On the tables since 2010, Rattus comes within the framework of small games combining an original theme with effective game mechanics. The theme is the Black Death epidemic that hit Europe from 1347; mechanics are the paradoxical majority. Distributed by the Dutch company White Goblin Games, Rattus is enjoying clear success with audiences ranging from the enthusiast to the casual gamer. Without revolutionizing the gaming world, Rattus offers fast and stimulating games in a context never before approached! This is the opportunity to play the Plague, without being blamed!
The historical context
It is 1346, the Genoese trading post of Caffa in Crimea is besieged by the Golden Horde. The epidemic is already widely affecting the Tatars who, to weaken the besieged, catapult infected corpses. For lack of combatants, the siege is lifted, the genoa can return home. As early as 1347, the first cases were reported in Mediterranean ports, then all of Europe as far as the Anglo-Saxon Islands and even Scandinavia were affected. The Black Death will proliferate on the favorable ground of a medieval Europe ravaged by wars and famine. The result: 25 million deaths, almost half of the European population in just five years! Rattus is the scientific name of the Black Rat, carrier of the plague bacillus, which occupies a central role in this game. The game board is an unrolled parchment representing a map of Europe with its medieval approximations, its rose of winds, the names of the regions in Latin in a cartouche. The game offers to take turns embodying medieval archetypes such as the King, the monk, the knight or the merchant. On the set sits a disturbing black silhouette, representing the Black Plague itself.
A contagious system!
The players embody an indefinite population represented by colored cubes. The object of the game is to be the one who has, at the end of the game, the most cubes that have survived the Plague. The map is covered in "Rat" tokens that model dormant epidemics, just waiting for the Plague Emblem to take their toll on the player population.
The game turn takes place as follows: the player can call on a character to come to his aid, develop his population and move the Plague. The characters provide you with significant help: the King allows a pawn to be accommodated in his castle thus sparing him the hassle of the century, the monk keeps rats away from your regions, the knight accompanies the Plague by making it more virulent, the merchant takes advantage of his money to flee the infected regions, the peasant promotes the development of the population and the witch exchanges the “Rat” tokens. Thus the players select a character, place it in front of them (a character can be taken from the reserve or in front of another player) and apply its effects. Then they choose a region and place pawns of their color, in a number equal to the number of “Rat” tokens in said region. Finally, the player moves the Plague emblem from one region to another.
If there are "Rat" tokens, the epidemic will spread to adjacent areas. If in addition to the rats there are population cubes, the epidemic begins! For this, we count the population cubes of each player and we reveal the effects of the first "Rat". These are inscribed with a limit value and a series of one or more symbols. If the number of population cubes exceeds or equals the limit value: the Plague acts! The symbols indicate which character classes are affected by the Plague. Thus, the more pawns or characters a player has, the more devastating the effects of the Plague will be on its population. This is what the paradoxical majority idea is: the more characters you have and the larger your population, the better your chances of winning the game. But you also increase your sensitivity to the Plague!
It will take a subtle calculation. Is it a good idea to have a large population supported by many characters? Isn't it better to maintain a population that is small but less susceptible to the ravages of the Plague? The game then continues, until either there are no more "Rat" tokens in the supply or until a player has placed all of their population cubes (this is a rare occurrence). At the end the points are counted, the one with the most survivors remaining wins the game!
A rich and evolving game
Building on its success, the game is developing. Two extensions have already been released as well as a multitude of small additions available through magazines or specialty stores. Added to the base game archetypes are the Emperor, Bishop, Crusader, Serf, None, Bourgmestre and many more! The Pied Piper expansion is all about these characters, Africanus offers to add North Africa to the classic map and new archetypes from the Muslim world. Rattus is a simple and fast game, but which by its richness of its system and its renewal, represents a challenge which will satisfy the occasional but also confirmed players.
See as well
- The publisher's site
- The distributor's site in France