Designer: Bruno Cathala & Bruno Faidutti
Raptor is one of the recent releases in our collection and it’s been getting a fair amount of play. It’s a two-player only game so is perfect for a night in and it’s pretty quick – the box says 25 minutes, but we’re often finished in 15-20 minutes, which is pretty good for a game that actually has some tactical depth. I admit that the dinosaur theme is what sucked me in and I made sure that I got a copy as soon as it was brought back from Essen 2015 by the good people at the Draughts board game café in London.
In Raptor you either take on the role of a team of Scientists or a group of Raptors (a mother and her five babies). The game is asymmetrical and you each have different win conditions. For the scientists there are two win conditions – you either have to capture 3 baby Raptors or you have to sedate their mother, by firing tranquiliser at her 5 times. For the Raptors there are also two win conditions – you either eat all the scientists on the board, or you manage to get 3 baby Raptors to escape the board.
The game is played on a modular board, comprised of 6 tiles and 4 exit points. The Raptor player places their dinosaurs – on in each main segment and then the Scientist player places 4 scientists, one at each exit. Each player gets a deck of action cards numbered 1-9. You each take a hand of three and simultaneously play one card from your hand. The player who plays the lowest number can perform the special action on the card – these are different on most cards and are unique for each player. The player who plays the highest number takes a number of basic actions equal to the difference between the two numbers played eg. If Raptors play 5 and Scientists play 8, then the Scientist players gets to take 3 basic actions.
In order to capture baby Raptors, a Scientist must sneak up to them and tranquilise them. A different scientist can then come along and capture the Raptor, or the same Scientist can capture it next turn. However the mother Raptor moves quickly and can travel any distance in a straight line. If the mother Raptor is next to a scientist it can use an action to eat that Scientist. However the mother Raptor must be careful not to finish in a straight lien sight from a Scientist who can shoot tranquiliser darts at her to slow her movement. Baby raptors move slowly so may need many actions to escape from the edges of the board, but the mother Raptor can perform Mother’s Call on two different action cards which calls Raptors to her side when she’s close to the exit and can allow them to escape more easily.
|Team Raptor's view. The mother Raptor has eaten 4 Scientists and secured the escape of one baby. Things are looking good for the other three babies though who are becoming surrounded by Scientists.|
I admit that I really disliked this game after our first 3 play throughs. I found it immensely frustrating that my every move was blocked by my opponent and that I also never got a good amount of basic actions. I lost each game very quickly and was pretty disappointed and dejected that I game I’d looked forward to so much made me so sad. However, I was determined to persevere – I wanted to enjoy the dinosaur game. Taking on the role of the scientists, I won my first game and since then I’ve been able to win at least 50% of the time. I’m not sure if I just needed to get my head into the tactical play and become more familiar with the good and bad actions, but I’m now quite a fan of Raptor.
|The Raptor's win!! Leaving behind a slightly fire ridden desert, a trapped baby Raptor and some frustrated Scientists!|
Raptor is definitely a game about out-thinking your opponent. There’s a certain amount of luck when you’re drawing cards from the deck, but even when you don’t get the perfect card you can generally make a good play to hinder your opponents advantage for that turn. Although it’s not directly confrontational in the way of a game such as X-Wing Miniatures, where you’re shooting at each other, it feels just as tense and confrontational to me. If you’re a couple who would be better of not getting really angry at each other, then this game might be worth a miss.
I’m glad the theme made me persevere with Raptor and even though it is reportedly ‘pasted-on’, ie. it was originally designed with a different theme, I think the dinosaur vs. scientist theme really works well and comes through in the gameplay to a certain extent. Now that I’ve learnt how to win I can give Raptor a 6.5/10.