- Designers: Bruno Cathala and Bruno Faidutti
- Publisher: Matagot (Distributed by Asmodee)
- Players: 2
- Ages: 9 and Up
- Time: 25 Minutes
- Times Played: > 5 (on Review Copy Provided by Asmodee)
In Raptor, one player controls a mother velociraptor and her five babies, and the other player controls a team of scientists hunting them. The player controlling the raptor family wins by having three of the babies escape, or by eating the scientists that are after them. Conversely, the scientist team wins by either neutralizing the mother raptor or capturing three of her babies.
I first got to play Raptor at Essen, and I was impressed. The game wasn’t on any hotness list at the time, but it has gotten good buzz recently. It ended up being one of my favorite two-player games of 2015.
The gameboard is made up of 6 large square center tiles and 4 smaller L-shaped tiles. One side features jungle, and the other side features savannah. Players pick a side, randomly place the center tiles, then put the L-shaped tiles on the end, creating the configuration shown below. Lastly, 9 rocks — which act as obstacles — are put on the designated spaces on the center tiles.
The player controlling the mother raptor places her on one of the two center tiles, then puts the babies on the remaining five center tiles. The other player places one scientist on a space of his choice on each of the 4 L-shaped tiles. The scientist player also has six scientists that are off the board in a reserve.
Each player shuffles their deck of nine cards. The cards are asymmetric, meaning the raptor player has a different deck than the scientists. Each card has two elements: a number of action points (ranging from 1 to 9) and an action. The raptor player and the scientist player each have three cards in their hand of the nine, and they simultaneously play one of them.
The player that played the lower numbered card goes first and does the card’s action. The raptor’s actions allow for (a) special movement by the mother or the babies, (b) removing sleep tokens from the mother or waking babies, or (c) frightening scientists. The scientist’s actions allow for (a) putting baby raptors to sleep, (b) putting additional scientists on the board, (c) moving scientists, and (d) placing fire tokens.
The player that played the higher numbered card goes second and gets a number of action points equal to the value of their card less the value of the other player’s card. For example, if the raptor player put out his 9 card, and the scientist player put out his 4 card, the raptor player would typically get up to 5 action points.
The raptor player may use action points to (a) move the raptor babies to a neighboring space, (b) move the mother in a straight line, (c) kill a scientist on a space neighboring the mother, (d) wake up a sleeping baby on a space neighboring the mother, or (e) remove fire tokens from a space neighboring the mother, as well as all adjacent fire tokens.
The scientist player may use action points to (a) move onto a neighboring space, (b) put a frightened scientist back up, (c) shoot a baby raptor on a neighboring space and put it to sleep, (d) capture a sleeping baby raptor on a neighboring space, (e) shoot at the mother raptor at a long range in a straight line. Each scientist can only do one aggressive action — shooting or capturing — per turn.
Frightened scientists or sleeping babies can’t be used until they are put back upright. A sleeping baby raptor or a frightened scientist can never be put back upright on the same turn they were put to sleep or frightened. If the mother is wounded, the raptor player can only move her by first losing as many action points as the number of sleep tokens she has.
The game when (a) three baby raptor escape [raptor victory], (b) three baby raptors are captured [scientist victory], (c) the scientists are all eliminated [raptor victory], or (d) the mother is wounded five times [scientist victory].
Raptor is a brilliant two-player design, one of my favorites of 2015. I liked it when I first played it at Essen, but my enjoyment has grown with each additional play. Both the raptor and the scientist act simultaneously as the hunters and the hunted, making for a great duel where every turn is exciting. The game is fast paced and tense, yet it is easy-to-learn and can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
The scientist’s goal is to get a lot of scientists on the board quickly and block off the exists. Capturing raptors is particularly tricky: the scientist player will often need to coordinate the actions of several scientists, since each scientist can only do one aggressive action per turn. Meanwhile, the raptor player needs to create openings by eating scientists and then call her babies to her. Gameplay is deeply strategic, and it takes a few games to fully realize each side’s potential tactics.
Raptor is fast-paced. My first game back home took about 40 minutes, but we were both still learning the rules. Subsequent plays have come in under half-an-hour.
The components are beautiful. Vincent Dutrait’s artwork gives the game a Jurassic Park-vibe, and the raptor and scientist miniatures are a nice touch. The player aids are especially helpful: not only do they detail your actions, but your opponents as well. I would have preferred the player-aids to be double-sided, with the other side having more details on your opponent’s cards, but that is a minor quibble.
I like the layout of the rulebook. It offers a concise overview of gameplay, then turns to more detailed examples of the cards and actions for each player. The back has a section called “A Few Reminders” that mentions rules likely to be forgotten. (A note to publishers: we gamers love such reminders!) Add in the player aids and you have a game that can be learned in a few minutes.
In short, Raptor is now one of my go-to two player games. It is the sort of game you’ll want to play twice in a row, once as one side, then again as the other side. Is it for everybody? Of course not. The game is highly confrontational, and not everybody enjoys hunter-and-hunted games. But if you are looking for a light-to-medium weight two-player game, I recommend Raptor.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Chris W.
- I like it.
- Not for me…