Let’s dive into some rats!

16th May 2021 by Frank West0
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Hey everyone and happy Sunday,

Today I would like to deep dive into the rat meeples you’ve all been seeing for the past couple of weeks and let you know what they do.

I should point out that these aren’t a huge mechanism and they are part of the Event module, but I still feel there is value in talking about how they came to be and because I really enjoy what they add to the game.

You see, when I started designing rule changing events that required extra components I had all sorts of ideas, in fact I ended up with 6 concepts that all added something really interesting to the game. Yet, one by one I had to take them out until only the rats survived!

Here’s a summary of what happened.

  1. Each of the new ideas I had required some sort of token, or multiple tokens to work.
  2. I’m not a fan of generic tokens that can mean multiple things, I think they don’t look as nice, they make it harder to connect the theme, without an obvious visual it can be more difficult to understand the rules, and they just don’t provide a quality experience. Also, it’s hard to use the same generic token to represent multiple things, if you want all of those things to happen at once.
  3. In the end I decided unique tokens were the way to go, and I had to cut anything that required more than 1 component per player, per encounter, as it just wouldn’t be worth the table space.
  4. Rule changing events occur in the first and last rounds of the game, but if I was going to ask players to open more bags and put more piles of components on the table, I wanted to increase the chances those events were going to happen. There is nothing more frustrating than having 5 piles of components that you never use. This meant these component requiring events would be considered special, would be able to occur on any of the 5 days, and must be designed to offer interesting choices on any of these days. This cut out a few more of the ideas as some really were starters or finishers only.
  5. Finally, I wanted to make sure these component requiring events could happen multiple times, and if you got them multiple times, they would remain interesting. Some of the ideas offered some fun interactions but having 2 or 3 of them on your boat didn’t add enough to be worth it.

As I got to this point, I started to realise the rats were the only survivors and to be honest I was happy, I love how they work and while some of the others offered interesting decisions, these were the ones that not only offered interesting decisions, but offered different decisions depending on when they came out.

Introducing the Royal Rats

When you encounter a Royal Rat event all players must take a Royal Rat meeple and place it on their boat.

They follow all normal tile placement rules, they can be placed over normal rats, treasure maps, and must be touching an existing tile if one exists.

This is the first cool thing about Royal Rats, if you get them on the first day, you’ll be placing your first piece (the Royal Rat) on your boat before you draft any cards or even place the cats in the field. Choosing your starting square before you get any information is a really cool experience when it happens.

In addition to following tile placement rules, these other rules apply:

  • A Royal Rat is considered to fill the space it is in, you can fill rooms if they have Royal Rats in them.
  • You cannot put something on a space with a Royal Rat in it.
  • A Royal Rat can be removed from your boat if you have a cat touching it and you give the cat 1 fish to “safely remove the rat from your boat” (I’ll leave you to decide how the cat does this thematically speaking).
  • Royal Rats do count as rats for all card and events.
  • Royal Rats are worth -3 points at the end of the game.

With the Royal Rats in play, you’ll start to realise there are many ways they can be used to achieve some interesting results and I’m sure some of you will be cheering, and others shouting when they pop up on your boat.

The Royal Rats will be available on Kickstarter from May 25th and you can follow along here.

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!


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