- Title: Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot
- Designer: Ignacy Trzewiczek
- Publisher: Portal Games
- Age: 8+
- Players: 2-5
- Playing Time: 45-60 minutes
- Times played: a lot (more than 5)
I’m a fan of dice games. I really like how different designers are trying to use dice creatively. I’m used to like Ignacy Trzewiczek design thinking there are pearls in his design history, from Stronghold (now getting a new edition) and Pret-a-Porter until the outstanding Imperial Settlers. This time Ignacy used his talent to create a really nice family game, something unusual for him. I’m quite sure design something really good able to fascinate kids is not so easy: kids can’t be cheated, they like fun games.
Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot is not really a standard family game. Yes, it is fun, not too complex and it is about Pirates but it is not trivial and show us a new design frontier: dice used as miniatures in a sort of 3D battle where the displaced face tell us what the die can or can’t do. The rules are not complex but you have really a lot of options: my opinion is that the game is thinked up for a gamers family, able to challenge both kids and adults.
Keep reading if you are interested in my review …
Ever y player command a fleet of pirate ships starting with just few equipment: a sail, an hold or a cannon. (The real starting equipment vary according to the number of players). In front of each player cardboards showing how the ships are equipped and dice that are actually the ships. During the game players complete adventures. From one to three adventures combine in a mission. At the end of the mission the fleets sail back to port to trade the loot for money, equipment, victory point cards and sailors. The game end after the 5th mission and the pirate with more victory point and gold win the game.
The core mechanic of the game is how an adventure is run. Just draw a card from the adventure deck (green-easy or red-hard) and take the displaced neutral dice. Sometimes you also need cardboard ocean tiles. Every player decide how many ships (dice) use in the adventure: there are not good reason not to use all the dice unless you are already full of loots tokens waiting to arrive at the port. All the players’ and neutral dice are rolled in the box and than the battle start. Every adventure card tell us which dice rolls and how neutral dice behave, when a ship or a battle face is rolled. This is can be just a simple “move the die” or something like “kill the closest player die”. There are explosions, escapes and whatever you are expecting from a real pirate game. Resolved all the actions of the neutral dice players, in turn, can move their ships (using sails) and shoot (using cannons). Finally all the dice still in the box battle until all the neutral dice are removed and the adventure completed. All players taking part in the mission get an amount of loot tokens drawn randomly from a bag. What your ships can do in the first part of the battle is settled by the equipment (sails, cannons and special upgrades) you are carry on and you will discover sometimes having one more sail or one more cannon can really make the difference.
Going in the details: you can move one of your ship turning face down a sail counter and you can fire with one of your ship turning down one cannon counter (if the corresponding die is showing the cannon face) or two cannons. Used sails and cannons are available back after a port visit so in missions with more than one adventure you have to plan wisely. When all players have finished to use sails and cannons it is time to resolve the battle. Every neutral die (ship) will fight against the closest player’s die: the higher killing the lower or just killing each other if paired (the pirate’s world is tough!) until the battle is over!
What really happens playing this clever boardgame is that you are thrown into a real 3d session measuring distances, thinking about strategy and possibilities in the small sea contained in the game’s box. What’s happen if I move my 4 valued ship in the middle, close to the 3 valued neutral die ? It is worth to use my cannon to kill the enemy ship preventing my opponents assault ? Sails, cannons, upgrades, position and value of the rolled dice define the setting: than you have to think your strategy considering also what other players are doing.
Every ship you sunk will give you a coin and every ship you board will give you extra loot. Coins and loots are used in the Port but you can store just one loot in each hold and one loot in each ship.
Visiting the port it the reason you are battling. You can use loot to get new parts (sails, cannons and holds), to recruit sailors, to get upgrades and finally to get coins and victory points (what actually you need to win the game). There is a sailor deck and a special upgrades deck. Sailors can be used int the sea (usually offering the possibility to reuse cannons and sails or to get more loots), in the port (giving discounts) or in the end of the game (for extra victory points). Upgrades are crazy things for your ships from bow thruster and harpoon down to the Big Berta!
Money are important because can be converted for victory points in the end or used to buy victory cards in the port. Victory cards are ordered from the less-expensive up to the most-expensive with the first ones available furnishing less victory points: an usual euro’s trick to keep the game more challenging until the end.
There are also special adventures and many other expedients to keep the game fun and varied and the box include also two small expansions (not reviewed here).
The game has a great graphic, a nice and fresh mechanic, simple rules and dice! For me a real good mix for a great result. I love how typical boardgame’s mechanic (resources, upgrades, decks and dice) combine with the 3d battle system. It is challenging and interesting decide how to build your ships and than how to optimize your strategy: sails ? cannons ? holds ? looking for smart sailors or trying to get unusual upgrades ? If you are looking something to play with your kids and your family or with friends Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot is a great game. I played it already a lot of times always having fun. If you are looking for a deep strategic and challenging experience for skilled gamers probably you have to look somewhere else.