BraveRats (Mini Game) Preview
“A Duel of Clashing Clans”
Blue Orange Games will be bringing the latest in captivating card game action to the New York Toy Fair this February. This minimalistic game is easy to pick up, but oh so hard to put down. With a minimum of pieces and rules, who will win and who will face defeat all boils down to luck and skill.
The story in BraveRats (yep, it even has a story) gives a winking nod to the epic film Braveheart. Each of the two players in the game represents one of the “clashing clans” of the 13th century Highlands. Of course, these are clans of rats, not people, who are fighting for dominance after the untimely disappearance of the Rat King. The Red Clan – the Applewoods – are a civilized group with an overt fondness for gold and jewels. The Blue Clan – the Yargs – are a ragged bunch of barbarians, highly skilled with weapons like the axe and the war hammer. As the two clans battle for supremacy, neither realizes that as the war rages on, their prince has fallen in love with the enemy princess (yup, both princes). It’s an interesting little story quirk that actually has a huge affect on how the game plays out.
The game itself consists of sixteen cards – half blue, half red. Each card depicts a member of the clan, each of which is assigned a numerical value that equals its power. To start the round, players choose one card from their stack and lay it face down on the table, to be turned over simultaneously with the opposing clan’s card. As the cards are turned over, the winning card is decided on power – but also on special abilities. You see, each of the cards has its own special ability that can trump the higher power of an opposing card, in certain situations. Using these abilities to your highest advantage is a huge part of the strategy involved in BraveRats – but the element of luck still needs to be on your side, as each and every card can be defeated in the right situation.
Some of the abilities impact later rounds in the game. The Musician basically makes any round where it is played a tie, which will need to be broken up by another round, given the winner two wins at once. The Ambassador counts as two wins (a huge deal, as winning four rounds clinches the game). The Assassin flips things around, giving the win to the card with the lowest strength. The Spy gives the player the ability to see the other player’s next card before choosing what to play, and The General gives your next card a +2 bump in power. The Wizard is handy in a lot of situations, with the ability to nullify the special abilities of other cards.
Finally, we have the Prince and the Princess. The Prince is the card with the highest power in the deck, and it’s special ability guarantees it a win – except against the Princess. The Princess has very low power, but remember when we talked about the secret love between the two? If the Princess plays against the Prince at any time, not only does the Princess win the round – she wins the entire game. It’s a neat twist that really amps up the strategy needed in the game.
All told, a single game of BraveRats only takes about five minutes, meaning you always have time to sneak in a game or two. For such a simple game, there really is a lot of story and strategy crammed into those five minutes, as player use both skill and luck to try to claim their place as ruling clan. It’s a fun game that stands up to round after round – and the simple nature of the rules makes it easy enough for younger kids to play, yet truly engrossing for older players as well. While you won’t be able to snag BraveRats in stores until February of 2014, it’s definitely a game to keep on your radar, whether you’re looking for something for the family to play together, or for something to lighten the mood during your tabletop game nights.