Before I begin I was sent a prototype copy of the game, and will receive a production copy should the game fund. This is not a paid preview. If you would like to learn more about the game click here. If you would like to watch a video of this preview, or a playthrough you can check them out below.
You know what I love? Cheese. You know what else I love? Solo games, especially a game that is built to be a solo game. You know what else I love? Platypi…platypuses…whatever. So when you tell me that there is a solo only game, about protecting a town from rats chasing down magical cheese, published by Platypus Industries…I had to check it out.
The game is relatively simple. You slowly explore the town seeking out Magic Cheese to make yourself stronger, while battling rats, and setting traps to keep them from absconding with too much of the cheese themselves. Each bit of cheese they take makes boss rat come one step closer to appearing, and/or buffs the other rats up.
The core of each game is the Ratcatcher, facing down the horrible cheese mutated rat monster, and you will have the option to face down one of two different nemesis rats, and four different ratcatchers to choose from. (I will note that these numbers may well in crease during the campaign.) Each of the rats has a different upgrade track as they get stronger, and each of the rat catchers is significantly different in their own stats, and abilities.
Each turn the ratcatcher has a set number of dice that they can use to attack rats near them, as well as a set number of movement points that they can use to either move, or set traps (each ratcatcher has traps that function differently as well). The trick is to explore the township upgrading your abilities either by finding cheese before the rats do, or capturing enough rats in your talleyman cage to trade them in for cheese.
At some point the nemesis will be spawned and your task becomes to kill it, and hopefully, you are strong enough, and lucky enough to do so!
So what do I think of this game?
The artwork is awesome, I really like it. There is almost no color to it, save for a few spots, but when it shows up it really pops. I think the theme is wonderfully unique, while being both light-hearted and dark at the same time, which is a very fine line to walk.
Mechanically, I think the game works extremely well. It has just enough luck with your dice, but sufficient luck mitigation with the Talleyman cage, and upgrades. The way the different kinds of rats act is also a delight, and creates for tons of tense moments as you play through the game. Additionally, the variety in ratcatchers is quite good, which fairly dramatically increases the replay value of the game.
Finally, I will just add that the true delight of the game is that almost how well you have prepared yourself…your are never REALLY ready for that boss rat. Unless you are AMAZINGLY lucky and roll all 6’s on your first attack it is going to be a struggle every single time.
The rulebook does a good job covering how the game works. After reading it a few times, there was one or two things that I had to seek out clarification on, but over all it is a strong set of rules.
Next I will say the the components promise to be wonderful. Based on what I got to see in the prototype this game has the potential to be absolutely amazing, in terms of quality.
The game does have the potential to go long as you play, as it is possible (in fact this happened in my second play) to do really well, and delay the summoning of the nemesis due to good play and dumb luck. I actually had a moment where I had to stop, and play less efficiently (again I was getting amazing luck, and had buffed myself up a lot) in order to let the nemesis spawn. This is not common, but can happen.
While I love the way the township cards look, I actually found that they might be just a hair to small. As rats start to pile up on cheese, with the ratcatcher, and, perhaps a trap, tiles can begin to get very cluttered. This is very thematic as you have a pile of rats surrounding you, but can be a bit much when you are trying to play.
Bringing it all together
Ratcatcher is a delightful solo game, with fun mechanics, and an always challenging game play. Variety is maintained through a veritable cornucopia of characters to choose from. The art is spectacular, and the components have the potential to be so as well. I do wish that the township cards were just a little bit bigger, so they did not become to very crowded.
Rats are small…why can’t this review be small?
- Awesome art, good components
- Fun theme, beyond solid mechanics
- The end game always feels like a challenge, no matter how well you have done
- Not nearly as luck driven as you would think from seeing the game played
- If you like solo games, then this is an excellent option