RogerBW's Blog

Thirsty Meeples May 2024 07 May 2024

Back to the boardgame café.

We started with First Rat: the rats are going to the moon, with a rocket built from plastic bottles and cornflake packets. All right, the gameplay isn't a great match for the theme; mostly you're collecting resources and spending them to place cubes on multiple score tracks (first come most points). Movement is interesting; you can move multiple rats as long as they all land on the same colour of space.

It took me a while to get the hang of this one, and by then it was too late to do well, but I had fun with it and would like to try it again.

Then on to Swindler, which I hadn't heard of. The core of it is a push-your-luck game: five loot bags you can dig into, each of which has one or more tokens that cause you to lose what you've gained so far. You then spend the loot on filling orders, or with a dealer.

Getting through the rules was hard work, since they're ambiguous on such matters as whether a previous turn's green loot is lost when you pull a green skull (we thought yes, but in that case why all the fuss about separating your current turn's draw from your previous ones?) and whether an accomplice card can be used just once or several times (one of them is explicitly noted as remaining permanently in the game, so that was a proper case of the exception proving the rule).

We didn't love the cutesy art (by Lisa Forsch), which didn't seem a good fit for the theme, and the whole thing felt quite random and flavourless at times. Not terrible, but I don't think we'll go back to it.

(Also, it's "Beutelschneider" in the original German, an old term for a pickpocket. I think translating it as "pickpocket" or, even better, "cutpurse", would have made for a more thematic feel; there's no swindling in the game at all.)

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