Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Jurassic Park: The Board Game - "Raptor"

Continuing my series on two-player games that don't suck, Raptor burst onto the scene last year and made a pretty ferocious splash.


Looking for the high-concept premise? Welp, here's some John Hammond-esque exposition to set things up, pilfered directly from Board Game Geek:

"Mama Raptor has escaped from her run and laid her eggs in the park. A team of scientists must neutralize her and capture the baby raptors before they run wild into the forest.

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Raptor is a card driven boardgame with tactical play and some double guessing. Players use their cards to move their pawns (scientists on one side, mother and baby raptors on the other) on the board. 
 
"Every round, the player who played the lowest ranked card can use the corresponding action, while his opponent has movement / attack points equal to the difference between the two cards values. The scientists can use fire, can move by jeep on the tracks, and can even call for reinforcements, while the mamma raptor can hide in the bushes, yell to frighten the scientists, and call for her babies."

Still looking for the full script? Then click on the following link to get Dr. Ian Malcolm's full take on the game chaos theories.

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Session Play-Through

Factions

Ellie - Raptors
Dennis - Scientists


Ellie kicks things off with a 4-point "Mother's Call" while Dennis lays down a 7-point "Fire". Ellie's special action kicks off first so she moves the Baby Raptor on the lower right-hand tile as well as the one on the lower left-hand tile, placing them adjacent to Mama on the same tile. Dennis now has three action points to spend so he moves the Scientist on the upper left-hand tile three spaces so that he's aiming his tranquilizer gun at mama!

Next up Ellie plays a 9-point "No Effect" while Dennis plays a 5-point "Fire". His action activates first so he puts down two fire tokens, one just to the north of the Scientist near the left-hand side of the board and one in between the two Scientists on the right. Ellie then gets four actions so she moves Mama Raptor one space north, then four spaces in a straight line to the right-hand side of the board and then she uses her third action to shred a Scientist into jerky. Then, with her final remaining action, she moves a Baby Raptor in the upper right hand tile one space north.


In the next round Ellie plays a 3-point "Fear" card and Dennis tables his 3-point "Jeep" card. It's a push!

Ellie then opts to play a 2-point "Disappearance and Observation" while Dennis plays a 9-point "No Effect" card. Ellie's action activates first so Mama vanishes off the board! Now the Scientists have a whopping seven action points to work with! Dennis moves the Scientist on the lower left-hand tile one space east and then uses another action to knock out an adjacent Baby. He then uses his remaining five actions to move the Scientist in the lower left hand L-shaped board just south of the sleeping Baby. Mama then reappears in the lower left-hand tile just a few spaces away from the unwitting Scientists.

Thanks to "Observation", Dennis is forced to plays his 2-point "Reinforcement" card face up. Ellie then responds with an 8-point "Fear" card. Two new Scientists appear, one on the upper left-hand tile next to two Baby Raptors and the second one emerges onto the upper right-hand tile next to another Baby and a pile o' rocks. Ellie now has six actions to spend so she moves Mom one space to the right, then one space north and then uses two separate actions to murder both Scientists. For her last two actions she moves one space north and then uses her final action to rouse her sleeping Baby.


In the next round Dennis plays a 4-point "Sleeping Gas" while Ellie tables the 1-point "Mother's Call and Shuffle" Card. Her effect triggers first so she moves a Baby on the upper right-hand tile and puts it adjacent to her. She then shuffles all of her used Action Cards back into a new deck. Dennis then uses one action point to knock out a Baby Raptor on the upper left-hand tile then moves a Scientist in the lower right-hand tile two spaces west.

Next up Dennis plays a 6-point "Reinforcements" card and Ellie reveals a 5-point "Recovery" card. Her effect wakes up the one sleeping Baby Raptor and she spends the second action point to de-trank Mama.

Dennis then plays a 1-point "Sleeping Gas and Shuffle" card while Ellie plays the one point "Mother's Call and Shuffle". Its another push!

Dennis is forced to drop his last card: the 8-point "Jeep" while Ellie turns up a 4-point "Mother's Call". The two Babies next to the Scientist are moved away and placed next to Mama. Dennis responds by tranking Mama again and then moving the Scientist on the lower left hand tile two spaces west and then putting the adjacent Baby to sleep. Dennis has no cards left so he's forced to re-shuffle and draw three new cards.


Dennis plays his 6-point "Reinforcements" while Ellie plays her 9-pointer. Two new Scientists appear on the edge of the lower left hand tile while Ellie gets three actions to spend. One of her Baby Raptors runs for it, moving three spaces west!

In the next round Dennis plays a 4-point "Sleeping Gas" card while Ellie plays a 3-point "Fear". The latter happens first, spooking a Scientist on the upper left hand tile. Dennis then spends his one action point to capture a sleeping Baby!


Ellie then drops her 8-point "Fear" while Dennis plays his own 9-pointer. The two Scientists who just came onto the board proceed to soil themselves without any further ado. Dennis then uses his lone action point to rouse the fearful Scientist on the upper-left hand tile.

