token is collected. Each building also allows players to draw cards or discard rat tokens or to look at the population cards put in the Nun row. Cards in that row will determine how much protection from the plague-carrying rats will be afforded at game's end.
At the end of the game, the player with the most influence across the various classes will win...unless. That last caveat keeps the win in the dark until the very end. Because if the person weith the most influence has more rat tokens than the protection, that player dies from the plague and can't win.
All of the components in the game are quite good. The game board makes it easy to both track the influence of each player and also for those players to see how they are faring compared to the opposition.
Rattus Cartus scales well per number of players, making it a very similar type of experience for 2 as it is for 5 gamers. Adding players will provide for a bit longer game than the 30 minutes it usually takes for 2 to play this, but it isn't a significantly longer experience.
Rattus Cartus should be approached as a solid card game without major weakness. It can be for fans of the board game, for those who didn't care for the board game or people like me who have never played it.
An expansion for the game will be available soon. It is called Rattus Noblis. this is what the publisher has to say about it: "The first expansion for Rattus Cartus includes 18 different buildings with players using all or only some of them each game to provide a wide variety of play. This first expansion also includes special cards (Books, Horses, Lances, Privilegs, Wizard Staffs and Diplomats) and extra rat tokens; a second module in this expansion includes noble tokens."
The expansion is expected to reach the warehouse at White Goblin around the end of Sept., with the game getting to the U.S. shortly after that.
The game was designed by Ase and Henrik Berg.
For more about the game go to: www.whitegoblingames.com