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Rats of Wistar

[Rats of Wistar]

Danbilo Sabia, Simone Luciani

Cranio Creations

No. of Players:

G@mebox Star



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

A Wistar rat a sad life. Bred and kept for scientific research, they are used for all kinds of experiments, often with very unpleasant consequences for the little rodents. But what actually happens when such rats manage to escape into the wild?

Well, what can they do? Of course, they settle down, form a family and care for their offspring. As they are rats, this happens quite quickly and the burrow they have built quickly becomes too small. And so, the burrow has to be extended.

In Rats of Wistar, we play these escaped lab rats, or to be more precise, we control the heads of their families. Because one thing is certain: even in freedom, you have to stand out from your fellow rats and so a competition arises for the biggest family with the biggest burrow, the aim of the game...

[Rats of Wistar]

First of all, the extensive material of the game has to be set-up. On the main game board, a farmer's house is equipped with all kinds of room cards on which missions can later be completed, so-called guest mice have to be placed as well as doors between the rooms. An action wheel is then assembled on the other side of the board, which we use to select our actions for the round. Finally, objective cards are laid out on the playing field and five pieces are drawn from the remaining pile of guest mice, one for each of the five rounds.

But there is also a lot to prepare on each player's personal playing board that represents our burrow. On the one hand, most of the rooms in our building are initially covered with underground tiles, which we will have to use dig free later in the game. On the other side, we find six beds for our offspring, which are also initially covered with tiles and on each of which we then place one of our workers. And then there are bonus abilities that we can unlock over the course of the game by completing missions, but which are initially blocked with small dice.

As already mentioned, the actions for the round are selected on the action wheel. This wheel is divided into six sections and, depending on the number of players, each section has up to three spaces for our pawns, the chiefs of our families. Each player has three of these chiefs available, i.e. in a three-player game, for example, nine action spaces are occupied every round.

[Rats of Wistar]

And this is done in turn order, which is randomly determined at the start, but can be changed during the course of the game by occupying the alchemist hat, an action space away from the action wheel.

By occupying an action space on the wheel however, you activate two actions, a main action and a bonus action. The effect of the main action depends on how many of our workers are in the neighbouring landscape. There are three different landscapes, so two sections of the action wheel are assigned to one landscape. The number of workers then determines the strength of the action. In the forest area, for example, you can either collect as many wood tokens as there are workers in the forest or clear the corresponding number of rooms in your own building, provided you can pay for the necessary metal.

This metal in turn can be obtained in the cave area, as can the ability to build beds, again depending on the number of workers in this area. Finally, there is the farm area, from where you can explore the farmer's house (you send one of your workers through the house and can open doors, activate rooms and invite guest mice into your own burrow). In addition, and this is where things get really strategic, you can purchase invention cards in this area, which are displayed next to the playing field, divided into basic and advanced inventions. Initially, you take these invention cards into your hand, but they can be played through bonus actions and then provide immediate, permanent or endgame advantages that must be optimised. Chain reactions are possible with these inventions and victory points can be collected by skilfully combining different cards.

In addition to playing those invention cards, there are numerous other bonus actions such as moving workers from one region to another or completing missions. In many places, resources can be earned, which are then needed again in other occasions in order to be able to carry out an action at all. In the same way, victory points can be earned in many places, either immediately or to unlock a multiplier for certain objectives at the end of the game.

So, even though there are only five rounds with three turns per person, there's a lot going on in the game. It's easy to underestimate the challenge because the game with the rats looks so cute. But a lot of tactics and strategic considerations are required, at least if you want to win the game.

[Rats of Wistar]

Once again, CRANIO CREATIONS has created a real cracker game with Rats of Wistar. Not quite as complex and brilliant as Barrage, but much more catchy than Golem. I'm really enthusiastic about the game, even if the interaction between the players is mainly limited to taking away actions on the action wheel. On the other hand, with so less interaction the game also works perfectly as a solo game, with an easy-to-use automatic player.

Simone Luciani in conjunction with Danilo Sabiaha once again really delivered with the game. I never thought I would find playing the chief of a rat family so entertainig. The only drawback from my point of view is that the game ends quite quickly, so you can only achieve a fraction of your goals and are therefore better off concentrating on one path. In addition, you sometimes wait in vain for a suitable invention card and in this case you better change your mind quickly, still it can cost you valuable victory points.

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