On Friday a package arrived in the mail. Trouble is, I back so many KS, whenever I receive such a package, I have no clue what it could be. This one was no exception.
It turns out the game was The Ratcatcher. And it was... a delight. The game is beautifully produced. The attention paid to the slightest detail is a amazing. The inserts are convenient and there are little symbols to tell you what should go in which compartment. There is even room for the additional custom meeples I purchased as an add-on. Everything is amazing. It was a real joy to see it all, unpack it all, set it up carefully on the table.
You get to draw rat meeples from a superb cloth bag (oh I wish the one in Bullet were any close to that one!). It's a thrill. And you see this little wooden cage over there? I don't like 3D elements as a rule, but this one is very classy, and actually convenient - a great way to store the rats you caught without having them sprawling over the table. And dual-layer boards. One of my favorite deluxe upgrade! These beautiful, elegant translucent dice fit in their slots perfectly...
End of set-up. 22:56. I'm in a very good mood, and can start playing. The rats are already accumulating, and a "Peculiar Rat" (the one with the wings) ha appeared. These are the rats I got the custom meeples for.
So I play. You move, spending actions. You roll the dice to kill rats. You drop traps. If you clean all rats from a zone, you can pick up the "magic cheese", which allows you to upgrade character (character progression! one of my favorite mechanics!), and may also allow you to win (if you get 10 of them). The other win condition is to slay the rat boss, the "Nemesis", that spawns later on during the game. Problem is, the rats are after the magic cheese too! Each time they get some, they grow stronger (and this might spawn the Nemesis). If they gather 10... then YOU lose.
I enjoyed my first turn, then I got to move the rats. This is a bit tricky. Different rats have different priority targets and movement stats. But, OK, there are only three colors. Then rats sharing a zone with you attack you, and rats sharing a zone with a magic cheese consume it if there are enough of them. Last step: they spawn! On every nest on the map. And black rats, once spawned, spawn one more rat. And they keep spawning rats every turn after that. So if you are unlucky, they may accumulate... Which is exactly what happened to me on my second turn.
Then the town grows pretty fast. If there is less than two magic cheese out there, you expand the town by as many cards as indicated on the one you're currently standing. I got to expand the town once, then twice, adding four cards, all filled rats!
At this point it got overwhelming. Moving like 30 rats one by one, according to different stats each, felt tedious. I usually don't like when my turn goes really fast and then I have to spend five times the time in upkeeping for the AI.
Also, with cheese spawning on remote locations and rats spawning in the numbers, winning the race seems an elusive goal.
23:22. I quit. I didn't even had the courage to fill that very last card, with who knows how many rats.
I'll try again but so far, I'm not quite convinced. I felt it more exhausting than fun - and not the right kind of exhausting.