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The Ratcatcher

Imagine yourself as the Pied Piper in this challenging solitaire adventure game from Platypus Industries. You are the Ratcatcher - battling hordes of rats, collecting the 'magical cheese' that is attracting them, and buffing your strength and powers as you prepare to take on the Nemesis boss rat at the heart of the nest.

It's a game with dice rolling combat but where you'll get to make choices about how to upgrade the number of dice at your disposal and the number you'll need to hit. You'll get stronger as the game progresses but you'll find the rats keep coming and the boss rat will similarly be getting tougher to beat the more cheese the rats are allowed to consume. The rats' cheese consumption also acts as a timer that your Ratcatcher has to beat.

The game itself is easy to play but tough to beat. You choose which Ratcatcher persona to play (we had a choice of four characters in the preview prototype shown here on Board's Eye View but the published game will have more). Each has its own distinct characteristics and plays slightly differently. The playing board is compiled out of large-format cards, so the layout will differ every time you play. Each turn you'll move and take several actions, including battling rats at your location and laying traps for the rats to wander into.

The rats are initially placed out by drawing their wooden meeples from a sack. There are three types of common rat: white, black and brown. The black rats are breeders: whenever you draw one, you draw another rat from the bag. The white and black rats move towards the nearest cheese: when 5 or more are at the same location as a cheese, they consume it. The brown rats converge on and attack the Ratcatcher. When you catch rats, either in combat or in the traps you lay, they go into your Tallyman cage. From there they can be traded in for various upgrades...

From time to time, you'll encounter 'peculiar rats'. These function as unique mini-bosses, each with their own special powers. Ultimately tho' you'll need to face the Nemesis Rat - in effect, the Big Boss. Again, there's a choice of several Nemeses in the game. The Nemesis will come onto the board when the rats' tracker hits a particular spot. You'd better to be ready for them because they're no pushover.

With its evocative black & white, pen & ink artwork, the theme may be the stuff of nightmares but the game itself is a dream to play. Matthew Aslin has designed an addictive solo game that you can expect to win or lose (mostly lose) in around 30 minutes. It's a game that's sure to keep you coming back for more; and, with the various different bosses and Ratcatcher characters, deck of location cards, mystery tokens and random bag-pulled rats, there's plenty of variety in the box. The Ratcatcher is on Kickstarter right now - indeed, as we write, the crowdfunding campaign has just three days left to run, so you'll need to click here and get over to the KS campaign page PDQ to back the game before the KS campaign finishes.

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