Rattlebones is a game by Stephen Glenn, published by Rio Grande Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be customizing their dice to score points as they visit the Fabulous Festival of Dice. All while attempting to find the elusive Rattlebones himself. The player with the most points at the end of the game will be declared the winner.
To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. The 12 board tiles are shuffled. 7 tiles are then randomly placed on the blank board spaces while the remaining tiles are set aside, not to be used. All of the action die sides are placed with easy reach of all players. Players choose colors and receive 3 monkey pawns and a mouse pawn in their chosen color. Each player places their 3 monkey pawns on the start space and their mouse pawn on the 0 space of the score track. Players are given 3 dice, one of each color. All dice should be setup as standard six sided dice with the 1 space showing the Rattlebones icon. Gold pieces and Blue stars are placed within reach of all players. The train piece is placed on the 0 space of the train track facing clockwise. If the stock or gamble tiles are used then the stock tickets and/or gamble die are placed near the board. Depending on the number of players determines where to place the Rattlebones pawn; 55 for 2 players and 65 for 4. The starting player is chosen and play now begins.
On a player’s turn, they will roll one of their dice. They may spend 1 or 2 gold at the beginning of their turn to roll an extra die or two. Each die rolled allows a player to either move a pawn or take an action. When the player rolls a number, they will then move one of their pawns the amount rolled. If the Rattlebones icon is rolled, they will move the Rattlebones pawn one space backwards on the score track and then moves one of their pawns one space forward. Depending on the space the player’s pawn lands on determines what the player is then able to do. Most of the time a new action side is added to the die rolled.
The other option available is when an action is rolled, usually later in the game, the player is able to perform the action rolled. There are lots of different options from taking gold from the supply or taking a star piece from the supply. Some actions will move the train, earn points on the score track or even allow the player to roll the gamble die to earn points.
This all continues with players rolling dice, adding new sides and taking actions until the Rattlebones pawn and a player pawn meet or pass each other on the score track. When that happens the player with the most points wins the game.
There are some really unique and interesting pieces to this game. The board has some interesting artwork that resembles a fair or carnival with Rattlebones himself in the middle. The various board tiles are similarly artistic and look really nice. The dice and die sides are interchangeable and snap on and off fairly easily with the included side popper. I really like the way the dice are done. They are really fun to play with. There are some great cardboard pieces for gold, star pieces and stock tickets. The best parts though are the amazing looking wooden pawns. There are 4 colored pawns in each color as well as the Rattlebones and Train pawns. These are so cool. The monkeys and mice are really well done and the other 2 pawns are just as amazing. I’m blown away by the unique design and feel to this game. It definitely drips with the carnival style theme. I really like it a lot.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is rather nice. There are lots of great pictures and examples throughout. Each board space and action side for the dice are explained thoroughly. There is nothing difficult to read or understand. I really like the excellent page of component pictures. I also really appreciate the game summary on the back of the book. It’s very helpful. I really like the look and feel of the rulebook and think that it’s very nicely designed.
9 out of 10
This game is really fun especially if you like rolling dice or customizing stuff. There is really quite a lot of luck involved with this game as the dice are prone to do what dice do, which is hate me. The great part about this game though is that you can take some of the randomness and luck factor out of the game through the customizing of your dice with the action sides. I really like that you can adjust your dice based on the way you want to play. If you want to just collect gold, so be it. If you only want to collect stars, you can do that too. It’s really up to you and the spaces that you land on. I think that the game has quite a lot of replayability as the game will change based on the available board tiles each time. What might have been the best strategy the last time you played, won’t necessarily be the same strategy you’ll use this time. Overall, this is lots of fun and I rather enjoy it quite a bit.
9 out of 10
Rattlebones is a light game of dice chucking fun. It’s a very normal length game with most sessions lasting about 40-45 minutes. The artwork and theme are very nicely done. I really enjoy the carnival style look and feel. Fans of rolling dice or customization should really enjoy this one. It’s rather simple to learn and play. The main thing is learning what each icon means on the board tiles and action die sides. It has quite a bit of luck in the beginning but later on through customizing the dice, it can be very strategic. The game will adapt to your particular play style rather well. This is a really great game with a very fun concept and mechanic that I haven’t seen used before. The closest thing that I could liken this to would be a deck builder or possibly a game like Quarriors. In any case, it’s really unique and a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10
For more information and this and other great games, please check out Rio Grande Games at their site.