Kickstart This! #216: The Ratcatcher
Designer: Matthew Aslin
Artist: Matthew Aslin
Publisher: Platypus Industries
Genre/Mechanisms: action points, adventure, dice rolling, exploration, fighting, modular board, solo/solitaire game, variable player powers
Funding Status: At the time of this posting, The Ratcatcher is already fully-funded. Pledges currently total almost 3x the initial funding goal with 3 days left to go on the campaign.
Player Count: 1
Solo Mode: yes
What It’s About: “During a player’s turn they will race to explore the randomly generated city, using their limited actions and all of their unique skills and traps to outwit and outplay the vast rat horde and evil Nemesis Rat.”
How It Works: The Ratcatcher is a solo adventure board game where the player chooses from one of 4 Heroes (now 6 with stretch goals) to take on one of 2 Nemesis Rats (now 3 with stretch goals). Currently, that means there are 18 different Hero-Nemesis combinations.
Over the course of the game, rounds will alternate between The Ratcatcher and the rats. On The Ratcatcher’s turn, the hero will move, attack any Rats in the zone where they finish movement, set rat traps in surrounding zones if they have movement points left, collect any of the blue Magic Cheese tokens in their current zone, and once unlocked, use Dragnet Potions in neighboring zones (limiting rat movement) or Toxic Ruse tokens in their current Townships (which rats treat like blue cheese, dying of poison if they consume it).
Once they’ve retrieved a slice of the blue Magic Cheese, The Ratcatcher can use it to upgrade various abilities– lowering the die roll they need for a hit on an attack, gaining permanent movement points, gaining permanent attack dice, healing wounds, increasing their defense, gaining the ability to use various potions, and gaining extra rat traps. And rats the Ratcatcher defeats are captured and go to the Tallyman’s cage, where caught rats can later be traded for additional perks.
On the rats turn, rats will move, fall victim to any traps in the zone where they finish movement, attack and/or eat cheese, and then spawn more rats. There are 3 types of general rats… white, brown, and black. Each time a new Township card is placed, rats will spawn in certain areas. Whenever a black rat spawns, it will spawn an additional rat. This could potentially trigger a wave of black rats if black rats keeping being drawn from the bag. Once populated, a Township card will only spawn rats in the Rat Nest areas… except that any black rat (or group of black rats) in a zone will also function as a Rat’s Nest. Black and white rats will both focus on the blue cheese, trying to move to it and consume it. But black rats have 1 point more defense, and take an extra hit to wound. Brown rats have additional movement (2 every round instead of 1), and will instead target The Ratcatcher, attempting to bite our hero and inflict wounds.
Additionally, every time the rats eat a piece of blue cheese, the Nemesis Rat track is bumped and receives an upgrade. This will initially strengthen the smaller, common rats, but will also eventually spawning the more powerful Peculiar Rats (mini-bosses), as well as the Nemesis Rat itself.
To win the game the Hero must either collect 10 blue Magic Cheese tokens, or slay the Nemesis Rat once it has appeared. The player loses if the Rats consume 10 blue Magic Cheese tokens, or if their Wound Track is ever reduced to zero. The Ratcatcher is, at its core, all about efficiency of actions, combining strategy and tactical choices, with some randomization added via Township tile draws, rat token draws, and dice rolls.
Comparisons: There are a ton of popular games that can be played solo. Some examples include The 7th Continent, Aeon’s End, Agricola, Anachrony, Arkham Horror: The Card Game, Everdell, A Feast for Odin, Gloomhaven, Kingdom Death: Monster, Marvel Champions: The Card Game, Mage Knight Board Game, Mansions of Madness, Maracaibo, Nemo’s War, Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, Spirit Island, Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon, Terraforming Mars, Too Many Bones, and most anything designed by Vital Lacerda (CO2: Second Chance, Escape Plan, The Gallerist, Lisboa, On Mars, Vinhos Deluxe Edition) or published by Stonemaier Games (Charterstone, Scythe, Tapestry, Viticulture Essential Edition, Wingspan, and Euphoria if played with the Euphoria: Ignorance is Bliss expansion). In the past decade or so, games have increasingly been designed to either function at one-player, or with a separately designed solo mode for the game.
Mage Knight, Nemo’s War, and Robinson Crusoe are usually considered best playing solo. But if you’re looking specifically for games that are solo only and only play as a solo game, then some of the highest-rated ones out there include Black Sonata, Friday, Hostage Negotiator, and Maquis.
What Should I Pledge?:
$46 The Ratcatcher: a copy of The Ratcatcher, Solo Adventure Board Game, acces to the Print and Play Edition, and all unlocked stretch goals, including the 3D Rat Cage.
$10 Wooden Peculiar Rat Tokens (x12)
None listed, but considering this is a first-time effort from an Australian game designer working solo, it seems unlikely to be headed to retail any time soon, and least in its current form.
All-In Total: In the continental U.S., you’re looking at $46 for The Ratcatcher pledge, $10 for the Wooden Peculiar Rat Tokens, and $7 in shipping for a total of $63.
The Ratcatcher completes its Kickstarter on Tuesday, May 12th and tentatively ships in Jan. 2021.