Next up Dennis plays a 3-point "Jeep" card vs. Ellie's 7-point "Recovery". The Scientist on the middle lower tile moves one space west and one space north to put him adjacent to a Baby. Ellie then uses two actions points to run a Baby off the board and then two actions to move another l'il guy towards the exit.


Ellie plays a 2-point "Disappearance & Observation" card while Dennis plays his 8-point "Jeep". Ellie's card effect happens first so Mama disappears ninja-style, yo. Dennis then uses three points to revive his three Scientists. One who's standing next to a Baby immediately tranks it while a cohort standing next to him moves up one space north and then uses the last action to capture it! A pissed-off Mama then reappears right around the corner!


Dennis is forced to reveal his next card first which turns out to be a 1-point "Sleeping Gas & Shuffle" card. Ellie plays her last card, a 6-point "Disappearance and Observe". After the baby on the upper left hand tile is knocked out, Dennis gets all of his cards back. Ellie then spends five actions, but this is reduced by two because of the trank effect. She moves one space south, one space east and then mauls another Scientist! Since that was Ellie's last card she gets them all back again for her next turn.


Ellie then revelas a 5-point "Recovery" while Dennis edges her out just slightly with a 4-point "Reinforcement" card. Dennis's last two Scientists appear on the board, one on the lower left hand tile and one on the middle lower tile. Ellie then gets three actions to spend. With the tranquilizer effect preventing Mama from reaches her sleeping Baby, she decides to spend her single action to ginsu yet another Scientist! Not a bad consolation prize, but time is running short!


Dennis plays his 1-point "Sleeping Gas" while Ellie plays a 4-point "Mother's Call". The Scientist's card effect plays out first, and the Baby on the lower middle tile is knocked out! Mama would normally have three actions to spend but now only has one so she moves adjacent to the closet scientist on the lower left hand tile.

Ellie plays a 7-point "Recovery" card and Dennis surprises her by revealing his powerful 9-pointer! The two Babies wake up and Mama recovers one damage but Dennis responds by immediately re-tranking her again and then moving that same dude one space north!

Next up Ellie plays a 6 point "Disappearance & Observation" card while Dennis plays a 4-point "Double Sleeping Gas". Once again the two Babies are knocked out and unfortunately two actions aren't enough to budge Mama at all!

Dennis plays a 5-point "Fire" card while Ellie turns over an 8-point "Double Fear". The former activates first and the two Scientists on the lower left and lower middle tile create a wall of flame to hem in Mama. Ellie responds by using her actions to stomp out the fire to the north.

Ellie drops her 9-pointer while Dennis plays a 2-point "Jeep". The Scientist to the north moves adjacent to the Baby and the Scientist on the middle tile moves one space north. This leaves Mama with four actions. She moves north one, murderizes a Scientist and then shreds another!


Next round Ellie plays a 3-point "Fear" card and Dennis plays an 8-point "Jeep" card. The Scientist in the upper left hand tile immediately craps himself but then Dennis uses three actions to move the next closest Scientist in to snatch up the last Baby.


Winner: Scientists!

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REVIEW

PROS
  • The card play mechanic, with the lower revealed number triggering a special ability and the higher number generating action points equal to the difference, is quite clever. A particularly sharp player will keep their eyes on cards played across the table in order to get off a timely special event or rack up some badly-needed actions.
  • Since there's multiple ways to win you'll likely find yourself switching or reacting to some mutable mid-game strategies. It also ensures that most games won't last any longer than thirty minutes. 
  • The rules summary sheets included in Raptor are top-notch. Literally everything you need to know is summarized on these two handy-dandy cards.   
  • As for the rule book itself, it's great. It's clear, jokey, thematic and the inclusion of strategy tips is a major plus. 
  • Both sides play out completely different from one another. The Raptors are fast, clever, vicious and resourceful. The Scientists are all swarmy and have to use their distance-based attacks and card abilities to try and contain things. 
  • It's tense! As the Raptor player your emotionally involved in the plight of your Babies and as the Scientists you're literally in fear of your life the whole time.
  • The game is stunningly beautiful. The art on the Terrain Tiles and Action Cards are first class. The 3-D rock piles don't just look great they virtually eliminate any line of sight screw-ups.      
  • The minis are incredibly cool. And they didn't even cheapen out with the Scientists; all ten figures have a unique sculpt!
CONS
  • Not too muckin' futch. Well, mebbe one minor quibble. There can be a bit of confusion concerning  knocking out Baby Raptors and waking them up since both card effects and action points can be used to accomplish this but both are done differently. As a result you may find yourself consulting the manual for clarifications. Thankfully, the answers are easily found and committed to memory.
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There's been a fair amount of games with the words "Jurassic" and "Park" printed on them but it took twenty-two years and two Italians to do it right. Raptor is fast-paced, easy-to-learn, thematically engaging and tactically rich.

As such I give this one five pips out of six with a tilt up towards a brachiosaur's neck waddle!


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Looking to tear a scientist a new one or help endanger a species? Then click on the image below to learn more about Raptor and ensure that this blog doesn't go extinct!