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RAPTOR is a 2-player board game from the minds of the two Bruno's; Cathala & Faidutti. It is published by one of the top games companies in France, Matagot, and is illustrated in a fashion that makes it both dynamic, comedic and dramatic by Vincent Dutrait.

It takes anything from 15 minutes to 50 minutes to play, averaging at 25-30 minutes a game. Although it has no actual similarities to Chess or Draughts (aka "Drafts") it is, in my opinion, a distant cousin  in as much as it is most definitely a thinking-person's game wrapped in the visual packaging of a light-hearted frivolity.

One player takes control of Mama Raptor and her 5 babies while the second player controls 10 Hunters, though almost certainly never at the same time.

The board is made up from 6 square tiles and 4 end pieces, all of which are printed on both sides to either show a deep, green jungle or a desolate dried mud terrain. When you put the tiles out it is suggested that you use one or the other terrain types, though there is no strict rule on this as it really makes no game difference only a visual one. Players each have personal 9 Action card decks which are numbered 1 thru 9. The numbers are the only things that are the same on the decks though as each card has a specific (different) action associated to it, thus Raptors and Hunters each have different things they can do - which actually makes sense, as one lot are horribly vicious meat-eating monsters, and the others are Raptors .....

The game mechanic is not totally new but it is clever and works well in this situation. Players each have a hand of 3 randomly dealt cards from their own decks from which they select one to play (then they make their hands back to 3 - reshuffling the deck as necessary), placing it face down until both cards can be simultaneously revealed. If the numbers on the cards are the same then they are both discarded and neither player does anything. If they are different numbers then the player with the lowest number performs the Action shown on the card. The other player has as many Action points as the difference between the two cards numbers, thus if a 5 and a 3 are played, the player with the 3 does the Action off that card and the other player has 2 Action points to spend.

The designers and publishers have really thought the game components through thoroughly, because each player has a reference sheet which describes all card Actions and all Action actions, meaning that the rules book, which also contains the same information, isn't passed back and forth regularly. I truly respect companies that make the fun part of gaming easier by removing the drudgery of rules book referencing.

  

In the beginning there are four Hunters at the edges of the board on their way to locate the Mummy Raptor and her Babies who are already trundling through the undergrowth or tripping across the dry mud flats. To win, the Raptor player has to get 3 baby Raptors out of the jungle (by getting them to the half-circle spaces) or to have eaten or scared off all of the Hunters (ie No Hunters on the board at all, not necessary all eaten or scared off). The Hunter player has to capture 3 sleeping baby Raptors or shoot 5 tranquilisers into Mama Raptor.To put a baby Raptor to sleep the Hunter has to be in an orthogonal adjacent space next to it. To capture the baby the Hunter has to be directly adjacent to one that is already sleeping. The same Hunter cannot put a baby to sleep and capture it in the same turn, even if they have enough Action points available.  

Mama Raptor can move faster than Hunters, but in straight lines. She can waken sleeping babies and she can scare off (eat/capture out of the game) Hunters by being adjacent to them. It is a real game of Cat and Mouse, clever and careful card play, strategy, tactics and a little luck - but only what card your opponent plays is the luck part, otherwise it is all game mechanic.

  

I suggest that you play at least two games in a session, with players swapping sides after the first game. This way you get to appreciate the nuances and differences the Hunter and the Hunted have so that whichever side you play thereafter you have knowledge of the available cards and actions and can base your strategies accordingly.

Overall this is a very nicely designed game with components that are well made and impressive. With four sets of rules and reference sheets, one for each of the languages covered - American, French, German and Italian - and cards that are not language dependent, this is a solid international game.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015