Rattus Cartus Review

Rattus-Cartus

Rattus Cartus is a game by Åse Berg and Henrik Berg, published by IDW Games. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of one of the princes of Europe after the death of the king during the Black Plague. Players will be trying to gather support from various classes of people by visiting different types of buildings. Each one will provide a different benefit. They will have to be careful though as they might pick up a few plague ridden rats in the process. The player that can manage to stave off the plague and earn the most points will inherit the crown and be declared the winner.

To begin, the influence board is placed in the middle of the play area. Players choose a color and are given 8 discs in that color. Six of the discs are placed on the influence board, 1 for each row on the starting spaces of each track. The other 2 discs remain in front of the player for now. Players also receive 10 points worth of rat tokens which are placed face down in front of the player. The remaining tokens are placed within reach of all players. The population cards are shuffled. Five cards are drawn from the deck and placed face down in a row. This is called the Nun-row. Five cards are then dealt to each player while the remaining deck is placed face down beside the board. All the special cards as well as the Joker cards are placed in separate face up decks. Players then either chose 30 building cards to be used or they can be randomly chosen instead. Once this is done, these cards are shuffled together and placed face down beside the board. Depending on the number of players, a certain amount of cards from the building deck are taken from the top of the deck and placed face down as the Replacement deck. The starting player is chosen and given the starting player card. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds which is determined by the number of players. Each round is divided into 5 phases; draw new building cards, supplies, enter buildings and play population cards, resolve buildings and end of round. The first phase is to draw new building cards. In this phase a certain number of cards are drawn from the building deck and placed face up in a row. The number is again determined by the amount of players. If the same building card is drawn multiple times, the last drawn card is replaced with a card from the replacement deck. The replaced card is placed at the bottom of the replacement deck. If the same card is drawn again, the process is repeated as many times as needed.

The next phase is the supplies phase. In this phase, players choose a supply action on one of the face up building cards to perform. This can be done either at the same time or in turn order. The actions will either allow a number of cards to be drawn, rat tokens to be discarded or a number of cards to be looked at in the Nun-row.

The third phase is to enter buildings and play population cards. In this phase, beginning with the first player, players will place one of their discs on the first available space on one of the building cards. They then announce how many cards that they will be using in that building and place the corresponding number of cards face down in front of them. A player can choose to place no cards if they wish not to use any of their cards.

The next phase is to resolve buildings. Beginning with the first building in the row, each building is resolved one at a time in 3 steps. The first step is to resolve cards. Players reveal any cards that they played for the building in question. Players gain a point for each population card and joker played on the building and move their scoring marker up on the board to indicate this. If a population card doesn’t match the class of building, the player gains a rat token from the supply. If a card played was a special card like a sword or flute, special rules apply. If it was a sword card, the player with the least amount of sword cards for the building must give half of their cards to the player that played the most swords. If the card was a flute card, the player that played the fewest flute cards receives 1 rat from the player that played the most flutes. Once the cards have been resolved, the players perform actions. The premium action is performed only by the player that played the most population and joker cards combined. The standard action may be performed by the remaining players that are in the building. In a 2 player game, only 1 player can perform a premium action, even if the players chose different buildings. In the final round, no building actions are performed. The player that would have gained the premium action are given one extra influence point for that class. Once all the actions for each building have been performed, players discard the played cards. Population cards are placed in the discard pile while jokers and special cards are placed back on their corresponding stacks. Any cards a player gained thanks to special cards or building actions are kept in the player’s hand.

The last phase is the end of the round. Once all the building cards have been resolved, players take back their discs that were placed on any buildings. The building cards are then discarded and the next player is given the starting player card.

Once the final round has been completed, the game ends. Players gain victory points in several different ways. They gain points for having the most influence points in one of the classes. The second and third most points also gain victory points. Players score points for having the highest number of population and joker cards in their hand. They can also score points for having the most of one of the special cards, except for the gold cards. These are only used if the Treasure building was used during the game. In this case, both the player with the most gold cards and the second most gain points. A player can also gain points for any victory point tokens that they may have collected during the game. Players add up all their victory points. They then reveal all their rat tokens and add up the point value of them. The nun-row cards are then revealed and the number of nuns are counted. If a player has a rat token value that is greater than the number of nuns in the nun-row, they are killed by the plague and lose the game. The remaining players that survived compare their victory point totals and the player with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game comes with a lot of cards and pieces. The influence board is basically just a way of keeping track of the points for each of the different classes. Nothing spectacular about it but it is colorful and well made. There are lots of cardboard tokens both for the rats as well as victory points. These are rather thick and look nice. The player discs are all brightly colored and wooden. Of course the main course of the game is the cards. There are over 200 cards included with this game, including the starting player card. These include the jokers, special cards, buildings and population cards. The cards are really nice looking and are really good quality. The artwork for them remind me a lot of the cards in games like Dominion. It looks like some of the art from Rattus was carried over to this game. That’s actually fine with me as I rather like the design and look of that game as well. In any case, everything is quite simple to understand and the iconography is fairly simple to remember. All in all, I like what all you get with the game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is fairly short but is really well designed. Everything is broken down really well. It’s really easy to read and understand. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book including a picture of how to set up the game. There is also a great section that details each of the building cards and explains both the premium and standard actions of each. The 4 special cards also have a section devoted to them with explanations for them as well. All in all, the rules are well written, excellently designed and easy to follow. I couldn’t ask for much more than that.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really great game. In many ways it feels like a worker placement style game. I guess it kinda is. It’s got a great theme which carries over, at least a bit into the actual game. The idea of the Black Plague is kinda dark but the game doesn’t feel like that at all. Even if you lose the game by succumbing to the plague, the game still feels rather light and cheery. While playing, you’ll want to really keep an eye on your rat tokens as they will mean the difference between life and death at the end of the game. I can tell you that the first game I pretty much did what I wanted to and those darn rats were my downfall. Later games I was a lot more careful and at least was able to lose on my own merits. The game has a lot of replayability as the numerous amount of building cards that can be used make each game quite different. The game doesn’t take that long to play either. Most games last around 40-45 minutes each. I’ve had a copy of Rattus sitting on my shelf unplayed for awhile now. After playing this, my interest in the original game has been sparked quite a bit. Seeing as I’ve not played the original, I can’t really make the comparison between the two but from what I’ve heard, this version might just be better. In any event, I really enjoyed this one and look forward to playing it again.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Rattus Cartus is a light card game with a worker placement feel dropped into the middle of the Black Plague. It’s not a very long game. Most games last no more than 45 minutes. The theme isn’t dark or dreary like you’d expect. The artwork is very reminiscent of the original game but feels like Dominion in a way to me. I like that there aren’t a lot of icons to learn so the learning curve isn’t that high. It’s fairly simple and easy to play. Having never played the original Rattus game, I can’t make any real comparisons between the two. However, most of what I’ve heard is that this version is the better of the two. I’d have to say that at least for me, this version has the look of the original but none of the mechanics that have kept me from bringing the original to the table yet. Fans of the original game may really enjoy this version as well. Worker placement fans should really like the simplicity of the game’s mechanics. I really have to say that I’ve enjoyed playing this one quite a bit. I highly recommend it. There seems to be a lot of replayability thanks to the many different building cards. Good quality components, great gameplay and lots of replayability make this a game worth owning.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out  Games at their site.

http://idwgames.com/

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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